Survey: Estonian children are critical of school and parents
Researchers of the Institute of Social Studies of the University of Tartu participated in the survey Children’s Worlds which studied children’s subjective wellbeing and involved 50,000 children all over the world. The results indicate that compared to the children of other countries, Estonian children are rather satisfied with their time use and friendships, but more critical of how their parents take into account what children say. Moreover, Estonian children are the most critical of school.
What makes the survey exceptional is its methodology: 8-to-12-year-olds of 15 countries were asked their own opinion about their life: views on their everyday life, opinion about relationships at home and at school and general satisfaction.
According to the percentage of children who gave the maximum score, children are the most satisfied with life as a whole in Turkey (78%) and Romania (77%) and the least satisfied in South Korea (40%). “Estonia holds the modest 8th place in the comparison of 15 countries, as only 59% of children gave the maximum score to their satisfaction with life as a whole. The general tendency in most countries is that satisfaction with life decreases as children get older,” said Dagmar Kutsar, leader of the survey and Associate Professor of Social Policy of the University of Tartu.
According to Kutsar, in comparison with the children of other countries, Estonian children are more satisfied with their home and family. They are also relatively satisfied with their friendships and other relationships, but more critical of how much their parents and other adults take into account what they say and how fairly they treat children.
Estonian children are among the busiest compared to the children of other countries. More than 90% of children do homework every day and more than 50% take part in extracurricular activities (hobby or training groups) every day. In addition, Estonian children are also in the lead by active computer use (almost 70% every day) and watching TV and listening to music (almost 85% every day). “However, considering how busy they are, they are relatively satisfied with their time use: only 3% are very critical of that,” said Kutsar.
The survey shows that while African children consider school-related aspects as the most positive thing in their life, Estonian children express the most criticism in their views towards school.
“Dissatisfaction with school concerns all school-related aspects and increases as children get older, but compared to the children of other countries, Estonian children are especially dissatisfied with their marks, classmates, everyday life at school and how much teachers listen to them and take into account what the children say,” described Kutsar, adding that Estonian children are also worried about relatively frequent school bullying, “boys experience it more often than girls and 10-year-olds more often than 12-year-olds.”
Kutsar mentions an intriguing parallel between the children of Estonia and South Korea: “The children of both countries have shown exceptional study results, being in the top of the PISA test results, while the children’s subjective satisfaction with life in both countries is relatively low and especially Estonian children are very critical of their school environment.”
The report is available on the home page of the survey. The preparation and implementation of the survey was financed by the Jacobs Foundation (Switzerland). On 13 May, the researchers presented the survey at the European Parliament.
Additional information: Dagmar Kutsar, UT Associate Professor of Social Policy, leader of the survey, tel: +372 529 5511, email: dagmar.kutsar [ät] ut.ee;
Kairi Talves, UT doctoral student of Sociology, interview manager, tel: +372 507 6444, email: kairi.talves [ät] ut.ee.