A brief presentation of Voss and Voss Upper Secondary Agricultural School
Voss Upper Secondary Agricultural School is situated at Voss, a rural community about 100 Km. east from the City of Bergen on the western coast of Norway.
Voss municipality covers an aeral of 1815.- square kilometres, and is located between our two deepest fjords and in a mountainous and rich wildlife area. Voss is on one side a traditional agricultural society, and on the other a regional centre for modern industry, service, tourism, sports (alpine and cross-country, rafting, hang gliding etc.) and education. Voss is also a cultural centre for folk music, an annual Jazz festival, famous woodcarvers and artists etc. The municipality is populated by 13821 inhabitants. Approximately half of the population ca. 7000 is living in the central Voss Village area and its near sourroundings, the rest is spread allover in the narrow valleys and uphills.
In 1998 Voss Upper Secondary Agricultural School celebrated its 50.th.year anniversary. Our main issue has traditionally been educating farmers- agronomists and forest workers.The Upper Secondary school-system in Norway was reformed during the 1990s. In essence, the reform was structural and pedagogic. The reform also aimed to facilitate the practical education towards higher studies - to give students in practical education access to advanced higher education; for instance polytechnic schools, college and university.
The education at our school takes the students through a three years course (or up to 5 years for students that need special arrangements due to a handicap; slow learners).The first year is a basic course where the students are given basic training in a broad field.
Practical skills in agriculture, gardening, forestry, traditional use of nature, outdoor activity, wilderness experiences and extreme-sports, wildlife and environmental management. In addition general theoretical topics like mathematics, economy, history, language, civics, are studied.. At this level the school also offers a special course in horse management and training. The second year one can specialize and choose between Forestry, Outdoor Activity, Wilderness experiences and Extreme-sports, General Agriculture and Nature Management, and Advanced level of Horse Management. This is also a theoretical advancement.
The specialization is continued in the third year, divided in 3 main directions: Forestry, Agronomy, or Nature management. The two first advanced courses give professional tittles as skilled woodsman or agronomists. The Nature Management is heavily theoretical and gives access to higher education at University level. The students at the Horse Management course can either advance to the Nature Management course or to two-years as apprentice in Horse Management. A fourth year is also given to students who want to attend higher education that requires more skills in mathematics, biology and chemistry.
Changing marked conditions for agricultural products, and structural changes initiated by official policy in Norway, has left us with a lot of interesting challenges for the future.
On one hand there is an increasing focus on further structural rationalisation of agricultural production towards bigger economic sustainable farms, and on the other hand a focus on Ecological sustainable Agriculture and Small-scale farm-production with fokus on development in local society. This means a focus on both facilitating production towards Large-scale consumers markets, and specialisized small-scale high quality production and service aggregation towards local markets or highly specialized product-categories. In our country nearly all of the production has been towards consumers marked, and there are few local markets left. In the marked there is an increasing demand for local small-scale products. To facilitate our students for future rural employment there is a challenge towards entrepreneurship and small-scale products development.
Another challenge is on the environmental issues. This is heavily focused in our education. We give our students both theoretical and practical education in nature and wildlife management. At given hour there are very few work opportunities for graduates at this level, further education is required. It would be interesting to communicate or cooperate with similar education institutions in Europe on these issue.
The Nature Management study and internationalisation
The course of this class focus, among other things, on the strains between uses of natural resources and ecological sustainability, conservation of biodiversity, eco-philosophy, economy versus ecology, development and planning of local communities, area planning, strains between traditional and modern ways of living and using nature - seen in a perspective of sustainability, conflicts between traditional land-use and conservation. It is a crucial point to give the students an international (global) and historical outlook.
As mentioned, their studies of environmental management involve both insight in global sustainability and studies of the local community. Internationalisation is also a main subject for the Hordaland County School Authorities (Hordaland Fylkeskommune). We have also focused on the excursions value on a multi-subject level: language, history, civics and sosial science (organisation and structure of society, and the structural influence of the European Union) and natural history, biology and ecology.