Education in NorwayAccording to the World Bank, Norway’s poverty rate stood at approximately 13% in 2019 and, in 2021, the unemployment rate stood at just 4%. Norway has made commitments to reducing poverty by prioritizing education in the nation. Education in Norway is also key to maintaining high employment rates. In 2018, Norway spent 7.6% of its GDP on education, exceeding the recommended allocation of 4-6%.

More About Education in Norway

Education in Norway is state-supported and even college is cost-free. Students in Norway generally go through three levels of education before the college level:

  1. Elementary school (ages 6-13)
  2. Lower secondary school (ages 13-16)
  3. Upper secondary school or “high school” (ages 16-19)

Attending primary and lower secondary school is compulsory in Norway and high school is “a statutory right.” There is no upper age limit to entering high school, but most students start at age 16. According to statistics from 2019, about 80% of Norwegians have completed upper secondary education, which is higher than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average.

Different Types of Learning for Different People

There are several options for education in Norway, depending on one’s background and needs. Below are some of these options:

  • Adult learning. Adults ages 25 and older have the right to finish upper secondary school and/or vocational training as well as the right to have an education program custom-fit to their needs. Additionally, “for newly arrived immigrants,” the state provides classes in social studies and the Norwegian language. According to the OECD in 2004, Norway had one of the highest vocational training participation rates among European countries.
  • Folk schools. Norway also has the option of folk schools. Folk schools are for learners who want to focus on a specific subject and put their learning into practice. There are no tests or curricula and teachers do not give grades. Students are eligible to attend these schools after finishing high school. However, for folk schools, students have to pay room and board and purchase any required learning supplies.
  • The Qualification Program. The Qualification Program, a two-year program introduced in 2007 that is still active today, helps build vocational skills for people who are “at risk of prolonged unemployment.” By working with a counselor, the program is personalized for the individual’s needs. Participants may also receive benefits, financial aid, holiday entitlements and childcare assistance.

The more educated a population is, the less likely they are to experience poverty. When personalized approaches to education are available, learners can focus their studies on what is most important for them and advance their natural skills and abilities, thereby improving employability.

Diversity

The systems of education in Norway are diverse. In fact, the country has some of the most socio-economically diverse schools in the world. Norway is also doing well with regard to closing the gender gap, ensuring equitable access to education and creating a diverse workforce. In 2017, the World Economic Forum ranked Norway as the most inclusive advanced economy in the world.

To further explain how education in Norway reduces class barriers, The Borgen Project interviewed Ingunn Jakobsen, a veteran senior high school teacher of English and Norwegian with 40 years of experience. Jakobsen states that every year, secondary schools evaluate their progress in terms of providing equal opportunities to all socioeconomic groups. She explains that these schools then “apply statistics where each school is measured in its contribution to [raising] pupils from lower income groups to a high-performing group of pupils.”

Regardless of what country workers live in, Indeed states that having a diverse workforce means a wider recruitment pool, better decision-making in the workplace, improved employee satisfaction and expanded profits.

Impact on Poverty Reduction

When education is made accessible to poor populations, it breaks the cycle of generational poverty by opening doors to greater employment opportunities. Additionally, learning skills such as reading, writing and math significantly increase marginalized groups’ incomes and strengthen the economy.

– Ava Ronning
Photo: Unsplash

how-norways-foreign-aid-is-fighting-global-poverty
Norway is a country in Europe with more than 5 million residents. Although possessing little hard power on the global stage, Norway has made its influence known through its foreign aid program, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). Norway’s contribution of $4.7 billion to its foreign aid program in 2021 constituted 0.93% of its Gross National Income (GNI), making it the second largest contributor among OECD countries as a percentage of GNI to foreign aid. Norway’s foreign aid acts as a major player in global development programs and given its relatively small size serves as a testament to how any country can play a role in promoting global development to reduce poverty. In fact, Norway has made significant investments in major fields to reduce poverty and unleash opportunities for a more prosperous and stable world.

A Leader in Promoting Universal Education

Norwegian foreign aid has played a critical role in promoting global access to quality education in recent years. From 2013-2016, Norway met its pledge to nearly double its annual education aid from $210 million to $400 million by 2016. This increase resulted in several achievements in promoting quality education opportunities for children in developing countries.

During this three-year period, 3.1 million children obtained support each year, 1.6 million were in conflict-affected countries, 11 million students received school supplies along with 8.5 million textbooks, 140,000 teachers underwent training and 5,400 schools either underwent construction or received repair in several developing countries, according to Their World.

