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German decline threat to tradition

SWITZERLAND. SWITZERLAND'S tradition of trilingualism may be in danger. In September, Geneva became the last canton romand to join the national curriculum, which standardises the educational system in each canton, as well as making it "Euro-compatible".

From now on German is no longer compulsory as a second language in the French-speaking coll ges (for school students aged 15-19).

Students can choose between German and Italian. "We never liked German much anyway," said Ricardo Martinez, a pupil at a Geneva coll ge. "With more freedom, we may be more successful."

The German-speaking Swiss, however, say they are closer to French than Italian culture.

The national curriculum, first tested in 1995, will be fully-operational by 2002, when every Swiss coll ge student will take the final exam for the maturite federale (equivalent of the French baccalaureat). Some might even take it in German.

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