📚 Reading abilities in decline
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|May 17, 2023||Sign Up|
Good morning! Today is Wednesday. In today’s Riedia Sweden Morning Digest, we're covering:
A worrying trend among Swedish students, new offshore wind power, and good news for this summer as Swedish reservoirs fill up.
—Viviana Levet, Julia Powanda, and Carlos Lago
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🌬️ Green light for new offshore wind power
The government has given the green light for new offshore wind power, despite opposition from environmental organizations.
"The government now explicitly acknowledges that there are conflicts of interest in almost all policies, often between climate and the environment," says Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, adding that the government's decision has been a difficult balancing act.
Rich in wildlife and nature
The parks have been waiting for approval for a couple of years. In total, there are about a hundred wind turbines that can provide more than six terawatt hours once fully built.
"These two parks correspond approximately to the electricity supply from a medium-sized nuclear power plant," says Kristersson.
Kattegatt South is planned to be built by Vattenfall and Galene is handled by OX2. The County Administrative Board has given the go-ahead for the parks, but the decision has been appealed to court by both the construction companies and environmental organizations. Kattegatt South is located between two Natura 2000 areas and the area is rich in birdlife and porpoises.
Not everyone onboard
On the other hand, the Sweden Democrats (SD) are not as optimistic as the government about the reliance on wind power without supporting more nuclear power. They have criticized the government's decision to approve two offshore wind farms for considering them to have environmental, cultural, and safety risks associated with offshore wind.
However, the move was welcomed by the Green Party , which at the same time said that more action is needed to ensure that industry has access to renewable electricity. According to spokesperson Per Bolund, this decision "is not proof" that the government has changed its stance on wind power, after allegedly talking it down during the election campaign.
by Niklas Svahn/TT, Maria Davidsson/TT | edited by Riedia
📚 Swedish students' reading abilities decreasing
The reading proficiency of Swedish fourth graders has clearly declined, according to the global study Pirls.
Particularly worrying is that the difference between groups of students is increasing, according to the Swedish National Agency for Education.
"It is concerning that we have more students who are below a low level," says Director-General Peter Fredriksson.
The Pirls reading test is conducted every five years. The results from the latest round in 2021 have now been released and show that Swedish students scored 544 points. This is a clear decrease from the 2016 results of 555 points.
"Overall, we see that the Swedish results have deteriorated, but we have this in common with other participating countries," says Peter Fredriksson.
Most of the countries that took the test in 2016 have a worse result in 2021 and only four countries/regions have a significantly better result than Sweden. Sweden belongs to the "second-best group", along with Finland, Denmark, and Norway.
Linked to pandemic?
A large majority of the principals in the countries surveyed report that teaching slowed down during the pandemic to some degree.
Sweden chose to keep schools open for younger students during the pandemic. But there were still schools in Sweden whose teaching was disrupted for two months or more.
However, some believe that the pandemic is not entirely to blame. "It is a larger structural problem that we must not ignore," says Linda Fälth, professor of education and vice-chancellor for teacher education at Linnaeus University.
Per Kornhall, a school expert and chairman of the interest group Learning Materials Authors, says reading in schools has decreased dramatically.
"We believe that it is related to the fact that many schools do not purchase textbooks. There are simply no pedagogical texts for children and young people in many schools."
According to Kornhall, it is partly a class issue. Students who come from homes with books and a reading habit still read a lot.
"It is incredibly unequal how it looks, whether children attend a school with textbooks or not. To a large extent, it is a lottery, but it is also true that schools with poorer finances have a harder time purchasing textbooks," he says.
by Anna Lena Wallström/TT, Marc Skogelin/TT | edited by Riedia
💧 Groundwater replenished ahead of summer
Summer is approaching, the peak season for water use in pools, gardens, and pressure washers.
But will the water supply be sufficient if we have a record-breaking summer this year?
Better starting point
According to groundwater expert Calle Hjerne, at the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU), "We have a better starting position this year than last year."
In January and March, the reservoirs received a significant refill after rainfall in Götaland and Svealand, resulting in unusually high levels. Even in the north and mountain regions, the reservoirs are slowly but surely filling up now thanks to snowmelt.
SGU has calculated the groundwater supply for the coming summer based on various weather scenarios. Even in the calculation based on dry weather, the overall situation looks better than in 2022.
"But we have not accounted for extreme weather events. If it becomes like 2018, our starting position in April and May is quite similar to what we had in 2018."
Despite the replenishment, the picture of groundwater levels in the country is still mixed for the upcoming summer.
"Some municipalities have very good conditions with nice large reservoirs. Others have it tougher," says Calle Hjerne.
by Anna Karolina Eriksson/TT | edited by Riedia
What else is happening in Sweden?
💰 Donations to charitable organizations in Sweden rose to new heights in 2022, with a total of SEK 13.1 billion raised. The rise was attributed to the public and businesses mobilizing support for Ukraine, following the ongoing conflict there. The Swedish public also continued to support their usual causes, with donations remaining at a stable level.
