We are getting closer to the Parliamentary Elections, and it is a good time to consider which economic priorities we need to make. The discussion needs to be about which priorities we need to make in each sector of society, especially within the education sector. Cuts in combination with a constantly changing world and a labour market where knowledge gets old like we never seen before, it is important to prioritise.

In my point of view, it is important to create equal preconditions for all children. For instance, if we would offer free early childhood education and care for four hours per week for over three-year-olds the effect would probably be that more children participate. Research shows that investments in early childhood education and care of high quality pays off because it affects learning positively up to the teenage age.

Around 11% of the pupils graduating from basic education lack the skills needed to begin their studies in general upper secondary education or vocational upper secondary education. The percentage is absolutely too high, and we need to ask ourselves, how can we help and support in the best way? Is it with flexible individual solutions or with solutions for everyone such as the extended compulsory education?

There are different problems with extended compulsory education. My fear is that with extended compulsory education, costs from schoolbooks, transport et cetera will appear and therefore the resources will be too small. One can ask what a young person does with free transportation to school if their personal life is so chaotic that they lack the energy to go to the bus station. I believe if we would aim more resources for individual, and tailored solutions, it would support the individual more than a mechanic extended compulsory education.

The existing three-step support we offer today is good, but it does not function in reality. The three-step support should be in focus in order to be able to help most efficiently. There is too much bureaucracy and too little resources. We should also invest more resources on student counselling and on welfare services offered to our pupils. For many young people, some sort of rehabilitation is a precondition to cope.

If you ask me, we need to become better at seeing the whole picture of children’s and young people’s lives. It is not enough to offer support teaching if the home is an unsafe place due to abuse or mental problems in the family. It is unfair to leave the school alone with problems that the school cannot fix.

In my opinion, we should prioritise early childhood education and care, and basic education to prevent marginalisation. We should have zero tolerance against being able to graduate from basic education without the knowledge or skills needed to acquire an occupation. General measures such as the extended compulsory education tend not to reach those who need the support the most to move on. This is why I do not believe in the extended compulsory education.

 

Mikaela Nylander

Member of Parliament
Member of the Education and Culture Committee