Homelessness in SenegalSenegal is often seen as a stable country politically and economically relative to its neighbors in the West African region. This perception has been further validated in the last decade with its peaceful elections and a GDP growth averaging approximately 6% since 2014. Still, the country is not without its challenges. Though poverty hasn’t been measured since 2011, it is estimated that around 39% of the population lives below the poverty line. Homelessness in Senegal is a major consequence of poverty that needs urgent attention, especially amid COVID-19.

Street Youths of Dakar

In Senegal, homelessness especially affects many children. In the capital city of Dakar, which has a population of 1.06 million people, an estimated 40,000 street youths are without shelter. Some of these children are Talibes. Talibes are “youths from Koranic schools known as daaras who are forced to beg for money. There are also those who fled such schools. Others come from broken families or have lost their homes because of poverty.”

Recently COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown have exasperated the lives of these homeless children in Senegal. The thin protection these children once had in small generosities from restaurants and pedestrians have been erased as services and public pedestrian presence have gone dormant for lockdown. Lackluster sanitation and drug usage compound the street youths’ vulnerable position amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As of early July 2020, Senegal has reported thousands of cases of COVID-19 and under 100 deaths.

Helping Hands

In April, Senegal’s Ministry of Family launched a coronavirus emergency plan for street children, opening up about 13 educational social centers and other venues in Dakar. Outside of government support, NGOs like the French-Senegalese Village Pilote has aided homeless children in Dakar sprung into action. Village Pilote offers homeless children in Senegal meals and shelter as well as space for recreation. Issa Faye, a 19-year-old living on the street told Reuters: “Because of the disease people were avoiding us, we had problems getting (medical) treatment, and also the police kept running after us. Only this centre accepts children and youngsters our age and from the streets…”

Value of Aid

COVID-19 highlights how easily vulnerable demographics such as the homeless street youths of Senegal can be left behind without consideration, underscoring the value of aid. Supporting funding for the International Affairs Budget to address the consequences of the pandemic is also essential to protecting the health, security and economic interests of all Americans.

– Caleb Hughes
Photo: Flickr

EU Youth UnemploymentIn 2019, the EU youth unemployment rate was at its lowest point in the last 10 years. More than 3.3 million young people (aged 15-24 years) were unemployed that same year, but compared with the previous year (2018), the situation looks much better. In 2018, more than 5.5 million young people were neither employed nor enrolled at an educational institution or training program. This vital change is achieved thanks to multiple EU policies and tools. It provides proper training and education, prepares youngsters for the labor market and gives them the chance to be competitive and successful. However, it is important to note that youth unemployment is 10 points higher than the average and there is a lot more space for improvement.

EU Youth Unemployment: Social and Economic Impacts

Eurostat reports show that EU youth unemployment rates are much higher than unemployment rates for all other age groups. In January 2019, jobless men and women above the age of 25 are 5.7%. As for the same period, rates among youths are 14% which is almost three times higher.

The unemployment rate is an essential indicator of both social and economic dimensions of youth poverty. Dangerously high unemployment rates show that young people can’t find their place in the labor market. Thus, they are not an active part of society. Jobless youngsters most often live with their parents, which destroys their learning motivation and civic engagement. Additionally, the lack of financial independence prevents them from going out and traveling. The combination of these factors kills their drive to find a job that creates even deeper despair on the emotional level.

A vicious circle starts forming around these young people who lose interest in social causes, politics and innovations. Once they lose their drive, long term unemployment is just the next step, according to studies in the EU. Unfortunately, many teenagers and twenty-something college graduates do not find jobs right after leaving the education system.

EU Institutions and National Governments Tackle Youth Unemployment

Young people’s labor market performance has indeed improved significantly over the past few years. According to the European Commission, there are 2.3 million fewer young unemployed now than five years ago. Around 1.8 million young people started apprenticeships, education or other kinds of training. Youth unemployment had decreased from 24% in 2013 to 14% in 2019.

