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  September, 2004 Newsletter

Studying in Switzerland:
Swiss Educational System
Part: 1 2 3

 Pre-School Education: Kindergarten
In most Swiss cantons it is the duty of the communes (municipalities) to run kindergartens for six and sometimes five or six year-olds. Attending kindergarten is basically a voluntary matter, although where these pre-school institutions are available parents are advised to send their children. The availability of kindergartens in cities and larger communes is virtually 100%.
But there are still rural areas today where poor communal finances and the thinly spread population have prevented the setting up of kindergartens. In these poorly served areas there is an increasing tendency to try and make up the deficiency with church or privately run playgroups. In the cities it is often parent groups who found a private kindergarten which will take children as young as three or four.
Swiss kindergartens, based on the pedagogical ideas of Friederich Fröble and Maria Montessori, are neither a proper pre-school nor merely a crèche for small children. The system is designed to encourage children – always through play – to develop their ability to express themselves and be creative. It also tries to introduce them to social behavior and the basic concepts of quantity and time and to train them to understand and deal with daily life.
Great value is attached today to a careful professional training for women kindergarten teachers (up to now there are very few men in this profession) in special training colleges. About 60% of five-year-olds and some 90% of six-year-olds in Switzerland profit from this system.
There is considerable recognition of the compensatory function of the kindergartens, which encourage and stimulate children from less privileged backgrounds and foreign children. This in turn promotes equal opportunity at school.
 Primary School
In eighteen cantons primary school lasts six years and in four cantons four or five years. Most children are seven years old when they begin school. Some cantons have pre-school classes for (normally capable) children who are judged not quite mature enough for school. In this case, the material for the first year of primary school is spread over two years.
Special classes with specific curricula are run for children of below normal ability or who are disturbed. There are also centrally organized schools for physically and mentally handicapped children.
In primary school it is usual for a single teacher to take complete responsibility for a class of a particular year. The school is generally divided into a lower level (first to third school year) and a middle level (fourth to fifth or sixth school year), with specially trained teaching staff for each level.
In rural areas it can happen that a teacher at the lower or middle level will instruct all years in the relevant level together in the same classroom. As long as the class is not too large this can even be an educationally beneficial situation. The national average for primary classes is 20 pupils, although in some cantons it can go up to 23.
Primary school teachers are given a considerable amount of freedom in planning their lessons within the framework of the relevant cantonal schooling laws and guidelines for curricula.
The aims of primary schools are: to provide sufficient knowledge of the mother tongue; arithmetic and geography to a basic level and as the foundation for attending higher schools; to encourage the artistic and creative development of the child through singing, drawing and handwork lessons; physical education; training in social behavior. Classes are no longer divided according to sex.
Part: 1 2 3

Switzerland-4You: be Swiss-Happy!

Nobel Laureates
related to Switzerland
1920: Charles Edouard
1921: Albert Einstein
1952: Felix Bloch
1976: Burton Richter
1984: Carlo Rubbia,
         Simon van der Meer
1986: Heinrich Rohrer
1987: K. Alexander Müller
1988: Jack Steinberger
1992: Georges Charpak
1913: Alfred Werner
1937: Paul Karrer
1939: Leopold Ruzicka
1975: Vladimir Prelog
1991: Richard R. Ernst
2002: John B. Fenn,
         Koichi Tanaka,
         Kurt Wüthrich
 Physiology and Medicine
1909: Emil Theodor Kocher
1948: Paul Hermann Müller
1949: Walter Rudolf Hess
1950: Tadeus Reichstein
1957: Daniel Bovet
1978: Werner Arber
1984: Niels K. Jerne,
         Georges J.F. Köhler
1996: Rolf Zinkernagel
1946: Hermann Hesse
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