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Happy at home, not school

PORTUGUESE YOUNGSTERS enjoy a good relationship with their families and friends, but this is not echoed when it comes to education or material comforts, reports a new survey.

UNICEF has released a report about the wellbeing of children from the world’s 21 richest countries, which placed Portuguese youngsters close to the bottom of the ranking in terms of material comfort and in last position for educational wellbeing.

The survey found that Belgian and Canadian children fare best when it comes to education, while Dutch children are the happiest. The survey also looked at health and safety, behaviour and relationships with other children, among other issues.

The measuring of material comfort was based on the percentage of children, who not only come from households living on earnings that are less than 50 per cent the national average, but also the percentage of children who have less than 10 books at home and who have an unemployed parent. Educational wellbeing was measured according to criteria such as literacy and performance at subjects, as well as abandonment of or lack of success at school.

The executive director of the Portuguese committee of UNICEF, Madalena Marçal Grilo, considers that the findings of the report mean that “there is still lots of work to be done, it also sends a message to the government, as it reveals that Portugal continues to be very weak in terms of education”.

Relative child poverty remains above 15 per cent in Portugal, Spain, Italy, the US, UK and Ireland. Portuguese children are also among those complaining most about bullying in school.

Best home lives

On a more positive note, the report concluded that Portuguese children are among those enjoying the best home lives. According to the UNICEF report, Portugal is in second place in the table for relationships with family and with other children, only surpassed by Italy. In addition, Portugal is in the top three when it comes to communication between children and their parents and for attention given by families to their children.

Other data found that Portuguese children occupy the top spot for eating breakfast and fruit every day. German under 16s were found to smoke the most, while there were more English young people who admitted to having experienced being drunk at an early age. More English youngsters claimed to have already tried sex, while more Canadian young people claimed to have smoked cannabis.

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