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Inadequate provision of elementary education for adults - Document no. 3:14 (2007-2008)

Since adults were given a statutory right to specially adapted education at primary and lower and upper secondary level, participation has been very low and much lower than the authorities expected. ‘It is crucial both in relation to society’s need for qualified labour and for individual citizens that adults have completed such education,’ says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 11/9/2008 1:47 PM

Document No 3:14 (2007–2008), The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into the provision for adults of primary and lower secondary education and education at upper secondary level, was submitted to the Storting on 11 September 2008.

The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation shows that very many municipalities do not offer elementary education to adults, and that the rights of this target group are little known. ‘If adults with little education are to request the education to which they are entitled then they must what rights they have,’ says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo. ‘Many people in this group have poor basic skills and find it difficult to find their way around public education services on their own. Adults with little education will also be a vulnerable group if unemployment were to rise,’ he adds.

The investigation shows that how adults’ practical competence at upper secondary school level is assessed varies from county authority to county authority. Mr Kosmo emphasises the importance of a uniform practice and points out that unequal treatment entails a risk of adults having to take longer courses of education than they actually need.

The investigation also uncovered major weaknesses in official statistics and the reporting of adults in upper secondary education. These weaknesses mean that the Ministry of Education and Research does not have sufficient information about the extent to which the rights of these adults to specially adapted education are actually met. Moreover, the investigation showed that the County Governors have exercised little supervision of the degree to which this statutory right is satisfied. ‘We expect the Ministry to include both an improvement of the statistical basis and supervision in its efforts to improve adult education,' says Mr Kosmo.

The Ministry of Education and Research agrees that the measures that have been implemented to ensure that more adults complete elementary education have not resulted in the expected increase in the number of participants. In the Ministry’s view, a lack of clarity in the division of responsibility between central government agencies may have reduced the effect of measures aimed at adults. The Ministry agrees that a more uniform practice is required as regards assessing adults' practical competence at upper secondary school level. The Ministry also shares the view of the Office of the Auditor General that the statistics relating to adult education must be improved

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