Grindavík Children Divided Among Iceland’s Schools

Grindavík

The primary school children of Grindavík are divided among 73 schools in 27 municipalities. Before the town was evacuated due to volcanic eruptions and seismic activity, they were all in the same school, Grindavík primary school.

Heimildin reports that while 225 children study in replacement schools established in Reykjavík, 87 of them now study in Reykjanesbær, 59 in other Reykjavík schools, 28 in Kópavogur, 25 in Garðabær, 25 in Árborg, 22 in Hafnarfjörður and many more in schools across the southwest region.

Minority in replacement schools

After the natural disasters, four replacement schools were established in Reykjavík so that the children could continue their studies with their teachers from Grindavík and classmates. The schools are located in Hvassaleitisskóli, Laugalækjarskóli, Ármúli and the headquarters of the Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ) by Laugardalsvöllur field. Some 40% of the children continue their studies in these replacement schools.

Upper secondary school students, who are residents of Grindavík, are now in 14 different schools in 9 municipalities, with most of them in Suðurnes Comprehensive College. Preschool children are in 46 schools across 16 municipalities.

Effects on the children

The Ministry of Education and Children said that the effects of the disasters on the lives of Grindavík children are severe and unpredictable, and can manifest in challenges related to educational and recreational activities. “Grindavík inhabitants have faced uncertainties about their residency over the last few months and this has inevitably affected a group of Grindavík children who have been forced to switch schools a few times since November 10,” a response from the ministry read.

New National Sporting Arena to be Built in Laugardalur

The Icelandic government and City of Reykjavík have agreed to build a new, national sporting arena in Laugardalur. The arena will fulfill the requirements for international competition in indoor sports and greatly improve the available facilities for schools and sports associations in Laugardalur. Construction is expected to be completed by 2025.

This was announced in a joint press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Education and Children, and the City of Reykjavík.

The state and the City of Reykjavík have agreed to guarantee funding for the arena’s initial costs in their long-term budgets. A full cost estimate will be available after the final design and a feasibility study are both completed. The division of the total project cost will depend on the utilization of the arena and the needs of each party—the state with an eye to the requirements for international competitions that national sports teams compete in, and the city with an eye to the needs of local sports clubs and sports education.

A special committee will be established to oversee the feasibility study and construction preparations, not least how the financing will be handled.

The Icelandic government and City of Reykjavík will hold a joint competition to determine the arena’s design and overall appearance.

Preparations for a national stadium for track-and-field in Laugardalur and a national football stadium will continue. A market survey will be carried out to lay out clear options for how to proceed with the development of the national football stadium.

Icelandic Students Call for Access to Unemployment Benefits

Háskóli Íslands University of Iceland

The Icelandic government will set aside ISK 2.2 billion ($15 million/€13.9 million) to create 3,400 summer jobs for students in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Union of Icelandic Students has criticised the response as insufficient and called for student access to unemployment benefits.

Iceland’s Minister of Education Lilja Alfreðsdóttir and Minister of Social Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason announced the measures intended to support student employment in the coming months. The 3,400 jobs created in government institutions and municipalities will be temporary positions, active between June 1 and August 31. “If it is found that this number of summer jobs and other resources does not reach a sufficient number of students, ways will be sought to create more jobs and/or secure other means of support,” a government notice on the initiative stated.

Students Pay Into Unemployment Funds But Cannot Access Them

The National Union of Iceland Students (LÍS) has released a statement criticising the measures as insufficient, pointing toward recent surveys that showed thousands of students had not yet found summer jobs. “If unemployment among students is actually as high as the [surveys] indicate, this remedy will be short-lived,” the statement reads.

LÍS particularly criticised the fact that since January 1, 2010, Icelandic students have not had access to unemployment benefits, despite paying into the national unemployment insurance fund. According to a Europe-wide study, 87% of students in Iceland work during study breaks and 68% during the lecture period. “A part of people’s salaries are paid into the unemployment insurance fund and the insurance fund for self-employed individuals, including the salaries of students. However, students are not entitled to payments from the fund due to unemployment, even though they have been working and payments flowed into the fund because of their work.”

LÍS has launched a petition calling for the government to ensure students the right to unemployment benefits, which at the time of writing is near to reaching its goal of 2,500 signatures.

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.

Iceland and China Facilitate Student Exchange

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir China meeting

The Chinese and Icelandic Ministers of Culture have signed a landmark agreement to mutually recognise university studies between the two countries. Iceland’s Minister of Culture and Education Lilja Alfreðsdóttir says the agreement will facilitate university student exchange between the two countries.
Lilja met China’s Minister of Culture Chen Baosheng in Beijing today, where they discussed increased cooperation between the countries in the field of education, among other issues. “This agreement marks a turning point for both Icelandic and Chinese students,” Lilja stated. “The agreement will help to greatly facilitate student exchange between the countries and I hope that more students from both countries will look at the options available in Icelandic and Chinese universities.”

To strengthen existing agreements and language education

The University of Iceland already has student exchange agreements with 15 universities in China. More than 30 Chinese students are currently studying in Iceland, and roughly the same number of Icelanders study in China each year. Chinese language courses are sought after at the University of Iceland, while Icelandic has been taught at the Beijing International Studies University since 2006.

China has made similar agreements with more than 50 other countries, including the other Nordic countries.