Finnish girls feel pressure at school
Especially adolescents believe that other pupils do not accept them the way they are
Even though schools in these latitudes are often criticised for oppressing boys, in particular adolescent girls suspect more often than boys that other pupils do not accept them the way they are.
In an international comparison between 35 countries, Finnish girls are placed among the six weakest countries, while Finnish boys rank among the weakest third.
Finnish pupils also feel that the school puts a severe strain on them. Especially 15-year-old Finnish girls find schoolwork strenuous: they rank third in the comparison after Portugal and Turkey. Finnish boys are also placed among the top four countries under review.
This information is based on a report published on Wednesday by the Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE) and the Research Centre for Health Promotion at the University of Jyväskylä.
The international report compares school experiences and changes in them in the period from 1994 to 2010. A total of roughly 6,000 pupils from the grades 5, 7, and 9 in Finnish comprehensive schools were involved in the survey.
Altogether 35 countries and some 200,000 pupils participated in the international comparison.
”The answers make one wonder what could cause such a feeling of strain in Finnish schools. It is not the amount of schoolwork per se; maybe it is rather a question of quality or atmosphere”, says professor Lasse Kangas from the University of Jyväskylä.
In comparison, in the neighbouring country Sweden school attendance was hardly regarded as strenuous at all.
At the same time, the survey also brought Finland some good news. For example the recent violent incidents in schools have not shaken pupils’ sense of security.
Based on the most recent answers, a total of 73 per cent of pupils felt safe at school.
In fact pupils’ positive experiences of security had even somewhat increased from 2006 to 2010. Those who found that they were doing well felt safer than those who were not doing well.
There was also a difference between various pupils’ school experiences depending on whether they intended to continue school in upper secondary school or go on instead to vocational school.
Those who said that they would go to upper secondary school usually have more positive feelings.
”Teaching methods should definitely be diversified”, says Aulis PItkälä, Director General of the Finnish National Board of Education.
In addition to security, Finnish pupils’ perceived well-being at school and their performance-related self-esteem have strengthened over the past 20 or so years.
In the comparison, Finnish pupils continued to stay at the tail end of ”those who like school”.
However, only two per cent of 5th grade boys did not relish school at all in 2010, while in 2006 the proportion was still 11 per cent.
When it comes to the commonness of school bullying, Finland was placed halfway between the countries under review, but repeated bullying that occurs at least once a week was rarer in Finland than elsewhere.
However, being a target for bullying and participating in bullying others both became somewhat more common in Finland between 2006 and 2010, even though several special programmes against school bullying have been launched in the country.
The results are believed to be seen in the next survey on school health to be conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Director General of National Board of Education would restrict free choice of schools (27.2.2012)
Effective programme developed in Finland to reduce bullying in schools (7.8.2008)
Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE)
Research Centre for Health Promotion at the University of Jyväskylä
Ministry of Education and Culture