The Swiss educational system is decentralized and autonomous and has the reputation of being one of the best in the world. The Swiss Constituion delegates to the cantons the authority over the educational system. The language of the that sets the teaching language in schools.
The Swiss pre-university educational system is divided in primary education, lower secondary and upper secondary education.
Compulsory education begins with the age of 6 and lasts nine years. Compulsory education covers primary and lower secondary education.
Primary lasts during the first 4-6 years of schooling, depending on the canton.
The student's achievementa at the end of primary education along with teacher recommendations and, in some cases, an exam determine the performance level of students. Based on this performance level, students are assigned in lower secondary education.
The transition from primary to lower secondary education vary from one canton to another.
Lower secondary education
Most cantons offer many types of education at lower secondary level. Often there are two or three different sections with different requirements.
Lower secondary education takes place over 3-5 years, depending on the canton. During their studies, students learn to read, write and calculate. They also acquire basic knowledge of two languages (usually a national language and English) and study geography, history, art and music. Various topics, such as health promotion, education for sustainable development or civic education are often taught as part of other subjects.
Upper secondary education
Upper secondary education is not compulsory and is conducted over a period of 3-4 years, depending on the canton.
Here, students can choose between education and training and general education.
General education is provided by schools which end by taking the Baccalaureate, which prepare students for admission to university.
Swiss Maturité Fédérale or Matura is obtained after the successful completion of final exams and provides the opportunity for admission to prestigious universities.
Other programs of study
Along with the Swiss program, Swiss Matura, there are many other educational programs such as the British GCSE and A-Level, IB, Abitur, High School Diploma, French Baccalaureate.