Birgejupmi – Life Skills, the Sámi Approach to Inclusion and Adapted Education


  • Anne-Mette Bjøru The Arctic University of Norway
  • Anne Randi Solbakken The Arctic University of Norway


This essay explores the Sámi approach to inclusion and adapted education through references to theory about Sámi culture and values concerning child rearing (Balto & Kuhmunen, 2014; Aikio, 2010; Balto, 1997). There are also examples of meeting the special learning needs of children in a Sámi community in North Norway. The personal experiences of a Sámi woman who lives and works in a Sámi village are shared. To anonymize, the woman is given the name Sofe and the village is situated in the northern part of Norway. Sofe is a teacher with all together 14 years of teaching experience on different levels, from kindergarten to upper secondary school. Part of her teacher training education was about Sámi childrearing, and she currently works in upper secondary school. Some of the experiences Sofe shares are examples from her own teaching practice in school; others are from her colleagues and her community. Sofe shared her insights via informal talks and written texts in e-mails, and we communicated regularly about the topic over a period of three months. The stories she shares are the essence of this essay because they are key to understanding how the principles that are explained in theory transfer to everyday life in school and elsewhere. The headings of the essay create the text’s structure and consist of Sámi terms that express a way of thinking and an ideology about human beings and child rearing. However, a brief introduction to the Norwegian system of education is necessary to create a backdrop for the reader to better comprehend the Sámi approach.