These concrete gains for education access from Norwegian foreign aid could help reduce poverty by promoting access to education and the socioeconomic opportunities it creates to achieve higher living standards for future workers. Countries receiving the bulk of aid are also recovering from or are currently enduring civil war and negative impacts on education. Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, the Palestinean territories and Lebanon are the biggest recipients of Norad aid, according to OECD.

This means Norwegian foreign aid is working to promote education in countries where the effects of war have impacted education access most acutely through the destruction of infrastructure and threat of violence inhibiting the experience of quality education.

The U.N. lauded Norway for its commitment to promoting global education through its Norad increases, as it represented an increase from 2% to 9% of humanitarian funding for one country going to education, more than twice the U.N. goal of 4%, according to Their World.

The country has also taken action to rally other countries behind promoting education access. It hosted the 2015 Oslo Education Summit to provide a global platform for forging a strategy to promote universal education in participating countries. At this Summit, the World Bank pledged to commit $5 billion over five years to global education.
Norwegian foreign aid has played a critical role in both contributing more than a fair share of its aid to education, but also as a small country nonetheless played an important role in galvanizing the international community to promote global education in its aid programs to reduce poverty.

Promotion of Global Health

Norway’s foreign aid has also played an important role in promoting global health and recently combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2000-2016, Norway spent roughly 53 billion Norwegian Krone (NOK) ($5.7 billion) on global health care programs through Norad. As with education, Norwegian foreign aid has worked to promote global cooperation to promote human health through collective action.

From its NOK 4.7 billion ($494 million) Norad spent on health care in 2016, 80% of it underwent distribution through multilateral organizations, demonstrating Norway recognizes the importance of galvanizing other countries to work together in reducing poverty through the promotion of quality health care access to have a healthy workforce capable of contributing to national development and achieving higher living standards for themselves.

Norwegian foreign aid for health care like education has also seen greater contributions than other developed countries. In 2020, Norway spent NOK $6.6 billion (roughly $665 million) on healthcare-related foreign aid.

Norad aims its investments in health care at four main goals. Reduction of deaths from preventable diseases through promotion of food security, clean water, sanitation and the delivery of vaccines. Also, equality of access to and distribution of quality health care services and combating corruption to ensure the former is accomplished.

Combating COVID-19

Norway’s foreign aid has also contributed to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2020, Norway has increased its health-related foreign aid expenditures by 8.4% in direct response to combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Norway has also along with South Africa co-chaired the COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a global initiative to promote equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, raising $18 billion in the process.

Through such spending and global leadership, Norway has proved itself an important factor not just by itself but also by supporting the global response to a global health crisis to combat poverty through better human health.
Norway for its small size plays a major role in the fight against global poverty. The fact Norway can contribute as much to reducing global poverty can serve as inspiration that both anyone or any country can play a role in fighting global poverty in the interest of a more prosperous and stable world. Norway’s efforts can also serve as an example that more powerful countries could do more, as the combination of Norwegian commitment and great power capacity to execute such commitment could achieve immense gains in the fight against global poverty through international aid.

John Zak
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in Norway
Advancements in women’s rights in Norway aim to empower girls and women in the nation. Gender equality as a human right is important in achieving stable and peaceful societies. These rights extend to equal opportunities for economic and political participation. Gender equality efforts aim to safeguard the needs and priorities of both women and men.

The Gender Gap in Norway

According to the 2020 Global Gender Gap Index Rating Report, Norway took second place in the gender parity chart. The country is one of the most gender-equal countries in the world in terms of “economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.”

The Global Gender Gap Index 2021 ranks Norway third in terms of gender parity with a score of 84.9% in 2021. Norway ranks behind Iceland and Finland and has made improvements in political empowerment, specifically the percentage of women in parliament — 44.4% in 2021 from 40.8% in 2020. Despite this progress, there is an obvious gender gap decline in economic participation with Norway scoring 0.6% lower than in 2020. Norway witnessed a decline in women’s participation in the labor force in 2021 and gender gaps in wage and income still exist.

In terms of the gender wage gap, women in Norway earn “an average of 87.9% of men’s wages in 2021.” In addition, only 34.5% of women hold senior positions in Norway in 2021, down from 35.6% in 2020. Furthermore, the fact that 41.2% of men engage in part-time employment in comparison to 58.4% of women in 2021 contributes to inequities. Narrowing the disparity in all sectors of the economy is necessary to attain gender equality.

Women’s Rights in Norway and Equality

Norway has made strides in achieving equality in all spheres of societal influence. In 1884, the Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights emerged to canvass and lobby for gender equality policies. These feminists advocated for women’s suffrage, the right to work and the right to equal education. In 1913, women in Norway gained the right to vote, 15 years after men began voting.

