The Irish Business Network, with sponsorship from the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme, held a “Spotlight on Education in Switzerland” event on the evening of May 16th at Hotel de la Paix in Lausanne.
The event was aimed at those who have recently arrived in Switzerland and are wondering how the education system works here as well as persons with permanent Swiss residency. The audience ranged from persons with pre-school children to all stages of the education process including those who are taking advanced studies as part of their lifelong learning goals.
Presentations covered the public and private school systems in Switzerland and whether children should sit the Swiss Maturity diploma, the International Baccalaureate (IB) or another exam such as the Irish Leaving Cert. Third level education was also addressed for those who wish to undertake further studies and are wondering which type of university or business school in Switzerland or abroad would be the best fit.
The speaking panel included highly-experienced educators working at various educational levels:
The General Director & Head of Primary school at Ecole Haut-Lac, Vevey, Grainne Dubler, covered the primary education system in Switzerland. At her school, the focus is on communication, collaboration, conflict resolution, community and digital citizenship.
Anne-Marie Harwood, General Director & Head of Secondary School at Ecole Haut-Lac, Vevey, compared the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) with the IB Career-related Programme, the smallest and fastest-growing IB offering.
“Education is not the filling of a pail, rather the lighting of a fire,” said Hannah Brennan, Dean of Lower Secondary for Champittet, Pully-Lausanne, citing a quote often (mis-)attributed to the Irish poet, W.B. Yeats. She explained that curricula are adapting to students and different types of learners and elaborated on how to choose the right option based on one’s learner profile.
Julie Rochat, Professor at Gymnasium Morges (Public school), gave a very thorough presentation of the essentials of Swiss post-obligatory systems including apprenticeships, gymnasia, bi-lingual programs and language certificates.
Last but not least, Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, University Guidance Counsellor at College Champittet in Pully, talked about career guidance and university choices, reviewing various systems and advising to focus on the content of courses, employability afterwards and reviewing practical issues such as timing of results, visa requirements, accommodation and extra costs.
A lively discussion ensued with contributions from the audience both in the Q&A and subsequent apéro and very positive feedback. Following the conference, attendees networked and had a drink and a bite to eat together.
Text: Tanya Hogan & Brigid O’Donovan, Images: Brigid O’Donovan, June 2020