ICT and Education
Switzerland wants to use the opportunities presented by digitalisation to create the conditions necessary for its development and to coordinate the various ongoing activities arising from this in an efficient manner. To this end, on 20 April 2016 the Federal Council adopted the Digital Switzerland strategy. It supersedes the 1998 Federal Council’s Strategy for an Information Society in Switzerland and the 2006 and 2012 revisions thereto.
The Digital Switzerland strategy sets out the guidelines for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and digitalisation in Switzerland. It defines the guidelines for government action and indicates where and how authorities, academia, the private sector, civil society and politics must work together in order to shape the transformation process for the benefit of everyone living in Switzerland.
Development of a knowledge-based society
For Switzerland to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digitalisation, it needs the requisite skills. Teaching ICT skills via the education system is therefore of paramount importance. Ongoing digitalisation 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.
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.
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).
Art. 61a of the Federal Constitution states that the Confederation and the cantons shall, within the scope of their powers, jointly ensure the high quality and accessibility of education in Switzerland. They shall coordinate their efforts and ensure cooperation. Digitalisation in education concerns the constitutional mandate which creates a statutory requirement both for collaboration between the Confederation and the cantons and 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 digitalisation of the education system, report any need for action and contribute to ensuring the quality and transparency of the Swiss education area.
The Confederation and the cantons take a cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and networked approach to the transformation of the education sector through digitalisation. At the same time they support networking with important stakeholders and coordinate dialogue on a national level.
The new 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.
The Koordinationsausschuss Digitalisierung in der Bildung (KoA Digi) (in English, «Coordination Committee on Digitalisation 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 digitalisation of education.
Coordination Committee on Digitalisation in Education
educa.ch is the Swiss specialist agency for ICT and education. As specialist agency of the Confederation and the cantons, it advises the players in the education system on questions regarding national collaboration on digitalisation. educa.ch ensures quality development in the field of ICT in compulsory and upper secondary education.
Specialist Agency educa.ch
The measures to promote young peoples’ education in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) are being developed within the framework of the joint political objectives of the Confederation and the cantons. Their aim is to counter the lack of qualified personnel and to promote the skills required for working in a digital society.