Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The government wants one million new school books – allocating NOK 300 million in the budget


The government will provide NOK 300 million for paper books in schools in the revised national budget. Photo: Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB

Of NTB | 08.05.2024 13:44:01

Education: – We have research that shows that learning to read is better, more effective if you learn it through the book than through the screen. Reading skills are declining. And perhaps most seriously, the desire to read has fallen the most among Norwegian students compared to all others since 2015, says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (Ap) to NTB.

The government is setting aside NOK 300 million for paper books in the revised national budget to be presented next week. The number of school books will be increased by over one million books, it emerged when the Prime Minister launched the government’s initiative on Wednesday.

– The municipalities are the school owners. Now they are taking this seriously with a mobile-free school day. They follow that up in a very good way. So I hope that when they now receive earmarked money for school books, they will quickly convert it into modernizing the book park, says Støre.

He points out that good reading skills are crucial for learning in all subjects, as well as later participation in working life and social life in general.

The news was presented during the Prime Minister’s visit to the Publishing Center at Langhus, where school books are distributed throughout Norway. It is nothing new that the government is critical of the significant element of screen-based teaching in schools.

– The Conservative Party has been too single-mindedly preoccupied with tests. They break up the teaching and don’t give enough information about how we can make everyday school life better, says Støre.

– And the investment in the iPad was seen as a panacea in all teaching. It was supposed to save money in tight budgets and went too far, he says.

It is good that the government is investing in physical books at a time when we know that around 40 per cent of boys cannot read properly when they start secondary school, says Høyre: – There is certainly a need for more books. This will contribute to the teachers’ choice between physical books and digital teaching aids becoming more real than it is today, says school policy spokesperson Margret Hagerup.

– If you look at a sixth grader who has learned to read digitally and a fourth grader who has learned with physical books, they read at the same level. Some say how important it is to learn to read well through physical textbooks and to have a balance between pen and keyboard, said Nordtun during the launch.

She talks about “dramatic numbers”: – We perform so poorly on international examinations, on PISA, Rolls, Tims. This is a development we have to reverse. It shows the importance that we must take on board the knowledge we have about digital tools, she tells NTB.

Since Nordtun became Minister of Education, she has repeatedly expressed concern about the use of screens in Norwegian schools, saying she wants “a reasonable balance between screen and book, between pen and keyboard”. One of the first things she did as a minister was to put forward a proposal to introduce a ban on mobile phones in Norwegian schools.

– The iPad will not go out, but it will have much less space than it has today in some places, says Nordtun.

– There is a balance between screen and book. There is too much screen. We need to strengthen the book, he said and emphasized that digital learning tools should still be used in schools.

Minister of Education Kari Nessa Nordtun (Ap) and Minister of Children and Families Kjersti Toppe (Sp) took part in the launch. It is part of “a systematic focus on Norwegian students”, according to Nordtun.


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