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Report: Students worried about bullying, not tests

Nearly one in ten students in Estonia's schools reported having experienced bullying.
Nearly one in ten students in Estonia's schools reported having experienced bullying. Source: (Pärnu Postimees/Scanpix)

According to the results of a section of the PISA study on student well-being published on Wednesday, Estonian students ranked above OECD average in desire to learn and satisfaction with ther school. The results also pointed to a need to do more to address school bullying, however.

5 facts from the PISA survey on school satisfaction:

  • 90.7 percent of Estonian students to participate in the survey reported being satisfied with their lives, 37 percent of which were "very satisfied."
  • Estonian students are not afraid of tests and assessments or difficult assignments.
  • Motivation among female basic school students in Estonia is higher than the OECD average.
  • Nearly one-tenth of students have experienced being bullied.
  • Estonian students' sense of belonging falls below the OECD average.

In short, teenage students in Estonia are on the whole satisfied with their lives: 90.7 percent of students who took the PISA survey in Estonia in 2015 reported being satisfied, 74 percent of whom reported being "very satisfied" or "satisfied" and 16.7 percent of whom reported being "somewhat satisfied" with their lives.

This indicator places the satisfaction of Estonia's 15-year-old students above the OECD average and seventh in the EU.

Bullying a problem

A total of 9.3 percent of participants indicated that they were not satisfied at all with their lives; approximately the same amount of students indicated that they had experienced bullying in school.

9.5 percent of participants claimed that they had experienced being bullied in school, with the most common experience out of different types of bullying, including physical, verbal and relationship-related, being verbal bullying such as teasing.

Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps said that while physical violence has decreased, psychological violence is still a common occurrence, including between female students.

Accrording to the results of the survey, male students have experienced more bullying than female students, however the results also indicate that the bullying issue is a universal one which does not depend on the location of the school or a student's socio-economic background.

Together with Switzerland, Estonia is ranked 12th-13th on the school bullying index, followed immediately by Finland. The rankings are topped by Latvia, while the least bullying is reported in Korean schools.

How motivated are students?

  • Female students in Estonia's basic schools are more motivated than the OECD average, while male students are slightly less motivated than average.
  • Female students are more motivated, however male students are more ambitious.
  • Students in towns and cities and with better home lives are more motivated.

Reps noted that while children's motivation to study was high, they did not picture themselves working as researchers, for example, in the future, indicating that motivation to study and learning outcomes did not necessarily largely determine future career choices.

Students lacking bond with classmates, school

The results of the study also highlighted that Estonian schoolchildren's sense of belonging was below the OECD average. A sense of belonging was correlated with better learning outcomes, however: students with better learning outcomes had a greater sense of belonging.

Students with better home lives, male students and students of rural schools also rated their sene of belonging as higher.

The Ministry of Education and Research noted that the concept of bullying-free education is being addressed more and more. According to the minister, additional resources have also been received which are being dedicated to finding anti-bullying programs suitable for each level and type of school.

Not afraid of tests

Estonian students are not afraid of taking tests and assessments or tackling more difficult assignments. Evaluation-related fears such as test anxiety were ranked low in students, with Estonia placing among the EU's five countries with very minor study-related fears.

Test anxiety was more prevalent among students with poor learning outcomes and female students, with the latter's anxiety having more to do with high expectations for themselves than the expectations of parents or teachers. Nonetheless, special attention needs to be paid to students with poor learning outcomes as they demonstrate higher levels of anxiety with regards to evaluations.

About the PISA

  • The PISA (the Programme for International Student Assessment) study is conducted every three years.
  • The study assesses the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and natural sciences.
  • Over half a million students in 72 countries participated in the 2015 PISA, including all industrialized countries.
  • This edition of the test focused on natural sciences, mathematical literacy and functional reading skills.
  • In December 2016, the OECD published the results of the PISA' primary test; the analysis of students' well-being based on the results of the study was released Wednesday.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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