The significant decrease of EU youth unemployment is possible through a combination of EU and national governments’ efforts to fight this phenomenon with various measures. This includes the promotion of a life-cycle approach to work, encouraging lifelong learning, improving support to those seeking a job and free training programs.

The latest research shows that apprenticeship and traineeship programs help prepare young people for the labor market and build relevant skills. Coordinating social policies like education or youth engagement and economic policies like employment rates is hard but a balanced governmental approach. With support from the local business in different countries, the number of youth employment increases in recent years. New partnerships have been set up with social partners, youth services and youth organizations as well.

These efforts should work to tackle EU youth unemployment by helping students and young professionals build attractive resumes for businesses operating on the global labor market. Nowadays, finding a job is more challenging than ever. Global competition requires all kinds of skill-sets from newcomers. In addition, these programs are designed to reinforce youngsters’ positions at this entry point. Besides, NGO initiatives and partner organizations create platforms for online education. The platforms are for people to take specialized courses without the need to enroll in an official university program. It’s easier, faster and very practical. Usually, such NGOs cannot provide certificates or diplomas, but the good news is businesses don’t need one. If the young person shows skills and a can-do attitude, he/she is hired.

The Changing of European Higher Education

The European conservative format of higher education is also changing slowly. More universities invite businesspeople to the campuses. This way the students can get the chance to meet entrepreneurs with hands-on experience and learn in a more informal environment. This type of education is most popular in the U.S., while formal education in Europe is still lagging in this regard. But times are changing, dynamics of life, work and study are different, and all involved parties are adjusting. There is no doubt that universities should work hand in hand with businesses to ensure a prospective future for young people.

Olga Uzunova

Photo: Flickr

Ending Youth Unemployment in Africa
There is an issue of youth unemployment in Africa. Young people make up 60% of all unemployed people in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also one of the continents with a changing age demographic from older to younger individuals. An added disconnect is that of those who are working, 82% of them are still in vulnerable employment situations. In addition, wages may not even be enough to survive. If Senegal can get some of the 50,000 talibes, mostly young boys who beg on the streets, then Senegal can continue being a leading economically driven country.

Aspyre Africa

Aspyre Africa is an organization that works in Senegal, specifically Saint-Louis, with young men and women to end youth unemployment in Africa. It is attempting to develop a robust, sustainable and replicable model of services and quality vocational training. As a result, it should be able to secure the futures of countless economically disadvantaged young people in Africa.

Aspyre originally emerged in 2014. It focuses on talibes who are boys on the street with very limited job opportunities due to a lack of formal training.

Aspyre Africa’s Actions

The organization has successfully trained 18 talibes between the ages of 15 to 25 in horticulture. After the initial training, Aspyre Africa continues to support the youth until they have a stable income through various agricultural pursuits. Aspyre is stepping up its assistance in the community by providing a social worker and a career advisor for vulnerable students and alumni at a government-run vocational training center. Also, additional money from the organization is going towards essential equipment and helping talibes set up their own businesses.

Sustainable Livelihoods Project

With the original cohort of 18 talibes having passed their 10-month vocational training at the center, Aspyre Africa began a new venture of constructing a chicken coop. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides funding for a project to provide chickens in Sub-Saharan Africa as an agricultural venture to be successful. Chickens can result in a $300 yearly income increase. Chickens are valuable to Sub-Saharan communities because they produce eggs that are an essential key to getting nutrients and protein.

Youth Entrepreneurs Project

The work in Senegal is the perfect example of the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. In this instance, raising loosely means supporting. Aspyre Africa has been able to support 18 talibes by partnering with other organizations in order to secure funding, build the center and chicken coop and train the youth. Through these partnerships, Aspyre has seen how sometimes it can be prohibitive to its ultimate goal of uplifting youth.

Starting out, Aspyre helped provide the training for agriculture and horticulture as well as funding for necessary equipment to end youth unemployment in Africa. After the first cohort of trainees, it saw that other organizations either provided training or financial support for participants to start a business. In the past two years, it has transitioned into implementing a program to provide support from the start of training to the start of an individual’s small business. By regularly following up and tailoring training to youth’s interests and skills, along with 2 hectares of land on loan for 2 years to start their business, Aspyre Africa has ensured that each participant can be successful with continued participation.