The legislative arm of the government has contributed immensely toward reforms for women’s rights in Norway. The Norwegian Parliament, also known as the Storting, amended the 1978 Gender Equality Act in 2002. The amended legislation requires both public and private sectors of society to “promote gender equality” as opposed to public entities only. The Norwegian government in furtherance of its equal rights effort in strengthening gender balance, passed a resolution in 2002 stipulating at least 40% representation of both men and women on the executive boards “of all public joint stock companies and State-owned companies.”

Strides in Achieving Gender Equality

Norway received recognition in 2016 as the first country globally to establish a gender equality ombud dedicated to a “society where power and influence [are] equally distributed and ensuring that all people regardless of who they are get treated equally.” In 2018, the country adopted the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act to improve the rights of workers, minorities and women in Norway.

The major focus of the Equality and Anti-Discrimination Act centered on incorporating gender equality in all aspects of foreign policy, improving anti-discriminatory practices and advancing gender inclusion policies in work settings. In Norway, advertised jobs must not be gender-specific.

Norway also has a liberal parental paid leave system. In 2020, maternal leave entailed full pay for 49 weeks or 80% of one’s income for 59 weeks. Fathers in Norway can take up to 10 weeks of paid leave. Furthermore, “together, parents can receive an additional 46 weeks at full pay or 56 weeks at 80% of their income.”

Looking Ahead

Norway lacks a strong representation of women in politics but progress is visible in the election of two women as former prime ministers — Gro Harlem Brundtland in 1981 and Erna Solberg in 2013. Norway prides itself as an equal and enlightened society but there is the need for continued improvement on affirmative action and equal pay for equal work. There is still much to achieve in the clamor toward gender parity in countries all around the world. It is important going into the future that countries enact comprehensive reforms to erase harmful practices and all forms of discrimination against women in the quest for gender equality.

– Sylvia Eimieho
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Norway
Mental health is a disease that affects an estimated 792 million people worldwide. Yet when people live in poverty and lack the money to attain basic needs, mental health often falls on the back burner. This is especially true in Norway. Though the country has a low poverty rate coupled with substantial efforts to improve access to and quality of mental health care, about half of all people in Norway experience a mental health disorder at some point in their life, and these numbers are rising in the wake of COVID-19.

Health Care in Norway

Norway offers universal health care coverage to all of its citizens and extends this service to all citizens from the European Union. It receives funding through general taxes and payroll contributions by employees, and provides a variety of services, with mental health being one of them. In 1956, this system, called the National Insurance Scheme, became a right for all Norway citizens. Though it ensures access to local municipalities and general practitioners, patients that require long-term or outpatient care must pay a fraction of it, making services unattainable for some poorer citizens.

How Does Economic Status Influence Mental Health?

 Mental health problems can arise in anyone, regardless of age, socioeconomic status or demographic group. The ways these disorders affect the individual vary. However, people in poverty are more susceptible, as a large factor fueling these disorders is one’s life situation. In fact, life factors like disability, unemployment, sicknesses and others drive common mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.

A study that the International Journal for Equity in Health published found “the prevalence of psychological distress increasing by decreasing social status,” and noted economic problems as a major factor of it. Life factors, like living in poverty, have proven to increase levels of mental health disorders, but so do perceived living situations. Another study, published in Science Direct, investigated Norwegian adolescents’ view of living status. It found that if people felt they were impoverished or living in a low-income household, they had higher instances of mental health disorders. This perception, it found, might even be more influential than actual living conditions.

Impact of Mental Health Disorders on Norwegians

Estimates have determined that nearly 15% of children worldwide suffer from a mental health disorder. In 2018, 16.5% of  Norwegians 15 to 24 years old reported experiencing “severe psychological distress.” Typically, mental disorders manifest as early as 14 years of age, with personality and anxiety disorders developing as early as 11 years old. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said that “without early and effective treatment and inclusion in society, young people with mental disorders risk becoming lifetime users of adult mental health services.” On top of this, instances of mental illness in children and young adults are particularly concerning since they lead to poorer education and difficulty transitioning into the workplace. Consequently, affected individuals earn lower incomes as adults if not treated properly at a young age.

Concerningly, in the last decade, Norway experienced an increase in permanent poverty among children, a factor that directly relates to mental health. Oslo, the country’s capital, has notable disparities in income throughout the city’s districts. This impacts mental health in Norway since living in city districts with high-income inequality, like in much of Oslo, lowers the probability of accessing mental health services, according to a study by Jon Finnvold of Oslo Metropolitan University. The study also highlighted that kids living in lower-income households experienced a higher risk of behavioral, or mental, problems.

