Compulsory education

According to the HarmoS Agreement, compulsory education lasts eleven years. It covers the primary and lower secondary levels. The primary level lasts eight years including Kindergarten or the first learning cycle, and the lower secondary level education lasts three years. Pupils requiring special needs education can be educated in special schools, special classes or are integrated into normal classes, where they receive additional specialised teaching support.

Pupils in compulsory education(1): change since 2000/01
  2000/01 2005/06 2010/11 2015/16 2018/19
Total 948 957 947 691 913 012 928 339 954 811
  Female (%)  48.7        48.6        48.6        48.5 48.5
  Foreign (%)        21.3        22.2        24.3        26.6 27.5
148 167 146 474 148 879 170 557 176 229
  Female (%)        48.4        48.4        48.7        48.7 48.2
  Foreign (%)        23.4        24.0        25.7        27.3 28.2
473 739 454 092 436 076 477 502 517 905
  Female (%)        49.3        49.2        49.0        49.1 48.6
  Foreign (%)        20.0        21.4        23.9        26.5 27.8
278 457 298 436 290 927 249 074 260 677
  Female (%)        49.7        49.6        49.4        49.0 48.7
  Foreign (%)        18.8        19.3        22.0        24.0 26.3
48 594 48 689 37 130 31 206 -
  Female (%)        37.9        37.7        36.5        35.1 -
  Foreign (%)        40.9        41.5        41.0        45.9 -
1 Since the school year 2017/18, pupils in special school classes, classes for foreign language speaking pupils, introduction classes and other special classes are included in the different levels of compulsory education and no longer in the category "separate teaching".
2 Kindergarten, first learning cycle
Source: FSO – Statistics on pupils and students (SDL)
Data as of: February 2020

In 2018/19, almost 955 000 pupils were in compulsory education. 18% of them were at primary level 1-2 (Kindergarten, first learning cycle), 54% at primary level 3-8 and 27% at lower secondary level. Girls account for almost half of pupils at each level of compulsory education and pupils of foreign nationality for almost a quarter. After a stable period between 2000/01 and 2005/06, numbers of pupils in compulsory education decreased until 2012/13 when they rose again. These variations are largely driven by demographic changes in the corresponding age groups.

During the 2018/19 school year, foreigners accounted for an average of 27% of pupils in Switzerland. This figure varies greatly, however, depending on the canton. The canton of Geneva has the highest proportion of foreign pupils (43%) and the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden the lowest (almost 9%).

Further information

Data

Contact

Federal Statistical Office Section Educational Processes
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuchâtel
Switzerland
Tel.
+41 58 483 93 61

Monday to Friday
09.00-12.00 and 13.30-16.30

Contact

Remark

Our English pages offer only a limited range of information on our statistical production. For our full range please consult our pages in French and German (top right hand screen).

https://www.bfs.admin.ch/content/bfs/en/home/statistics/education-science/pupils-students/compulsory.html