– Cassiday Moriarity
Photo: Flickr

Youth Unemployment in Senegal
Like many developing countries in Africa, Senegal’s economy is growing. In fact, in 2018, the country’s GDP increased by 6.766%. However, economic growth has not translated into more jobs for the younger generation, thus resulting in high youth unemployment. Young people either end up unemployed or in the informal job sector where wages are low. To solve the problem of youth unemployment in Senegal, the Senegalese government and NGOs are creating new policies and programs.

Youth and the Formal Job Sector

In 2019, Senegal’s population was over 16 million with 40% of the population younger than 15. More than 300,000 Senegalese youth enter the workforce each year. The formal sector in Senegal makes up between three to four percent of Senegal’s job market. As a result, college graduates struggle to find jobs relating to their field of study. When looking for formal jobs, graduates face many difficulties, including a lack of connections and a failure to meet the job qualifications. Youths also lack the knowledge of where to look for formal jobs.

Furthermore, according to employers, the education system does not meet the needs of the workforce because graduates do not have work experience (internships). The internships that youths do manage to get are often unpaid. This results in more difficulties for young people to sustain themselves while working. CNV International works with unions to make sure that interns are not being taken advantage of. Although the youth unemployment rate for ages between 15-24 has decreased from 13.2% in 2010 to 8.2% in 2019, Senegal still faces a problem of unemployment among youth.

Youth and the Informal Job Sector

When it becomes difficult to find employment, many Senegalese youth turn to the informal sector or start their own businesses. The informal sector is made up of businesses that are not registered and therefore do not pay taxes. For obtaining an informal job, social and personal relations play a more important role than a contractual agreement. Furthermore, informal jobs often tend not to provide employees with any form of social security or insurance, and are also fairly low-paying. Many informal jobs generate income that is less than Senegal’s minimum wage, according to Investisseurs & Partenaires.

Consequences of Youth Unemployment

The problem with youth unemployment is that it often leads to poverty, crime and even migration to other countries. In Senegal, many have left their villages to migrate to Europe. However, the path to Europe is dangerous and many die attempting to reach or cross the Mediterranean. To respond to the crisis of youth unemployment, the Senegalese government and NGOs have created programs to help young people find jobs.

Efforts to Reduce Youth Unemployment

In 2017, the Education Development Center and MasterCard Foundation started a 5-year long project to help teach students in both middle and high school. The project aims to teach students how to get a job as well as how to start a business. The program, known as APTE, helps provide internships, job placement, mentoring and coaching. Currently, the program works in 50 vocational education and training (TVET) schools and 200 middle schools (lower secondary), and has reached over 11,000 youths in the country.

To help youth entrepreneurs, the government created La Délégation Générale à l’Entreprenariat Rapide, a fund for entrepreneurs. The fund focuses on small financing, incubation funding, equity financing and low-interest loans. In the first wave of funding alone, the program received 140,000 applications. The fund has given money to multiple industries, including food, agriculture and digital/ICT.

With the help of the World Bank, the Senegalese government also created the Skills for Jobs and Competitiveness project to help reduce youth unemployment in Senegal. The project aims to train Senegalese youth in tourism, horticulture and poultry farming. Additionally, the Programme de Formation Ecole-Enterprise (School-Company Training Program) hopes to impact 10,000 young people by teaching them crucial job skills. The government is also working with companies through an apprenticeship program to train students while they are in school.

 

Although the youth unemployment rate in Senegal has decreased, it still remains a relevant issue. Programs by NGOs and the government are essential to providing job opportunities for young people in Senegal. These efforts also serve to reduce poverty and encourage youth to remain in Senegal rather than attempt the dangerous journey to Europe. If this focus on tackling youth unemployment continues, a new future for Senegal’s youth may be peeking through the horizon.

