A delegation of representatives from Norway’s largest trade union for teachers – Utdanningsforbundet – the Union of Education, visited Derry on Wednesday.
The 17-strong delegation had a packed itinerary for their visit, and were hosted by local INTO member and DTUC delegate Daisy Mules.
Speaking about their visit, a spokesperson for the delegation said: “Union of Education Norway has a significant international profile both in international solidarity work and work in or in relation to international organisations.
“Much of our international work is channelled through or connected to work in Education International (EI) where INTO are also members.
“Norway is of course the home of the Nobel Peace Prize which has been awarded several times to Irish contributors - in 1974, 1976 and 1998.
“Norwegians have a natural affinity with the Irish people and there are links as far back as Viking times.
“We are of course aware that it is the 50th anniversary of the civil rights campaign and the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement something that makes the visit all the more appropriate.”
The spokesperson added that the visit was a fact finding mission to compare and contrast the respective education systems as well as the role of trade unionists within the educational sphere and society in general.
“Union of Education Norway aims to influence social development through contributing to our own national political debate and working for the development of a society characterized by tolerance and respect for differences and diversity.
“We see the education sector as of the utmost importance in developing democracy and encouraging tolerance in a culturally complex society.
“The meetings on Wednesday were facilitated by the Irish National Teachers Organisation who have lined up a number of school visits for us.
“The educational system in the North is very different from Norway where more or less everyone – regardless of the size of their wallets - attends state schools and the educational curriculum is based on inclusiveness and communality.
“We are looking forward to hearing more about maintained, controlled and integrated schools which do not exist where we are,” added the spokesperson.
The delegation visited both Derry and Belfast, but noted that they were “particularly delighted” to visit Derry, on the 50th anniversary of the civil rights campaign.
During their visit the delegation had a reception with Mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council Reception with the Mayor Maolíosa McHugh, before meeting Elisha McCallion, MP and Raymond McCartney MLA.
The group were then taken on a visit to the Museum of Free Derry, before taking a comprehensive tour of the Derry murals.
They were treated to lunch at Culturlánn, before visiting Oakgrove Integrated College later in the afternoon.