(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)
[22. June 2007] The situation is desperate for thousands of Norwegian families. Kindergarten deficiency is acute and everyday is a perpetual rush for child care. Parents must take leave from work to stay home with the children. They have put their trust in Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen to fix what feminists and politicians have been talking about for 30 years: full daycare. Although the goal is not fully achieved by the end of 2007, the grips are so radical and the development so large that it is already the biggest victory of family policy since public schooling.
But the cheer over kindergarten drowns quickly in the fear of unsafe kindergartens. The children are often referred to as "the most important thing we have", but still eaten with confined spaces in poor houses and lack of educational offerings. The solution in the country's four largest cities has been to offer "pavilions", on good Norwegian barracks, as temporary solutions until proper kindergartens come into place. In Oslo, 15 such barracks have been set up in and around the city's green areas, to a standard no one can claim has put any consideration ahead of price. There is an acute shortage of preschool teachers. The barracks are ugly, cheap and bad, but the joy of extra kindergartens has silenced the criticism and made the population content with the hope that the temporary will not become permanent.
That's why it was so tragic when the Tonsen Earth and Refstad's temporary nursery burst last Sunday. Although no one was present in the nursery, it is easy to imagine what scenes could have taken place when the playroom cracked in the middle. The thought and terror strike us all, we are all parents or children. When it comes to kindergarten development, there is only one thing that is more important than full daycare coverage: Safe and good daycare. Now ten kindergartens in Oslo and four in Trondheim are closed for improvement, and in some cases the children are offered tents instead of kindergartens. Craftsmen will not enter the buildings, fearing they will collapse. It's easy to feel powerless when politicians, bureaucrats, builders and entrepreneurs are more busy pointing at each other than figuring out what they should do differently.
But some have the responsibility, and the responsibility lies politically. Had Oslo's Erling Lae and Trondheim's Rita Ottervik been a little more concerned about kindergartens, the scandal could have been avoided. Of course, they are as desperate as everyone else. But this is due to poor control routines, unclear rules and too low a prioritization of quality in kindergarten development. Oslo City Councilor Torger Ødegaard claims that the lack of kindergartens is not about money. Great, then he can buy plots and existing villas at market prices, and set up salaries for preschool teachers to get enough of them. People deserve proper day care now.