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The Finnish education system is an egalitarian Nordic system, with no tuition fees for full-time students. Attendance is compulsory for nine years starting at age seven, and free meals are served to pupils at primary and secondary levels, where the pupils go to their local school.


Art school for children in Kerava, Finland

Education after primary school is divided into vocational and academic systems, according to the old German model. Traditionally, the systems do not interoperate, although some of the de jure restrictions have recently been lifted. In particular, an important difference compared other systems is that there is no common "youth school" — ages 15–19 are spent either in a trade school, or in an academic-oriented upper secondary school. Trade school graduates may enter the workforce directly after graduation. Upper secondary school graduates are taught no vocational skills and are expected to continue to tertiary education. A national speciality in contrast to some foreign systems is the academic matriculation diploma (Abitur) received after successful completion of upper secondary school, which holds a high prestige.

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