What is Norway Doing to Improve Mental Health Services?

Notably, in the past few decades, there has been substantial investment in mental health services in Norway. Between 1999 and 2008, it invested NOK 6.3 billion ($735, 739, 200) into the Escalation Plan for Mental Health. This investment lowered suicide rates and helped improve services already provided by municipalities and increased access to children.

However, there are still discrepancies in access to care for mental health in Norway, largely based on socioeconomic status. Any problems Norway faced with its mental health care system only became more pronounced during the pandemic: like all countries, it saw an increase in patients requesting mental health assistance, especially in early 2020, the onset of the pandemic. A lot of these increases, as scientists speculate in a study that VOX EU published, come from the effects of lockdown and movement restrictions. Scientists are looking to policymakers, as they enforced said lockdowns, and draw on this evidence to show the harm isolation has on people’s overall mental health.

In no way do mental health problems only affect Norway; they also affect the entire world without discrimination, planting its seeds in the minds of the richest and the poorest of citizens belonging to any race, ethnicity or income level. Yet, people with lower incomes and of a minority ethnicity are particularly vulnerable to feeling the weight of these illnesses, as they have less access to services.

In Norway, the government’s universal health care system calls for equal access to all health services, including mental health, but it is just not the case. Those needing more comprehensive care still must pay a portion out of pocket, a bill that not everyone can afford to pay. Oslo specifically is home to unequal access, a direct result of the stark income discrepancies throughout the city. Norway has made substantial progress through mental health investment, but there is always a need to reach more people, to focus on the vulnerable populations to ensure they have the same opportunity for care as everyone else. There are still people not receiving care, as costs remain a barrier for those needing extensive treatment.

– Cameryn Cass
Photo: Unsplash

Norway is the Fairest CountryNorway, with a population of just over 5 million, is one of the smallest countries in Europe. Yet, even with its small size, Norway has shown to be mighty in terms of social progress and equality. In fact, Norway ranks as the country with the highest level of income equality, while also ranking second for gender equality worldwide. However, even though Norway is the fairest country, it still has much more work to truly become equal.

Improvements in Equality

Norway’s main successes in improving gender equality come from ensuring that all women are given exactly the same opportunities as men. For instance, Norway’s Gender Equality Act specifically guards against gender discrimination. It mandates that employers provide equal opportunity and report on instances of discrimination. Similarly, the Ministry of Culture annually collects equality assessments from subordinate agencies. This helps identify the possible weaknesses in Norway’s policies so they can work to improve them.

Because of these acts and agencies, Norway’s reforms have had incredible results. One significant improvement is in higher education; as early as 2001 women earned over two-thirds of university degrees, even with men earning more degrees in STEM fields. In regards to labor, in 2020, only 5.2% more men than women were in the Norwegian workforce.

Not only is it one of the fairest nations in the world with regards to gender, but Norway is the fairest country when it comes to income. For instance, while the top 10% of Norway’s earners owned almost 25% of the GDP in 2006, this number dropped to about 20% in 2015, which is a much lower number than the world average. In 2017, Norway also ranked fourth out of 30 high-income countries in terms of the ratio of women to men in the workforce and the ratio of female to male income, highlighting its extraordinary response to gender issues.

Significant Flaws Persist

Although Norway is making significant progress with gender and income equality, it still has a long way to go in regard to racial equity. Due to a severe lack of diversity in the country, with over 83% ethnically Norwegian, it does not come as a surprise that less than 1% of employees at Norway’s top 50 companies are minorities. Also, Norwegians have a bias against immigrants; 84% of the population believes that immigrants are discriminated against at the workplace.  Even though Norway is the fairest country in the world, these numbers emphasize the need for further reforms.

More work needs to continue on the gender gap for income. For example, in 2016 a man in Norway earned $1.27 for every dollar a woman earned. That is a difference of about $16,000 in annual salaries between men and women.  That gap remained about the same in 2021. 

Norway’s Future

As the pandemic has spread throughout the world, it has hit Norway hard. In fact, in March 2021, over 52% of businesses had said that they had experienced lower demands or cancellations.  Furthermore, even after the worst of the pandemic, 13.4% of Norwegians are still in poverty, especially for those in occupations like transportation that have shut down due to COVID. Even with just over 180,000 cases in the country and less than 1,000 deaths, it is easy to see how the pandemic has had harsh economic effects.

