Education, Nation-State Formation and Religion: Comparing Ireland and Norway


  • Nina Volckmar Norwegian University of Science and Technology



primary education, nation, religion, secularisation, comparative history


This article compares the development of primary education in Ireland and Norway, from its establishment in the nineteenth century until present time. The aim of the article is to discuss how and to what degree nation-state formation after independence in Ireland (1922) and Norway (1905) created fundamental and persistent structures for the development of primary schooling, as well as the role that religion and nation-building played in this. Previous research on the development of Irish and Norwegian schooling and official documents and reports makes up the research material. The article demonstrates that, despite institutional secularisation around the world from the nineteenth century onwards, religious and national peculiarities in the establishment of primary education in Ireland and Norway continue to characterise, and to some extent explain, the differences in Irish and Norwegian education today.

Author Biography

Nina Volckmar, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Professor emerita of History of Education at the Department of Education and Lifelong learning