What is the school system in Switzerland like?

The country is also famous for a very high level of education, which is considered to be one of the best in Europe

What is the school system in Switzerland like?

The school system in Switzerland is decentralizing, which means that each region has the right to decide on the organization of learning. The country is also famous for a very high level of education, which considers being one of the best in Europe

Education in Switzerland - what does it look like?

Switzerland is a federal-state divided into 26 cantons. There are four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Each canton has its education system and the freedom to decide on the languages ‹‹and content taught in schools, teaching methods, starting age, and the number of working hours per day. The cantonal education directorates are responsible for the design of the programs. The education system in Switzerland is therefore decentralizing.

The Department has a supervisory and coordinating function in the field of education. Cantons, in turn, carry out tasks that they can cope with financially and organizationally.

The obligation to study

The school system in Switzerland is divided into three levels: primary, secondary, and higher. Depending on the canton, compulsory education lasts from 9 to 11 years and covers primary and lower secondary education. The differences arise from the fact whether the kindergarten stage considers obligatory. The second cycle of secondary education in Switzerland covers non-compulsory general or vocational education. Over 60 percent of Swiss students decide to choose an institution with a vocational profile because of the opportunity to gain valuable experience and become independent faster.

Homeschooling is not popular in this country - each canton has its laws in this regard, and only a few allow students to study outside the school walls.

Public schools in Switzerland

The public school system in Switzerland enjoy a good reputation and are known for their high level of education. They do not charge for tuition fees, but depending on the canton, parents may be required to pay for school supplies, books, clothing for gymnastics, extracurricular activities, and excursions. As with the Finnish education system, the teaching profession is considered prestigious in Switzerland because it requires many years of study and training.

Private schools in Switzerland

In addition to public schools, there are also private schools in Switzerland. M. Moser, President of the Swiss Association of Private Schools, in the article "The situation of private education in Switzerland" distinguished five categories of such institutions:

  • Denominational schools - they represent different religions, offer tolerance, openness, respect for moral values ‹‹and different religious rites,
  • Alternative and Steiner schools - they are an expression of ideas and consent to a specific way of thinking and living,
  • International schools and exclusive boarding schools, with or without boarding houses - are intended for students from aristocratic, elite, and bourgeois backgrounds, most often from outside Switzerland,
  • universal primary schools and care and educational institutions - intended for homeless, environmentally disadvantaged, retarded children and those who had problems in public schools and were transferred to private institutions due to some kind of alternative offered by them,
  • language, vocational, and art schools - established by companies and enterprises that prepare students to work in administration, trade, tourism and to practice free professions (in the case of graduates of artistic institutions).

Private education in Switzerland, however, is very expensive - a semester in a private school costs even tens of thousands of francs.

Grading system in Switzerland

Like the curriculum, the grading system differs from canton to canton. Students receive a certificate or description of learning outcomes twice during the school year. They can also take final exams. In some cantons, the prices of receiving in the core subjects, namely the language of the region, maths and knowledge of the world, determine whether a student will progress to the next year or have to repeat a year.

Some schools use a plus and minus scale with grades where -5 is 4.75 and 5- is 5.25. The facility may also assume that 4 is the lowest passing grade.

The education system in Switzerland - stages

The education system in Switzerland divides into several stages:

  • kindergarten
  • primary school;
  • junior high school / lower secondary school;
  • high school / upper secondary school;
  • higher education.

Pre-primary education in Switzerland is voluntary in 11 cantons, and in the remaining 15, children must attend nursery school for one or two years before entering primary school. Puppies from four to five years old send there depending on the canton. The differences are also visible in the organization of pre-school education - in German-speaking cantons, kindergarten and two years of primary school make up the first cycle of education, and children learn in one grade from 4 to 8 years of age. In French-speaking cantons, a two-year kindergarten includes the first, four-year cycle.

These types of institutions are to develop children's independence and social competencies, which is why it often happens that parents cannot go inside to help the child undress and reach the classroom. Classes include, among others dancing, crafts, and the basics of writing, reading, and math. Public Swiss kindergartens are free of charge. Parents can send their child to a private institution, where a semester costs 12 thousand. Swiss francs.

Primary school

The primary school in Switzerland is compulsory for all children from the age of 6. Depending on the canton, it lasts from 4 to 6 years, and education can be in German, French or Italian. The organization of education, teaching methods, and core curriculum are different for each region. In general, the timetable covers subjects such as life sciences, social sciences, humanities (geography, history, state history, religion, ethics), music, art, physical education, the language of the region (German, French, Italian), the national language and English.

1st and 2nd-degree secondary school

Young people from 11 to 15 years of age attend lower secondary education. Study in this institution lasts three or four years, depending on the canton. It provides students with general knowledge and prepares them for second-cycle studies. The timetable includes subjects such as regional language, the second national language, English, mathematics, science, geography, history, civic education, music, arts, physical education, and household activities. Students receive a report on their academic performance twice a year. The grades and final examination, which is held in some cantons, determine the transition to the 2nd degree. Young people also have the option of completing their first-cycle education, but 90% of them choose further education.

Upper secondary education divides into two profiles: vocational and general. The first one lasts 3-4 years and allows you to obtain a diploma confirming professional qualifications in professions such as salesman, electrician, tradesman, cook, etc. Students can also choose a high school, which prepares them for the final exams and studies at universities. It lasts from 3 to 6 years. A high school in Switzerland can also have a specialist profile, preparing you for a career in health, education, communication, or social services. In addition, it allows you to obtain vocational education and a high school diploma.

Study in Switzerland

Completion of upper secondary education entitles to continue education at a university, polytechnic university, or higher vocational school. Universities offer education in the fields of theology, and clergy. Social sciences, mathematics, natural sciences, medicine and pharmacy, law, and economy. Polytechnic universities allow you to study natural and engineering sciences, mathematics, pharmaceutical sciences, architecture, sports, and the military. On the other hand, higher vocational schools, orient towards gaining apprenticeship and education. In the fields of, inter alia, architecture, construction, technology, information technology. And biology, economy, health, social work, psychology, linguistics, music, and others.

The state and the individual cantons are responsible for higher education, in Switzerland. There is a fee for studies, and the tuition fee set by each institution. It ranges from 930 to over 3 thousand. euro for the year of study.