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New citizens offered lessons in being Swiss

Lyssandra Sears · 7 Jun 2012, 17:30

Published: 07 Jun 2012 11:10 GMT+02:00
Updated: 07 Jun 2012 17:30 GMT+02:00

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A local councillor in Geneva has decided to offer courses to newly naturalized citizens to teach them what it means to be a good Swiss.

Denis Menoud, of the Geneva Citizen Movement, said that the new Swiss have too many misconceptions about the way Switzerland is run and about its history. Menoud plans to put this right, online news site Le Matin reported.

Menoud is organizing naturalization courses to inform people about their rights and duties as a Swiss citizen, as well as to educate them about Swiss history and geography. These will be run by a lawyer and a historian, and will last ten hours. It will cost 320 francs ($ 334) for one person or 540 francs ($ 564) for a couple.

The councillor believes that the new Swiss are missing something, not being familiar with the traditions of their new country.

Many agree with Menoud.

“The new Swiss are integrated but not assimilated. They too often have widespread ignorance of the particularities of the country. This type of training should be mandatory, like a driver's licence," Swiss People’s Party Geneva councillor Eric Bertinat told the website.

However, socialist councillor Luc Broch has voiced concern over the fact that some applicants might not be able to afford the courses and that two categories of new Swiss could result: those that can pay and those that cannot.

The next courses will be run in September. Applicants can register for places at www.coursdenaturalisation.ch.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

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