Federalism and direct democracy in the Swiss school system

Federalism and direct democracy in the Swiss school system

On the popular vote about three education-bills in the Canton of Basel-Landschaft

by Dr iur Marianne Wüthrich

Not only do the Swiss people vote on three initiatives and two referendums on 5 June 2016, but they will also vote on several cantonal and communal businesses. With great interest the whole country will follow the vote of three education-bills in Basel-Landschaft “If the Basel-Landschaft electorate votes three times in favour of the three bills on 5 June (3 x yes) we can achieve a grand success with a signal throughout Switzerland. The reforms of some education-phantasts at the desks of the education department would be effectively restricted”, writes the “Strong School Basel-Landschaft”. (http://starke-schule-baselland.ch/Abstimmung.aspx) They are right.
    In an interview with Jürg Wiedemann from the committee Strong School Basel-Landschaft we come to know, what those three education bills are all about. Especially fascinating for non-Basel-Landschafters is the way, how active citizens engage in an interaction with Parliament and electorate, accompanied by ongoing new initiatives by the people and the parliament – again very different from the cantons Aargau, Grison or St. Gallen. Thus diverse shall the Swiss educational landscape stay: “The cantons are responsible for the education.” says article 62 paragraph 1 of the Federal Constitution. Do not let us bedim our view from harmonising phantasies and centralism. By the way: experience reveals that a class change even in exact the same town with exact the same curriculums cannot be conducted without rearrangements – neither teacher nor children are programmable robots.

The three bills briefly:


Introduction of the curriculum for the elementary school in Basel-Landschaft by the district council (parliament), instead of the education council.

The bill requires that in future the decisions concerning curriculums be not in charge of the education council, but the district council should be the one to introduce a curriculum or reject it back to the education council. In a survey conducted by the Department of Education Basel-Landschaft, about 60 per cent of all secondary teachers rejected the competencies oriented curriculum 21.

Foregoing of collective subjects in secondary schools

The curriculum 21 would abolish the single subjects history, geography, biology, and chemistry and so on, which would further on be conducted as collective subjects. Education cuts would inevitably be the consequence. Single subjects on the contrary guarantee subjective founded lessons. In a survey conducted by the Department of Education Basel-Landschaft about 70 per cent of all secondary teachers reject collective subjects.

Education quality also for weaker students

The government wants to abolish the Kaufmännische Vorbereitungsschue (KVS = Commercial Prep School) for economic reasons, although due to this success-story 96 per cent of school graduates find an ideal connection sollution. With this initiative Strong School Basel-Landschaft demands that the KVS will not be abolished.     •

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