In Finland, the minimum school leaving age is being increased from 16 to 18 years, in accordance with legislation that will come into force in August 2021. It will first apply to learners whose compulsory education under the current provisions will end in 2021.

Currently, many learners are leaving education and training early; about 15 percent of each generation in the country is dropping out of secondary education. Completion of vocational education and training is also a challenge.

The extension of compulsory education, in combination with clear guidance and responsibility for education providers, will allow all learners to acquire upper secondary qualification. At national level, it will also help:

  • raise the level of education and competences;
  • reduce learning gaps;
  • boost equality and non-discrimination in education;
  • improve the wellbeing of young people;
  • raise the employment rate.

The reform encourages education providers in regional cooperation to help those in compulsory education find the most suitable learning pathways. Special attention will be paid to helping pupils with difficulties to find a study place after completing compulsory schooling.

In addition to free upper secondary education and school meals, the extension also means that textbooks, short school trips, supplies or other materials for lessons and final tests (matriculation examination) will also be free of charge, thus increasing education equality.