Secondary education is divided into lower and upper levels, usually referred to as secondary I and II. Level I, which generally lasts three years, follows primary school. It is compulsory.At the age of 15-16 depending on when they started school, students who wish to continue their education move into secondary II, which generally lasts 3 – 4 years. This level constitutes the first phase of post-compulsory education. It covers both general and vocational instruction.
A range of different schools and colleges offer ‘secondary level II ‘ education. The academically-orientated “matura” schools provide a general education to prepare students for the school-leaving certificate, or “matura”, which opens the way to university entrance. They are attended by approximately 17 per cent of children in the relevant age group. Other secondary II establishments are teacher training colleges (2.5 per cent), schools offering a diploma (4 per cent) and schools providing vocational training courses (76 per cent). Students following this last option usually divide their time between working for an employer as an apprentice and attending classes. This form of training leads to a diploma or certificate of proficiency.There are also private schools, not recognised by the Confederation, that prepare students directly for the matura certificate.
New Types Of Secondary Diplomas
In 1995, the Swiss government and the cantons decided to reform the general “matura”. The new regulations call for a single type of academic diploma, a reduction in the number of subjects and examinations, and the introduction of a thesis requirement. Already in 1993, with the introduction of a professional “matura”, of the same standard as the general one, the Swiss government and the cantons had expressed their commitment to improving the overall conditions of professional training. The professional “matura” is based on practical training and enables young people to take up study at a University of Applied Sciences (UAS). There are currently five distinct professional “maturas”: technical, business, crafts, artistic and technical/agricultural. Secondary II school graduates have the opportunity to pursue their studies at the tertiary level, the particular course depending on the type of secondary education they have received.