Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis, currently visiting Chile, has hailed education ties as he visited the country’s Swiss school abroad, the Colegio Suizo.
The school, the oldest Swiss school abroad in South America and the only official Swiss school abroad in Chile, is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.
The “solid institution”, which offers a German-language education and is neutral, has steered a course through good times and bad times, Cassis said in a speech on Wednesday in Santiago.
It was founded in 1939 in the Chilean capital by Swiss families wanting to give their children education linked to the “values of the homeland”, in what was then “pioneering work”, Cassis said, according to the speech textexternal link.
The Colegio Suizo de Santiagoexternal link currently has around 700 pupils and covers kindergarten to upper secondary level and offers the university entrance qualification exam for both Switzerland and Chile. Like all 18 official Swiss schools abroadexternal link it has a sponsor canton, which in this case is canton Basel Country.
Cassis was in Chile as part of a wider tour of South America and also held talks. He hailed relations between Switzerland and Chile as “very close and friendly”.
Switzerland is the tenth-largest investor in Chile and there are around 2,000 Swiss firms active there. Numbering more than 5,000, the Swiss abroad community is the third-largest in South America.
Earlier this week, Cassis visited Uruguay, where he met members of the Swiss abroad community and held talks with Uruguayan ministers.
On Friday he will conclude his tourexternal link with talks in Brazil, where the focus will be on economic cooperation. The three South American countries are important partners for Switzerland, the foreign ministry has said. Many of the Swiss communities there have their roots in the 19th century, when large numbers of Swiss emigrated to escape poverty.