As a parent looking to move to Switzerland, one of your main concerns will be about the education of your child or children. Even if you are not a parent yet, but you are looking to settle down in Switzerland, and hopefully have a family one day, questions about the quality of education in your new home will constantly linger at the back of your mind.
For starters, you need to know that the quality of education in Switzerland is considered to be among the highest in the developed world. For instance, Switzerland was ranked position 9 out of 65 nations in an OECD survey when it came to measuring the quality of education amongst 15 year olds. There are several other surveys that indicate that the quality of education in Switzerland is top notch.
The following are other facts about education in Switzerland that you need to know as you proceed with your planned Relocation to Switzerland.
It is Compulsory
Education in Switzerland is compulsory up to the age of about 15 years. Most children begin their education at four years old, while a few others begin at six years old. The law requires that they stay in school for the next 9-11 years. This means that compulsory education ends when they have successfully completed upper secondary education.
Another amazing fact about this compulsory education in Switzerland is that majority of it is free. Most local and international schools offer free education to their students, and such institutions are maintained by the taxes that parents pay. The taxes are high for parents, but since education is compulsory, they just have to pay them in order to be in compliance with the law. The high taxes you pay as a parent guarantee that your child gets the very best education that is recognised worldwide.
Children with special needs
An important aspect that makes Switzerland stand out in terms of education is how she treats children who have special educational needs. Any child with special educational needs is guaranteed the right to quality education and specialist support from the time they start school to the time they are in their early 20s.
Decentralised education system
Interestingly enough, the education system in Switzerland is highly decentralised. Each canton is in charge of its own education system. There are 26 cantons in total in the country, and each has the mandate of creating its own educational standards and implementing them as they wish. However, they are overseen by the State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation.
It is important to understand the decentralised nature of Switzerland’s education system as moving from one canton to another can impact severely on your child’s education. Different cantons have different rules and standards, and constantly shifting your child will impede their educational growth.
The education system in all of the cantons of Switzerland have a similar structure. The educational system here begins with primary school, often viewed as a form of kindergarten for younger children. After primary school, the children then proceed to lower secondary school, followed by upper secondary school. Upper secondary school might also include vocational training in order to diversify and enhance the children’s skill sets.
Once they have completed their compulsory education, they can choose to proceed to university, which is the highest level of education in the country.
Home schooling in Switzerland is a rare occurrence mainly because of the preference to standardise education in each canton. In fact, each canton has its own rules regarding home schooling, and in some cantons, the practice has been forbidden by law. Hence, it is imperative that you understand your canton’s rules about home schooling before you embark on this schooling alternative.