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Half of students rate school knowledge as useful


Students are more satisfied with the quality of education they receive at school than their parents. According to the children, the focus in the programs is mainly on the Bulgarian language and knowledge of mathematics at the expense of professional skills, entrepreneurship and social-emotional intelligence. In addition, parents believe that health and sexuality education, as well as critical thinking, are not sufficiently taught at school.

This is according to a study by the National Network for Children, carried out for the National Inspectorate of Education. The research was presented during the conference “The quality of education in a rapidly changing environment – shared solutions”, organized by the inspectorate, the National Network for Children and the Department of Public Information of Sofia University.

The survey is not nationally representative. The report is based on a desk study, 5 focus group discussions with students and parents from the capital, a regional city and a small town, a quantitative survey with 270 students from 4th to 12th grade and parents. The research was done in 2023.

The purpose of the study is to establish the understanding of the components of quality education according to students and parents, to identify the factors that influence the quality of education, and to make an assessment according to the opinion of children and parents.

Maria Brestnička, an expert in the National Network for Children, explained that different components make up quality education, but some of them are key:

effectiveness of the school and the learning process
commitment to the learning process
reducing educational inequalities
preventing school dropout
skill prediction and assessment of skills and their applicability
social-emotional education and training.

When asked what a quality education is, more than 80% of students indicate first of all the acquisition of knowledge and skills necessary for a person’s full participation in society. Nearly 90% of parents also give this answer. In second place, parents place children’s commitment to the learning process, while for students it is the good teaching of the learning material by the teacher.

The research indicates that parents do not associate the quality of education with high marks from the National external evaluations – 2.90%. However, children have a different opinion – nearly 15% of students choose this answer.

Children and parents highlight the promotion of students’ individual interests as well as the support of their personal development as a key approach to achieving quality. The inclusion of children in decision-making in school life is also of leading importance. Brestnička added that in many of the schools, the decision-making by the students is reduced to conducting polls, and their results are unknown.

Children are more satisfied with the quality of education than their parents

Half of students (55%) say they are completely or somewhat satisfied with the education they receive. Nearly 20% say they are not at all or rather dissatisfied with the school. A smaller proportion of parents who took part in the survey felt that their child was satisfied with school in general (38.3%), while nearly 30% felt that their child was not at all satisfied with their education.

According to Brestnička, an explanation for the differences in the two studied groups can be found in the expectations that children and parents have. He adds that parents have more life experience and probably a greater base of comparison, while students rely solely on their school experience.

The research indicates that 47% of the surveyed children define the knowledge and skills they receive at school as very or rather useful. However, less than 30% of parents rate them as such.

The students say that the Bulgarian literary language and mathematical literacy are represented to the greatest extent in school as knowledge and skills. Social-emotional intelligence, vocational skills and entrepreneurship are least affected, while parents add health and sexuality education and critical thinking.

Punishments at school – from yelling to hitting with mushrooms

The survey also explored parents’ and children’s views on what the main reasons were for pupils to behave in a way that the school did not approve of. First of all, parents indicate the children’s unsatisfied needs for communication and attention (66.3%). Then they put the influence of peers (40%) and laziness of students to fulfill their duties – 37.7%.

However, the students point to laziness in the first place – just over 58%. They also noted the bad example of other children – 40.6%. According to a quarter of parents, behind the unacceptable behavior is a problem that the children are going through but are afraid to share.

According to the children who took part in the study, the most common consequences for such behavior were yelling by teachers, followed by being ignored and being called names. Other punishments that students list are not being allowed to go to the toilet, being targeted with sponges, markers or textbooks, being kicked out of class.

The workload and stress at school is very high

Nearly 15% of the study participants said they did not feel good at school. An average rating of how they feel is given by nearly 40%. This is also the share of children who gave good and very good marks.

Children and parents agree on the degree of workload at school. For nearly 60% of children, the workload is high or very high. For parents, the percentage reaches 70.4%. Just over half of parents and students rate their level of stress at school as high or very high.

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