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Education tops reform wish list

The Swiss want their children to learn to read and write before they go to school Keystone

The Swiss want to see reform in a number of public-sector areas, with education topping their list of concerns.

An online survey carried out by students at St Gallen University found that almost 90 per cent of respondents wanted to see compulsory schooling harmonised across all 26 cantons.

A sizeable chunk (59 per cent) felt that children should start to learn to read and write in kindergarten and not wait until they started going to school.

Two-thirds were in favour of introducing a foreign language from the second year of primary school, and almost as many said it should be English.

There has been growing controversy in Switzerland over the increased prominence given to English in the country’s schools.

Last year cantonal education directors decided that all primary schools must teach at least two foreign languages – including English – from 2012.

Nearly 70 per cent said highly intelligent children belonged in special schools, where they could be challenged properly.

As for university education, half the 13,000 respondents indicated that entry to tertiary education should be limited by allocating places on a competitive basis.

Other reforms

Participants also answered questions about the state of the federal finances, social institutions and the government.

The lion’s share (62 per cent) said they had faith in the country’s pension system, believing that it would still function in the future.

People were divided over the health of the nation’s finances, with 45 per cent viewing the situation negatively and the same percentage expressing the opposite.

In December the government requested additional budget cuts of SFr2 billion ($1.69 billion) until 2008 to reduce the federal deficit.

This is on top of the SFr3 billion savings package approved by parliament in 2003.

Half the respondents agreed that the people rather than parliamentarians should elect the government, while a similar figure thought that federalism was the glue that held Switzerland together.


Students at St Gallen University compiled the study.
13,266 people across Switzerland took part.
Reform of the education system topped their list of concerns.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR