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Educators in Finland "overworked and stressed," survey says

A majority of teachers and administrators who said they were stressed and overburdened at work are employed at institutions that were most affected by government budget cuts, the education trade union says.

Opettaja opettaa matematiikkaa.
File photo. Image: Yle

Educators across Finland are increasingly stressed and unhappy at work, according to a fresh survey commissioned by the Trade Union of Education (OAJ).

The OAJ's "working life barometer" survey found that educators - including principals and rectors - increasingly feel overwhelmed by their workloads. Some 60 percent of the educators said they were overburdened at work.

More than half of the respondents, including educators in managerial positions, said that they also typically work both days of the weekend. Two thirds of the respondents said they work three out of five weeknights every week.

Teachers also reported that they experienced major stress on the job. More than half of teachers at vocational schools who took part in the survey said their jobs caused them to experience "a lot" or "a high degree" of stress.

Slightly fewer, 46 percent, of university teachers said they regularly felt stressed at work. Some 45 percent of daycare teachers and 44 percent of upper secondary school teachers said they felt stressed on the job.

Just 21 percent of respondents said they rarely felt stressed by the work they do.

The teachers who said they felt the most overworked and stressed were at schools that had seen the effects of government budget cuts and reforms to the education sector, according to the trade union.

Bullying, violence common

Respondents also said that violence and bullying at schools are growing problems. Nearly half of the educators said they had themselves been bullied or poorly treated by students - or even fellow colleagues - in the past year.

Nearly 10 percent of the teachers said they had witnessed violence on the job. Those who most reported workplace violence worked in daycare centres and primary schools.

Five percent of respondents said that violence had led them to take sick leave from work. Young daycare clients or schoolchildren were said to be the chief perpetrators of the violence, the barometer found.

OAJ said it is concerned about the continuing decline in job satisfaction among teachers in Finland. But the trade union also noted that some 71 percent of the educators reported that they were satisfied with their jobs "often" or "fairly often". Nearly as many of respondents said that they enjoyed immersing themselves in their work.

The OAJ education worker satisfaction barometer survey is carried out every two years. This year's survey -- the third so far -- queried more than 1,100 educators and staff from various institutions across Finland, including daycare centres, primary and secondary schools, universities, vocational schools and universities of applied sciences.

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