Compulsory education

In 2019/20, almost 966 000 pupils were in compulsory education. 19% 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 just over a quarter.

Pupils in compulsory education(1): change since 2000/01
  2000/01 2005/06 2010/11 2015/16 2019/20
Total 948 957 947 669 913 153 928 284 965 937
  Female (%) 48.7 48.6 48.6 48.5 48.5
  Foreign (%) 21.3 22.2 24.3 26.7 27.3
148 167 146 474 148 879 170 577 179 132
  Female (%) 48.4 48.4 48.7 48.7 48.4
  Foreign (%) 23.4 24 25.8 27.3 28.5
473 739 454 092 436 076 477 500 524 645
  Female (%) 49.3 49.2 49 49.1 48.5
  Foreign (%) 20 21.4 23.9 26.5 27.7
278 457 298 414 291 068 249 062 262 160
  Female (%) 49.7 49.6 49.4 49 48.7
  Foreign (%) 18.8 19.3 22 24 25.9
48 594 48 689 37 130 31 145 .
  Female (%) 37.9 37.7 36.5 35.1 .
  Foreign (%) 40.9 41.5 41.1 45.9 .
1 Since the school year 2017/18, pupils in special needs 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 education".
2 Kindergarten, first learning cycle
Source: FSO – Statistics on pupils and students (SDL)
Data as of: February 2021

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 are either integrated into normal classes, where they receive specialised teaching support, or are enrolled in special schools or special classes (separate education).
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 2019/20 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 8%).

Further information

Data

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