swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

Your Gateway to Switzerland

The Swiss education system

Second-graders on their way to school (in new window)

Second-graders on their way to school© Christian Helme

Switzerland has a largely decentralised education system. Most decisions on the running of primary and secondary schools are taken at cantonal level. It is also the cantons which provide the bulk of the financing.

Switzerland does not have a federal minister of education. Nevertheless, some organisational aspects of the education system apply across the country. These include the duration of the school year, and the number of years of compulsory schooling.

In other areas the cantons, and even the communes, have traditionally enjoyed a large degree of autonomy.

Each canton has its own head of education, all of whom together make up the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK in German). The EDK plays an important role in discussing and coordinating education policy, and in stressing certain key values.

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