Your Excellencies and Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you very much for having me with you tonight.

A good speech, I’ve been told, has a good start and a good end … and as little as possible in between. I’ll do my best to comply with that rule.

Since I can’t tell you anything about chess you haven’t already heard I’m going to tell you something about Switzerland and about my political intention as the Director for Education of the Government of the Canton of Zug.

So let’s turn to Switzerland first.

Against the backdrop of a struggling Europe there is a lot of talk about Switzerland’s success in the world and of course the cause for this success.

Some people think it is because of the Swiss banks. Some people think it is because of Switzerland’s stability. Other people think it is because of luck. And still others think it is because of the Swiss chocolate. In my view the real strength of Switzerland is due to its decentralized structure or – to speak in a sport term – in its decentralized line-up.

I know …in the world of today, in which many politicians prefer addressing the problems of the world rather than addressing their own problems … In a world in which many politicians rather feel like tampering with other nations’ problems than to address their own nations’ problems … In such a world a decentralized approach seems to be slightly out of fashion. But we all know … fashion is a lousy fellow for a long-lasting friendship.

In the long run decentralization beats centralization by far. Decentralization addresses and solves problems where they arise … with the effect that people identify themselves with the solutions. I believe that’s the key success factor of Switzerland.

Or in other words: Switzerland is not one big game of chess, but a chess tournament with a lot of chess matches going on at the same time. Sometimes it is difficult to keep track of everything going on … but at the end of the day there is nothing better in the world than a room full of people playing chess. I think we all easily agree on that.

So let me briefly turn to one of my favorite topics to conclude my speech: Education and schools.

As the Director for Education of the Government of the Canton of Zug I am deeply convinced, that in education and school management, too, decentralization and a maximum of freedom for our teachers is the road to success.

How can I expect from my teachers to teach our children to think independently and creatively when our teachers are not allowed to think independently and creatively themselves? How can I expect from a school principal to get involved if I don’t give him any freedom of act? I am deeply convinced that good and strong education and school policy offers and claims responsibility in equal measure. That’s the foundation of every good school.

The canton – and not the federal state – provides the framework and within that framework there has to be a lot of freedom for the teachers and principals to become active. That’s what I call a decentralized education policy and that’s what I fight for as director and politician.

Your Excellencies and Distinguished Guests, this brings me to the end of my address tonight. Decentralization is my message for you. That’s what I strongly believe in.

I would like to give thanks to the organizers and the enablers of this tournament alike. It is of course a great honor having you all here with us in the Canton of Zug. And I very much look forward to having you with us again … hopefully in the very near future … Come again, take care and God bless you.