Country information for Norway - Financing of inclusive education systems

The predominant aspect of Norway’s financing system is strong decentralisation and local freedom to act, yet within the framework of the law. This means that most government funding of education must be considered as general funding. Throughput and input funding are mainly conducted at local level. Government funding very rarely goes to specific schools; it is instead allocated through the local governments. There are a variety of solutions and ways to finance schools, including inclusive education (Source: FPIES – Norway Country Study Visit Report, p. 4). 

The percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) allocated to education decreased from 7.3% to 6.9% between 2010 and 2013. Expenditure on special needs, as the main criteria for inclusive education, increased by some 18% between 2008 and 2012. Decisions of special educational needs started to become secondary within resource allocation to schools in some municipalities after 2010. The mind-set at local level seems to be shifting from a focus on individual needs and funding linked to individuals, to a focus on adapted learning for all learners and more general funding of schools. Early intervention on a broad basis and inclusive education, as adaptive education for all, are receiving more attention. The number remains stable (Sources:  Financing of Inclusive Education, p. 18;  FPIES – Norway Country Report, pp. 21–22 FPIES – Norway Country Study Visit Report, pp. 4–5).

Early childhood education and care

Kindergartens are mainly financed by parents and through grants from the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. The municipalities administer the financing. 

According to the Kindergarten Act, municipalities are obliged to provide discounts for siblings and reduced fees for low-income families. All municipalities offer sibling rebates to households with two or more children in kindergarten. Low-income families may receive income-based differentiation of payment or they may apply for a free place. Since 2011, 21% of the municipalities have used an income-differentiated payment system. 

Primary and secondary education

Primary and lower-secondary education

Primary and lower-secondary education, administered by the municipalities, is financed through grants from the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and municipal tax revenue. Differences in the municipalities’ economy are mainly due to size and to differences in municipal tax revenue. 

Upper-secondary education

The county mainly finances upper-secondary schools through income taxes. The costs in this sector vary considerably from one region to another. Additional state subsidies and provisions are given to avoid regional disparities, e.g. to schools or vocational courses where recruitment is so low that courses otherwise cannot be organised in each county, and to schools for learners with special needs. There are also special measures for the three northernmost counties.

Training establishments receive state grants from the county authorities to cover the cost of the training component during periods of apprenticeship. They receive no financial assistance towards the component of productive work in the apprentice’s programme.  

Financial support

There is no financial support for learners’ families, since compulsory (primary and lower-secondary) education and school materials are free in public schools. 

The Norwegian state pays a family allowance to all families with children aged 0–18 years. 

Financial support for families of children and learners with special educational needs

This kind of support will normally come from the social services.


Last updated 05/02/2020


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