Education in Geneva

School system in Geneva

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Here is the organisation of the education system in Geneva:

Primary school from 4 to 6 years old

Ecole Enfantine
2 years (1Enfantine, 2E)

from 6 to 12 Ecole Primaire
6 years (1Primaire, 2P, 3P, 4P, 5P, 6P)
Secondary school from 12 to 15

Cycle d'orientation
3 years (7e, 8e, 9e)

from 15 to 19

4 years (10e, 11e, 12e, 13e)

Collège (High School)

Professional training

General education schools

Maturité (baccalaureat equivalent)
Higher education after 19


Hautes Ecoles Spécialisées (HES)

High Professional schools

Primary school

Education is mandatory in Geneva from 6 years old (1P class). However the Département de l'instruction publique (DIP) encourages regsitration at school from 4 years old (1E).

Registrations happen during March or April. The valid age is the one on the 30th June of the current year. If you have just moved in, you should receive a mail for registering at your local school.

Primary school is organised with two modules of 4 years:

  1. elementary section: from the 1st Enfantine to the 2nd Primaire (in this cycle, the 2 first years of the Enfantine school, 1E - 2E, are optional);
  2. middle section: from the 3rd Primaire to the 6th Primaire.

Each year an evaluation is made to evaluate the progress of pupils and gives comparison to assess the child's orientation. A notation slip is given to the parents at the end of each period. The notation is made according to a progressive scale of 1 to 6 (the sufficiant notation is 3.5).

At the end of the primary section, pupils enter the orientation cycle (cycle d’orientation - CO). Parents are made aware directly of the registration period.

The Groupement intercommunal pour l’animation parascolaire (GIAP) (school activity organisation) is in charge of extra scolar activities and offer activities for pupils out of the class hours (on the morning, at midday, in the evening - breakfast, canteen, colation are provided). Mind however that canteens are rare in nurseries and primary schools.
Those activities are paid by the parents through the GIAP (about 5 CHF). According to cases and after demand has been made on registration time, reductions up to total fee exemption may be granted.

Secondary school

Orientation Cycle (Cycle d'Orientation - CO)

At the end of the 6th Primaire, pupils who go to the Cycle d'Orientation register in one of the three groups of education:

  • A ordinary number of pupils in the class (if annual marks of the pass exams are at least equal to 4)
  • B reduce number of pupils in the class (if 2 of the annual pass marks are at least equal to 3.5 and one at least equal to 3)
  • C small number of pupils in the class (in other cases of pupils granted)
  • H colleges with levels and options (for all granted pupils)

The CO avoid an early and definitive selection. It is only after 3 years of CO that the pupil will have to choose one of the type of studies offered by the non-mandatory secondary education: College, General education school, or professional training. The way chosen is not fixed and the pupil will have the possibility to change section and reorientate according to his/her results and the personal career aspirations of the pupil.

You will find the list of education organisms on the Sate of Geneva website.

Non-mandatory secondary education

At the end of the orientation cycle (CO), pupils aged 15 or more may carry on with their studies in non mandatory educational establishment.

It exists three paths:

  • The "gymnasiale" path from the College of Geneva : it is the classical path that give strong fundamental knowledge to the students and allows them to develop their open mind and critical capacities
    The College of Geneva (there are actually 8 colleges in the canton and the assignementis made according to the domicile) provides the certificat de maturité, at the end of 4 years of studies, requested by universities.
  • The professional path of écoles de commerce (Business schools) and of professional schools: with an internship/training in companies, full-time schools or technical education for specific high-qualified training periods.
    Students of professional schools can complete their degree with a General education degree and technical theory that allows them to get a maturité professionnelle (matu pro).
  • The general education (culture générale) path: gives global knowledge on general matters and a specific knowledge in some areas, giving access to the HES. There are two general education schools in Geneva: ECG Henry-Dunant (right bank) and ECG Jean-Piaget (left bank).
    Students of ECG may obtain a certificate of special maturity after additional qualifications related to the domain studied.

Higher education

After getting his/her Maturity, the student can choose one of the paths of the higher education:

Be aware that the higher Swiss education is concerned by the European system implementation (so called from Bologna) that suggest an architecture of education with 3 sections: Licence-Master-Doctorat (PhD).

Private schools

In order to know everything on private schools in Geneva, go to the SFPS (Swiss Federation of Private Schools) website:

Update 31/10/2005


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