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The Swiss education system is largely decentralized. Cantons are responsible for education. This system is controlled by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

State system of school education

Education is compulsory for all children and adolescents from 9 to 11 years old. Public schools are free. Children start compulsory education between the ages of about four and six and up to about 15 years. This is also regulated by the cantons. The structure of the Swiss system starts with primary education (a kind of kindergarten), then lower secondary education, followed by upper secondary education, which may include vocational training. In primary school, students study together. After primary school students are allocated according to their academic abilities and interests. Most schools and cantons introduce entrance exams for this.

Children and adolescents with special educational needs have the right to training and support from specialists from birth to 20 years of age. Homeschooling is rare in Switzerland. In fact, the laws regarding this vary from canton to canton, and in some cantons it is considered illegal.

Information for Ukrainians 2022

According to cantonal school legislation, the decision on when a child in need of protection can go to school is made by the canton to which you are assigned or the commune (gemainde). Before that, it is necessary to register the place of residence in the municipality (gemainde). Children in need of protection are usually enrolled in school as soon as possible.

However, there may be a short wait in certain circumstances.

How to choose a school?

To register your child for school, contact the education authorities in your specific canton. You can find a list of them on the Educa education website.

List of documents

For foreign students, there is no single list of documents for schools, so you need to contact the school directly to receive a list of documents.

Features of private schools

Private schools in Switzerland are called Privateschule or écoles privées, depending on the canton in which you live. However, they are not as popular as public schools and are mainly intended for foreign children. There are different types of private schools in Switzerland that offer different curricula and opportunities. It is noteworthy that their fees can be significant.

Private schools usually have smaller class sizes and better facilities than public schools, which is part of their appeal to foreign parents. They can also offer a multicultural environment, which has its own advantages.

The curricula at these schools differ; for example, they may offer:

  • Swiss-style education (Matura);

  • internationally recognized International Baccalaureate (IB);

  • a country-specific curriculum (such as the US, UK, Japan, or Spain) an alternative approach to education and adherence to a religious, Montessori, or Steiner-Waldorf philosophy.

International schools in Switzerland usually offer internationally recognized qualifications. When applying to an international school in Switzerland, you will need to provide certain documents. For example, you will have to show your child's previous school records and residence permit. You will also need to prove that you have health and accident insurance for your child and pay the registration fee.

Language of instruction, availability of integration classes

German, French, Italian or Romansh depending on the canton. Traditionally, language learning plays an important role in Switzerland. At school, students learn the second official language of Switzerland, as well as English.

Visa, visa issues

In connection with Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, the governments of the EU, Georgia, Canada and the USA provide Ukrainians with war protection programs. Ukrainians seeking refuge from the war on the territory of these countries will receive residence and employment permits, and their children will be given the opportunity to continue their education in local schools.

If you intend to come to Spain to study outside of the war protection program, then you need to apply for a student visa. Documents and requirements for obtaining:

Important links


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