More Women Graduating from Flight School

Nearly a third of the recent graduates from the Icelandic Flight Academy, or 16 out of 55 students, were women, RÚV reports. There has never been a higher proportion of women to graduate from the academy’s commercial aviation program.

This is the second year in a row that the number of women aviation graduates has topped previous totals. Last year, the Keilir Aviation Academy (which recently bought the Icelandic Flight Academy) reported that women made up roughly a fifth of their commercial aviation students, i.e. 37 women enrolled in fall 2018. The academy chalked this development up to young women increasingly pursuing careers that have traditionally been reserved for men.

“The lack of women pilots in commercial aviation makes it so that young women think there’s something that will keep them from [following this career path]. I want to change that,” remarked Telma Rút Frímannsdóttir, who graduated from Keilir a couple years ago. “I’m proud to be a commercial pilot and I want to encourage young women to become commercial pilots as well.”

As of 2018, only about 5% of commercial pilots worldwide were women. The percentage at the same time was somewhat higher in Iceland. Of the 807 pilots and captains working for airlines in Iceland last year, 57 (about 7%) were women.

Almost 4,000 New Residences Under Construction

A new report published by the National register of Iceland indicates that as of April, 3,839 residences are currently under construction in Iceland, and building permits have been issued for 1,953 more. These were among the figures were published in a recent report by the National Register of Iceland.

The vast majority, or 2,301, of the residences that are under or pending construction will be located in Reykjavík. The town of Njarðvík on the Reykjanes peninsula in Southeast Iceland will have the second most new residences, or 574. The capital-area towns of Kópavogur (492), Garðabær (388), and Mosfellsbær (343) round out the top five. Interesting, perhaps, is the number of places that have five or fewer new residences under construction. Forty-five municipalities, including the islands of Flatey and Hrísey, are building a single new residence; 21, including the island of Grímsey, will have two new residences; seven will have three new residences; eight will have four.

As of April, there were 1,660 private residences under or pending construction throughout the country and 4,132 multi-family buildings. The total number of residences occupied in the country is currently 138,998. This marks a 859-residence increase from December 2018, when there were 138,139 residences occupied throughout the country.

The National Register has been keeping records on the number of residences in the country, but as is visible in the new report, has begun keeping more granular data. Now, it’s possible to see how many total building permits have been issued (indicated in gray on the report) versus how many are actually under construction (green). The Register is also tracking what kind of properties are being built, i.e. multi-family buildings or private homes, as well as the square footage of individual units. The report cannot be considered fully comprehensive, however, because it only reports on properties that have been listed in the property register by each municipality’s building officer.

One Child Left in Grímsey

As of this coming winter, there will only be one child living on the island of Grímsey, RÚV reports. There has been a grade school in continual operation on the island since 1904, but as the resident youth reach middle and/or secondary school-age, they have to move to the main island, usually to the town of Akureyri, and board at schools there. When the coming academic year starts, only one five-year-old boy will still live on Grímsey; all of the island’s other children will be boarding elsewhere for school.

Grímsey is located 40 km [25 mi] off the northern coast of Iceland and actually straddles the Arctic circle. Less than 30 people have registered full-time residence there, although last fall, this number dropped to around 18 people in the off-season, i.e. from August to December. Last year, there were three young children living on the island, all of whom were schooled there. One family with two young children is, however, about to move away.

Unnur Íngólfsdóttir is mother to four children, including the youngest Grímsey resident. Her next youngest will be starting high school in Akureyri in the fall, just as her older two children did before. Unnur told RÚV that it’s doubtful that the kindergarten will operate in the fall, since she doesn’t think that her son will much enjoy being the only child there all day. She’s considering ways that she can improve her son’s situation, with one idea being that she’ll take him to the main island for kindergarten one week a month, which will give him the opportunity to socialize with other children. Although she insists that she’s optimistic by nature and loves living on Grímsey, Unnur says that her family has obviously started to consider its future on the island.

Ingibjörg Ólöf Isaksen, the chair of the Akureyri town council’s education committee, said it will be hard to keep the Grímsey school open for just one pupil. She said that she hoped that the number of children on the island would increase in the coming years, in which case, there would be no difficulty in reopening the school.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon to Reopen Next Week

Popular tourist site Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon will reopen next week, RÚV reports. The canyon has been closed to visitors since February 27 in order to protect its flora, which had been damaged by a combination of wet weather and foot traffic.

