Saturday 16 December 2017

Eilis O'Hanlon: Swedish childcare is no shining light

As the creche scandal rolls on, we're being urged to follow the Scandinavians – but they have problems too

Eilis O'Hanlon

SWEDEN is like the high-achieving elder sibling whose example is constantly being thrown in the faces of younger brothers and sisters to force them into shaping up. There may be ongoing riots among disaffected Muslim youths in the outer suburbs of Stockholm, which make the outbreak of sun-and-cider-fuelled knackerdom on Portmarnock Beach last week look like a village fete by comparison, but still it's the Swedes that we're urged to emulate in all matters of social policy.

The row over the mistreatment of children in Irish creches, as exposed on Prime Time, has instantly been snapped up and exploited in the same manipulative way. Every debate in the Irish media has been reduced to a Pavlovian demand for more funding, more control, more centralisation of childcare, usually with the underlying assumption that if Sweden's doing it, then it must be right.

Last Thursday's Prime Time even threw in a statistic that Ireland is only hitting one of 10 markers for a perfect childcare system as laid down by Unicef, without bothering to explain what the 10 points were or whether we actually want to be hitting them (Sweden, naturally, hit all 10).

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