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Publication Detail
Models of Lifelong Learning and Their Outcomes. How Distinctive is the ‘Nordic Model’ Now?
  • Publication Type:
    Working discussion paper
  • Authors:
    Green A
  • Publisher:
    ESRC Centre for Learning and Life Chances
  • Publication date:
  • Place of publication:
    UCL Institute of Education
  • Pagination:
    1, 30
  • Report number:
  • Series:
    LLAKES Centre Research Papers
  • Status:
    Published online
  • Language:
  • Keyword:
    Upper Secondary Education and Training, literacy and numeracy skills, Inequality of skills outcomes, Education system effects
  • Addresses:
    Andy Green
    UCL Institute of Education
    Department of Policy and Practice
    20, Bedford Way
    United Kingdom
The 'Nordic Model of Lifelong Learning', which gained international recognition towards the end of the last Millennium, had three distinguishing characteristics: universalistic provision of pre-school education; a comprehensive and relatively egalitarian secondary school system; and high levels of participation in adult learning. With strong provision for each stage of the life course, Nordic countries came to be regarded as leading exponents of lifelong learning when this concept was gaining international traction. International survey data on education system characteristics and outcomes largely confirmed the narrative about the exceptionalism of the Nordic systems. Participation in Scandinavian countries in pre-school and adult learning was higher than in other countries and skills outcomes in Nordic countries tended to be more equal than in other regions, except possibly East Asia, on most measures: with narrow distributions of skills; low impacts of social origins on achievement, and remarkably little variation between schools in social intakes and performance. During the last two decades much has changed, with the rise of the neo-liberal paradigm in international education policy, and Nordic countries have responded in different ways to the new demands on education. This paper surveys the latest comparative research on education system types and characteristics, and their effects on skills - including from PISA and the OECD Survey of Adult Skills - to assess how the distinctive characteristics of the Nordic model have fared. It finds that basic schooling (until age 15) in Nordic countries is less distinctively egalitarian than it once was but still more egalitarian than in most countries. On the other hand, pre-school and adult education remain exceptionally universalistic.
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