The Year of Influence has had a hectic start. This spring there will be two elections, and the results of these will define Finland and Europe’s direction for many years to come. From the society’s – and the entire world’s – perspective it would be very important that both the elections and the government negotiations after the parliamentary elections focus on a group that is needed in order to build the future: young people.
The main theme of the student movement’s election campaign is intergenerational equity. We need to agree that sustainable solutions cannot be achieved by reducing young people’s opportunities to make a living, get an education and live on this planet in general. Above all, we need decision-makers who think further ahead than a single term of office.
These elections focus on some major themes. SYL and SAMOK’s shared focus is on education, income and the climate. The past four years have not been a golden age for students, but now we have the opportunity to change direction. Accessible education is a prerequisite for an equal society, and in order to improve it, an ambitious long-term programme must be drawn up for the coming term of office. A change for the better cannot, however, be achieved without resources. The higher education index must be reintroduced, as we cannot find solutions to the global challenges we are facing without high-quality higher education and research.
For too long, student income has been a bargaining chip in education policy. The general reform of the social security is one of the main issues of the upcoming term, and students must be included in the reform. A lack of financial resources causes stress, reduces the ability to study and even increases psychological challenges. It is impossible to study full-time if relying solely on the current student financial aid; the only other options are getting into debt to survive or to work while studying, which will increase the time it takes to graduate for reasons that are outside the students’ control. We want to see a one hundred euro increase to the study grant so that students can focus on the thing they should be allowed to focus on: studying.
In order to build a sustainable and fair society we need something to build it on. Climate change must be addressed now. Solutions will be found through investments in science and by abandoning the excesses that have become the norm in our way of life. Finland must be carbon neutral by 2030, and our society’s tax and subsidy systems must be reformed so that they strongly steer towards reduced emissions and more care for the environment. If there is no political will now, our future will be taken away from us.
Students and young people must be visible in both the parliamentary and European Parliament elections, as well as the government programme. Together we must demand, talk straight and be loud about it. We must increase the voter turnout among young people, as we are the future, and it is about time the future can be seen in today’s decisions. The student movement has a huge opportunity to make the next four years resemble us students, and to achieve that we need every one of you.
Let’s make noise together, be visible in the streets and the cabinets and have constructive debates that take others into account. Let’s make it clear that we will not be side-lined. We face some major challenges, but we have the solutions. Let’s make sure that every voter and future decision-maker is aware of them.
I have a lot of faith in the future, because we are the ones building it and we will do it together. I wish you all an election spring full of influence!
President of SYL