“There was ankle-deep mud on the path which guests avoided and went increasingly further out of the path which caused damage to wet and sensitive vegetation,” stated Daníel Freyr Jónsson, a specialist at the Environment Agency of Iceland. Daníel says the closure has achieved its purpose and the area is now green and grassy.

This is the second time this year the canyon is closed due to environmental damage. It was also closed last year for the same reason. The number of tourists visiting the canyon nearly doubled from 2016-2017, in part due to Justin Bieber’s video for I’ll Show You, filmed at the location and released in 2015.

Repairs are currently being made to the walking path along the canyon. It is scheduled to reopen next week, no later than June 1.

Ingvar E. Awarded Best Actor at Cannes Critics’ Week

Icelandic actor Ingvar E. Sigurðsson has been awarded the Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award for his acting in Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur (A White, White Day) at Cannes International Critics’ Week. Written and directed by Hlynur Pálmason, the film’s story follows an off-duty police chief (Ingvar) who begins to suspect a local man of having had an affair with his late wife.

Cannes’ International Critics’ Week showcases first and second feature films by directors all over the world. Its programming is very selective, including only seven films a year with the aim of increasing their visibility and discovering new talent.

The film is Hlynur’s second feature-length work. His first, Vinterbrødre (Winter Brothers), won Best Film at Denmark’s 2017 Bodil Awards. Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur will premiere in Iceland on September 6.

Applications for Teachers’ Education Increase by 30%

preschool kindergarten kids children child

The number of applications for graduate studies in preschool and primary school education at the University of Iceland has increased by 30% compared to the average over the last five years. A press release from the Ministry of Education says the total number of applications this year is 264, while the recent annual average has been 186.

“This is really delightful news,” stated Minister of Culture and Education Lilja Alfreðsdóttir. “I myself feel a lot of momentum in education issues and the discussion about the future of Icelandic education.”

Earlier this year, the Minister introduced measures aimed at increasing the number of teachers. The measures include, among other things, a paid internship in the final year toward earning a teaching license for preschool and primary school teaching. Teaching students can also apply for a grant of up to ISK 800,000 ($6,450/€5,800) in their final year of studies. Applications for other Ministry of Education grants, which fund specialisation in job-related areas for teachers, have doubled in recent years.

Klaustur Scandal Whistle-blower Must Delete Recordings

Bára Halldórsdóttir

Bára Halldórsdóttir broke data protection laws when she recorded the conversation of six MPs at Klaustur Bar last November, according to the Data Protection Authority. RÚV reports that the authority ruled on the matter yesterday. Bára will not be fined, but must delete the recordings and submit a statement confirming she has done so.

Read More: The Klaustur Scandal

The nation reacted in shock when a recording of six MPs of the Centre and People’s Parties revealed them making sexist, ableist, and homophobic remarks about their colleagues at Klaustur Bar in Reykjavík in late November. The MPs say that Bára Halldórsdóttir, who made the recording, violated their right to privacy.

Last December, the four Centre Party MPs on the recording, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Bergþór Ólason, and Anna Kolbrún Árnadóttir requested that the Data Protection Authority investigate the case. The have stated their belief that Bára’s recording was premeditated and not a spur of the moment decision, as Bára has asserted. Bára’s lawyer sent a statement to the Data Protection Authority in response to the MPs’ request, writing that the case was outside of the Authority’s jurisdiction and should be handled in court.

Recording considered “electronic surveillance”

The Data Protection Authority has ruled that Bára’s recording falls under electronic surveillance and conflicts with EU legislation on the processing of personal data. The ruling states, among other things, that Bára considered the comments of the parliamentarians to be of importance to the public in light of their position, the conversation has given rise to much debate in society about the conduct of elected representatives, and there is no evidence of collusion in the case. In light of these facts, Bára will not be fined for her actions.

Bára wants protection for informants

Auður Tinna Aðabjarnardóttir, Bára’s lawyer, told RÚV the Data Protection Authority’s ruling does not come as a surprise as is based on a thorough review of relevant past cases. “My client is fairly satisfied and is very willing to delete the recording,” Auður stated. Bára does, however, want increased legal protection for informants, and feels she has had little in her case.

The MPs involved declined to comment on the ruling yesterday evening.