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Secondary education in Switzerland: useful information

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Secondary education in Switzerland: useful information

Secondary education in Switzerland today is very popular all over the world, and secondary education in this country is prestigious and in demand; the certificate of completion of any secondary school in Switzerland is the key to a successful and quality education in the future. Learn about the features of secondary education in Switzerland for your child right now!

Secondary education in Switzerland is considered to be one of the most qualitative and effective in the world, and secondary schools in Switzerland are considered to be among the most prestigious in the world, as are many other things related to this country: from army knives and watches to banking and chocolate. Switzerland has the most ranking and elite private boarding schools not only in Europe but also in the whole world, where students from any part of the world can receive high-quality secondary education. For successful entry you need to work hard and pass the entrance tests. Further, the features of the Swiss education system, structure, as well as the selection process of the boarding school, as well as cost issues and much more, will be considered, which will help you right now to start the selection of an educational institution for your child in Switzerland.

Features of the Swiss education system

Unlike most education systems in the world, the Swiss education system does not have a strictly defined structure - in fact the state itself, the national education system in Switzerland does not exist as such. The fact is that the state structure of Switzerland, namely the division into federal cantons - the regions, determines the structure of education in the country. Each canton has its own system of education, which is reflected in the Constitution of the country. Nevertheless, the different education systems in 26 cantons differ nominally, in fact the Swiss government in any case bears full responsibility for providing quality education for students of all ages; great attention is also paid to increasing the availability of education for children and their parents financially. In addition, all Swiss children must receive free primary and secondary education, studying at the age of 6 to 16 years. And although each canton has its own certificates and diplomas for graduation, the government also stipulated that a system of mutual recognition of documents of different designs should operate between different cantons.

The main and outstanding feature of secondary education in Switzerland can be called its worldwide recognition, high relevance and popularity, as well as unsurpassed quality. In the country there were such well-known teachers all over the world who made popular methods of teaching children, like Montessori, Pestalozzi and many others. In addition, since the 16th century, when the wave of the Reformation swept Europe, in the Swiss cantons adhere to the traditional methods and principles of education (they are also the basis of the aforementioned methods), among which SMAPSE experts can mention the following:

  • Upbringing of students, their education is directed, first of all, to the development of individual abilities, the disclosure of the child's personal potential, talents and skills;
  • The Swiss education system as a whole can be characterized as multifaceted, modern and flexible: Swiss teachers have created and are creating educational methods and educational programs, using the experience of leading and prestigious boarding schools of the world and adding traditional educational principles in Switzerland.
  • The entire learning process is built in such a way that every child becomes interested in the educational process, in the perception and assimilation of new information, which ultimately has a positive effect on the development of creative abilities in the process of cognition.

Specificity of secondary education in Switzerland for foreign students

According to Swiss law, secondary education includes primary classes and 3-4 years of schooling in the proper secondary school. In elementary school, children aged 5-6 years study at a pre-school institution - a kindergarten. It must be emphasized that anyone who wishes can enter any elementary educational institution in Switzerland, since entrance examinations at this stage of education are not foreseen. In primary school, the emphasis is on learning a foreign language, and the academic load depends on the particular canton and can range from 20 to 32 lessons per week. An important feature of the Swiss elementary school is the fact that all subjects are taught by one teacher, which allows children to feel comfortable in all classes.

In elementary school, students in Switzerland spend about 6 years, after which they move to the middle classes. The secondary school, or rather its first stage, which in Switzerland is called Secondaire I, is 3-4 years of study. At the end of the first stage of secondary education Secondaire I, students are divided according to the progress they have shown in their studies: one group (successfully completed the first stage of secondary school education) goes on to the second stage of secondary school Secondaire II, the second group (not successful) Professional educational institutions for secondary vocational education (Maturité professionnelle). After the 9th grade, students can also go to colleges or technical schools for vocational secondary education. It is worth noting that the educational system in Switzerland provides for the possibility of higher education for people with vocational education, since higher education is also divided into full (academic), received at universities and professional (applied).

Further students undergo a three-year secondary school stage called Secondaire II, which prepares for the passing of the final examinations for a certificate of secondary general education, called Maturité gymnasiale, or a matriculation certificate.

