Nordic Seminar on Democracy and Inclusive Education

The Nordic Council of Ministers seminar on Democracy and Inclusive Education in Reykjavik, Iceland took place on 9 and 10 December.

The seminar was entitled ‘Let’s strengthen together democracy in schools and inclusive education for all’ and was organised as part of Iceland’s Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, in co-operation with the Nordic Democracy, Inclusion and Safety Network. The seminar brought together stakeholders from across the Nordic region, including representatives from ministries of education, directorates of education, universities, youth organisations and parents’ and teaching associations. 

The Icelandic Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, opened the seminar. She encouraged young people to raise their voices to be heard as experts on their own matters, to build a better society.

Agency Director, Cor J. W. Meijer, took part in the opening panel session on ‘Inclusive education for all and stronger democracy in schools’. His input focused on issues around the ‘why and what’ of inclusive education, including detailing the Agency’s position on inclusive education systems

Assistant Director of the Agency, Amanda Watkins, picked up on the themes of Mr Meijer’s input and considered questions around the ‘how’ of inclusive education. This included a presentation on ‘Education for all in Iceland’, in which she discussed the External Audit of the Icelandic System for Inclusive Education carried out by the Agency in 2016. 

Within the session, seminar attendees also heard from Ragnheiður Bóasdóttir, Senior Adviser of the Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and the Agency’s Representative Board member from Iceland, and Edda Óskarsdóttir of the University of Iceland. They discussed the outcomes of the Agency’s External Audit in Iceland and gave examples of successful inclusive practices in Icelandic schools.

Other keynote speakers at the seminar included, among others:

  • David Kerr, Consultant Director of Education at Young Citizens, who spoke on Controversial Issues in the Classroom;
  • Ingrid Aspelund, Senior Adviser at the European Wergeland Centre, Norway, who spoke on strengthening the culture of democracy and human rights in education;
  • Claudia Lenz, research professor and Peder Nustad, Project Manager at the Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies, who spoke on DEMBRA, a pilot project on democracy in schools. 

The seminar concluded with a group session on the challenges facing inclusive education and democracy in schools in the Nordic region and the approaches that the Nordic countries can take to overcome them.

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