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More difficulties for further education

More original forms of adult learning are needed, says Switzerland's further education forum Keystone

Switzerland’s adult education programmes are in need of a major overhaul, according to the country’s further education forum.

This content was published on October 7, 2003 - 19:04

The lobby group, which was set up three years ago, points to regional differences and unimaginative funding programmes as the main causes of concern.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, forum president Vreni Müller-Hemmi said that politicians, colleges and businesses needed to do more to increase the amount of adult education in Switzerland.

In particular, Müller-Hemmi said that Switzerland’s federal system made it hard to evaluate the current state of tertiary education in the country.

“We need better statistical material,” Müller-Hemmi told swissinfo, “because if you want to steer educational policy properly, you first need some basic information.

At the moment Switzerland lacks that information and we are calling on the national and cantonal governments to introduce standardised statistical surveys.”

Funding

Faced with general government spending cuts, the forum is also stressing the need for more original methods of funding adult learning.

“We are proposing that the national authorities should set up some specific pilot models looking at voucher schemes, for example. Or there is a ‘learning account’ project currently underway in Sweden where employers help fund training programmes for their employees.

It’s only by having properly monitored pilot schemes that we can see what works best.”

Concerns about further education standards in Switzerland were heightened last month when the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published its annual further education survey.

The report found that some 40 per cent of Swiss were taking advantage of tertiary education, a percentage that has remained practically unchanged in the past ten years.

While that figure put Switzerland in the international forefront ten years ago, the country has now been overtaken by other OECD members, such as Denmark, Japan, Poland, Germany and Finland.

The OECD report also highlighted disparities between men and women in the field of higher education, with 20 per cent more Swiss men than women completing university degrees.

swissinfo, Mark Ledsom in Zurich

In brief

The further education forum was set up in June 2000 to promote better co-ordination of adult learning in Switzerland.

Concerns over further education were backed up by last month’s OECD report, which showed Switzerland lagging behind several other countries.

The OECD report also highlighted discrepancies between the number of men and women taking part in Swiss adult education courses.

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