Monday, May 14, 2012
The federal court dismissed parents from Ticino who wanted to enrol their daughter in a private English school. The court said that linguistic freedom, guaranteed under the federal constitution, was not absolute. The official language of Ticino is Italian and teaching there is done, with rare exceptions, in that language.
Though the third national language is not threatened with extinction, the necessity to protect it against the growing importance of German was acutely felt a number of decades ago, said the court. One bill even aimed to formally ban the establishment of German-language schools.
Legislation in Ticino on compulsory education, which requires teaching in Italian to children of school age, still reflects these concerns. It is an instrument of "integration" and "safeguarding" of Italian in the face of a large number of Germanophone inhabitants.
The unsuccessful parents, who have dual Swiss-Italian nationality, will have to pay 2000 francs for their legal costs. In support of their application they said that their daughter would not have any disadvantage in going to an English school since she already spoke Italian.
In other cantons they would have had less difficulty: a spokesman for the department of Vaud said that the canton of Vaud does not have regulations similar to those in Ticino.