The Swiss education system is decentralized. Each of the 26 cantons has its own educational system and is responsible for defining its own curriculum. There are also more than 500 private schools.

Children attend kindergarten between the ages of five and six. Primary school is mandatory for all Swiss children. It begins at age seven and continues for at least eight years. Some cantons require an additional year of schooling. After elementary school, students may go to a secondary school or start an apprenticeship. Primary school students study in German, French, Italian or Romanshl, depending on where they live. Secondary education is available in German, French and Italian. Summer vacation is five or six weeks long, and there is also a fall vacation. This schedule was established to respond to the needs of the farming communities in Switzerland. Young people were needed in fall to help with harvesting.

Secondary students may attend Gymnasium (a type of secondary schooling) for two to six years, and specialize in math, sciences, languages or other academic subjects. A student must complete Gymnasium before going to university. Alternatively, students may serve an apprenticeship lasting two to four years. For example, a waiter or waitress must complete a two-year internship. Typically, apprentices receive training at a company or organization and attend classes one or two days a week. After completing an apprenticeship, young people either start a job or continue their education at a technical college.
  Did you know?
Students from around the world study in private boarding schools in Switzerland. About 50 different nationalities are represented in these schools. 
Switzerland has ten cantonal universities and two federal institutes of technology. Studies usually last four to seven years. Some undergraduate degrees from Swiss universities are equivalent to a master's degree in North America. Adult education is an important part of the educational system. It is financed and run primarily by private educational organizations. Employers encourage their employees to continue their education. Educational institutions, private businesses and social clubs offer courses ranging from computer programming to traditional folk arts. Language classes also play an important part in the adult education system.
  Did you know?
The educational system in Switzerland was influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an 18th-century philosopher and writer, and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, an educational reformer of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.