– Joshua Meribole 
Photo: Flickr

Social Entrepreneurship Journeys
People often say that necessity is the mother of invention. However, communities that require innovations do not always see enough of them. Due to a lack of access to resources, many rural communities suffer an endless cycle of poverty and poor living conditions. Several nonprofit organizations in India are conducting social entrepreneurship journeys for college students as a means of countering the problem that most brilliant, young minds in the country are focusing too much on the big picture rather than on how empowering the poor can build a stronger nation.  They are doing this to imprint the minds of the youth and shift their focus to innovation for the sake of uplifting rural communities. Here are examples of three of such journeys.

Jagriti Yatra

A charitable nonprofit organization called Jagriti Sew Sansthan started Jagriti Yatra, which is the largest of its kind in India. It is an extensive, 15-day, roundabout journey across several of the nation’s rural landmarks. The journey spans for about 8,000 kilometers across the length and breadth of India to expose youth to several grassroots problems and inspire them to be the face of innovation.

Yearly, 500 college students who clear a rigorous selection process, undertake this life-changing journey. They have the opportunity to meet several role models and social entrepreneurs who strived against unfavorable societal conditions (like poverty, hunger and lack of educational facilities) to take charge and innovate sustainable business models for their social enterprises.

Bunker Roy from Barefoot College, a voluntary research organization that works on bettering health, educational facilities and skills of the rural population, and Anshu Gupta from Goonj, an innovative nonprofit that focuses on providing clothing as a basic need among other things, are a couple of role models who are working with Jagriti Yatra to inspire the students. They are demonstrating how students can contribute to alleviating poverty and bettering living conditions in rural India.

LEad Prayana

The LEaders Accelerating Development (LEAD) program is a brainchild of Hubbali, Karnataka’s Deshpande Foundation that Mrs. Jaishree Deshpande and Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande founded. From thousands of applicants, the program selects 120+ college students based on their passion for solving problems and compassion towards the society they live in.

The on-road, 14-day journey includes activities that challenge the students’ innovative abilities and encourages them to partake in mini-projects that have environmental, social and humanitarian value. The students participate in several panel sessions that successful social entrepreneurs conduct like Madhu Chandan of Organic Mandya, a social movement that encouraged the farmers of Mandya, Karnataka to practice organic ways of farming to yield healthier produce.

ShodhYatra

What sets ShodhYatra apart from the rest of social entrepreneurship journeys is its unique mode of transport, which is nothing but human feet. Anil Gupta, a retired IIM professor, founded ShodhYatra. This journey of search spans about 100 kilometers on foot and occurs in various parts of the country. The participants get a chance to view and analyze the shortfalls in rural communities first hand and sometimes also come across innovative solutions that the villagers put into action.

Gupta calls this journey a two-way street rather than a one-sided one, where urban and rural communities exchange knowledge. Being the founder of Honey Bee Network, he propagates that humans can benefit from lateral learning without exploitation of either party, just like how honey bees thrive from collecting honey without impoverishing the flower.

While undertaking such journeys, the participants, who are usually from the urban areas of the country, have no choice but to shed their inhibitions, interact with the locals and understand the human ability to adapt and that, indeed, is the prime reason to innovate. All these journeys primarily work on the concept of social entrepreneurship, which not only focuses on bettering living conditions across the country but also on building sustainable business models while doing so.

Reshma Beesetty
Photo: Flickr

5 Ways Music Helps Impoverished Youth
For many cultures, music is a primary form of expression. It serves as an outlet for struggles with identity, relationships, politics and even poverty. Since music encapsulates various elements of a culture, it is essential for heritage preservation and for spreading awareness about the adversity that the respective cultures face. Music is a universal language, capable of reaching out and touching the hearts of any listener. This includes children, who are extremely receptive to music and are capable of learning of its benefits and values. Here are five examples that show how music helps impoverished youth cope with their experiences and spread awareness of the world’s poor.

