cruits’ examinations – 19th century PISA in Switzerland?
The implementation of educational standards in Swiss education is not a passing phenomenon, as these assessment systems have a rather solid tradition in Switzerland. Over the course of the 19th century, an increment of the level of education of the male population was first outlined in single cantons, permitting the assessment of the effects of the educational system. In 1832, the canton of Solothurn introduced so-called pedagogic exams for military recruits, which initially served as an indicative instrument for military purposes. In spite of the fierce resistance of the cantons, towards the end of the 19th century these tests were introduced at the national level under the direction of the Confederation. The Confederation intervened directly in the question of elementary schools, which at that time were still under cantonal sovereignty since, according to the constitution, the federal government had the right to impose sanctions on those cantons that did not offer adequate elementary education. Subsequently, after innumerable surveys, a federal school competition was held, which should have introduced the determined reformist will of politicians active in the field of education, as well as the unification of the cantonal school systems. However, due to extreme regional diversity, the success of these attempts was modest.
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