The education sector is a primary responsibility of the state which is the supreme supervisor and decision maker and has to provide adequate education according to the constitution (art. 14-16).
Compulsory schooling is guaranteed in the constitution together with the attendance in compulsory education free of charge at state schools, as well as the approval of private education subject to the regulations for state schools (curriculum, school days, qualifications of teaching staff). The constitution also essentially regulates promotion and support of education in general and the allocation of grants. Any discrimination on the basis of gender or disability is not allowed.
The actual School Law, essentially from 1971, comprehensively regulates the pre-school sector (Kindergarten), primary school education and general education secondary schools. Ordinances specify the aspects of the constitution concerning structure and organisation of the various types of school, their curricula, and the details of assessment; transition between schools as well as transfer between classes are detailed, too.
The legal framework for vocational education and training is laid down in the Law on Vocational Education and Training which also specifies the details of advanced vocational education at tertiary level, together with the elements of continuing professional education and training (CET). In addition the Law on Vocational Education and Training essentially secures the access to places of training and study in foreign vocational schools and VET institutions for interested students from Liechtenstein.
The Law on Higher Education sets the framework within which all types of institutions of higher education are informed about approval procedures (accreditation), about quality assurance, admission, study structure and the range of study programmes according to Bologna, about the grades, about the use of the Dublin descriptors referencing the learning outcomes (NQFL-HE), as well as on continuing tertiary education.
The Higher Education Law further specifies the right to self-administration (administration of staff, development of curricula, assessment rules and study procedures etc.) and thus allows greater autonomy. It also points out the freedom of research and teaching.
The Law on the Promotion of Adult Education defines the conditions of promotion of general adult education by the state. Coordination is implemented by the „Adult Education Liechtenstein“ Foundation.
The two-year Kindergarten is seen as the traditional form of pre-school education and is regarded to be an important preparatory element for primary school education. According to this view the national curriculum includes learning objectives for this type of education. Attendance is optional, however almost all the children attend Kindergarten before starting primary school. Attendance at Kindergarten is free of charge consistent with the regulations on compulsory education at state schools.
Compulsory education lasts nine years, starting at the age of six for five years at primary school; it ends with the school-leaving qualifications after four years of lower secondary school. A formative element of the education at lower secondary school is the three-tier education system based on school performance; another typical trait is the two-tier system in upper secondary education, incorporating the system of general education and the vocational education scheme.
Vocational education and training is carried out in a dual system which is of great educational importance to Liechtenstein. Roughly 65% of the students complete an apprenticeship after leaving compulsory school. Apprenticeships are organised in close cooperation with the businesses. Roughly 700 businesses from trade and industry, of the service sector and administration offer education positions in around 80 professions. At the moment about 1'200 apprenticeship positions are registered.
On tertiary level the two-tier model finds an appropriate continuation with higher education at universities, at universities of applied sciences, at universities of teacher education, and at colleges of advanced vocational education. In this respect, the political motto is widely acknowledged saying that the various tracks of education may be „different but equivalent“ in professional acceptance and social appreciation.
A further important objective is the intention to secure the transition between the various paths of education according to the motto „no training without certificate“. These two political maxims characterise the discussions and courses of development in the education system.
Support of individuals is implemented by the grant system of the state, the amount of financial support is based on the principles of subsidiarity (related to income and assets); this is to say that until the age of 25 the parents are also required to participate in the education of their children.
The wholistic educational mandate of the state is expressed in the curricula and in the broad promotion of aesthetic and artistical education, in sports training, via specific offers (Music School, School of Arts, Sports School). This promotion is closely coordinated with the relevant federations that play a major role in Liechtenstein.