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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Preschoolers forced into problem districts

By: V4 Agency

From January, parents can no longer take their children to a kindergarten of their own choice because of the local council’s drive to promote integration and diversity. Many are unhappy, as they would not want to send their kids to vulnerable districts, allowing them to be used as tools in the local government’s integration projects.

Parents will no longer have the option to pick any kindergarten for their children. Instead, they will have to choose from the preschools of certain districts designated by the authorities, all under the aegis of diversity. This, however, can ultimately mean that some kids will have to go to preschools in so-called problem areas.

This measure will be introduced as part of a three-year trial period in Karlskoga, Sweden, starting from 1 January. Defending the decision, the local council of many small towns has argueed that housing segregation has a major impact on Swedish society and hinders integration. The council believes that it is a good initiative, because the kindergarten is the right place for children to start learning about social diversity.

Parents, however, appear somewhat less enthused and many have voiced their concerns, saying they do not want their children to be involved in Karlskoga’s integration project.

The idea of mixing children of different backgrounds in classrooms has also come up elsewhere. In some cities, for instance, local education authorities would close down the schools in no-go zones and send students to other schools to promote education.

Gothenburg would use a different method. The city wants to relocate preschool teachers and childminders to vulnerable districts to “strengthen pedagogical competencies” in those areas. Preschool teacher Madelene Wernhager recently spoke to Swedish State Television (SVT) regarding this issue. She has been working in a kindergarten in Masthuggets district for seven years, but will have to transfer to a no-go zone to start a new job in February.

Madelene said she had been given a week to choose from ten kindergartens. While she understands the purpose of the programme, she sees no real reason behind the relocation. She says among the options offered there was, for instance, one institution with fewer children and far more skilled workers than her current place. She suspects that there may be financial reasons in the background.

Her opinion was somewhat confirmed by Marianne Nikitidis Claesson, the preschool administration’s HR representative, who said the reorganisation did to some extent have to do with the budget, adding that the basic idea was to get more skilled workers into vulnerable parts of Gothenburg.

The programme is currently in its second phase. During its first phase in the spring, some 80 preschool employees had to transfer to a new workplace, and more of their colleagues are expected to follow suit.

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