Background of Education in the Faroe Islands

The Ministry of Education, Research and Culture has the jurisdiction of educational responsibility in the Faroe Islands. Since the Faroe Islands is a constituent country of the Danish Realm, education in the Faroe Islands is influenced and has similarities with the Danish educational system; there is an agreement on educational cooperation between the Faroe Islands and Denmark. In 2012 the public spending on education was 8.1% of GDP. The municipalities are responsible for the school buildings for children's education in Fólkaskúlin from age 1st grade to 9th or 10th grade (age 7 to 16). In November 2013 1,615 people, or 6.8% of the total number of employees, were employed in the education sector. Of the 31,270 people aged 25 and above 1,717 (5.5%) have gained at least a Master's degree or a Ph.D., 8,428 (27%) have gained a B.Sc. or a Diploma, 11,706 (37.4%) have finished upper secondary education while 9,419 (30.1%) has only finished primary school and have no other education. There is no data on literacy in the Faroe Islands, but the CIA Factbook states that it is probably as high as in Denmark proper, i.e. 99%.

The majority of students in upper secondary schools are women, although men represent the majority in higher education institutions. In addition, most young Faroese people who relocate to other countries to study are women. Out of 8,535 holders of bachelor degrees, 4,796 (56.2%) have had their education in the Faroe Islands, 2,724 (31.9%) in Denmark, 543 in both the Faroe Islands and Denmark, 94 (1.1%) in Norway 80 in the United Kingdom and the rest in other countries. Out of 1,719 holders of master's degrees or PhDs, 1,249 (72.7% have had their education in Denmark, 87 (5.1%) in the United Kingdom, 86 (5%) in both the Faroe Islands and Denmark, 64 (3.7%) in the Faroe Islands, 60 (3.5%) in Norway and the rest in other countries (mostly EU and Nordic). Since there is no medical school in the Faroe Islands, all medical students have to study abroad; as of 2013, out of a total of 96 medical students, 76 studied in Denmark, 19 in Poland and 1 in Hungary.

Although the Faroese language is designated as the country's principal language, the Home Rule Act of the Faroe Islands states that the Danish language "is to be learnt well and carefully". Up to ninth grade, most school material is in Faroese; there are Danish classes since third grade. In upper secondary education this pattern is reversed; courses are taught in Danish, except the Faroese language courses. The Faroese language is taught 64 hours per week, overall, throughout compulsory education, while Danish is taught 29 hours per week; exams in both languages are equal in length. English language courses start from 4th grade and they are taught for 60 hours annually at that grade, 90 hours in 5th grade, 120 hours in 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade; pupils who chose to take the 10th grade have the option to get another 120 hours of English lessons.

Faroese and Danish language courses in Fólkaskúlin

Grade Faroese
(hours of instruction per week) Danish
(hours of instruction per week)
1st Grade 11 -
2nd Grade 11 -
3rd Grade 9 3
4th Grade 6 4
5th Grade 6 4
6th Grade 6 4
7th Grade 5 4
8th Grade 5 4
9th Grade 5 4
Fólkaskúlin 64 29