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Women politicians unite for all-day school

Going home for lunch may become a thing of the past

(Keystone)

Members of parliament from the main political parties have set out to change the constitution to make full-day school available throughout Switzerland.

The "coalition of mothers and grandmothers" wants to give parents the option to leave their children at school for the whole day. Their initiative will be launched in the autumn session of parliament.

Currently the vast majority of Swiss schools close for lunch with the expectation that children return home to eat their midday meal. Studies have shown that this makes it difficult for parents to juggle work and family life.

The alliance of women politicians wants local authorities to be obliged to provide a full school day for children for the entire period of compulsory schooling, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

The representatives of the Social Democratic Party, Radical Party, Christian Democratic Party, Swiss People's Party and Greens will launch a parliamentary initiative to change the constitution on September 19.

Women unable to work

The move was agreed upon during a round-table discussion in Zurich last month, the newspaper reports. It was initiated by Social Democrat parliamentarian Jacqueline Fehr, Christine Egerszegi of the Radicals and the Swiss Teachers' Association.

"Today many women are unable to work and this is preventing the Swiss economy from reaching its full potential," Egerszegi told NZZ am Sonntag.

Fehr added that many single parents have to rely on social welfare because they are unable to find suitable work due to lack of childcare.

According to a recent survey by the think tank Avenir Suisse, only 35 local authorities in German- and French-speaking parts of the country have introduced day schools.

In July, Avenir Suisse called on the authorities to keep schools open during lunchtime. One month earlier the Swiss Teachers' Association made a similar appeal.

The current plan does not spell out exactly how the increased school hours will be funded. Fehr and Egerszegi say the cantons and communities could compensate for their investment through higher tax revenues from greater numbers of working mothers.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Only canton Ticino has a majority of all-day schools. In most Swiss schools children go home for lunch around midday, making it difficult for both parents to work.
All-day schools offer a midday meal and supervision after classes.
There have been repeated calls for an overhaul of the Swiss education system from different interest groups representing teachers and business.

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