Mariette writing something today. Lately, there has been much commotion in Sweden regarding privatization of schools and eldercare. When I left Sweden in 1983 those things were never privatized but financed by taxpayer money, run by the government and free. Some time while I was gone the right wing party here (Moderaterna) started to push that one was to have a choice in terms of schooling and elder care. So there are now also private schools and private elder care homes in addition to those run by the government. Only, these private schools are still free and taxpayer money are still used. So, if a private school is approved by the government, taxpayer money is used to finance everything, even if it is privately owned and run. Sounds good, eh?
Well, the flap is that some of these institutions have been making large profits that are going right in the pockets of the owners, while neglecting children or, in the case of elder care, the elderly. There have been examples such as elderly being made to lay in wet diapers for hours to “save money” and other gross stuff. I happened to work as a substitute teacher at a privately owned and run preschool. It’s a sort of posh looking school with flashy promotion and tons of students. On the outside it looks modern and hip. On the inside, though, it is despicable. The teacher-child ratio in the preschool is about 1-7, sometimes 1-10. They accept children who can not even walk. The result: little babies who sit and cry in a stroller all day long and no one who has time to console them. Yes, I mean all day long. Preschool teachers who are dashing back and forth, trying to prevent accidents. The kids don´t get to go out much. They mostly hang out at an ugly playground built of steel. The babies take naps in their strollers, even in minus degrees. In other words “yuk”. I almost lost my marbles working there for a while.
However, I have now worked at a Montessori school for 1.5 months and I can say that the difference is remarkable. I work in the department for small children (2-3 years old). The way they manage to run a harmonic, peaceful school is: 1) They do not accept children under the age of 2, 2) One teacher never has more than 3 small children at a time, 3) The group is small enough that everyone knows each other (23 kids total), 4) It is situated right at the forest and beach so the kids get to explore nature. 5) And, of course, it uses Montessori philosophy which makes children certain of themselves and eager to explore. The difference is incredible. The children are thriving. I am happily going to work each morning, looking forward to seeing kids and staff. Oh, and they pay their teachers well.
I know that there are a couple of other schools similar to it, but I see a change coming where the large communal schools and profit-driven schools grow strong. It is sad. Do the parents who have their children there not see the state of affairs? I have vowed to do all in my power to maintain these small, safe, last honest preschools survive. They mean everything to the society.
(Note from Dan: not really knowing the language fluently can blind me to some of the situations here. Just like my walk out onto the ice a week ago, ignorance is bliss. Of course, ignorance can’t last forever.)