🇸🇪 Illiterate nation?
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|May 22, 2023||Sign Up|
Good morning! Today is Monday. In today’s Riedia Sweden Morning Digest, we're covering:
Unpacking Sweden's literacy results, new (expensive) obesity medication, and seal poaching in the Stockholm archipelago.
—Julia Powanda, Viviana Levet
📖 Researchers: It doesn't have to be over for struggling readers
The proportion of struggling 10-year-old readers in Sweden has reached its highest level of the entire 21st century. One in five students is at risk of being held back in further studies and the workforce.
"I don't want to say it's over, but it requires significant efforts," says reading researcher Åsa af Geijerstam.
The international reading survey PIRLS 2021, presented last Tuesday, delivers several blows to the Swedish education system. The proportion of students with low reading ability, or who don't even reach low levels, is 19 percent. It is a Swedish record low in PIRLS measurements since 2001.
The results for the weakest readers have also dropped, increasing the gap between them and the strongest readers. PIRLS also shows that reading ability has become even more closely linked to the background. It is primarily students from resource-poor homes and schools in resource-poor areas who have received worse results.
Time is important
But how bad is it to have poor reading ability at age ten?
"It's a big problem. By middle school, students are expected to absorb texts in a completely different way than in grades 1 and 2. They should be able to read factual texts in different subjects, and that requires more than low-level reading ability," says Åsa af Geijerstam, an associate professor of didactics with a focus on Swedish at Uppsala University and one of the experts associated with the Swedish part of PIRLS.
That being said, struggling ten-year-old readers can still improve their reading ability.
"The earlier interventions are made, the better, of course. "I don't want to say it's over, but it requires significant efforts."
For students who do not have Swedish as their native language and therefore have a limited Swedish vocabulary, improvements can come quite quickly.
"It is often said that it takes one to two years to learn a new language at a basic level. But the PIRLS test assesses the language used in schools, and it takes three to five years to learn that level. So the time aspect is important," says Åsa af Geijerstam.
Minister of Education Lotta Edholm (L) has warned of the seriousness of the situation.
"If this trend continues, we risk seeing a generation of functional illiterates in Sweden," she said after the results were presented.
It is a fairly drastic expression, but with the word "functional" she is touching on something essential, namely, that the reading comprehension we need is in relation to the society we live in. "If you stay at a low reading level as an adult, it becomes very difficult to take in the text at the level required," says Åsa af Geijerstam.
At the same time, she points to one of the positive signals in PIRLS 2021, namely that more teachers than before are using different reading strategies for their students.
"There has been a lot of investment in teacher training, in Läslyftet, but also municipalities have made their own training efforts. Reading strategies have also been incorporated more and more into teacher training programs," she says.
"We see positive signs of what's happening in the classrooms, where teachers are really working hard. Therefore, I don't believe in revising curricula or teacher training programs, because that's not where the problem lies. What Sweden stands out on is school segregation - schools that are struggling have gotten tougher."
by Anna Lena Wallström/TT | edited by Riedia
💊 Expensive obesity medication soon in Sweden
Medications used for weight loss will soon be available in Swedish pharmacies, but they will come at a hefty price of almost 4,000 SEK per package.
Obesity medication Wegwoy containing the substance semaglutide will begin to be sold in several major pharmacy chains in a few weeks, reports Dagens Medicin . Semaglutide is considered to have the best effect among obesity medicines approved today.
Due to a shortage of semaglutide, the medication is only sold in a few countries worldwide by the manufacturer, Danish company Novo Nordisk.
Almost 4,000 SEK
When Wegwoy arrives at Swedish pharmacies, the price for a package, which covers four weeks of treatment, will be between just over 3,000 and 3,900 SEK.
The packages that will be available in Sweden have been purchased from other European countries and are parallel distributed in Sweden by the company Medartuum.
Henrik Allard-Brorsson, spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, tells Dagens Medicin that the company has only been able to launch Wegovy on the market in a few countries due to the global shortage.
Novo Nordisk plans to launch Wegovy in Sweden next year and hopes it will be prescribed within the medication benefit, meaning the patient will not have to pay the full amount themselves.
Semaglutide, also found in the famous medication Ozempic, was originally developed as a medicine for patients with diabetes. However, since it reduces hunger, it has also been found effective for weight loss in people without diabetes.
by TT | edited by Riedia
🦭 Seals shot in the archipelago – poaching investigated
Several individuals are being investigated for poaching after a number of seals were shot in the northern Stockholm archipelago, writes Aftonbladet .
Hunting gray seals has been allowed in Sweden since last year, but to be allowed to hunt seals, the hunter must have a license from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
When the Coast Guard received a tip on Tuesday that several seals had been shot, they went out to investigate the matter in the archipelago outside Stockholm.
"We have been in the area and done an inspection. After the inspection, some individuals are being investigated for violations of the Environmental Code and poaching," says Anders Mikaelsson, duty officer at the Coast Guard, to Aftonbladet.
No one has been arrested.
