Directorate of Education to be Abolished

iceland education

Extensive changes to Iceland’s education system were announced today in a press release by Minister of Education and Childrens’ Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason. In order to strengthen schools across the nation, a new general framework on education is to be established, replacing the Directorate of Education.

The new framework is part of the government’s outline for an education policy to the year 2030, which seeks to re-organise several offices in order to better assure quality and access to education for children from kindergarten to secondary school.

In the press release, Ásmundur stated: “There is no comprehensive legislation on school services for nursery, primary and secondary schools and no central organization with a defined role to implement and coordinate these services. Access to services varies, both between and within school levels and municipalities, which leads to inequality. We need to coordinate the systems to ensure a comprehensive, effective, and quality service such as when students move between schools or move between school levels. We also need greater consultation with school staff and support for school work, allowing for faster and more efficient resources for children and young people. Everything we do should be aimed at their success.”

A new organisation will take over the responsibilities of the Directorate of Education. During the transition period, the responsibilities of the Directorate will be placed directly under the Ministry of Education and Childrens’ Affairs.

Þórdís Jóna Sigurðardóttir is the recently-appointed director of the Directorate of Education and will continue in her leadership role at the new organisation, which is yet to be named.

VR to Remain in ASÍ

vr union iceland, Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson

Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson, chairperson of VR, has stated that for the time being, VR’s position within ASÍ will remain unchanged.

VR is Iceland’s largest trade union, representing some 40,000 workers. There have however been suggestions recently that VR will leave ASÍ, or the Federation of Labour. ASÍ, founded in 1916, is the largest federation of trade unions in Iceland and has historically played an important role in labour organisation in Iceland.

However, the most recent ASÍ conference over contract negotiations has proved a turbulent one, with many major trade unions suggesting that they go their separate ways in the future.

Read More: Hopes for New ASÍ Leadership Among Contract Negotiations

The upheavals come in the wake of Drífa Snædal’s resignation earlier this year from her leadership position in ASÍ. Citing political hostility, she said that it was no longer possible to perform her duties in her resignation letter. Since her resignation, ASÍ leadership has been in turmoil, with some of Iceland’s largest trade unions considering leaving during ASÍ’s 45th conference.

Ragnar Þór also withdrew his candidacy for ASÍ leadership at the conference, citing the possibility of a break with the federation. Now, at least for the time being, it seems that VR will remain with ASÍ.

Read More: ASÍ Leadership Up in the Air as Candidates Withdraw

The announcement came today before a formal meeting with SA, Iceland’s leading employers’ union.

In a statement from Ragnar Þór, he said that all of the union’s efforts will now be directed towards the wage negotiations with SA.

Regarding the future, however, Ragnar Þór emphasised that nothing can be ruled out.

Increasing Seismic Activity Under Mýrdalsjökull

mýrdalsjökull earthquakes iceland

The Meteorological Office of Iceland reports increasing seismic activity underneath Mýrdalsjökull, a glacier on the south coast of Iceland.

In the announcement by the Meteorological Office, seen below, a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was registered yesterday morning at 07:54AM.

Following the initial seismic activity, a string of stronger quakes was registered. The largest was measured at magnitude 3.8 yesterday at 11:50AM.

The subglacial volcanic system is notable, as Mýrdalsjökull’s sister glacier, Eyjafjallafökull, caused significant disruption  to European air travel in 2010.

Although there are no imminent signs of an eruption, specialists at the Meteorological Office have stated that some glacial flooding may be possible.

Travellers to the south coast are asked to use caution and refer to vedur.is for travel bulletins.

Grímsvötn Flooding Reaches its Peak, Begins to Recede

grímsvön flooding

The flow of the Grímsvötn glacial flooding reached its peak yesterday morning and has begun to subside. 

The flooding is caused by melting glacial ice from the volcano Grímsvötn, which rests underneath one of Vatnajökull’s ice caps. Glacial flooding from this volcano system is a regular event on Iceland’s south coast, and the most recent round of floods has not caused any significant damage to infrastructure.

Since last night, several earthquakes have been registered at Grímsvötn, but the Meteorological Office reports that there is no significant increase in seismic activity or threat of eruption.

In total, the ice sheet has sunk some 15m, indicating the volume displaced by the flooding. At its peak, the flow from the glacier reached 500m³/s, a level that is not considered to pose any significant risk to the region. Travellers to the south coast may, however, have noticed swollen rivers over the weekend.

Grímsvötn is one of Iceland’s most active volcano systems, with eruption cycles average 5-10 years. With Grímsvötn’s last eruption having taken place in 2011, it may be soon due, but as of now, there are no immediate signs pointing towards and eruption.