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As Switzerland has no natural resources, education and knowledge have gained a high importance, allowing the country to claim to have one of the world's best education systems.
Generally children attend public schools. Public schools include kindergarten, elementary school ("Volksschule"), high school ("Gymnasium") and universities ("Universitäten"). Most municipalities provide kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. There are twelve universities in Switzerland. After elementary school, children may choose to go to the secondary school or to start a vocational education and training. After finishing the basic vocational education and training, it is still possible to start an academic career at either a secondary school or a university of applied science, the so called Fachhochschule (FH).
In Switzerland, every child must attend at least elementary School (9 years). Our country provides various schools at different levels. Because the cantons are responsible for the educational system, the names, the subjects, the starting age of the students and the duration vary significantly between the cantons. The rest of this document therefore
focuses on how it works in the Canton of Zug.
Children are not officially required to attend kindergarten, but most children do. They are not taught to read and write, but develop their social capabilities and get used to sitting quietly for a while and paying attention to the teacher. Children may attend kindergarten for one or two years, starting at the age of five or six.
Elementary school ("Volksschule")
Elementary education is mandatory for all children. They can attend a public or private school. Elementary school starts at the age of seven and lasts at least eight, usually nine years.
The elementary school is divided into primary school and secondary school. In Zug, primary school lasts six years, and usually, the children have the same teacher for all subjects. Secondary school lasts three years. Usually, there are at least two teachers responsible for a class, and additional vocational teachers are brought in.
Secondary school is the highest level before High School / Gymnasium. Some apprentice-ships require this level of education.
Vocational education and training
Vocational education and training ensures that young adults make the transition into the working environment and assures that there are going to be enough qualified workers in the future. Being a part of upper secondary and tertiary level education, vocational education and training is based on clearly defined courses and is characterized by its high degree of flexibility: it is possible for people to pursue continuing educational opportunities and it is relatively easy for them to switch career in their professional life. There is a wealth of advanced training opportunities at all levels. Vocational education and training covers a broad range of programs. Courses cater to various abilities and are organised around the different age brackets.
Basic vocational education and training ("Berufslehre")
Vocational education and training provides two thirds of young adults in Switzerland with a solid professional basis for lifelong learning and opens many different job prospects. Training in the industry combined with vocational college training is the most common form
of basic professional training. In addition to standard training in businesses, an apprenticeship may also consist of full-time schooling, e. g. at training colleges and colleges of commerce.
Depending on the profession, basic vocational education and training takes two to four years. It leads to a basic or advanced federal certificate, which provides the necessary qualifications for practicing a specific profession and offers access to continuing vocational education and training.
Higher vocational education and training ("Höhere Fachschulen")
Higher vocational education and training links solid practical skills with established theoretical expertise, laying the foundation for middle management jobs. The syllabuses of colleges of higher vocational education and training lead to a federally recognized diploma and last two to three years. These colleges are on a nonuniversity tertiary level. The requirement for studying is completion of a three- or four-year basic training course with an advanced federal certificate.
University of applied science ("Fachhochschule")
After completion of basic vocational education and training, a young person can still start an academic career. There are seven public universities of applied sciences (UASs) so-called "Fachhochschulen". Under their motto "equivalent but different" they offer practice oriented university-level courses. The business-oriented specialist areas of the UASs complement the courses offered by Swiss universities. There are various fields of studies: technology, management, design, health sciences, social work, art and music, teacher training. With the Bologna reform, the situation of the Swiss universities of applied sciences has changed: since mid 2005 the UASs switched to the two-tier study system with Bachelor (three years of study) and Master (two more years of study) degree courses. The professional baccalaureate (completed during or after basic vocational education and training) is the main requirement for studying at a university of applied sciences. Holders of a federally recognized baccalaureate do not have to take an entrance examination if they have completed one year of practical experience in their chosen profession.
Amt für Berufsbildung (=Vocational Training Department)
Tel. +41 (0)41 728 51 50
Fax +41 (0)41 728 51 59
High school ("Gymnasium")
If a student chooses Gymnasium immediately after primary school (at about the age of 13), she or he would attend a Gymnasium for six years. A Swiss high school provides roughly the same standard of education as an English grammar school or high school, but a higher level than the average American high school or two-year college. The Gymnasium leads to the so called federal graduation diploma ("Eidgenössische Matura") which is recognized by all universities in Switzerland and most universities abroad.
Kantonsschule Zug (= High School of the Canton of Zug)
Tel. +41 (0)41 728 12 12
Fax +41 (0)41 728 12 10
After an apprenticeship, it is possible to take a course at a so called graduation diploma school ("Maturitätsschule"). After graduating from this school, a student can attend a university, just like a student who attended a Gymnasium. This path in the educational curriculum is known as the second educational path ("Zweiter Bildungsweg").
There are twelve universities in Switzerland. Nine are run by a canton and the others by the federal government. In general, the universities run by the cantons provide non-technical subjects, whereas the universities run by the confederation provide technical subjects, and are called "institutes of technology".
To be able to attend a university, a student must have graduated high school with a diploma. Undergraduate courses were previously usually five-years courses at masters level, but now most universities have changed to offer the degrees of bachelor (three years) and master (two further years).
You will find a list of international and private schools on the web site www.zg.ch/privateschools
There are three international schools in Zug:
Primary and Middle Schools
Boarding School, also for "day-boarders".
Bilingual academic program (German or German/English):
1st to 4th grade primary school (starting fall 2006), 5th and 6th grade, high school, middle commercial school, Swiss Maturität Academic program in English: 7th to 12th grade: American High School Diploma International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
Tel. +41 (0)41 7 1 1 1 7 22
Fax +41 (0)41 7 1 1 54 65
The International School of Zug and Lucerne
Follows the Primary Year Program (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate and Middle Years Program (MYP).
International School of Zug and Luzern
6340 Baar, Switzerland
Tel +41 41 768 2906
Mobile +41 78 780 11 55
Fax +41 41 768 1189
Today there are music schools in all communities of the Canton of Zug. These offer students the opportunity to learn to play instruments of their choice and to perform alone and with others. Fees payable by the parents vary between communities.