Do the children of asylum seekers have the right to nursery or school education? Find the answer below.
1. Right to Kindergarten
According to the Kindergarten Act § 12-A, children of parents with a) a residence permit and b) allocation to a municipality, have the right to a place in kindergarten. These children then have the same rights as other children in the municipality.
Children of families who have been granted a residence permit but are still living in a reception centre, do not have the right to a place in kindergarten. However children who are living in a reception centre and who are below compulsory school age, can be entitled to special needs education in accordance with § 5-7 of the Education Act. In such cases it must be probable that the child will reside in Norway for more than three months. In addition, a specific assessment of the child's educational needs must be carried out. Such educational help can take place in a kindergarten, independent of whether the child has a place in the kindergarten or not.
All children living in a reception centre are entitled to suitable tuition three hours per weekday from the age of two until they start primary school. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stipulates this in its regulation of reception centres. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocates grants to kindergarten who offer places to children of asylum seekers aged 4 – 5 years. There is nothing to prevent a municipality from offering kindergarten places to all children living in a reception centre if they have the capacity to do so. Children of asylum seekers have the same rights as other children in kindergarten in such cases. Several municipalities in Norway do this. The most important thing is to give these children as good a childhood as possible. They are first and foremost children rather than asylum seekers.
2. Primary and lower secondary education
Children aged 6 – 15 have the right to primary and lower secondary education, which is compulsory for this age-group.
§ 2-1 of the Education Act stipulates that a child has the right to primary and lower secondary education if he / she is likely to reside in Norway for a period of more than three months. Education is compulsory after three months. This applies to all children, whether they are in Norway as asylum seekers, refugees or illegal immigrants.
If a child does not have the necessary ability to follow normal school classes, they are entitled to adapted language education in Norwegian, bi-lingual subject tuition and/ or to mother tongue instruction (the Education Act §2-8). Newly arrived pupils can be organized in induction classes. They are also entitled to special needs education if necessary.
If a child is above the compulsory school age (16 years), he / she is not obliged to enrol in primary / lower secondary education. However young asylum seekers between the ages of 16 and 18 who require primary / lower secondary education, are entitled to receive such education (the Education Act § 4A-1). Individual applications must be sent to the municipality. Young asylum seekers (aged 16 – 18) are entitled to upper secondary education if they meet the admission requirements and have been granted a residence permit.
The Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training has a webpage for minority language speaking pupils, with useful information about regulations and practical advice. There is also relevant information on the webpages of the National Centre for Multicultural Education (NAFO).
Grants are available for the education of children and young asylum seekers who are applying for residence in Norway. These are available to persons aged 18 and under living in reception or care centres, and for asylum seekers who reside in private homes.
The grants are administered by the County Governor (Fylkesmannen) and applications are made by local and county councils. There are two application possibilities per year and applications are made retrospectively.
The following grants are available:
- Grants for primary and lower secondary education for children and young asylum seekers in reception centres (NOK 8 043 per month).
- Grants for primary / lower secondary education of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers (NOK 17 503 per month).
- Grants for primary / lower secondary education for persons seeking family reunification (NOK 8043 per month).
- Secondary education for children and young asylum seekers in reception centres and care centres (NOK 18 494 per child per month).
- Secondary education for those seeking family reunification (NOK 18 494 per child per month).
The deadline for grant applications for autumn 2015 is 15th April 2016. You can read more about these grants on the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training's website.
4. Learning Norwegian
Asylum seekers over 16 years of age can receive up to 250 hours of instruction in Norwegian. They follow the curriculum in Norwegian and Social Studies for Adult Immigrants. Municipalities can apply for grants for this purpose through the National Introduction Register (NIR). The grants are administered by IMDI. For more information, cf. IMDI's publication no. 4/2015. The rate for 2015 is NOK18 200 per asylum seeker. It is the municipality where the reception centre is situated that receives the grant, and which is obliged to offer instruction to all relevant applicants.
The municipality's adult education office can also offer asylum seekers over 16 years of age both primary and lower secondary education and Norwegian courses.