5 Examples of Music Helping Impoverished Youth

  1. A group of Yazidi girls formed a choir to preserve their cultural identities after suffering through sex slavery. Yazidi was recently overrun by the Islamic State military, resulting in thousands of young girls being sold into slavery. One of these girls was Rainas Elias, who was taken by ISIS at the age of 14. Two years after her kidnapping, Elias is one of the 14 young women who formed a choir that performs traditional Yazidi songs as a means of coping with their past traumatic experiences. In early February, the girls took a trip abroad to perform at the House of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Since Yazidi music is not traditionally written or recorded, British violinist Michael Bochmann has been working with the choir. They are recording the songs, which are then archived in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. This work helps preserve an important piece of Yazidi culture while simultaneously providing a healing experience to the girls involved.
  2. “Fresh Kid” is an 8-year-old rapper from Uganda who sings about his family’s struggles with poverty. His real name is Patrick Ssenyonjo and he began hearing songs on the radio at a very young age and could immediately memorize and repeat them. Soon, Fresh Kid was performing for his local community, rapping about struggles that he, his friends and his family face. Uganda’s lack of electricity and poor transportation standards are two primary causes behind the nation’s impoverished circumstances. Although the country has seen vast improvements in recent years, there are still many developments to be made. Fresh Kid’s music draws attention to this issue while his success provides hope to impoverished youth across the globe.
  3. Schools in Venezuela are teaching classical music to students as a means of transcending poverty. Venezuelan conductor Jose Antonio Abreu established the State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela in 1996. Otherwise known as The System, the program educates students on how to read and perform classical music. The System provides students with an artistic outlet in a professional atmosphere, resulting in the development of discipline and passion that is often unattainable by impoverished youth. Students living in poverty have made up 70 percent of the program’s participants since its creation. The foundation has produced world-renowned talents such as Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and Edicson Ruiz, the youngest bass player to ever perform with the Berlin Philharmonic. Venezuela continues to suffer from a collapsed economy and corrupt politics, with an unemployment rate of 44 percent. The System grants Venezuela’s poorest children the chance to rise above these issues while spreading an appreciation for classical music.
  4. The Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) teaches traditional music to students. Half of these students come from poor backgrounds. The school instructs both Western and Afghan classical music as well as basic subjects like math and science. The school prides itself on embracing the education of Afghanistan’s less advantaged youth including girls, orphans and street-working vendors. One significant product of ANIM is Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra. Not only does the school provide a well-rounded curriculum, but its music-oriented focus promotes the resurgence of cultural factors that were once banned by Taliban rule. ANIM demonstrates the influence music has by bringing social change and emotional healing to impoverished youth.
  5. Ghetto Classics is a youth orchestra featuring more than 500 children from Korogocho. The orchestra is a result of the Art of Music Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of impoverished youth in Eastern Africa by integrating classical music studies into schools. The director of the Art of Music Foundation, Elizabeth Wamuni Njoroge, founded Ghetto Classics in 2008 after a local Catholic priest requested that the foundation start teaching classical music to the youth. Njoroge states that the community was skeptical of the idea at first, partially because of distrust in NGOs and partly because classical music is quite different than the hip-hop and reggae that locals are accustomed to. However, Korogocho soon warmed up to the idea, and Ghetto Classics is now one of the most valued and successful community projects to exist in Korogocho. Since its foundation, the orchestra has extended to 14 other schools in Eastern Africa. Ghetto Classics and similar programs help students to grasp core life values and provides a fresh outlook on life.

Music has the power to preserve generations of cultural value. It can also spark interest and motivation in the minds of impoverished youth. These stories demonstrate the potential music has to raise awareness for issues such as sex slavery and poverty. Since music is directly tied to heritage and tradition, it can bring about major social change without eliminating the cultural identity of a society. These five examples of how music helps impoverished youth serve as proof that something as simple as the beat of a drum can contribute to the fight against global poverty, one tap at a time.

Harley Goebel
Photo: Flickr

Video Games Support the World Food Programme
In today’s society, the popularity of video games has steadily increased. With that popularity comes opportunities to support a nonprofit cause, spreading awareness to gamers and fans worldwide. Video games support the World Food Programme in a way. In fact, there are three video games supporting the World Food Programme in particular.

What is the World Food Programme?

