FINLAND’s opposition on Tuesday blasted the government’s plans to drastically cut the budget for the country’s much-praised education system as part of a slew of austerity measures.
“We don’t have to slash the future of our children or our own knowledge,” said a member of parliament Touko Aalto during a debate on the the nation’s 2016 budget.
Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila’s centre-right government has announced harsh austerity measures in a bid to revive the economy after three years of recession.
The Finnish school system, which has for years outperformed other European countries in international rankings, faces cuts of at least €800mil (RM3.7bil) over the next four years, the government said.
“The cuts for next year to vocational schools and to general and adult education itself amount to three to four percent compared to this year,” said Anita Lehikoinen chief secretary of the education ministry.
But the teachers’ union OAJ said the total cuts would in fact come to three billion euros over the next four years, when index freezes and cuts to all sectors of education, research and innovation, were taken into account.
“We calculate that 16% of all education funding will be cut off,” OAJ’s chair Olli Luukkainen said. Among the other cuts the government has announced include reductions to youth employment programmes and student allowances. Although recently topped by some Asian nations, Finland has long been one of the top performers in the PISA report (Programme for International Student Assessment) by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). – AFP