More and more young people in Switzerland are missing school, report finds

More and more young people in Switzerland are missing school, report finds

A new report by 20 minuten has found that students in Swiss schools are missing more classes than ever. However, instead of being down to parents seeking longer holidays or COVID, experts say the rise in truancy is down to a multitude of issues ranging from social problems at school to just not feeling like attending.

Students in Switzerland spend 2,5 weeks a year "off sick"

New data from Canton Basel Land, reported by the newspaper, showed that at one high school of 250 pupils, 16.000 hours of absences were recorded in one school year. In all, this means that each student was absent from school for an average of 2,5 weeks a year, in addition to the time spent off during school holidays.

The issue is also common across other Swiss cities and cantons, with a spokesperson from St. Gallen confirming that it was launching a new campaign that will offer assistance to families, teachers and schools that have especially high truancy rates. In Zug, the rector for all the city schools said that it was an acute problem across the board.

Truancy rates in Swiss schools skyrocket after COVID

Christian Hugi, an executive board member for the Umbrella Organisation for Teachers in Switzerland (LCH), said that the COVID pandemic and subsequent school closures have made truancy more common. "It is important that school and parents quickly talk to each other and, above all, to the children and young people concerned if they repeatedly stay away from class - COVID has also led to additional uncertainty among some parents," he noted.

According to the Zurich Education Directorate, the reasons why students stay home are varied and personal. Typically, fear of school, social problems and bullying, fear of examinations and general mental fatigue - where young people “just don’t feel like going” - are the most common reasons for skipping class.

“If students do not show up at school, the school will contact the parents immediately," the Zurich Education Directorate explained to 20 minuten. Matthias Obrist, head of psychological services for schools in Zurich, advised parents to discuss the issue with their children. "You shouldn't hold your child back from school and increase possible fears - you can go to school with a little stomach ache," he concluded.

Continued absences have adverse effect on child's development

Hugi noted that unexplained school absences have a serious impact on a child’s development. Speaking to 20 minuten, he said that academic skills, school qualifications in higher education, social skills and the prospect of getting a job in Switzerland are all adversely affected by a large number of absences.

"The longer the child stays away from school, the greater the difficulty in getting back into everyday school life and the more the behaviour becomes entrenched - a real vicious circle,” he said, concluding that it was more important than ever for parents and teachers to recognise the behaviour early and take action.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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