Clear commitment to the educational sovereignty of the cantons

Clear commitment to the educational sovereignty of the cantons

cc. In the “Landsgemeinde” of Appenzell of 24 April 2016, the Curriculum 21 wasfirst subject of a cantonal referendum in Switzerland. The discussion in Appenzell Innerrhoden had been initiated by Paul Bannwart the individual initiative “For a Strong Primary School”. After the Government Councillor of the Department of Education and “Landammann” Roland Inauen had made far-reaching concessions, the initiator wanted to withdraw his proposal. This was no longer possible because the “Landsgemeindemandat” – that is the name of the information booklet in Appenzell Innerrhoden – was already sent. Therefore, there was a vote about the initiative on 24 April and it was rejected after a clear statement of the “Landammann” for the cantonal educational sovereignty.
Among other things the Director of education secured the initiators that in Appenzell Innerrhoden there is no intention to prefer self-directed or individualised learning compared to other teaching methods. Therefore, the schoolrooms in the canton would not be transformed into so-called learning landscapes, in which the students should learn alone with the help of the computer or by other learning materials provided from the teacher. The more, the teachers would continue to be responsible for the classroom management; a change of the teacher’s role in the direction of a coach or a learning companion was not intended.
On the assembly the “Landammann” reaffirmed once again that the Curriculum 21 will not simply be adopted in Appenzell Innerrhoden: “At this point I would like to say once again loud and clear that the Canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden is implementing the curriculum in a moderate and independent form. Out of Curriculum 21 arises the curriculum of Appenzell Innerrhoden which is committed to our culture, our cultural heritage and also the Christian principles.”
The content of statements of Roland Inauen about the future shape of Appenzell school differ far from the Curriculum 21. “Introducing a base level – that would be a merger of kindergarten with the first and second class – is not an issue for us. The 2008 decision of the “Landsgemeinde” is fully respected. For us the first year of kindergarten remains voluntary. The Canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden will also face annual standard tests at federal level with great reluctance.”
The statements of the Government Councillor about the teaching of the second foreign language which in Appenzell has always been taught only in secondary school have special meaning also for other cantons. “In the question of French teaching we have repeatedly said what is necessary to say. In contrast to other cantons, we have great experience with our model which begins with English in the third grade. The start of French teaching should begin only in secondary school also in the future. This has the advantage that there are more weekly lessons, they are much more intense and the classes are more homogeneous and the teachers are trained specially for foreign languages. In Article 15, paragraph 3 of the Federal Language Law it says that the Confederation and the cantons should make sure within their competences that the students at the end of their compulsory schooling should have skills at least in a second national language and a further foreign language. The Confederation claims the goal and we achieve it with every guarantee.”
To these clear words from Appenzell it is to notice that some education politicians and even a Federal Councillor have threatened the Canton of Thurgau which recently has decided to start the second foreign language on secondary level – as Appenzell Innerrhoden does – with sanctions. The statement of “Landammann” Roland Inauen to such unauthorised interference of the Federal Government into the cantonal educational sovereignty was very clear. “The path to the goal is in the competence of the cantons. That’s why we do not understand that the Federal Government wants to prescribe us now also the way. This is a massive intervention into the constitutional right of the cantons. After all it clearly says in Article 62 paragraph 1 of our Constitution: ‘The cantons are responsible for the system of school education’. We observe the law and that’s what the Federal Government should do, too.”     •

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