Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
Neither the Confederation nor the cantons has a unique educational administrative ministry that covers the entire educational system. At the federal level responsibility for education is shared by two different ministries: the Federal Department of the Interior and the Federal Department of Economics. The Federal Department of the Interior oversees the two Federal Institutes of Technology, subsidies for universities, grants, science and research, and physical education. Responsibility within the Interior ministry is assumed by the Science Agency (GWF/GRS) and the Federal Office for Education and Science (SHK/CUS). The Federal Department of Economics is in charge of vocational education. Within the Economics department is the Federal Office for Industry and Labor (BIGA/OFIAMT), which governs the vocational training sector. The Federal Office for Agriculture, also under the Federal Department of Economics is in charge of training in the field of agriculture.
The cantonal government and its Department of Education, along with the Education Council in some of the cantons, are responsible for organizing and running the cantonal education system. The cantonal minister, who is the head of the education department, is a popularly elected official who must run for office every four or five years. The size of the Department of Education is dependent on the size of the canton.
Funding for education is mostly a cantonal responsibility. Municipalities generally are responsible for buildings, equipment, teaching materials, and part of the staff salaries. The cantons are responsible for the major part of teacher's salaries. The source of funding for upper secondary schools and the universities comes primarily from the cantons. The Confederation is totally responsible for the two Federal Institutes of Technology including some research costs, and subsidizes the cantonal universities. The Confederation, cantons, and professional associations share the cost of vocational training.
In 1993 expenditures for the various levels of education were divided up as follows: municipalities 35 percent, cantons 53 percent, and the Confederation 12 percent. Resources are allocated on the basis of precise budgets rather than block or global grants. In 1997, almost 21.5 million SFr (approximately 14.5 million U.S. dollars) were spent on all levels of education by the Confederation, cantons, and municipalities. This equaled 18.3 percent of the national domestic budget. The Swiss education system is one of the best funded in the world, exceeded in 1999 only by those of the United States, Norway, and Denmark.
Although educational research has been carried out in Geneva since the late nineteenth century, the establishment of educational research in a systematic way throughout Switzerland did not take place until the mid-1960s. Because of the highly decentralized nature of Swiss education, most educational research takes place in a large number of decentralized institutions. Switzerland does not have a national educational research institute. As a consequence there are many microlevel studies, primarily in the fields of educational psychology and didactical studies during compulsory education. The cantons are the largest source of funding for educational research (47 percent of the total). The Confederation contributes 44 percent, primarily through the Swiss National Scientific Research Fund. The municipalities or communes (three percent) and the private sector (about six percent) play a less significant role.
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