Education and Training Monitor 2021 sheds light on well-being during COVID-19

25 January 2022

The COVID 19 outbreak is a public health crisis quite different than anything Europe has faced for many years. As education personnel and their trade unions grapple with the outbreak, we are supporting and informing member organisations in any way we can.

At the end of last year, the European Commission launched the annual “Education and Training Monitor” during the European Education Summit 2021. The 2021 report focuses on well-being in education zooming into the psychosocial risks, challenges of bullying and cyber violence/harassment encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thereby, the report reveals alarming tendencies of mental deterioration among students but fails to properly account for the well-being of teachers.

Even though well-being is a multidimensional concept that can be analysed in several ways, as the report points out, educational environments have generally proved to have an important impact on the quality of mental health of teachers and students. Indeed, European students report feeling sometimes or always sad, and 1 out of 3 students feel sometimes or always scared. This disproportionately affects girls and socio-economically disadvantaged students. These serious numbers are matched by the high prevalence of bullying within education systems. In the EU, 51.6% of students report being bullied at least once a year(PISA 2018)

The report also mentions some case studies of integrating well-being as part of national education policy. For instance, Estonia conducts an annual satisfaction survey among students, teachers and parents based on which education institutions receive feedback and recommendations for improvement. Another  example comes from Ireland which implemented an overarching structure to enhance the well-being and mental health of students and teachers at all education levels. During the COVID-19 crisis, the country developed a series of dedicated resources to support teachers, students and parents. These include, for instance, Wellbeing advice and resources during COVID-19 Minding Your Wellbeing Programme, and Remote teaching-support for teaching.

Additionnaly, when it comes to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on well-being in education, recent studies at EU level show that the introduction of emergency remote teaching did not provide an escape from bullying but shifted it into the digital space. During the lockdown, cyberbullying increased between 44%-50%.. Furthermore, about 1 out of 4 students in Europe feel unsupported with remote education and yet spend 3.5 hours per day online for school activities. In consequence, insomnia, anxiety and depression among students are rising.

While research provides important data on the well-being of students, ETUCE remarks that too little attention is given to analysing the well-being of teachers, academic and education personnel. In this respect, the Education and Training Monitor 2021 recognises that “There is a clear link between the mental health of teachers and that of students”, and “Teachers in the EU still experience high levels of work-related stress, […] which affects their mental health”, ETUCE remarks that there is still a lack of research and concrete measures at European and national level to counter and prevent work-related stress of teachers, academics and other education personnel.  

ETUCE stands with its member organisations to support the well-being  teachers and students in education.


Read more:

Education and Training Monitor 2021

ETUCE news item on the Education Summit 2021