5 things you should know about Switzerland’s school system
- Education is free and mandatory up to the age of 15: Switzerland provides free education to all students from primary to secondary levels. Education is mandatory up to the age of 15, after which students can choose to continue with vocational training or academic studies.
- The Swiss school system is decentralized: The responsibility for education in Switzerland is decentralized, which means that each of the 26 cantons is responsible for its own education system. This can lead to differences in curriculum, teaching methods, and school structure between cantons.
- Bilingual education is common: Switzerland has four official languages – German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Bilingual education is therefore common, with students learning in their mother tongue and another official language. However, language education can vary significantly between cantons.
- Students have the option of attending private schools: Switzerland has a strong tradition of private education, and many students attend private schools at all levels of education. Private schools are often funded by fees paid by parents, and may offer specialized programs, smaller class sizes, and a more individualized approach to learning.
- Vocational education and training is highly valued: Vocational education and training (VET) is highly valued in Switzerland, and is considered an attractive alternative to academic studies. VET programs provide students with practical skills and hands-on experience in a wide range of professions, and can lead to well-paid and highly skilled jobs.