JUNE 13, 1950
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Monday—One day during our stay here we started the morning with a visit to an elementary school. Swedish children begin school at the age of seven, and remain through a seven year course. If, however, they are going to a university they may leave after five years and go to what is known as a gymnasium where they spend five or six years before entering the university. If on the other hand, they plan to go to work or to a vocational school, they finish their seven years and enter a high school or a vocational school. The last two years of high school approximate the first years of our college.
The hours seem rather distracting for a mother, particularly as household aid is almost impossible to obtain—and almost every woman does her own housework. Children go to school at 8 o'clock, having had something very light to eat. A few schools give them lunch at 11, but in most cases they go home for lunch then and return to school at 12. They stay in school until 2:15. Some schools have a voluntary hobbies class in the afternoon. Their homework, until they go to high school should not take more than two hours and to start with can be done in half an hour.
Our next visit was to a vocational school. Here the children get very good training in a great number of trades.
There is nothing very different about the schools I have visited here than a very good school at home, except, that they have a better health system and certainly better care is given to children's teeth. There are forty-eight clinics and 100 dentists to care for the children's teeth in Stockholm alone.
Later an opportunity to talk with representatives of the Swedish Federation of Employers and the Swedish Federation of Unions. Their employer-employee relationships are certainly more mature and better integrated than ours. Whether we could repeat their system I do not know, but a study would be helpful to us and I am taking home a great deal of material.
We lunched in one of the most beautiful private factories I have ever seen: The L.M. Erickson Company. Fifteen years ago it was moved a little way outside of the city. The employees live in surrounding small individual houses, on which the company guarantees payments, or in model apartments. There is a shopping center and a delightful community center which is open to the neighborhood whether they are employees of the factory or not.
The factory building is light and airy. Music is played at intervals over the loud speaking system. They have a ten minute rest period in the morning and fifty minutes for lunch and a very good cafeteria. They run a nursery and a nursery school. On the whole I have rarely seen a better private setup.
Then I went to see a cooperative which seemed in many ways to offer exceptional advantages to its employees. The cooperatives run not only factories but stores and are very stable and well established. On the top of their office building they have a delightful garden, where they can sit and drink coffee. If you are an office girl you can be taught exercises and they gave us an exhibition. The teacher also teaches the Housewives League.
We returned to the hotel for a short time before meeting with some of our ECA officials.