Swiss schools abroad are facing a financial crisis because of sweeping funding cuts. Their headmasters, meeting in Switzerland, have warned that unless they are given more money some schools may have to close.
The concern was discussed at a gathering of the heads from the 17 Swiss schools located abroad. They said that unless their budgets were increased, teaching standards would suffer, and some of the schools - located on four continents - might not be able to keep their doors open.
Last year, the 17 schools accumulated a total loss of more than SFr2 million and more than half of the schools are in the red. The heads say their schools' financial situation has steadily deteriorated following funding cuts of 25 per cent in the past three years.
The heads are also discussing the Swiss School Project 2010, which was proposed at last year's conference. This programme stresses the importance of education and is aimed at setting up more Swiss schools abroad.
The headmasters warned on Wednesday, though, that the project had little hope of success unless its budget was increased.
Some 6,000 children of various nationalities attend Swiss schools abroad. The schools grew out of a Swiss education programme set up more than a century ago in Italy at the behest of Swiss Germans, who felt the need to educate their children the Swiss way, using German as the teaching language.
After the Second World War more Swiss schools were set up to replace many German schools abroad which were forced to close.
There are now 17 schools in ten countries where Swiss children have the opportunity to receive the education they would get at home. In some countries it is even possible to do the International Baccalaureate (IB) which enables them to attend universities all over Europe and overseas.