Electricity prices. Vulnerable children. The science strategy. Coronavirus transmission. Here is today’s card post.
This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.
Electricity prices: I am ready for demonstration trains
It is of course good that politicians are concerned about support schemes for those who struggle with electricity bills. But it seems that they do not understand that the vast majority in Norway have a daily life that is based on completely different electricity prices than those we now see.
The high prices mean that ordinary people are almost overnight forced to change a way of life that they have been waiting for for a long time.
Many have gone to the cottage without worrying about sky-high costs. Most people have been able to save for a new car or holiday trips, take a trip to the city, arrange parties and participate in various activities.
Some would argue that this is a luxury one can well be without. But that is how we are used to having it in this country, and now we see a development that puts this in danger.
I’ve never been on a demonstration train before, but now I’m ready.
Kjell Klinkenberg, Oslo
Schools have a responsibility to take care of vulnerable groups
Kristin Clemet, head of the think tank Civita, believes that there is inflation in the use of the term “vulnerable children”. Recently, she followed up by saying that “the school’s most important social mission is the education of all children – not to protect them from their own families”.
This makes us at Unicef Norway so worried that we have to retaliate.
One child who does not receive the protection he needs is one child too many. There is by no means inflation in the use of the term. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges Norway to safeguard the best interests of the child, even in an exceptional situation – such as the pandemic. If there is a conflict between what is in the best interests of the child and other considerations, the authorities are obliged to emphasize the best interests of the child.
Decision-makers are obliged to assess and show that the measures that are introduced are least intrusive towards children and young people. It is the state’s human rights responsibility to ensure children’s right to schooling, the right to participation and the protection and care they need.
It is a prerequisite that central services catch children who need protection, and that they receive the help they need. Schools have a responsibility to take care of vulnerable groups, and to manage that they must be kept open. If the Convention on the Rights of the Child is not a good enough reason to keep schools open, it is alarming!
As the UN’s children’s organization, it is our mandate to ensure that children’s voices are heard. The very complex group we call “the vulnerable children” does not have the same opportunity to take care of themselves, as adults have. We are their voice.
Kristin Oudmayer, Director, Children’s Rights and Sustainability, Unicef Norway
The science strategy: Undeserved use of pool metaphors
Following the evaluation of the Science Strategy (National Strategy for Science in Kindergarten and Basic Education), the debate has a high temperature.
Minister of Education Tonje Brenna (Labor Party) calls the strategy a belly splash and says that one would rather need knowledge-based initiatives. Conservative Jan Tore Sanner believes the strategy is knowledge-based and that it takes time to measure effects.
Although it is tempting to take a normal research approach and say that both have good points, it is unfortunately Brenna who is closest to a belly splash this time.
Firstly: The investment was knowledge-based. Research shows that increasing students’ knowledge in science has positive long-term effects for both the students themselves and society as a whole.
Research also shows that learning should start early, the teacher’s professional knowledge is important, and school management must facilitate that teachers can do a good job. These are the most important elements in the Science Strategy.
Secondly: Even if no measurable effects are revealed on the students’ knowledge, it does not necessarily mean that the investment has not had an effect. This may be due to the fact that the strategy has not worked, as Brenna confidently concludes. But it may also be that it takes time before investments have an effect, as Sanner points out.
A third possibility is that it has an effect on something that does not have a sufficiently good data basis to evaluate. There is limited information about the pupils in Norwegian schools. For example, the annual student survey is not designed so that it can be used in evaluations, and there are no national tests in science.
Thirdly: The initiative was introduced in a way that makes it difficult to evaluate. Credible evaluations require some degree of randomness in who participates in the measure, which can be achieved by, for example, conducting an experiment or rolling out the initiative gradually. This is also emphasized by the researchers themselves in the report.
It is worrying that the evaluation indicates that the students have not learned more science. But the solution is hardly for the Minister of Education and Research to bother about the lack of effects in a report that does not have the opportunity to use well-suited evaluation methods. Especially when the initiative has involved many committed school leaders and teachers who have worked actively to promote science.
The education sector is dependent on long-term initiatives that provide predictability and on which it can be built on, regardless of who is the minister.
The question now is what the Minister of Education and Research will do to strengthen students’ science knowledge.
Astrid Marie Jorde Sandsør, researcher, Department of Special Education, University of Oslo and Nordic Institute for Studies of Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU)
Torberg Falch, professor, Department of Economics, NTNU
Aftenposten recently wrote about a new, gloomy week with sky-high infection rates and pointed to Poles as the culprits. When reading the article, it is easy to conclude that it is Poles who are responsible for the bad situation in Norwegian hospitals.
The newspaper emphasizes that among the 79 hospitalized and most unvaccinated foreigners that week, there are 16 Poles. It focuses on them. But the fact that most hospitalized foreigners are Poles does not mean that Poles most often require hospitalization, but that they are the largest minority!
According to the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH), Poles are in first place with the highest percentage of unvaccinated, but they do not end up in first place in terms of the number of admissions.
The article quotes from FHI’s weekly report: “In addition, there were six patients from Eritrea, five from Syria and five from Lithuania.” Higher percentage of hospital admissions per 100,000 people among the above nationalities apply to two other groups.
Please do not make the situation worse by separating people even more. What is also important is to treat all minority groups in the same way. Especially in a country where gender equality is so important.
Katarzyna Karp, Vennesla