Updated Sex Ed Curriculum for Secondary Students in Iceland

Iceland’s Association for Sexual Health has published new educational material for sex ed in secondary schools. The material takes into account the major societal changes that have taken place in recent years, the association’s chairperson told RÚV.

The material consists of a new teaching manual for secondary school teachers, titled Youth Sexual Health and Wellbeing. The manual is a product of collaboration with a broad range of organisations, including the National Queer Association of Iceland (Samtökin ’78) the feminist disability movement Tabú and Trans Iceland. Secondary school teachers were also involved in the development of the material.

Self-esteem and sexual health

The manual’s 13 lessons cover a wide range of topics, from self-esteem and body image to emotions, porn literacy, healthy relationships, STI prevention, and pregnancy. The lesson plans use interactive teaching methods that actively involve students in the learning process.

Updated teaching material

Sóley Bender, the chairperson of Iceland’s Association for Sexual Health, told RÚV she hopes some teachers will start testing the material this autumn. The sex ed curriculum was last updated in 2011 and there have been many societal changes since that time.

“We know for example that just the Metoo movement and the whole discussion that took place after it regarding abuse. That is something that needs to be discussed.” Sóley adds that it is also necessary to take diversity into account in the curriculum and integrate it into teaching materials.

The manual is publicly available on the association’s website.

Masks Required in Secondary Schools and Universities

face mask

Students, teachers, and other staff in secondary schools and universities in the capital area will be required to wear masks within school buildings and during all school operations, according to the Ministry of Education’s recently updated guidelines. The updated guidelines are based on the Chief Epidemiologist’s suggestion to the Minister of Health. Masks were delivered to schools early this morning.

The masks will ensure the continued operations of schools and universities. The notice from the Ministry of Education reveals that mask use in schools outside the capital area will be subject to circumstances, each school’s situation and the local spread of contagion.

The guidelines urge that masks be used correctly, a social distance of 1 metre and personal hygiene be respected, and outside visitors limited as much as possible.

 

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.

‘Women’s School’ Vandalised With Misogynistic Graffiti

The premises of Kvennaskólinn, or Kvennó as it’s colloquially known, were vandalized with hateful graffiti last night Vísir reports. “There’s a great deal of misogyny in these messages,” remarked principal Hjalti Jón Sveinsson, “and we’re concerned about this kind of thinking.”

The graffiti was spray painted on the school building and grounds and included phrases such as “Fuck You!” og “Kvennó Lessur,” or “Kvennó Lesbos.”

Kvennaskólinn translates as “The Women’s School,” and was founded as the first secondary school for women in Iceland in 1874. The school was women-only for just over a century, but the first male student being admitted in 1977. Women still make up the majority of the students, but the male population has steadily increased over the years and now stands at 38%.

Hjalti Jón said it’s possible that there’s some sort of secondary school humor behind the messages that he doesn’t understand. However, while there have been various acts of vandalism on the school grounds before, he says there’s never been anything quite like this. “I’d come to work in the morning maybe and someone would have egged or spray-painted the school.”

Hjalti Jón said that the vandalism would be painted over as soon as possible and also that he’d be checking the security camera footage to try and determine who was on the grounds last night. The school is still considering whether or not to refer the matter to the police. Typically in cases like this, Hjalti would just contact the principals of other nearby secondary schools and together, they’d address this kind misogynistic and homophobic thinking directly with their students.

“They were really shocked,” said Hjalti when asked about the students’ reaction to the vandalism. “They found it really humiliating—this is just so far from their way of thinking. They’re hurt and angry.”