Jóhanna Björg Sævarsdóttir is entering 9th grade and is the only student in Grunnskóli Mjóafjarðar (Elementary School of Mjóifjörður) this winter, Austurfrétt reports. Jóhanna will be taught by her mother Erna Ólafsdóttir and will be the only student in the school for the second year running.
The student count in Mjóifjörður has gradually receded in recent years, leaving Jóhanna as the only student. The school has been run in cooperation with Nesskóli elementary school in nearby Neskaupstaður since Mjóifjörður was incorporated into the municipality of Fjarðabyggð.
“She had a choice to go away this winter but she couldn’t bear to”, her mother Erna commented. “Us two went quite a lot to Norðfjörður last winter, and the situation will probably be similar this year. It will only be in the fall semester, however, as we won’t go over there after the New Year once the mountain road will be closed, and seafaring conditions have worsened”, she went further. A ferry goes between Mjóifjörður and Norðfjörður twice a week, every week.
Erna says that even though the studies are going well, it is the social aspect that has proven difficult, “That’s what we are lacking. School authorities and us parents decided to make the setup work when it became clear that Jóhanna Björg didn’t want to leave home for school. Jóhanna wouldn’t have to leave her legal residence to attend elementary school.” Jóhanna is a decent student according to her mother, “Jóhanna Björg is a good student, fundamentally, so it hasn’t been too difficult for her. We are lucky in that regard.
Mjóifjörður is in East Iceland, between Norðfjörður and Seyðisfjöður, and only has a population of 14 people. It is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful fjords in Iceland, offering beautiful views of waterfalls and the fjord as well as the famed Dalatangi lighthouse. What was believed to be the largest whaling station in the world was at one point situated in Mjóifjörður, built by Norwegians around the turn of the 19th century.