Table of Contents
ISRN Education
Volume 2012, Article ID 161039, 7 pages
Review Article

Effects of History and Culture on Attitudes toward Special Education: A Comparison of Finland and Norway

1Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2Department Education and Social Work, Lillehammer University College, 2604 Lillehammer, Norway

Received 16 March 2012; Accepted 2 May 2012

Academic Editors: D. Aram, G. Bagnall, J. Pomares, and M. Reis

Copyright © 2012 Marjatta Takala and Rune Sarromaa Hausstätter. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper discusses the role of special education in Finland and Norway. There are major differences in how special education is understood in these countries. The different perspective that Finland and Norway have on the concept of inclusion is also striking. The PISA test results show that the Finnish school is performing well, partly because of flexible part-time special education; the early intervention strategy also plays a role in this success. These aspects are making Finnish schools inclusive; support is offered immediately when it is needed without any bureaucratic process. An effective teacher education program is also a key element in creating a successful school system. Norway’s relatively weak educational results could mean that despite their strong focus on inclusion, Norwegian schools are not inclusive. The quality of special education is debated. If it is true that special education is helping to create success in schools, then clearly there is a need to discover more about the different systems and what factors may influence that success. Despite the close geographical and political relationship between Norway and Finland, there exists clear differences in the educational area.