Travellers and Jews relegated to History’s scrapheap

lifted from

more in-depth coverage on the lack of adequate education on anti-Semitism and discrimination of National Minorities in Norway. The nationally recognised minorities in Norway are Kvens/Norwegian Finns (people of Finnish descent in Northern Norway), Jews, Forest Finns, Roma and Romani people/Taters.

According to the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation:

National minorities

Groups with a long-standing attachment to the country are defined as national minorities. In Norway these minorities are: Kvens/Norwegian Finns (people of Finnish descent in Northern Norway), Jews, Forest Finns, Roma and Romani people/Taters.

National minorities

The Government emphasises the objectives enshrined in the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The authorities wish to maintain a close dialogue with organisations that represent the national minorities in order to ensure that their views are heard.

The Sami people is the only recognised National Native people of Norway.

Yet, for all of the surveys that have documented a high prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes and general lack of knowledge of the discrimination other National Minority groups encounter, little is done to counter this through educational efforts.

So all the more cudos to Vårt Land for making an earnest effort to raise the topic in the public discourse. (I only wish they could begin by kicking out the shameless anti-Semites who so frequently contribute to cementing anti-semitic attitudes on the VL debate forums)

Travellers and Jews are referred to history’s scrap heap
Recent textbooks are good on new immigrant groups, but forgets old minority issues in today’s society.
Andreas W. H. Lindvåg

Researchers have documented how indigenous peoples and national, ethnic, and religious minorities are described in textbooks for junior high and high school. This they found:

Theme related to the multicultural society is treated in a way that allows students from minority backgrounds are included in the Norwegian “we.” It wasn’t like this 20 years ago.This is also reflected in the language of the books.

Old, forgotten minorities

However, the positive trend applies primarily discussion of recent immigrant groups’ situation in Norway, to a lesser extent the situation of so-called national minorities, says Arnfinn H. Midtbøen at the Institute for Social Research. He has led the work on the report prepared on behalf of the Directorate of Education.

– Jews, Roma, Romani or Travellers, Finns, Forest Finns – the challenges they face in today’s society is thematised to a small extent. The Sami people is a special case as it receives a lot of attention, but part of the teaching aids paint a pretty rosy picture also of their situation today, the sociologist says.

At the same time awareness of the Norwegian tater- or Romani population and the Jewish minority increased, according to Midtbøen. The former group is about to get its own official report, the latter’s situation has been highlighted by, among other things, the Centre for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities (HL center).

Absent in the curriculum

The researchers also examined if the competence aims in the curriculum find their way into school books. They do so without exception. Competence is expressed according to the authorities, “what it is expected that pupils and apprentices shall master after training.”

But today there is no mention of the term “national minorities” in any final assessment of the surveyed subjects in secondary school, and in only one of the objectives for the study of history in high school: “Students should be able to explain the national state policy towards indigenous people, national and ethnic minorities in the 1800s and 1900s, and discuss the consequences of this policy. ”

None of the five national minorities are mentioned individually in other competence aims of the surveyed subjects. “Ethnic and religious minorities” is not mentioned explicitly. There are however several goals for Sami as an indigenous people.

– If education authorities believe a topic should be addressed in the textbooks and teaching, it must be said explicitly in the curriculum competence, says Åse Røthing at the University College of Oslo and Akershus, one of the report’s authors.

– Otherwise it will be a bit random what is thematized, she says.

History’s scrap heap

Skills goals is thus clear consequences for the content of teaching aids.

– In the teaching aids, the national minorities and their problems are described as problems of the past. It is because the government no longer aims for assimilation. But the national minorities carry with them their story in a completely different way than the new immigrant groups. Therefore, several deeply mistrust of the Norwegian government, says Midtbøen.

It is indeed much in the textbooks about Jews in connection with Judaism as a religion and as a historically persecuted group. But it is reflected in the very limited extent of Jewish situation as a religious minority in Norway today, says the sociologist. Of the 19 identified social sciences books, mentioned anti-Semitism in only one.

National minorities and indigenous peoples are discussed in social science books, he points out, but they receive much more attention in history books. – This implies that the subject is a matter of the past. In social studies books, the discussion is often of a historical character, says Midtbøen.


– To the extent that teaching materials can tell us something about national identity, this suggests that we have come a long way when it comes to the realization that Norway is a multicultural and multi-religious society, but the challenges national minorities face in today’s society are not taken sufficient seriously, says Midtbøen.

1 comment for “Travellers and Jews relegated to History’s scrapheap

  1. motti
    October 24, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    A waste of space. Bigotry reigns supreme

Comments are closed.