Number of pupils opting for academic secondary schools increases

This year again the number of pupils opting to attend long-term academic secondary schools (Gymnasien) has risen, and for the fourth year in succession.

According to figures published by the Cantonal Department of Education, of the 1,285 pupils leaving primary school this year, 21.5 per cent of them will be going on to long-term secondary academic schools, though the canton’s targeted percentage is 20. By comparison, back in 1994, when it was possible to enter a long-term academic secondary school for the first time without having to take an examination, the figure was 15.2 per cent.

Speaking in his capacity as head of the Cantonal Department of Education, Stephan Schleiss said he and the cantonal government were following this trend carefully and the pressure this was putting on the long-term academic secondary schools (where pupils pursue courses for six years rather than for four as at short-term secondary academic schools).

In order to reduce the 21.5 per cent figure to one of 20 per cent, certain measures will be necessary. As to what these will be depends on a current study, the results of which will not be known until spring of next year.

As to why the number of pupils opting for this type of schooling (276 for the schoolyear 2017-18), Schleiss is not sure. “I do not think there is one main reason, but several explanations, not least the geographical proximity of the schools in question and a highly education-oriented population.”

While the cantonal average for the percentage of pupils going on to long-term academic secondary schools is currently 21.4 per cent, as mentioned, there are differences within the individual municipalities. In Baar, for example, it is only 18.6 per cent, the lowest, with the city of Zug, at 30.2 per cent, the highest, disregarding Walchwil, at 33.2 per cent, the actual highest, because of its small size. Other statistics in this area indicated that, for example, in 2016, the top rate, at 30.6 per cent, was in Hünenberg, with the lowest, at 7.7 per cent, in Neuheim.

As to the numbers of pupils passing their school-leaving examinations, Schleiss was very pleased that, of the 240 pupils attending the short-term and long-term cantonal academic secondary schools, 232 passed, the failure rate just 3.5 per cent, with similar results at the alternative schools, the (commerce-oriented) Wirtschaftsmittelschule (WMS), where just one of the 40 pupils failed, and the Fachmittelschule (FMS), which specialises in training those going on to work in professions connected with health care and social work and such like, where just  two of the 57 pupils failed, all very much within cantonal targets.

National targets in this area are for at least 95 per cent of all 25-year-olds to have passed either their school-leaving examination (Matura) or successfully completed an apprenticeship, with 94 per cent the figure achieving this when it comes to Swiss pupils. This figure falls to 86 per cent in the case of foreign pupils born here and 72.5 per cent in the case of foreign pupils born abroad.

As to the percentage of pupils who drop out, Schleiss revealed that this was two per cent per year at long-term academic secondary schools and three per cent at short-term ones. As to the figures at the WMS and the FMS, these amounted to two per cent at the former and even less at the latter.  

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