One difficulty for newcomers in Switzerland is not only the complexity of the school system and range of choices, but also the differences between the cantons. Much like insurance policies or tax rates, there are fundamental differences between the various cantons. This is reflected in different vacation dates, the sequence of foreign languages taught or differing curricula.
The cantons in Northwestern Switzerland have recently been working to harmonize school structures.
It should generally be noted that the general school leaving examination (Matura) is not the only educational path in Switzerland. Switzerland has a highly respected dual education system which offers pupils solid professional training. Broad theoretical knowledge combined with advanced, practical expertise in a multi-year training program ensures that the professional training not only meets high quality standards and produces great experts who will be in great demand on the labor market. It also allows graduates to pursue other training and professional development opportunities later and to achieve academic excellence.
It should essentially be emphasized that the Swiss school system is characterized by a high level of flexibility and permeability, offering education and training in line with children's and young people's individual talents and abilities. It is a system that offers them a diverse range of continuing education and advancement opportunities up to the highest-level degrees over the course of their development.
The key facts about the school system in the canton of Basel-Stadt are summarized here.
Children and young people who have recently moved to Switzerland can register to attend a public school by calling the school authorities ahead of time. Private schools can be contacted directly (see also list below).
Basel-Stadt in particular also offers special opportunities for furthering foreign-language and multilingual children. This may at first be confusing to newcomers, but it actually offers an excellent and wide-spanning range of educational options. Thus, even children without German skills are included in the public school system and are enabled to competely integrate soon.
- This includes early childhood German instruction for children from foreign language-speaking families before entering the kindergarten/sort of "obligatory early German",
- then the immersive programme "German as Second Language/Deutsch als Zweitsprache - DaZ" on all school levels,
- complemented by "German for Parents" for understanding the school life of their children
- and topped-up by courses in children's native language and culture, called HSK programme).
Information about the school system in Basel-Landschaft is available on the Amt für Volksschule (Public School Office) website. The respective communal school board handles the school registration process. Please contact your municipality of residence for more information.
International schools and graduations
Several international schools in the region comply with internationally recognized school systems, such as:
The secondary school (Gymnasium) located at Münsterplatz in Basel is a public secondary school that also offers an IB – International Baccalaureate (Immersion) diploma program. This option is intended for persons who want to send their children to a public school to earn a Swiss Matura leaving certificate as well as an IB diploma. In addition, the Secondary school (Gymnasium) Bäumlihof located between Basel and Riehen is offering newly also an IB-International Baccalaureate.
Finally, there is also the option of pursuing a bilingual Swiss Matura in Basel; more information here.