Parliament has approved a proposal to extend the age of compulsory schooling in Finland to 18. At the same time, MPs voted to make secondary education entirely free of charge — meaning students will in future not have to provide their own textbooks.
The government hopes the reform will help tackle youth marginalisation in Finland and ease the burden on families living in poverty by covering the cost of books and equipment.
MPs in the governing parties have seen the extension of compulsory education as a historic reform comparable to the Compulsory School Attendance Act in 1921, which required all children to complete at least six years of primary school, and the Basic Education Act of 1968 that extended schooling to nine years.
Opposition party National Coalition Party MPs are however calling for more investment to be made in earlier education, rather than extending compulsory schooling.
According to them, many students have such poor basic skills after primary school that they don't have the tools to complete secondary education.