Compulsory education to be extended in 2021

Publication date 16.4.2021 8.50 | Published in English on 21.4.2021 at 10.14
News item

As stated in Prime Minister Marin’s Government Programme, compulsory education will be extended in 2021. With the extension, the minimum school leaving age will be raised to 18 years and student guidance and welfare services will be improved.

The extension will enter into force on 1 August 2021. Compulsory education is applied by age group and, for the first time, the extension will apply to students who are in grade 9 of basic education in spring 2021. This means that those in grade 9 must apply to upper secondary education before basic education ends. 

In future, compulsory education will end when the student reaches the age of 18 or completes an upper secondary qualification (i.e., a matriculation examination or a vocational qualification). Students with an immigrant background whose proficiency in Finnish or Swedish is insufficient for education beyond basic education may complete their compulsory education by attending adult basic education or programmes designed for immigrants provided by folk high schools. 

With the extension of compulsory education, upper secondary education will become free of charge for those subject to it. In addition to instruction, textbooks, tests and other materials and equipment will be free of charge. 

More support and guidance to young people before and during education  

Guiding and supervising students in compulsory education is the responsibility of their guardians, the educational institution and the municipality of residence. Schools must ensure that young people receive adequate support and guidance and find suitable places to study. When the student begins upper secondary education, this responsibility will be transferred to the upper secondary education institution.  Ultimately, the municipality of residence is in charge of finding students a place to study and, if necessary, referring them to other services.

The aim of the extension to compulsory education is for every young person to complete upper secondary education. The reform raises the level of education and competence, bridges learning gaps, improves equality and non-discrimination in education and enhances the wellbeing of children and young people. 

Information on the extension of compulsory education is available in many languages 

Brochure: Minimum school leaving age to be raised to 18 years (languages: Finnish, Swedish, North Sámi, English, Estonian, Russian, Arabic, Somali)

About compulsory education in Finnish Sign Language 

About compulsory education in plain Finnish 

More information: 
Information on the extension of compulsory education on the website of the Ministry of Education and Culture  

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