The quality of early years education and childcare should not depend on where you live, an organisation representing Swiss towns and cities has said.
The cities’ initiativeexternal link – which groups together education and social welfare heads from around 60 towns and cities, including heavyweights Zurich and Geneva – said that in many places, childcare and early education for the under fours was still very patchy. The cost is high and creche places are not always widely available, a statement released on Fridayexternal link added.
It was important for all children in Switzerland to have access to good early education, the statement continued, to be “prepared for Kindergarten from a language, social and motor skills point of view”.
That Switzerland is lagging behind in the childcare and early education stakes is well known. The Swiss-branch of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)external link called in February for increased efforts to boost early childcare and education availability in the country.
Children with a good education and care in their early years are “healthier, more content and more successful” later in life, according to its report.
The cost of childcare is also regularly flagged up in expat surveys as a negative factor about living in Switzerland.
What can be done?
The cities’ initiative is calling for more support from the government, cantons and businesses, as well as better coordination between these various actors. Common standards should be established across the country, the initiative’s president Nicolas Galladé said.
The Swiss parliament in September last year extended for a third time a state-funded programme, despite opposition by the government, to boost the number of creches and other school care centres. The programme was introduced in 2003 with the aim of creating about 57,400 places for children across the country.