Over 50,000 Finns voiced their support for a citizens’ initiative for guaranteeing all students free access to upper-secondary education between September 2017 and March 2018. (Credit: Kansalaisaloite.fi)

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NUMEROUS youth and student organisations have expressed their disappointment with the fate of a citizens’ initiative for ensuring upper-secondary education is genuinely free in Finland.

The Finnish Parliament’s Education Committee on Tuesday announced it is recommending that the initiative be rejected, despite the fact that the initiative was backed by almost 53,100 people across the country.

The Finnish Student Alliance (OSKU), National Union of Vocational Students in Finland (Sakki), Save the Children Finland, Swedish-speaking School-student Union of Finland and Union of Upper Secondary School Students in Finland responded to the announcement in a joint statement, highlighting that the committee would have had the tools to move forward with the initiative.

“The committee did not have the willingness to use the tools, however. The decision sends a dismal message to the young people who worked on the citizens’ initiative: is this how the Parliament shows its appreciation for the efforts of young people?” the statement reads.

Finnish upper-secondary education is free under the law, but students and their families have to pay for textbooks and other learning materials out of their own pockets.

Members of the Parliament’s Education Committee underlined that a debate on the issue is important but added that the decision was first and foremost technical: The initiative demanded that the possibility of removing the costs associated with vocational and general upper-secondary education be explored by the Parliament. The Parliament, however, is not the right institution to conduct the necessary assessments.

“Citing technical flaws in the initiative does not promote the equal educational opportunities of any students,” the organisations responded.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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