Head of Reykjavík Kindergarten Council Thorbjörg Helga Vigfúsdóttir has suggested that private companies and associations should operate kindergartens in the future and transport company Samskip has expressed its interest.
“I think it is natural we examine this possibility,” Samskip marketing director Anna Gudný Aradóttir told Fréttabladid. “We have tried to operate a company with a very family-friendly policy and this could become a part of that.”
Vigfúsdóttir said she would like more public discussion on kindergarten issues and consider other opportunities to operate kindergartens than for local authorities to be responsible, especially with the aim of trying to solve the continual problem of lack of staff.
Vigfúsdóttir said it is unlikely that the salary of kindergarten teachers could be raised much at the moment, but if private companies would participate more in operating kindergartens, salaries could develop in accordance with the market, she argued.
Vigfúsdóttir emphasized she is not suggesting privatizing kindergartens, but rather having them operated by private companies, which is common in other countries like the US.
Companies could operate kindergartens in whatever way they find suitable and parents would have more options in choosing kindergartens but local authorities would continue to pay for each child, no matter what kindergarten parents choose.
Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the Left Greens’ (Vinstri graenir) representative in the Reykjavík City Council, said Vigfúsdóttir’s suggestion lacks ambition.
Svavarsdóttir said kindergartens are currently undergoing a change from being a social solution to the first level of education, adding the Independence Party (Sjálfstaedisflokkurinn) is giving up after one year of power in Reykjavík and dumping the responsibility on private companies.