No time to party

The organizers of the "Ung08" youth festival in Stockholm had thought of everything, as they planned to spend the budget that they were given by the council on games, discos and concerts, to keep schoolkids on their summer break out of mischief.

But when the party gets started next week, only one thing will be missing: young people. Or a good proportion of them at any rate. Because instead of living it up at the festival on Kungsträdgården in the centre of the capital, half of Stockholm’s teenagers will be hitting the books, as the autumn term begins.

“It’s clearly a mistake on the part of Stockholm Council,” a police youth worker told DN, “of course it should have been held a week earlier.”

The festival will be the fifth of its kind in Stockholm, and has a budget of 6 million crowns from Stockholm Council, reported the paper.

“We always try to have the festival in the last few days before school starts,” organizer Roger Ticoalu told the paper, “but this year half the schools will already be open.” Taxpayers’ money well spent, then.

But it might not be all bad news for the festival, for it seems that plenty of Stockholm teenagers might have more time on their hands than they expected. Over 100 Stockholm students are still waiting to be allocated a place at a ‘gymnasium’ – Swedish sixth form college or senior high school.

Part of the problem, according to Monday’s DN, is that a number of schools have withdrawn courses. Efraim Gershater, a teenager in Skärholmen, in the Stockholm suburbs, had applied to study car mechanics. The school told him they weren’t running the course this year, and he was offered a place on the business studies course instead.

Given that there was quite a difference between the two subjects, his mother complained to the council, and the course was reinstated. Still, Efraim has no confirmation whether he’ll get a place on it. And Björn Johansson, the man in charge of finding school places for Stockholm’s teenagers, could only promise “everyone will get a place. But it could be on any course, at any school in town.”

And if life is looking tough for Sweden’s youth, it doesn’t look altogether rosy at the other end of the age scale, either. Svenska Dagbladet reported on Monday that “Sweden spends less money on care for the elderly than many other western countries.”

Indeed, perhaps it might be an idea to pack the Lederhosen and retire to Germany. For Portugal, Canada, Germany and America all spend a higher proportion of their GDP on care for the elderly. And the paper was quick to point out that, in Sweden, waiting lists for things like hip replacements have grown substantially in the past few years.

But statistics being the slippery things that they are, there’s always a bright way to read them. So although Sweden spends a smaller proportion of its GDP on health than many other places, it is still the fifth highest spender per person overall.