Starting this school year, young people in Geneva must stay in the education system until the day they turn 18. The old minimum leaving age was 15.
The move is the result of a popular vote in October 2012 when 54.1% voted in favour of changes to the canton’s constitution containing the plan.
The aim is to reduce the number of school dropouts and to ensure more leave the system with a qualification, in particular those heading towards apprenticeship.
The parents of those who fail to comply will face fines.
Geneva has an unemployment rate (4.3%) far higher than the Swiss average (2.4%) – figures for July 2018.
In addition, unemployment among those with no qualifications is high. A report in 2010 on unemployment in Geneva showed those who hadn’t graduated from secondary school were nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as those with a tertiary qualification.
Around 15% of young people under 25 in Geneva leave school with no qualifications.
Whether the plan will work is to be seen. Dropping out of school has many causes. Addressing some of these is beyond the reach of most school programmes.
Around 400 children experiencing difficulty at school in Geneva are to be targeted with special help.