The court was ruling on a case involving parents living in the Zurich canton who had organized to have their four children educated by distance learning from Germany.
The children were taught by videos, webcam and prepared reading materials. The teachers were available to answer questions via telephone, e-mail or webcam.
The Zurich authorities had denied the parents permission to educate their children this way and the Federal Supreme Court, based in Lausanne, upheld that decision on Monday. It said that the distance learning did not meet the constitutional requirements to provide adequate primary education, one that gives all children the same opportunities.
According to the ruling, education is not just about the passing on of knowledge, but also plays a developmental role in cultivating children’s social skills.
This is ensured through interaction with other adults, who are responsible for discipline and are to be shown respect, as well as with other children, including those from different cultural and religious backgrounds.
The court said that distance learning only developed social skills marginally, if at all, as there was no direct interaction with the teachers.