With that said, Norway has made tremendous efforts to move towards a sustainable future. The country has cut oil and gas prices to increase demand and has helped stabilize the national debt. Norway has also taken a lead in driving toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  These SDGs boldly aim to end poverty by the year 2030. They also strive to eliminate gender equality worldwide in the next decade. In fact, the Norwegian Prime Minister is co-chair of the Goals, helping lead an ambitious mission towards an equal society.

Norway is one of the fairest countries in the world even with flaws relating to racial and gender inequality. The country has shown impressive improvements and has placed a significant emphasis on equality in recent years. Even during the tough times of COVID-19, Norway is in a strong position to lead the world towards a bright future.

– Calvin Franke
Photo: Pixabay

Education in Norway
Public universities in Norway offer free tuition for all students, no matter their country of origin. These universities also offer high-quality education even though it has no cost. This has led students from around the world to seek an education in Norway.

Education in Norway involves the idea that all people should be able to receive a high-quality education, regardless of their socioeconomic status and background. This stems from Norway’s need for people with professional skills. Offering free education to all students provides them with the employees that they need.

Structure of Higher Education in Norway

There are four types of higher education in Norway. The first is a university college degree, which would allow those who receive one the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree. Its length is 120 ECTS, which are credits. The second is a bachelor’s degree, which is 180-240 ECTS. The third level is a master’s degree, which is 120-300 ECTS. Lastly, a Ph.D. is 180 ECTS and is the highest level of education. Many universities offer one-year programs, supplementary programs or short programs, which can be the basis for a branch of professional study. For example, some students choose to take part in these programs for a subject of professional studies, such as psychology.

Norway has also implemented a new system for degrees that follow the 3 + 2 + 3 pathway of a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D. This system has made it easier for international students to study in Norway and maintain their qualifications in other countries.

Results of Norway’s System

People in Norway who have a college education are more likely to get a job and earn a higher salary after graduation. Adults with a bachelor’s degree earn 13% more than upper secondary graduates. Findings determined that adults with a bachelor’s degree participated in cultural and sporting activities more often. There is a 36% difference in participation between those with secondary education and those with tertiary education. As a whole, this system sets an example for other countries as it has a positive impact on the economy and individual citizen’s lives. Pursuing higher education is an influential decision that can shape the course of a person’s future.

Effect on Poverty Rate

One of the most beneficial results of free tuition is the increase in the college graduation rate. Many students struggle with earning enough money for their entire tuition. Therefore, they often can only attend part-time so that they can accommodate a job, or they drop out because they cannot afford the fees. Free tuition completely eliminates this problem and allows students to focus entirely on their studies.

Free education in Norway attracts more people to colleges, especially public universities. Many people globally do not even apply for college because they know that they would not be able to afford it. However, free tuition would give people the chance to attend. It is also difficult for some people to secure loans for their education, especially if tuition is expensive. Private lenders may be hesitant to give that much money to a young student since they are unsure if they will be able to pay it back. Free education stops students from having this worry and eliminates the possibility of crushing loan debt after graduation.

Lastly, free college in Norway ensures that the country’s citizens have more education. As more people become qualified for high-skilled jobs, they may have access to higher-paying careers. As a result, the wealth gap could decrease and lift people out of poverty.

– Miranda Kargol
Photo: Flickr

Commitment to Development IndexThe Center for Global Development (CGD) releases the Commitment to Development Index (CDI) annually. The CGD analyzes the policies of the 40 most powerful countries in the world on their dedication to contributing to the development of low-income nations. It rates the countries based on performance in three overall categories and seven subcategories: development finance, exchange (including investment, migration and trade) and global public goods (including environment, security and technology). After scoring these sections individually for each country, the CGD then assigns each country an overall grade. The organization ranks the countries on the CDI based on these overall scores. In 2020, the top three countries were Sweden, France and Norway.

Sweden

Sweden ranks first on the Commitment to Development Index, with an overall score of 100%. Sweden received more than a 90% rating on development finance, migration, environment and security. The country scores well on all categories except technology, where it ranks 20th.

  • Development Finance. Sweden received a score of 93% because it spends 0.83% of its gross national income (GNI) on development finance. This is more than twice the average. Sweden also has proper transparency when it comes to spending. The country even has its own development finance institution called Swedfund. The institution’s goal is to alleviate poverty by investing in and helping to develop sustainable businesses in struggling and formidable markets.
  • Migration. Sweden received a score of 100% in this category because it has the most inclusive migrant policies compared to all the other countries on the CDI. Sweden has tightened its legislation since 2015 when it received 160,000 asylum seekers. The aim is to ensure that it can sufficiently take care of the people already in the country without being overburdened. Nevertheless, the country still welcomes more migrants than any other country on the CDI.
  • Security. Sweden received a 93% in security because it “contributes an above-average level of troops and finance to global peacekeeping missions.” Sweden also helps contribute to global health initiatives. Sweden has worked with the U.N. peacekeeping missions since 1948 and has sent more than 80,000 Swedish people to help.

