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Students' union rejects proposal to abolish matriculation exams

The mental health crisis among young people should be tackled by other means than abolishing a functioning system, according to the Union of Secondary School Students.

Lukas Virtala, President of the Union of Upper Secondary School Students. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The Union of Secondary School Students (SLL) said it is strongly opposed to the abolishment of matriculation examinations proposed by Science and Culture Minister Petri Honkonen (Cen) on Wednesday.

Honkonen suggested eliminating Finland's high school matriculation exams, as he said he believes the move would help improve young people's well-being. Honkonen, who took office in April, works at the Ministry of Education and Culture alongside Minister of Education Li Andersson (Left).

However, the students' union said in a Thursday press release that the mental health crisis among young people should be tackled by other means than abolishing a functioning system.

According to the organisation, the exams are a fair and equitable way to measure the skills of upper secondary school leavers.

"Minister Honkonen's proposal does not solve anything, but transfers the responsibility for testing competence from the matriculation examination board to universities. This would put all the pressure on the [university] entrance exams, which are much more challenging to prepare for than the current matriculation exams. Upper secondary school is free for students, but abolishing the matriculation exams would favour those who can afford to pay for [university] entrance exam coaching courses," SLL President Lukas Virtala said in a press release.

Well-being of students declining

In August, the Research Foundation for Education (Otus) released its latest national barometer on student welfare in secondary education, which indicated that students' well-being had decreased.

Additionally, according to a survey conducted in June by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the National Agency for Education, more than half of student care professionals reported an increase in mental health problems, absenteeism, loneliness, and difficulties coping with daily life among students in Finland.

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