The World Food Programme (WFP) is a United Nations agency with the goal of ending world hunger. It is the world’s leading humanitarian organization in this endeavor, delivering food to countries in crisis and working with communities to improve the situation. The agency arrives in the wake of war, natural disasters or famine, providing food to the victims or those caught in the conflict. When the crisis ebbs, WFP helps rebuild shattered livelihoods and lives. Its development projects focus on nutrition, especially for mothers and their children. WFP has also been implementing school feeding programs worldwide for over 50 years. Here are three video games that support WFP.

Food Force

In 2011, the World Food Programme collaborated with Konami Digital, a Japanese electronic entertainment company, to create an online game to support the fight against world hunger. Food Force immersed players in the virtual experience of planting, harvesting and distributing food across the world while responding to food emergencies. The game prompted players to logistically solve food shortages and keep countries from experiencing hunger. The money that players have spent through this game has helped fund the World Food Programme’s school meals projects in real life, providing meals to 20 million children per year.

PUBG

One of the most popular games of 2017, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) had a gaming community of over 3 million players worldwide. With the success of this game, a famous Korean YouTuber, known as The Great Library (GL), created a live-action PUBG video in support of WFP’s fight against world hunger.

In PUBG, players search for food and weapons while competing against each other in a last-one-standing battle royale. GL’s video replaced the energy drinks and food pickups that people normally find in the game with energy biscuits and bags of rice, the very same that the World Food Programme distributes to the world’s hungry. Additionally, rather than battling to be the lone survivor, GL and his opponents had an alternate objective: beat world hunger by sharing a meal with a hungry child via WFP’s ShareTheMeal phone app.

Hunger Heroes

In July 2019, YOOZOO games hosted a charity gaming marathon, GTarcade’s Hunger Heroes, that invited gamers from across the globe to turn their on-screen efforts into meals for the world’s hungry, supporting the World Food Programme in the fight against hunger. The goal was straightforward; the more gamers that played, the more YOOZOO Games donated to WFP. Hours of playing turned into dollars, which YOOZOO Games donated via WFP’s ShareTheMeal app. During the week-long event, players received exclusive gameplay features and in-game prizes as a reward for joining and contributing to the cause.

The fact that these video games support the World Food Programme is a positive accomplishment for the gaming community. People can even implement games like PUBG as a positive influence, which supposedly has a negative influence on today’s society due to violent gameplay, and are a solid example of how popular entertainment can contribute to spreading awareness of global crises.

Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr

 

young advocates

Today, some of the most innovative, forward-thinking change-makers happen to be under the age of 18. Keep reading to learn more about these three top young advocates who are doing their part to address global issues from poverty to gender equality and education.

3 Young Advocates Who are Changing the World

  1. Zuriel Oduwole
    Since the age of 10, Zuriel Oduwole has been using her voice to spread awareness about the importance of educating young girls in developing countries. Now 17 years old, Oduwole has made a difference in girls’ education and gender issues in Africa by meeting with and interviewing important political figures like presidents, prime ministers and first ladies. To date, Oduwole has spoken in 14 countries to address the importance of educating young girls in developing countries, including Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Nigeria. “They need an education so they can have good jobs when they get older,” Oduwole said in a 2013 interview with Forbes. “Especially the girl child. I am really hoping that with the interviews I do with presidents, they would see that an African girl child like me is doing things that girls in their countries can do also.”
  2. Yash Gupta
    After breaking his glasses as a high school freshman, Yash Gupta realized how much seeing affects education. He did some research and found out that millions of children do not have access to prescription lenses that would help them to excel in their studies. Gupta then founded Sight Learning, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes eyeglasses to children in Mexico, Honduras, Haiti and India.

  3. Amika George
    At the age of 18, Amika George led a protest outside of former U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s home to convince policymakers to end “period poverty.” Period poverty is the unavailability of feminine sanitary products for girls who cannot afford them. Girls who can’t afford these products are often left to use rags or wads of tissue, which not only raises health concerns but also keeps girls from their education. In order to combat this issue, George created a petition with the goal for schools to provide feminine products to girls who receive a free or reduced lunch. As of now, George has mobilized over 200,000 signatures and helped catapult the conversation of period poverty at the political level in the U.K.