France

France came second on the Commitment to Development Index with an overall score of 81%. France received more than a 90% score on investment, environment and security. France also scored well on trade.

  • Investment. France received a 91% in this category because it performs well with regard to business and human rights criteria. France created “The National Plan for the Implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.” The plan “is a universal road map for implementing the standards aimed at holding businesses accountable with regard to human rights.”
  • Environment. France received a 97% in the environment category because it signed every necessary environmental treaty and produces few fossil fuels.
  • Security. France has a 93% in this category because of its peacekeeping commitments. It provides 0.066% of its GNI to peacekeeping, which is twice the average. For 2020-2021, France budgeted $6.58 billion for peacekeeping efforts.

Norway

Norway ranks third on the Commitment to Development Index, with an overall score of 78%, mostly because of its high rating on development finance. It ranks well on investment and security too.

  • Development Finance. Norway received a 96% in this category because it provides 0.89% of its GNI to development finance. It is also first in transparency for development financing reporting. The country is well known for its commitment to “development co-operation” because it “has a primary focus on promoting equality for all, especially for the most vulnerable, marginalized and less privileged ones in least developed countries (LDCs) and sub-Saharan Africa.”
  • Investment. Norway has an 81% in investment. This is because Norway implements the OECD’s Anti-bribery Convention and has a strong history of upholding human and business rights. Norway works closely with the Human Rights Watch, an organization working to expose abuse and improve human rights throughout the world.
  • Security. Norway received an 88% on security partly because it ranks well in health security. The country utilizes significant monitoring and surveillance methods for antimicrobial resistance. This work is important because it can help lower global health hazards.

Reducing Global Poverty

For 2020, the Commitment to Development Index ranked Sweden, France and Norway as the top three countries. These countries are significantly contributing to global development, and in turn, are contributing to global poverty reduction.

Sophie Shippe
Photo: Flickr

Most Generous Donor CountriesAccording to the Principled Aid Index, a study by OECD’s DAC (Development Assistance Committee), the most generous donor nations tend to be the most humble and modest about the help they provide to the world’s poor. Among DAC’s 30 member countries, the four most generous are Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. All nations exceeded the United Nation’s recommended level of donating 0.7% of gross national income (GNI)to foreign aid. How are these four most generous and principled aid donors using their international funds to help the world’s poor?

Luxembourg

Luxembourg tops the list of most generous donor nations with 1.05% of its GNI going to foreign aid. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a partner to nine developing countries across Africa, the United States and Asia, and is a member of the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

Luxembourg’s foreign aid strategy, developed through the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency, focuses on improving local development through providing education and employment, digitalizing health care and funding renewable energy. Its main areas of work are Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Mali, Niger, Senegal, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Norway

The second country on the list of most generous donor nations is Norway. Norway spends on average NOK 39 billion ($4.3 billion) on foreign aid per year. Apart from exceeding the United Nations’ 0.7% target, Norway has only failed to donate more than 1% of its GNI to international humanitarian aid once since 2013. In 2020, Norway donated 1.02%.

The Norwegian government has five focus areas for appointing its foreign aid funds – education, health, private-sector development, environmental challenges and humanitarian assistance. It also focuses heavily on development, whether through human rights, gender equality, the environment or the fight against corruption. Its most prioritized areas of work, and the recipients of its biggest donations, are mostly countries in the SWANA (South West Asian/ North African) region.

Norway is currently focusing on development cooperation in Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Tanzania and Uganda. It is also focusing on conflict prevention in Afghanistan, Malawi, Niger, Palestine, Somalia and South Sudan.

Norway has announced that, in the year 2021, it will place a significant focus on international humanitarian assistance and global health, and thus, will donate nearly NOK 10 billion to both of the causes. Expectations determine that its overall 2021 foreign aid budget will reach NOK 38.1 billion ($4.7 billion). At the beginning of 2021, Norway joined COVAX. COVAX is an international collaboration within developed countries aiming to bring COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries. Norway has committed itself to the redistribution of its surplus vaccine doses to impoverished countries in the program.

Sweden

Although Sweden is the sixth country on the DAC list, it is actually the third-most generous donor based on the proportion of its foreign aid donations to the size of its economy. Sweden has exceeded the United Nation’s 0.7% target every year since 1975. In addition, it has kept the long-term commitment of donating at least 1% since 2008. In 2020, the Swedish government ensured its COVID-19 response will not affect its development funding during the pandemic.

