The Swiss government is to boost its support for pupils attending obligatory school sports camps, amid fears that these camps are coming under threat due to a lack of funding.
The subsidy would increase to CHF16 ($16) per participant a day for these school camps, up from the current CHF7.6 per participant a day. Funding would come from its Youth and Sport programmeexternal link.
“School camps are important for children’s and adolescents’ development and social skills,” the government said in a statementexternal link, after approving a report on the issue on Friday.
In late 2017, the Swiss Federal Court ruled that schools may only ask parents for up to CHF16 a day during obligatory excursions and camps, the amount parents would spend on feeding their children at home. Before that, parents had been contributing up to CHF150-300 for traditional winter ski camps, for example.
This had led to fears that sports camps, which are a traditional part of school life in many places, would be cancelled for financial reasons – a situation which the government is keen to avoid.
Although responsibility for obligatory school activities lies with the cantons – these are in charge of educational matters in Switzerland – camps are eligible for funding from the federal level if they come under the Youth and Sport programme.
In reaction, Beat Zemp, president of the German-speaking Federation of Swiss Teachers (LCH), speaking to Swiss public television, SRFexternal link, welcomed the rise in funding for obligatory camps, but said it was "a drop in the ocean" because it did not cover other types of camps and school trips.
Earlier this year there were reports of schools finding workarounds for winter ski and snow sports camps, leading one newspaper to declare that: “Ski camps are saved”. In some cases, cantons stepped in with extra funds or they used the court ruling as a guideline and still asked parents for higher contributions.
But there is overall less demand from schools for snow sports camps than in their heyday, which experts say can be explained by the cost, the effects of climate change and by competition from other sports and holiday destinations.