Snakes inspire kindergarten children

Children attending a kindergarten in Roggendorfgasse in Vienna’s Hernals district were horrified to discover snakes in the garden. However, the snakes are harmless and the teachers have cleverly turned the children’s natural fear into curiosity.

Snakes inspire kindergarten children
A grass snake. Photo: eofdreams

Now the children are working on a project about snakes – learning all about the reptile’s life cycle and how to handle the non-venomous creatures.

"The children have been getting creative – making snakes out of paper, drawing, and exhibiting their works," said kindergarten head Ines Rinesch.

Natural and environmental issues have long been integrated into the kindergarten’s educational work. The children help grow fruit, vegetables and various herbs in the garden, and then help harvest and process the produce.

"Activities like this give children a conscious relationship with nature and are an integral part of the educational work we do in our nurseries," said local Councillor for Education Christian Oxonitsch.

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Austrian MPs give green light to headscarf ban in primary schools

Austrian MPs on Wednesday approved a law aimed at banning the headscarf in primary schools, a measure proposed by the ruling right-wing government.

Austrian MPs give green light to headscarf ban in primary schools
Illustration Photo: AFP

So as to avoid charges that the law discriminates against Muslims, the text refers to any “ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head”.

However, representatives of both parts of the governing coalition, the centre-right People's Party (OeVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), have made it clear that the law is targeted at the Islamic headscarf.

FPOe education spokesman Wendelin Moelzer said the law was “a signal against political Islam” while OeVP MP Rudolf Taschner said the measure was necessary to free girls from “subjugation”.

The government says the patka head covering worn by Sikh boys or the Jewish kippa would not be affected.

Austria's official Muslim community organisation IGGOe has previously condemned the proposals as “shameless” and a “diversionary tactic”.

The IGGOe says that in any case only a “miniscule number” of girls would be affected.

Opposition MPs almost all voted against the measure, with some accusing the government of focusing on garnering positive headlines rather than child welfare.

The government admits that the law is likely to be challenged at Austria's constitutional court, either on grounds of religious discrimination or because similar legislation affecting schools is normally passed with a two-thirds majority of MPs.

The OeVP and FPOe formed a coalition in late 2017 after elections in which both parties took a tough anti-immigration stance and warned of the dangers of so-called “parallel societies”.