A national perspective on the Swiss education system

swiss report 1On June 19, Switzerland published the Swiss Education Report 2018. Fully in line with the GEM Report’s #MakeitPublic, campaign to ensure that all countries report back to their citizens on their progress in education, the new Report provides new analysis on the entire Swiss education system from primary school to adult education.

The report answers five hundred questions related to education in Switzerland, and examines differences in class size within cantons, stable and differentiated completion rates in upper-secondary education and the transitions between compulsory schooling and further education.

Published in four languages, the 2018 Report takes a deep dive into key trends in the field of higher education, such as high dropout rates at university level, and provides ongoing assessment of existing measures to ensure the highest standards in education. In the blog below representatives from Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) share their observations on the process of authoring the national education monitoring report and how this have been useful for identifying challenges and successes in education.

Tracing progress in education of the past over the past twelve years

UNesco11- Hard to hold anyone accountable
The 2017/8 GEM Report showed that national education monitoring reports are a vital tool for transparency and accountability, and an important tool through which civil society and the media can hold governments to account. However, only one in every two countries have published a national education monitoring report since 2010, and most do not produce them very regularly.

Since the initial pilot in 2006 through to the 2018 publication, the Swiss Education Report has become a well-established point of reference and an indispensable tool for Switzerland’s education policy makers.

Let’s first have a look at the report from a systemic perspective. How does our country benefit from it?

As seen from this point of view, the report’s relevance may be summed up as follows:

  • It provides us with an up-to-date overview of our education system.
  • It is based on evidence and scientific rigor.
  • It helps us to better understand our education system as a whole and to assess its performance according to the economically and socially relevant criteria of efficiency, effectiveness and equity.
  • It contributes to establish and to continually improve transparency.
  • It creates a common language transcending different levels and sectors.
  • It serves as a basis for defining strategic objectives for the system’s development, to accordingly propose measures as well as to assess every four years the degree to which the objectives have been achieved.
  • It shows us gaps of knowledge and data. Migrants for example (32% of the 15-17 old have a migration background): we currently lack data about the languages they speak, their social background and the time of their presence in Switzerland.
  • It provides us with the possibility to better assess the system’s performance in the long run.
  • It spurs us to both intensify and diversify research on dysfunctions, causal relations, weaknesses and strengths of systemic relevance.

We shouldn’t neglect, however, the Report’s usefulness as seen from a sectoral perspective:

  • swiss report 2
    Launched in April 2018, the GEM Report’s #MakeitPublic campaign calls for all countries to report back to their citizens on progress in education.

    It permits the system’s different levels and sectors to view and understand themselves as interdependent elements of a system as a whole.

  • It helps different sectors and levels to mutually improve their knowledge about each other.
  • It facilitates cross-sectoral approaches and discussions of educational issues.

The Report also recalls us some of the main challenges ahead:

  • Keep in mind that the report is a tool. It doesn’t dispense politicians to take decisions and to be accountable for the system’s governance and funding.
  • Be aware of fake news and post truth politics. They may look more attractive than evidence based data and causal relations.
  • Don’t treasure only what you measure. It is impossible to quantify driving forces such as creativity, individual empowerment, trust and social responsibility. However, they are most likely to thrive in solidly funded educational systems based on accountability, efficiency, effectiveness and equity.

Launched in April 2018, the GEM Report’s #MakeitPublic campaign calls for all countries to report back to their citizens on progress in education. The campaign webpage is a virtual repository for all national education monitoring reports. Visit the site to find out how you can participate in the campaign and view our interactive map to see your country last produced a national education monitoring report.



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