Teen spirits are up in Switzerland

It seems that Swiss students are happier than their OECD peers. KEYSTONE / GEORGIOS KEFALAS

Teenagers in Switzerland are more satisfied and athletic than most of their peers, and they are not as ambitious, according to a student well-being study.

This content was published on April 19, 2017 - 21:12

The 530-page reportExternal link published on Wednesday surveyed 15-year-olds in the 35 countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – including Switzerland.

Prepared by the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)External link, the report examined what factors contribute to students’ well-being.

This was the first time that PISA looked into well-being; typically the focus is on academic performance. Good grades do not necessarily produce happy students.

“Students in some of the countries that top the PISA league tables in science and mathematics reported comparatively low satisfaction with life; but Finland, the Netherlands and Switzerland seem able to combine good learning outcomes with highly satisfied students,” the report noted.

On a satisfaction scale of 0 to 10, the pupils in Switzerland gave an average rating of 7.72 – higher than teens everywhere except Mexico, Finland, the Netherlands and Iceland. Nearly 40% of Swiss students went as far as to say that they were “very satisfied” with their lives (9 or 10 on the scale). The OECD average was about 34%. At the other end of the spectrum, 7.4% were “dissatisfied” (0 to 4), compared with an average of 11.8%.

Nerves and muscles

While it seems students in Switzerland are not desperate to be the best, they are also less likely to be nervous before a test. Just 40% said they wanted to be at the top of their class, compared with nearly 60% in the OECD average. Among the studious in Switzerland, 33.5% said they got “very nervous” before a test – even if they were well prepared. More than half (55.5%) of their OECD peers said the same.

In terms of educational expectations, young people in Switzerland are also significantly below the average. Only 27% said they expected to get a university degree, compared with 44% in the other countries. This, however, can be attributed to the Swiss apprenticeship system.

Outside of school, 15-year-olds in Switzerland spend less time online than their OECD peers. On weekdays they clock 126 minutes a day; on weekends it is 168. The OECD average is 146 and 184 minutes, respectively, with Japanese students spending barely an hour online after school.

While others are surfing the web, Swiss youngsters enjoy sports. Some 73% said they trained before or after school. The OEDC average is about 70%. The sportiest are the Hungarians, 80% of whom do sports outside of school.

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