Another important feature of the education system in Switzerland is the lack of a single state language, so that education can take place in French, German or Italian. Switzerland has private educational institutions that adhere to educational standards, either Switzerland itself or some other country in the world. This situation is explained by the fact that historically Switzerland had many representatives of foreign countries, and Switzerland itself is a confederation of cantons, and it is informally divided into 3 parts according to the principle of language - Italian, French and German parts.

However, the language of instruction is ultimately not so important for further educational life, because the matriculation certificates (i.e, the complete secondary education) in Switzerland are recognized both across the country in its various parts (holders of matriculation certificates can be enrolled in higher education educational institutions without having to pass any additional entrance examinations), and in the rest of Europe, as well as in the USA, Australia and Canada, etc. In the case of foreign countries, it will be necessary to successfully pass the entrance test, and also the correspondence of the language of instruction at the university and the language of the certificate of secondary general education is required. Conversely, at the end of a private high school in Switzerland, which operates according to the standards of the educational system of any other country, students need to pass the required entrance exams for a passing grade, as well as a language exam, for admission to a higher education institution in Switzerland.


Features of secondary vocational education in Switzerland

Students who failed to successfully transition to the second stage of secondary education Secondaire II, go to vocational schools for full professional education. By the way, this development of events is an ordinary and even popular phenomenon among the Swiss. Vocational education consists in the fact that 2 days a week students attend classes at a college or school, and the remaining three days are devoted to internships and practice at a Swiss company, selected depending on the profile of the student's education. At the end of the education, graduates receive a certificate of secondary vocational education, or Maturité professionnelle. Such a certificate gives students the right to receive higher professional education at the university, but not in any: it must necessarily be a professional higher education institution. In such institutions, holders of secondary vocational education certificates do not need to pass entrance exams at admission, but the most prestigious and elite applied universities require the passing of certain examinations.

So, one part of the students continues their education in the second stage of the secondary school, which includes, among other things, preparation for entering Swiss leading and prestigious higher educational institutions. The second part of students can either be teached for the same educational program, but with a lower academic load, or go to colleges for professional secondary education. It is necessary to mention the possibility of transition of students showing some progress in terms of academic achievement, from groups with a relatively lower level of academic achievement to other groups. However, it is very difficult.

When does the school year begin in Switzerland?

The answer to this question at the moment is the following: the academic year in each canton of Switzerland begins at different times. For example, classes can begin in the middle or in the end of August, in some cantons adhere to the international day of knowledge on September 1. In Switzerland, there has been a long debate over the establishment of a unified start date for the academic year, for which a referendum is needed. Now it is necessary to clarify this information in case of each particular educational institution.

How can a foreign student enter a Swiss secondary school?

Despite some confusion of the Swiss educational system and the peculiarities of teaching in the educational institutions of this country, even foreign students can easily enter Swiss boarding schools on a free basis. And although this is possible only in some cantons and is not available for all stages of education, such an opportunity exists.

When a foreign student enters primary school or Secondaire I in an educational institution in Switzerland, a free foreign language course is provided for the child (a particular language depends on the language of instruction in a particular school where the student enters). Similar courses of the language are conducted directly at the boarding schools - in this way, the students will be able to simultaneously get acquainted with the future educational institution, where they will learn the successful completion of the language courses.

If the student enters the second stage of secondary education (Secondaire II), then for the successful enrollment of a student it is necessary to pass a foreign language course in which the student will be able to improve his level of knowledge of the necessary foreign language up to the level required before admission and educatio. Otherwise, the student will not be able to keep up with secondary school, and also engage at higher levels with efficiency. According to statistics, the vast majority of students in leading and prestigious Swiss boarding schools are foreign students, which is why the teachers decided that it is necessary to introduce an additional exam for a high knowledge of a foreign language.

Thus, compulsory education in Switzerland is the education of students aged 6 to 15-16 years in primary and middle classes. After Secondaire I, an additional 3-4 years of secondary education (Secondaire II) should follow, as a result of which the student, by the age of 18-19, receives a complete secondary education, which in Switzerland is confirmed by a special certificate called Maturité gymnasiale. Throughout the world, Swiss education is considered one of the most qualitative and effective. According to the estimates of international specialized educational organizations, the level of education in educational institutions in Switzerland is much higher than the average level of countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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