Not all is well here in the Workers Paradise. Right now the center-right party is in control of the country. Center right is a relative term here in Sweden. Most everyone in Sweden is far to the left of Obama. In other words, there is not a lot of popularity for taking away Swedes’ social safety net programs. However, there is a privatization movement going on and it impacted close to home yesterday.
Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) is run out of the adult education center in Halmstad. Yesterday the head of all education in the Halland region (the general equivalent to a county in, say, California) came in with a couple of other members of the Moderaterna Party (Moderates, meaning right of center) and they summarily fired the rector of the school. This set off shock waves among the teachers because this woman was extremely popular with the staff, really took an interest in the students, etc. Our class was cut short because the faculty held an emergency meeting to determine what to do.
There was an article in today’s paper about the firing. This rector was someone who stood up to the plan to privatize adult education in Halmstad and her firing appears to be a push by the right to get her out of the way and install someone who is more friendly to their agenda. I found out today that earlier the SFI program was separate from the adult education system here and there is talk about separating it out again. Earlier, tuition was charged to learn Swedish and perhaps there is a plan in the works to institute tuition fees again. I smell something rotten in all of this. It must also be said that there are sentiments in the right wing here in Sweden who are upset about the number of immigrants coming into the country. There is a neo-Nazi political party called the Sweden Democrats that values Nordic purity and all these dark-haired, dark-skinned mongrels coming into the country scares them. Obviously, the firing of a person who was standing up to their privatization plans opens the door to implementing some major changes, exactly what we do not know. The teachers are holding another meeting on Monday (nothing interrupts the Swedish weekend, especially this one, which kicks off the Christmas season) and we will see what transpires. One option would be to occupy the school and close it down. A classmate said that protests as such do not gain much traction in Sweden, but writing letters and petitions and whatnot are the preferred way of responding. Stay tuned.
With that out of the way, here are some recent photos. Surfers were still out in the water. We are due for a storm this weekend with winds up to 20 meters/second, which is stiffer than we have experienced here yet. Two guys were out on their boards in the morning hours, though they are pretty hard to see in these photos, but trust me, they are there.
Those two dark dots in the center are they. Easier to see is the gorgeous sunset this afternoon (around 3:45!). We had rain yesterday and this afternoon for the first time in a month but it cleared at just the right time.
The building on the left is the school.
Sunday begins Advent and there will be a lot of doings here in the square. They crown this year’s Lucia pageant winner, Santa gives out goodies to the kids, people dance around the tree and there is a concert in the church seen in the photos above. All this will be done despite the approaching storm, which hits Saturday night. Should be very interesting on many levels: it is my first Swedish Christmas, Swedes will tend to ignore their 50 foot high fir tree blowing across the square and go on with the festivities as planned, and I am guessing that spirits will remain cheerful. I will get photos for sure.
Some other decorations in town:
These photos may not seem so sharp, either because it was getting dark or because I stayed up last night to watch the 49ers-Ravens game on TV. It started at 2:30 a.m. and ended around 5:30. Watching a defensive struggle (code for “boring”) is tough to do in the middle of the night and I snoozed through the third quarter. But there is no way I could miss the Harbaugh Bowl. Still, I am glad it is over even though the 49ers lost. Stay tuned for Sunday’s post. Things will start getting interesting again.