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Zurich 'to force kindergarten to take German classes'

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Zurich 'to force kindergarten to take German classes'
File photo: AFP
12:27 CEST+02:00
Children at kindergarten in the canton of Zurich with poor German skills will have to attend language classes if a new proposal gets the go-ahead.

The move was backed by the majority of politicians in the cantonal parliament during a meeting on Monday.

It would see young children with poor High German skills legally obliged to attend language classes during the two years of compulsory kindergarten required in the canton of Zurich.

Those classes would consist of two half days a week for one year under the plan drawn up by the socialist SP party.

The use of German is critical for success at school while children with a lower level of German actually fall further and further behind their peers during their school years rather than catching up, SP politician Moritz Spillmann argued during Monday's meeting.

Spillmann also noted parents would be free to choose an alternative to the government-funded classes, such as a kindergarten with an appropriate language environment.

The Greens backed the move saying it would bring economic benefits along with educational benefits while the Conservative Christian party the EDU said they supported the move as long as it didn't make children feel like outsiders.

Cornelia Keller with the conservative BDP was decidedly less upbeat noting tax payers would have to foot the bill for the classes.

The right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) was also against the bill saying parents should be responsible and warning against “state involvement” during kindergarten years.

Children of kindergarten age had plenty of time to learn German, SVP politicians said.

The Zurich plan is aimed at pupils with foreign parents rather than members of Switzerland's other language communities.

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