Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 330

330 Arctic Yearbook 2014   market based economy successfully integrated into the world economy, creating an extreme dependency on domestic resources. The exploitation of marine resources has therefore played a dominant role in the social, political and economic life on the islands for over a century and still does (Joensen 1992b; Justinussen 1999; Mørkøre 1991; OECD 2011). However, for almost 15 years, oil and gas exploration has taken place in the Faroese waters. So far, no economically viable reserves have been found, yet the Faroe Islands have still benefitted from these activities by creating a thriving knowledge-based economy related to the offshore energy sector. This offshore sector is now operating not just in the Faroes, but also worldwide. The important point is that this new energy sector is not competitive because of domestic natural resources, because none have been found yet. It is competitive because of the knowledge and expertise that has been developed since exploration began, thus breaking with the previous development path. In this section we shall look at the role of knowledge institutions in this development. The Faroe Islands has a centuries-old tradition of regionally important knowledge-building institutions that contributed to the level of human capital apparent today. Faroese formal academic education dates back at least as far as to the priest college in Kirkjubø that educated King Sverri of Norway in the 1200s (Debes 2000; Young 1982). After the Reformation, this centre of learning was closed down, and a Latin school was established in Tórshavn. It was a tiny school, steeped in poverty, and almost eradicated by small pox in 1709, but a school with far reaching consequences for the development of the entire Faroese society, and beyond (Debes 2000). It is possible to divide the evolution of modern Faroese academic institutions into four distinct phases, beginning with the Latin school. The Historical Evolution of Faroese Academic Institutions The first phase emerges with the creation of the Latin school in the 1500s. The main purpose of this school was to recruit and train candidates for the clergy. Young boys were educated and prepared for later university studies in Copenhagen (Denmark) or Bergen (Norway), where they could become educated as priests. However, the school produced an excess of ‘graduates’, and only a small fraction of them left the country for further studies. The majority went back home to their villages, where they taught others to read and write. Many of these candidates became Sheriffs (Síðslumaður), Law Men (Løgmaður), Law-officers (Løgrættarmenn), administrators, and others engaged in trade. Thus the unintended consequence of the Latin school was a society-wide education of the people and the creation of a Faroese elite (Debes 2000; Hentze 2000) with direct ties, through classmates, abroad, creating a domestic and international “brain circulation”. The second phase occurred during the social transformation from an agricultural to a fishery society in the second half of the 1800s (Joensen 1992a). The Latin school had closed down and new educational demands had emerged as commercial fishery continued to develop. By the end of the 19th century, compulsory public education was introduced, and a teacher college was established (Holm 1970). Even the remotest villages were guaranteed education through a travelling teacher system (Petersen, 1994). This was a huge step forward and created the basis for further education in the professional schools that followed. Smits, Bertelsen & Justinussen