⏰ Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has expressed hope for Swedish NATO membership approval by this summer, with only one and a half months left until NATO's Vilnius summit. However, Türkiye's current focus on domestic politics following a delayed presidential election could potentially delay the ratification and significantly decrease the likelihood of Sweden's membership approval before the summit. Kristersson notes that "time is running out" for Sweden's membership approval.
🇺🇦 Over 31,000 Ukrainians have been granted extended protection in Sweden under the EU's mass exodus directive, which offers immediate temporary protection within the EU to Ukrainian refugees. The Swedish Migration Agency has yet to process over 2,000 applications but says that almost everyone who has been assessed has been granted an extension of their residence permit. There are currently over 33,000 refugees from Ukraine with residence permits until March 4, 2022, in Sweden.
What is happening in the world?
🇺🇦 Ukraine's highest judge, Vsevolod Kniazhev, has been arrested for corruption , according to the country's anti-corruption body. Kniazhev was reportedly caught receiving a bribe, though further details on the allegations have not yet been revealed. The arrest is part of Ukraine's ongoing efforts to combat corruption and meet the requirements for closer integration with the EU.
🌳 The EU has formally approved new rules to protect the world's forests by imposing tougher import controls on goods produced by cutting down forests, such as coffee, cocoa, and soy. The move was backed by 22 of the 27 member states, with five (Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Poland, and Bulgaria) abstaining. Some, including Sweden, are concerned the rules will also impose stricter forestry requirements domestically.
🇮🇹 Italian police have seized nearly 3 tons of pure cocaine , worth over SEK 9 billion, in a shipment of bananas from Ecuador. The seizure was made in the port city of Gioia Tauro in Calabria, and the cocaine was found using advanced scanning equipment and drug-sniffing dogs. Italian police have seized over 37 tons of cocaine in Gioia Tauro since January 2021.
⚽ The Allsvenskan match between AIK and IFK Gothenburg ended in a 2-2 draw , with both teams earning a point. AIK's goalkeeper Gustav Svensson's backpass was hit straight into his own net by Gothenburg's goalkeeper Pontus Dahlberg, giving AIK an easy goal. The match continued with physical battles, hard tackles, and a lack of precision, with Sebastian Ohlsson scoring the equalizer for Gothenburg in the 73rd minute.
🇪🇺 Several EU sports ministers have expressed their concerns over allowing Russian athletes to participate in the Paris Olympics unless they are competing under a neutral flag. France's Minister of Sports, Amélie Oudéa-Castréra, has urged the IOC to ensure athletes with close ties to the Russian or Belarusian army cannot participate and has criticized the IOC's swaying stance over Russian participation.
🏒 Sweden has secured three wins at the Ice Hockey World Championships, standing undefeated against Finland. In a primary round game played in Helsinki, Tre Kronor won 2-1 in a nail-biting penalty shoot-out that saw 21-year-old Detroit forward Lucas Raymond score the winning goal. This winning streak has been in place since 1965.
📷 A new exhibition titled "Lightness of Being" featuring around a hundred works by German fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh will be on display at Fotografiska in Stockholm from June 16 to October 15. The exhibition is a tribute to his groundbreaking work in fashion photography, showcasing his portraits of supermodels and actors as well as his fascination with industrial landscapes, city bustle, and coastal strips. Lindbergh's honest portrayal of women without embellishing filters or photo tricks is still relevant for defining beauty today, according to his son Benjamin Lindbergh.
🎵 Daniela Rathana is embarking on a summer tour with her "School of Rathana" show, offering a "feeling of revenge" to those who feel like they don't fit into the system. The tour kicks off on June 3 at Brännbollsyran and includes festival performances and concerts throughout Sweden until September 2. The tour is aimed at empowering young people who don't fit into traditional roles.
🎤 Pop artist Molly Hammar, known for her soulful voice, has embarked on a summer tour in Sweden with her band, following a successful spring tour. The tour kicked off in Borås on June 3 and will continue through September, with stops in various cities including Stockholm , Göteborg , and Örebro . Hammar gained popularity after appearing on the Swedish TV show "Så mycket bättre".
Discover Sweden - Food
🍬 Nordic taste buds
Every time I go home to visit family in the US, I always grab a few bags of salty licorice to bring back, not because I think my friends will like them, but because trying them is just a very Nordic experience.
Overall candy is pretty popular in Sweden, most grocery stores have their own pick-and-mix candy selection, and salty licorice is almost always an option. I personally don't like it much… but you can't deny that it is an integral part of Swedish culture. So how did this weird salty candy become a thing?
Well like many candies and drinks that have been around for decades, they were originally created to serve another purpose‚ medicine.
In the 1930s, licorice, known for its soothing properties in treating sore throats, was fused with salty ammonium chloride, which had the ability to dissolve mucus. This ingenious combination gave rise to a salty snack that not only satisfied cravings but also served as a medicinal remedy .
Today it is still a common lördagsgodis (Saturday sweet) staple in Swedish households.
by Julia Powanda/Riedia
Made with 💛 in Stockholm
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