Practical Geneva

Practical information for internationals living in Geneva.

Education & Family Life:


Swiss public schools provide free education to all children who legally reside in Switzerland. Most children start kindergarten at the age of four. Compulsory education lasts 11 years. Compulsory education is the responsibility of the cantons.

Public schools in Geneva are under the supervision of the Département de l’Instruction Publique, de la Formation et de la Jeunesse (DIP).

Public schools in the canton of Vaud are run by the Département de l’enseignement et de la formation professionnelle (DEF).

Update your diaries for school and official holidays for the canton of Geneva, the canton of Vaud and France.

Enrollment in public schools begins in March, with the school year beginning at the end of August. If you come from abroad, your child can enroll in a public school at any time of the year. The child’s identity card or passport as well as the residence permit will be required for registration.

Parents should enroll their children (4-12 years old) in a school in their local community, usually the closest to where they live. For more information, consult the information section on primary schools on the DIP website.

Le Jardin des Particules (CERN) welcomes children from 3 to 7 years old on a daily basis. Le Jardin des Particules prepares children for both the Swiss and French school systems taking into account the requirements of each.

Le Jardin des Particules is also open to children with a parent working in another international organization.

Class hours are generally from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with a half day or full day on Wednesday, depending on the age group.

There is a 2 hour lunch break when students can go home or join the school lunch program (canteen).

School meals and after-school care are available in some municipalities at an additional cost. Meals are organized by associations or companies. Meal prices are set in consultation with the municipal authorities. You can find more information on your municipality’s website.

  Registration procedure for your child in the school canteen.

For secondary school registrations, it is best to contact the General Directorate of Compulsory Education (12 – 14 years old) or the “General Directorate of Secondary II Education” (15 – 18 years old) as soon as possible, for the registration during the next academic year which begins at the end of August.

For more information, see the ” Cycle d’orientation ” section for secondary education (CO) on the DIP website.

To learn about training courses and professions, the Cité des Métiers du Grand Genève is the best gateway.

Several structures organize activities for children outside of school hours.

Would you like to enroll your child in extracurricular activities? Online registration on the site is compulsory, but you must first open an “ e-procedures ” account with the State of Geneva.

Overseas, non-French-speaking children will usually be required to take a test to determine their grade level and identify the level they should be placed in, before they can be admitted.

Welcome classes and support in French are available for new students arriving from abroad to help them reach a level of proficiency required for their learning.

Intensive immersion courses are offered during the first year, in addition to the regular program. Assignment arrangements based on language level may also be considered during this introductory period.

For more information, consult the document in English: “Classes d’accueil du cycle d’orientation“.

French lessons are offered to parents whose children attend compulsory public school. The teaching methods and programs are adapted to an adult public and the course schedules meet professional and family constraints.

If you live in the canton of Vaud, French courses for newcomers are also available.

At the end of lower secondary school, students are directed to post-compulsory options, depending on exam results, grades and motivation.

Several possibilities :

  • Entering the “College” or Gymnasium, which then prepares students for the “Gymnasium Maturity”, necessary to enter Swiss universities.
  • Enroll in “ vocational training ” to complete an apprenticeship or a professional certificate.
  • Or continue a general education for 4 years by joining what is called a “Ecole de Culture Générale”.

Private international schools are another popular option with expat families and can sometimes ease the transition between countries.

They offer bilingual and multilingual programs, students can continue to learn in a language that is familiar to them, and maintain consistency with recognized teaching programs such as the International Baccalaureate (IB). Geneva is home to the oldest international school in the world – the International School of Geneva(Ecolint), founded in 1924, with three campuses in Geneva and the canton of Vaud. There are many other renowned and reputable international schools in the area.

The schools members of the Geneva Association of Private Schools (AGEP), all hold recognized quality certification and are recognized by the Cantonal Department of Education. Some private schools are not members of AGEP.

Members of CAGI

Other useful information

Daycare centers
Language courses
Activities for all

CAGI services

To learn about the practical aspects of daily life in Geneva and the region

Founded by the Swiss Confederation and the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the International Geneva Welcome Centre is the single entry point for the support and integration of employees of International Geneva and their families, NGOs and visiting delegates.