A total of 42% - of the more than 12 000 South African children who took part in the study - said they were bullied “about weekly” and 35%, “about monthly”.
Not only did the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) paint a bleak picture of reading literacy in South African schools, it also revealed the shocking extent of South Africa’s school bullying problem.

A total of 42% - of the more than 12 000 South African children who took part in the study - said they were bullied “about weekly” and 35%, “about monthly”.

Only 22% said they were “almost never” bullied.

South Africa’s figures were the worst of the 50 countries that took part in PIRLS 2016.

The levels of bullying in South Africa could be linked to the country’s poor performance in the reading tests.

PIRLS 2016 found that 78% of children in their fourth year of school here, could not read for meaning.

And researchers said internationally, the majority of fourth grade pupils were in safe school environments.

“But those attending schools with a disorderly environment had much lower reading achievement than their counterparts,” it said.

Some of the findings on bullying among children

Of those surveyed, how often they were bullied:

SA: 42% weekly; 35% monthly; 22% never

New Zealand: 24% weekly; 36% monthly; 40% never

Singapore: 16% weekly; 33% monthly; about 50% never

US: 15% weekly; 30% monthly; about 56% never

Egypt: 7% weekly; 18% monthly; 73% never

Saudi Arabia: 22% weekly; 25% monthly; 53% never