The main national body acting on foreign aid donations is the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). SIDA’s Aid Policy Framework is based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and focuses on eight main areas: human rights and democracy, gender equality, environment and environmental challenges, peace and security, inclusive economic development, migration, health equity and education.

SIDA has 35 partner countries, most in sub-Saharan Africa. Sweden’s largest donations go to Tanzania, Afghanistan and Mozambique. However, SIDA also works in Palestine, South Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Sweden is very open about its strong commitment to international development cooperation. One of the central points of its foreign development policy is gender equality and women’s empowerment. In 2014, Sweden became the first country to implement a feminist foreign policy, which ensures fundamental rights, peace, security and opportunities for sustainable development for women and girls in developing countries, such as cash grants supporting female-led households in Tanzania, which Sweden has been providing since 2016.

Furthermore, a large part of Sweden’s funding between 2014 and 2017 went toward its efforts to domestically host refugees. Later in 2019, it also created an emergency fund for Ethiopian refugees fleeing to Sudan. As part of Sweden’s 2021 budget plan, the country has a commitment to spending $6 billion on foreign humanitarian aid.

Denmark

According to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark has donated 0.71% of its GNI to foreign aid – $2.55 billion in 2020. The main sectors on the Danish foreign aid agenda are ensuring a secure transition for migrants by providing them with education and employment opportunities. Denmark also works to promote democracy and equal human rights while implementing inclusive and sustainable development.

Most of the aid goes to “priority countries” like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali, Myanmar, Palestine, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. Denmark also donates significant funds to Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, Colombia, China, Mexico, Turkey and Ukraine. All of Denmark’s humanitarianism is a part of its new strategy for development and humanitarian action called “The World 2030.”

Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Luxembourg’s generosity to other countries has had a multitude of benefits. From helping improve education to aiding countries’ health care systems or advancing women’s rights, these most generous donor nations are making a positive impact across the world.

– Natalia Barszcz
Photo: Flickr

Norway’s Prison System
Norway has consistently ranked number one on a number of lists entailing the best, most comfortable prisons in the world. Since the 1990s, Norway’s prison system has evolved into spaces that represent comfort, healing and inclusivity. Changing its approach and attitudes towards prisoners, Norway is molding high-functioning members of society. In return, former prisoners are gaining the necessary skills in order to contribute to Norway’s economy. Here is some information about Norway’s prison system.

Norway’s Prison System

As of 2014, Norway’s incarceration rate was at only 75 per 100,000 people. In addition, since developing its new prison system in the 1990s, its recidivism rate has decreased from around 60-70% to only 20% in recent years. The main reason for these statistics is due to a focus on “restorative justice,” an approach that identifies prisons in the same category as rehabilitation facilities. Rather than focusing on the punishment and mistreatment of its prisoners, Norway has the primary goal of reintegrating its prisoners as stable contributors to communities. The first way it is accomplishing this is by creating jail cells that closely resemble small, dorm rooms. Many prisons in Norway have completely banned bars in their architectural design and have “open” style cells. At the maximum-security Halden prison, each prisoner has a toilet, shower, fridge and a flat TV screen with access to kitchens and common areas.

Along with its innovative architectural style, Norway’s prison system ensures that it provides a multitude of programs and courses that one could find at traditional recreational centers. The Halden maximum facility allows its prisoners to enroll in yoga classes and at other places, inmates can choose to learn woodworking or even have access to studios. These programs ensure jails create a peaceful atmosphere, rather than a place for hatred and violence. Furthermore, Norwegian jails highlight the importance of education. Its primary goal is to encourage prisoners to not simply survive, but to live a full life once their sentence time reaches completion.

The Elimination of Life Sentences

Norway has banned life sentences, and one inmate at the Halden facility is serving 15 years for committing murder. In a 2019 interview, Fredrik opened up about his time at the prison and his accomplishments since starting his sentence. He is currently publishing a prison cookbook, received a diploma in graphic design, aced multiple exams, currently studying physics and hopes to pursue higher education once his sentence reaches completion.

At another facility, prisoners spoke of the impact educational programs had on their mental health and hopes for the future. They admitted they had felt a sense of hopelessness because they believed the only real skill they held was selling drugs. However, after taking several courses, they felt accomplished and realized they could master different, proactive skills. Now, through their time in prison, they gained valuable life skills that can assist them in gaining legal jobs that will ensure they do not land back in prison.

