European Small Islands Federation

Archive for Education

Skärgård magazine no 160

Ledare 1-2

Every European island flaunts its assets in glossy magazines, typically written by journalists and photographers spending a week or two in the island’s holiday landscape. Luckily, there is also another kind of island magazines, written by the islanders themselves, sometimes with the help of researchers, dealing with the island culture, history, lifestyle, infrastructure and politics. Such magazines were briefly described here in July 2016.

One of these is the superb magazine Skärgård (= Archipelago), which has just published its 160th (!) issue, with Pia Prost as editor.

The issue starts with a clever editorial by Pia Prost entitled “Mankind is not an island” and continues with articles on sustainability, biogas, fishing, hybrid ferry Elektra, recent disputations, island loos and a very interesting article entitled “Meeting the challenges of Europe’s small islands” by Camille Dressler. We had no idea Camille masters the Swedish language so well (maybe she had some help from Pia?). She gives examples from her own island Eigg, stressing the importance of sharing island stories with happy endings.

Another article is on Simskäla, which was ESIN’s runner-up for the EUSEW 2017 award: “On Simskäla, from different angles” for example “top down or bottom up”, “on or in an island”, “seen from here and seen from there”. Simskäla did not win the EUSEW prize this year (Tilos did, well deserved!) but the Energy Globe Foundation in Austria is urging us to apply for Simskäla to run for their 2018 Energy Globe Award.

Get your own copy here:



Small island schools perform well


Karl Jan Solstad

Last week, the Nordic Council archipelago cooperation arranged a seminar on the topic of small island schools. One of the speakers was Norwegian professor emeritus Karl Jan Solstad, who presented his research from Vågan, a municipality among the Lofoten islands in Nordland Region, northern Norway.

Map of Nordland Region in Norway with its municipalities, Vågan is no 40, marked in yellow

Norwegian municipalities are eventually closing small schools and transporting pupils by bus to larger schools. The tendency is that the size of schools closed down is getting bigger, and relatively, more of these schools are situated further away from the new school to which the pupils are transferred.Providing a better education is the reason given by politicians, in spite of strong local mobilization against closure.

Vågan has some 9,000 residents and nine schools in grades 1-10 with 1,063 pupils 2015-16. Two schools are large (having many pupils): Kabelvåg (327) and Svolvaer (544). The remaining seven are considered small: Digermulen (19), Gimsøy (18), Hennningsvaer (52), Laukvik (45), Laupstad (20), Skrova (13), Sydal (26).

Professor Solstad shows the feelings about and arguments for and against small schools of headmasters and teachers, parents and pupils. Most astonishing, he shows that the results of pupils in small schools are better than in large schools.


Results from National  8th grade, 2014-15 and 2015-16, Reading, Mats and English, All of Vågan, the two large schools (Svovaer and Kabelvåg) and the “small schools, arithmetic average and number of pupils.

The report from Vågan can be found here and his presentation from last weeks lecture is streamed here (it starts at 1:44).

Professor Solstad’s presentation was mindblowing but there were other, most interesting presentations including distance learning in the Åland Islands (presented by Kaj Törnroos) (42:00), “Understanding the big in the small” by Gunilla Karlberg-Granlund (1:25) and Lena Möllersten’s work as a networking headmaster of small schools in the Stockholm archipelago.


Kaj Törnroos


Gunilla Karlberg-Granlund


Lena Möllersten