Democratic educational policy: Brief history and philosophical analysis

Ólafur Páll Jónsson


During most of the 20th century Icelandic educational policy aimed at developing public schools as fundamental institutions in a democratic society. However, it was not until 1974 that democracy was explicitly mentioned in the law pertaining to public schools. Earlier law is characterized by obvious democratic ideas, such as that schools should be open to everyone, that the school system should form a unified whole and that access to education should be equal. I will focus on public policy in education and consider when, whether and to what extent Icelandic educational policy was democratic. In this discussion, the law from 1974 has a special status, not only because of the ideals described in the law itself but also because of the extensive developmental work that was carried out in relation to the setting of the new law. I will argue that at that time there really was democratic educational policy in Iceland but that it was given up in the eighties and further abandoned in the nineties.


Democracy; educational policy; Iceland.

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