Last year, close to 600 upper secondary school students in Finland applied for and received support for their school books from the Finnish branch of the multinational children's charity Save the Children.
The total price tag for required study materials can climb to 2,600 euros these days, an amount the organisation says is too high for the budget of many families.
A new report from the charity says the need for monetary assistance to buy the books is growing, so much so that for some families, it might discourage them from sending their children to the Finnish high school equivalent.
Save the Children Finland says the problem is most pronounced in single-parent families. The NGO says that the combined cost of books and other necessities may climb to 2,600 euros over the course of three to four years of study.
More families in need
The organisation makes funds available for this purpose through its local offices. The number of families applying for the assistance grew by 12 percent on the previous year in 2016.
"Families should be guaranteed a sufficient livelihood - just as municipalities and the state should make sure that they have access to equal services, affordable leisure and sport activities and truly free upper secondary education. The learning materials for upper secondary school and vocational training are unreasonably expensive and should be made free of charge," says Hanna Markkula-Kivisilta, secretary general of Save the Children Finland.
The charity estimates that there are currently 101,000 children under the age of 18 from low-income families in Finland. The state of the economy has made the status of poor families and their children in particular even more difficult.
Education in Finland is free-of-charge from the preschool level to higher education. During the years of compulsory education from age 7 to 15, textbooks, daily meals and transportation for students living further away from the school are provided at no charge.
But at the upper secondary school level and in higher education the students or their parents are responsible for purchasing the books they will need for courses.