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August brings schooling changes: Extended compulsory education, pre-school pilot programme

With the start of the new school year just around the corner, education is being extended in both early childhood and late teenage years.

Koululaisia luokassa Itäkeskuksen peruskoulussa Helsingissä.
Pupils at the Itäkeskus primary school in eastern Helsinki (file photo). Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Finland's new law on compulsory education entered into force on Sunday. The law extends compulsory education to the year each student turns 18, up from the previous minimum of 16.

Schools must also now provide high school students with books, making secondary education entirely free of charge. Until now, families have had to spend hundreds of euros on such books.

The Ministry of Education has promised that student guidance and student welfare services will be improved, along with "the capacity of comprehensive schools to provide everyone with the skills to complete upper secondary education". Last spring then-Education Minister Jussi Saramo (Left) promised 68 million euros to tackle education inequality.

Municipalities are obliged to assign each young person a study place.

A few days ago, the National Board of Education said that more than 1,000 youngsters who had completed primary school still did not have a place to continue in secondary education.

However, the final situation will not be clear until the end of August.

Pre-school education pilot begins

The beginning of August also marks the launch of an experiment to provide two-year pre-school education for children.

An estimated 10,000 youngsters born in 2016-17 will participate in the pilot, which is aimed at boosting educational equality and developing the quality and continuity of pre-primary education.

The Ministry of Education plans to carry out the experiment until the end of May 2024.

About one third of Finland's municipalities are involved in the pilot. The 102 municipalities were selected at random.

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