Facts: Seals in Swedish waters
Gray seal: Of Sweden's three seal species, the gray seal is the largest. The male can grow up to about 3 meters long and weigh over 300 kg. The female is slightly smaller, about 2 meters long, and weighs up to 200 kg.
Harbor seal: The harbor seal is most common on Sweden's west coast, but there is also a smaller, genetically isolated population at Kalmarsund. The male becomes about 1.8 meters and weighs about 100 kg, while the female is slightly smaller at 1.7 meters and weighs about 80 kg.
Ringed seal: The ringed seal is actually an arctic species that became trapped in the Baltic Sea after the last ice age. The Swedish population lives in the Bothnian Bay. The ringed seal is our smallest seal species and grows to about 1.5 meters long and weighs up to about 110 kg.
Source: Swedish Museum of Natural History.
by TT | edited by Riedia
What else is happening in Sweden?
💊 Two ferry employees were among seven men prosecuted for drug smuggling through the port of Gothenburg in October 2022. The case involved the haul of 39 kilos of amphetamines and 13 kilos of hashish, which were driven from Western European countries to Germany, where the ferry employees then transported the drugs onward. The seven men face charges of extremely serious drug smuggling, plus several counts of money laundering and weapons offenses.
👦 The use of condoms by 15-year-olds in Sweden has decreased by over 50% in the past decade, according to the country's Public Health Authority. The reasons for the decline are unclear, but Pelle Ullholm from the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education believes it could be linked to a decrease in well-being amongst young people during the pandemic. Meanwhile, measures of sexually transmitted infections and teenage abortions have not increased, indicating that young people may be protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancies through other means such as birth control pills.
🚂 Nordic politicians are being urged to travel by train instead of flying for work trips if the journey is no more than five to six hours, according to a report by Swedish Radio Ekot. The aim of the Nordic Council is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from politicians' work trips by 70 percent by 2030, compared to 2019. The corresponding goal for Swedish state agency business trips is set at 50 percent.
What is happening in the world?
💧 Half of the world's major lakes and reservoirs are shrinking , endangering future water supply, according to researchers who studied 1,972 bodies of water. In 53% of these, water levels decreased by around 22 billion tons per year, a decrease caused by human water consumption and climate change. Almost a quarter of the population depends on the lakes for their water, and the findings sound a warning that urgent action is required to preserve water resources.
🇹🇷 Ahead of the second round of elections in Türkiye, the opposition's presidential candidate Kemal Kiliçdaroglu has promised to expel all refugees from the country if he wins. Previously less aggressive in his campaign, Kiliçdaroglu is aiming to win over the 5.2% of voters who wrote in Sinan Ogan, the third candidate in the first round of voting, who will not be eligible for the second round. Meanwhile, Kiliçdaroglu may be alienating the Kurdish population with his hardline rhetoric.
💎 The EU is looking to limit trade in Russian diamonds while Britain has banned the import of diamonds, among other goods, from Russia under new sanctions aimed at strangling the Kremlin's financing of the Ukraine war. The move comes as part of restrictions on aluminum, copper, and nickel imports and amid talks between G7 leaders in Hiroshima, Japan, which are said to include a potentially similar ban on gas imports from Russia that disrupted Europe's supply last year.
🏓 Swedish table tennis player Truls Möregårdh is hoping to add to his silver medal at the 2021 World Championships as he competes in the singles draw of this year's tournament in Durban, South Africa. Möregårdh, who is ranked seventh in the world, will face Brazil's Eric Jouti in the first round. Sweden will also be defending its doubles title, with Mattias Falk and Kristian Karlsson among those in action.
🏆 Mjällby AIF's dream of winning their first major title and welcoming the UEFA Conference League to Hällevik in 2023 remained a dream after they lost the Swedish Cup final to reigning champions BK Häcken. Mjällby had knocked out Allsvenskan colleagues Kalmar and Hammarby to reach their first cup final. Despite the defeat, goalkeeper Noel Törnqvist believes the club's historic cup run will be cherished in time.
⚽ West Ham United have made it to the final of the Europa Conference League, giving them a chance to add to their trophy cabinet for the first time since 1980. This is also the first time the English club has been in a European Cup final in 47 years. They secured their spot in the final with a 1-0 win over AZ Alkmaar.
🎤 Luke Elliot it set to perform in Stockholm on May 25th. The American pop/rock star will perform at Kägelbanan Södra Teatern. Tickets can be purchased here .
🍛 The International Committee is hosting a spring potluck in Uppsala this Wednesday May 24th from 5-8pm at Observatorieparken. Everyone is invited to bring a dish or a dessert from their home country to share. Find more information here.
💬 Phrase of the day
Now that the sun is finally here to stay (hooray!!) you might have noticed that there are many more people out and about!
In Swedish there is a (somewhat silly ) phrase to describe these busy places, "fan och hans moster," or "the devil and his aunt."
The phrase can be used to imply that "everyone" was there.
"Var det mycket folk på stranden?" "Fan och hans moster var där!"
"Were there a lot of people at the beach?" "The devil and his aunt were there!"
by Julia Powanda/Riedia
Made with 💛 in Stockholm
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