PISA 2012—bad for Sweden
The PISA 2012 results are a terrifying read for any Swede with school-aged children. According to PISA (Program for International Student Assessment, a worldwide study by OECD, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), Swedish 15-year-olds perform significantly worse than the OECD average within all three areas of study: reading comprehension, mathematics and science. Twenty-five of 34 countries are better than Sweden in math, 19 of the 34 countries are better than Sweden in reading comprehension, and 25 countries are better than Sweden in science. Sweden’s results have fallen in all three areas since the 2009 PISA report, and for the first time ever Sweden is below the OECD average in all three. Actually no country has deteriorated as much as Sweden since 2009. Shanghai-China tops PISA’s list, followed by Singapore (2nd), Hong Kong-China (3rd). Liechtenstein is the first European country on the list (11th place), and Finland (on 12th) the first Scandinavian. Sweden comes in at number 38, the U.S. at 36. Denmark is in 23rd, Norway in 30th and Iceland in 27th. For more information: www.oecd.org/pisa/

Best and worst for the young
Emmaboda is the best municipality in Sweden for younger generations, and Huddige is the worst. ”That doesn’t feel good,” says high school student Petra Wahlman. It is YMCA that is publishing the youth ranking, which is based on 12 key areas that describe just how much the municipalities invest in areas that concern young people: schools, libraries and cultural- and recreational centers. ”This is based on the financial values that the municipalities themselves report on,” says Mattias Wihlgaard, acting secretary-general of the YMCA. According to Wihlgaard, the top municipalities have something in common: They have invested in the long term. ”You cannot just invest in the short term,” he says. ”We don’t believe the ranking shows everything, but we hope it triggers important discussions where we can think about how we can create better conditions for the young.” Petra Wahlman is 16 years old, and says she and her friends like their school in Huddinge and their teacher, but there’s not much to do after school. In spite of the bad ranking, Huddinge looks forward to a bright future. ”It is of course very sad that we’re on the bottom of the list, but meanwhile we’re working on things to come next year. I am fully convinced that we’ll be higher up on the list next year,” says Vibeke Bildt, chairwoman of the Culture and Leisure Committee in Huddinge.

More choose ”green” ham
”Do you like green eggs and ham?” Dr. Seuss asked in his famous children’s book with the same name. And Swedes do. More and more actually choose ”green”—in this case ecological—ham for Christmas. The sales of ecological Christmas ham have increased 20 percent this year. Products that are ecological do not always fulfill the demands for using the well-known Krav logo. Krav has been a key player in the organic market in Sweden since 1985, and the label stands for a sound, natural environment, solid care for animals, good health and social responsibility. Producers who add nitrite to the hams from Krav pigs (for the sake of durability and color) may not use the Krav logo, and those hams are simply called ”ecological.” Krav does not allow nitrite of safety reasons. Concerning Krav-labeled ham, the one without nitrite, the sales have increased from 3.5 tons to 6 tons from last year. The number of shops that sell the Krav hams have doubled since last year to 20.