Finland Increases Free Compulsory Secondary Education

After many years of debate, this government has at last passed legislation that make secondary education compulsory up to the starting age of 18 years. 

This reform has been debated for years but only the present government has had the fortitude and economic understanding to get it done. The social and economic benefits are crystal clear but the present opposition made up of the Conservatives and True Finns have objected to new legislation for reasons that appear to be related to the costs (the Conservatives) and old prejudices about the value of education (True Finns). 

Compulsory schoolers starting in autumn 2021 will be the first to enjoy free secondary education until the end of the calendar year in which the student reaches the age of 20.

Each student  may change of place of study free of charge and for justified reasons, the grace period may also be extended, e.g. disease or for the completion of training. Students will have free teaching and daily meals, textbooks and other materials and teaching aids, equipment and subjects required for teaching. They will be required to take 5 tests for passing the matriculation examination, including rejection of rejection. They will also be entitled to a refund of travel costs for trips longer than 7 km.

This is a big step for a small country but the government sees this as being essential in this more open global world. There are far too many young people unemployed without suitable qualifications either from a university to vocational school. There is already clear evidence that those young people who did not attend school and get a matriculation pass, end up with challenges to find decent jobs. 

This is a sweeping reform and the government has calculated that the extra costs are surprisingly small compared to the benefits to the individuals and the public sector. More young people will now be better equipped to find work and the public sector will receive higher tax revenues and be paying out lower basic social security costs to the unemployed.

The reform should promote equal opportunities to allow students to develop themselves according to their abilities and needs. It will also raise the level of education and skills and narrow learning gaps thus increasing educational equality and equity.

It is worth noting that the reform also contains clear provisions for guidance at the primary and secondary level as well as guidance for postgraduate studies. The school and the municipality are made responsible for supervision if the student is about to interrupt his or her studies. Guidance is provided in the event of an interruption of studies to ensure the continuation of studies. A student cannot resign on the basis of his or her own declaration if he or she has not started new studies.

This is a key reform that has taken into account the costs and benefits and should result over the years in the formation of a stronger and more productive workforce where people have worthwhile jobs they can enjoy. It also has the potential to create a stronger tax revenue base so that we can maintain our key basic services and our high standard of living. 

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