These three world-changing children prove that age does not matter when it comes to making a difference in the world.

Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

Eight Facts About Education in Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the leaders in education within the European Union. With a national initiative to have accessible education to all of its citizens, the Swiss education system ranks number six on the Study E.U. education ranking of 2018. So what exactly is it that allows for such a praiseworthy education system? These eight facts about education in Switzerland show why the country is so successful in the education of its people.

8 Facts About Education in Switzerland

  1. Canton School Systems: Each canton – a Swiss state – has primary responsibility for how the schools in their area are run. Effectively each canton runs their own education system, though there is an overruling federal educational system: The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). Each canton can create its own structures such as school calendars and education plans. There is, however, an agreement among the cantons to keep a baseline level of continuity. This opens individuals up to the ability to shop the public schools that fit their own and their child’s needs.
  2. International Schools: Switzerland has a host of schools that cater to international families, operate bilingually or are privatized. This creates a smoother transition for English speaking individuals who can then benefit from education in Switzerland.
  3. Number of Schools: There are currently around 44 schools in Switzerland that specifically accommodate international students and are a part of the Swiss Group of International Schools (SGIS). This schooling goes from primary up to secondary and offers both day and boarding options. Many of the schools follow the Swiss canton curriculum, but many also provide curriculums based on the individual’s home country.
  4. Homeschooling: Homeschooling is not a common practice within Switzerland; some cantons have even outlawed it. In August 2019, the Swiss supreme court rejected a mother’s appeal to the right to homeschool her child. It declared “the right to private life does not confer any right to private home education.” The court also stated that the cantons have the right to decide what forms of schooling they will allow and are in the best interest of the children that reside within their districts. Only 1,000 children receive homeschooling throughout all of Switzerland, a country with more than 8.5 million citizens. Many are against homeschooling in Switzerland because they believe it to be a deprivation to the child’s social education. They believe that a child can only achieve this through daily peer interactions. Further, many believe that homeschooling causes inequality within society because not every family can afford its costs.
  5. Compulsory Education: Education in Switzerland is compulsory for all who reside in the country, regardless of legal residency status. Though it varies by canton, most children have mandatory education for 9 to 11 years. Children begin schooling anywhere from ages 4 to 6 and must stay in school until about the age of 15. Education is typically more sympathetic to the individual in Switzerland. Switzerland has adopted the idea that every child learns differently and requires different support structures within school.
  6. Formal, Vocational and Apprenticeship Training: After their compulsory education, children have the option to continue on with formal education or begin vocational and apprenticeship training. Even though attending a university is comparably more affordable in Switzerland than in other countries, many students opt for vocational and apprenticeship education. Apprenticeships and vocational training can last anywhere from two to four years and can equate to a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. This depends on the duration and weekly hours of involvement in the individual’s education.
  7. Specialized Education: Special education in Switzerland is a right. Specialized education professionals give individuals living with special needs free support until the age of 20. The cantons vary but typically offer special needs students access to both mainstream schools and special needs schools. The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (EASIE) assesses children before entering the special education system. It does this in order to determine and advise parents on what may be best for their child. Switzerland joined the EASIE in 2000 in an attempt to better integrate its special needs citizens into mainstream society.
  8. Free Schooling: Schooling is free—kind of. Though compulsory education is free, it does equate to higher taxes for citizens. Further, schools often ask many parents to help with providing school utensils for the classrooms. Many argue that Switzerland’s excellent educational system is because of the country’s vast amount of wealth and higher tax rates. After all, in 2019, a global report listed Switzerland as the wealthiest country in the world, accounting for 2.3 percent of the world’s top 1 percent of global wealth.

Switzerland’s educational system is the ultimate goal for what education should be across the world. These eight facts about education in Switzerland show how the country is striving to create a more learned and prosperous future for its youth. Switzerland is a fantastic example of a country that has met the fourth goal on the global goals for sustainable development: quality education.

– Emma Hodge
Photo: Flickr