The Benefits of Norway’s Prison System

In a research paper published in 2019, the authors focused specifically on the impact of prisoners on the economy. The paper highlighted Norwegian ideologies and the results of their unique prison system. First, reducing the population of prisoners that are reincarcerated means more individuals are able to contribute to Norway’s economy once their sentence is complete. Second, among the prison population that was unemployed prior to being arrested, there was a 34% increase in this group partaking in job training courses and a 40% increase in employment rates. Lastly, Norway’s prison system equips its prisoners with education-based knowledge and labor skills that have long-term benefits to its country’s economy and also improves their personal lives.

With all these positive outcomes, Norway’s prison system may well become the leader for other countries across the globe to follow. One mission that is consistent throughout all of Norway’s facilities is the rehabilitation and reintegration of its prisoners into society. These prisons’ accepting, caring and empathetic approach has paved the way for many prisoners into becoming fine citizens supporting their country’s economy.

– Bolorzul Dorjsuren
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid Policies In 2019, the Overseas Development Institute came out with the principled aid index to assess the degree to which donor countries are contributing to a prosperous world. According to the report, the principled foreign aid policies not only benefit the country that receives the aid, but it also serves the interests of the donor country. Below is a list of how this report’s top five countries are using their foreign aid:

5 Countries Foreign Aid Policies

  1. Luxembourg is a small country in Western Europe that has pledged 0.96% of its gross national income (GNI) to go towards development and aid. It is one of the few countries that meet a goal set by the U.N. to dedicate 0.7% of a country’s GNI to foreign aid. Luxembourg starts by targeting some of its partner countries, which include Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, Mali and Senegal. With remaining funds, Luxembourg helps provide humanitarian assistance in Kosovo, the Palestinian territories and Vietnam. The country also focuses on private enterprises through microfinance and inclusive finance to help promote productivity. In 2020, Luxembourg joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative which motivates the government to share data about foreign aid spending with the public. Accountability is an important factor in creating sustainable aid.
  1. The United Kingdom is another country that has met the U.N. goal of 0.7% of GNI for foreign aid. The U.K. set the goal back in 1974 but recently achieved it in 2013. Additionally, the government inscribed the goal into law in 2015 so that the country now has a legal duty to achieve it. Around 64% of the U.K.’s foreign aid goes to countries for bilateral aid. The main recipients of bilateral aid include Pakistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Syria and Afghanistan. The remaining 36% of the U.K.’s foreign aid goes to multilateral institutions like the E.U. and the U.N. Additionally, the U.K. has also provided humanitarian aid for Liberia and Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. Also, the country offered assistance to Nepal and Indonesia — following natural disasters and Somalia during the hunger crisis.
  1. Sweden has continuously met the U.N. goal since 1976. The country even made its own goal to dedicate 1% of its GNI to foreign aid in 2008. In 2019, Sweden allotted 0.98% of its GNI for foreign aid. Along with Norway, Sweden is considered to be a “humanitarian superpower.” The Swedish development cooperation, also known as Sida, is Sweden’s leading agency for providing foreign assistance. Sweden has 33 partner countries that it helps by creating income opportunities and strengthening democracy. Sweden is dedicated to helping achieve the U.N., 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The country’s primary goals include human rights, democracy and the rule of law, gender equality, the environment and climate change, health equity and education and research.
  1. Norway has met the U.N. goal for providing foreign aid since 1976. In 2019, Norway apportioned 1.02% of its GNI for foreign aid and development. Norway’s foreign aid policies use an approach that follows the 2005 Paris principles. These principles value ownership, alignment, harmonization, managing for results and accountability. Norway provides foreign aid funding for civil society organizations and budget support. The country also uses a large part of its budget to help people inside its borders. For example, Norway has used part of its budget to provide for its refugee population, which included more than 50,000 refugees in 2019.
  1. Ireland currently does not meet the U.N. goal, but the country is hoping to double its impact by 2025. In 2017, 0.36% of Ireland’s GNI went toward its foreign aid budget. Ireland’s foreign aid focuses on developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The country hopes to combat the issues of displacement and conflict, which Ireland’s main concern — climate change, tends to exacerbate. Additionally, developing countries are more likely to feel the effects of climate change disproportionately as compared with developed countries.

Striding Forward

These five countries’ foreign aid policies are impressive examples of how developed nations can make valuable contributions to global well-being. Hopefully, more undeveloped countries continue to benefit from foreign aid policies of more developed nations. Likewise, it is important these developed countries continue their efforts to achieve the U.N. goals, for theirs and the world’s greater benefit.

Camryn Anthony
Photo: Pixabay