Digitization and Education

For Switzerland to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digitization, it needs the required skills. Teaching Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) skills via the education system is therefore of paramount importance. Ongoing digitization is transforming the context in which teaching and learning takes place. The anytime, anywhere availability of knowledge is leading to an adjustment of learning processes and changes in the roles of teachers and students.

Development of a knowledge-based society

The challenge for schools is to prepare the young for lifelong learning, a progressively more complex society and a world of work in constant change. One important objective is to ensure that all citizens are able to use ICT in order to participate competently in political, social, economic and cultural processes, and that they are able to deal with online risks in an informed and independent manner. The administrative and organisational conditions in each of these areas must be designed to exploit available potential and ensure a high level of security.

The Digital Switzerland strategy sets out the guidelines for ICT and digitization. It defines the guidelines for government action in order to shape the transformation process for the benefit of everyone living in Switzerland.

Responsibilities in the education system

In Switzerland’s federal system, responsibility for education lies primarily with the cantons. Compulsory education is provided by the cantons and municipalities. The Confederation and the cantons share the responsibilities in post-compulsory education (general education schools, vocational and professional education and training, universities).

They shall coordinate their efforts and ensure cooperation. Digitization in education concerns the constitutional mandate (art. 61a) which creates a statutory requirement both for collaboration between the Confederation and the cantons as well as for collaboration on an intercantonal level. The Confederation is represented by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). The cantons are organised through the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK), which comprises 26 ministers of education.

Cooperation between the Confederation and the cantons

As part of their cooperation on education policy, the Confederation and cantons closely coordinate their strategies to safeguard and improve quality in the integration of ICT into the education system. In exercising that joint responsibility, they make appropriate assessments of the challenges associated with the digitization of the education system, report any need for action and contribute to ensuring the quality and transparency of the Swiss education area.

To make sure that the Swiss education system can adapt to the digital evolution, the Federal Council has mandated the SERI with an in-depth study on the challenges that education and research face in the digital age. The report on the «Challenges of digitization for education and research in Switzerland» in July 2017 helped, in association with the cantons, to define an action plan and measures for the education system during the period 2019-2020.

  • Field of action 1: Improvement of digital competencies on school level

  • Field of action 2: making use of ICT in general and vocational education

  • Field of action 3: rapid adaptation of the education system to the requirements of the market

  • Field of action 4: coordination and communication of cooperation in the field of education

Joint instruments
The Confederation and the cantons take a cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and networked approach to the transformation of the education sector through digitization. At the same time they support networking with important stakeholders and coordinate dialogue on a national level. To that aim they jointly use the following instruments:

  • The Education Cooperation Act (BiZG) provides a framework for establishing the foundations of a coherent national policy on the structure of the educational offering in the digital age.
    Education Cooperation Act (BiZG) (pdf, German)

  • The Koordinationsausschuss Digitalisierung in der Bildung (KoA Digi) (in English, «Coordination Committee on Digitization in Education») is the joint platform for the stakeholders of the Confederation, the cantons and their partners. The KoA Digi takes a cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary approach to its task of coordinating joint strategic measures relating to the digitization of education.
    Coordination Committee (KoA Digi)

  • The monitoring of die digital education area wants to sets the requirements for the development of the education system in regard to digitization, supported by research and statistical data.
    Monitoring of the digital education area

  • educa.ch in its role as the specialist agency for ICT and education it advises the players in the education system on questions regarding digital transformation. It plays an important role in ensuring quality development in the field of ICT in compulsory and upper secondary education.
    educa.ch – Specialist Agency for ICT and Education

  • The measures to promote young peoples’ education in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) aim is to counter the lack of qualified personnel and to promote the skills required for working in a digital society.
    educamint.ch (German)

Integrating ICT into the education system

On 8 June, 2000, the EDK adopted a declaration on information and communication technologies (ICT), the requirements for their integration into the education system and the development of media competence for pupils. The declaration determined the priorities for intercantonal cooperation. Implementation of these priorities was supported by the Public Private Partnership – Schools on the Net (PPP-SiN) national initiative. This programme, which ran for five years (August 2002 until July 2007), was the result of cooperation between the Confederation, the cantons and private enterprise. Its aim was to offer favourable conditions for the acquisition of hardware and software and to guarantee access to the internet. It also had the objective of further developing the continuing ICT education of teachers and of further enhancing ICT infrastructure in Swiss schools (at the compulsory education, upper secondary specialised schools and baccalaureate schools level).

In March 2007, the cantonal ministers of education confirmed and updated their strategy on ICT. A new revision is planned with the aim of adapting the strategy and its fields of activity to the challenges of digitization in education.

Goals of the EDK strategy

  • to integrate ICT as an aid for teaching and learning in the various disciplines

  • to embed ICT in a comprehensive media education

  • to teach all basic ICT handling skills to all pupils at compulsory education level

  • to promote equal opportunities with regard to ICT and media

  • to ensure, on upper secondary level, knowledge of the interrelation between ICT and media as well as elementary professional knowledge of the core areas of information technology.

Fields of activity of the EDK strategy

Responsibilities of the cantons:

  • to integrate ICT into cantonal and regional curricula
    Curricula

  • to promote the production of digital learning content, to ensure its quality with regard to cantonal and language-regional curricula and to facilitate the access
    Lehrmittel (German)

  • to promote the initial and continuing education of teachers
    Teacher Education

  • to ensure coordination between the various school levels
    Cantonal ICT centers

Responsibilities of educa.ch

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Last update of this page: 26.10.2017

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