Parliament votes against truly free secondary education

While it's free to go to school, there's hundreds or thousands of euros in costs for books, computers and any specialist equipment.

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Picture of parliament vote on Wednesday 27th February for free secondary education / Credit: Ozan Yanar, MP

A vote in parliament has ended the prospects of truly free secondary school education for all pupils.

Members of parliament voted 111 to 72 to uphold a committee recommendation that rejected a citizen’s initiative on the subject.

While it is free to go to school, students usually have to buy their own supplies, text books, computers and other materials – the same as at university. These costs can increase greatly if the students are going to a vocational high school and have to buy specialist tools for their studies.

Furthermore, universities usually have better facilities like libraries and computer labs, and the chance for students to use those on campus.

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The citizens’ initiative was championed by Save The Children Finland, who estimate the cost of secondary education or vocational qualifications can rise above €2600 when the price of text books or computers is taken into account.

The initiative gathered the support of more than 50,000 people, and was automatically sent to parliament for committee members to discuss. The committee recommended that MPs reject the initiative, and it was this recommendation that parliament was voting on today.

The vote was largely split along party lines, with the three coalition government parties plus the Finns Party and one Christian Democrat siding with the committee’s recommendation.

“It is extremely sad that equal opportunities for learning and young people are not of interest” wrote Ozan Yanar (Green) on Twitter.

The Chair of the Social Democrats Parliamentary Group Antti Lindtman previously said that half of high school or vocational school drop-outs quit their education due to lack of money.