Basic education and vocational skills development

African girls raising their hands.
The SDC considers basic education and vocational skills development to be interconnected and complementary. © UN Photo / Marco Dormino

A good education lays the foundation for the economic and social development not only of the individual but of society as a whole. Education helps to reduce poverty and social and economic disparities and stimulates economic growth. The SDC pursues the objective of quality education accessible to people of all ages by focusing on two priority sectors: basic education and vocational skills development.

Education in any society is fundamental to achieving sustainable development underpinned by peace and social cohesion. Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all is the fourth sustainable development goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Along with achieving decent work for all within the framework of sustained economic growth and eradicating poverty, this goal is central to the SDC's activities.

As a vehicle for raising public awareness, education can help improve hygiene practices, advocate​​ responsible agricultural production, and improve public knowledge about the effects of climate change.

In many developing and transition countries there is a real need to improve the education system. It is equally important to ensure access to education in fragile contexts, where social disparities tend to worsen.

In the area of education, the SDC works to improve the quality of both basic education and vocational skills development. The SDC sees both components as interconnected and complementary, not only from a linear educational perspective. Depending on particular needs and contexts, it can make good sense to teach basic education and vocational skills development modules simultaneously to provide young people with a set of marketable basic skills to maximise their chances for professional integration.

Strengthening educational opportunities in developing countries and countries in transition is a priority of Switzerland's international cooperation in the years ahead. In accordance with the Dispatch on Switzerland's International Cooperation 2017–2020, which has been adopted by Parliament, Switzerland will increase funding for basic education and vocational skills development by 50% compared with the 2013–16 period.

Basic education

The SDC promotes quality basic education that is adapted to the needs of each population and accessible to as many people as possible. To this end, it works with several partner countries in reforming their education systems.

Vocational skills development

By working with the public authorities and the private sector, the SDC is able to develop training programmes tailored to the needs of the market. It thereby enables growing numbers of young people to find decent employment and to contribute to their country’s development.

Current projects

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Programme d’Appui à la Formation Professionnelle et à l’Apprentissage (PAFPA)

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2020

Au Burkina Faso, la majorité des jeunes travaille dans des activités à faible valeur ajoutée, du fait d’un système de formation professionnelle peu efficace et faiblement lié au secteur privé. Le PAFPA entend améliorer l’accès et la qualité de ce système en capitalisant sur les expériences de la DDC dans les secteurs agro-alimentaire et artisanal et en promouvant un partenariat public-privé inédit entre le Ministère de la formation professionnelle, la plus grande organisation patronale et une ONG spécialisée en ingénierie de formation.


Ecuador, Technical Support in Earthquake Resistant Reconstruction

18.10.2016 - 31.12.2018

An earthquake of the magnitude of 7.8 (Richter scale) hit Northern Ecuador, on 16 April 2016. Damages were widespread, collapsing structures within hundreds of km’s from the epicenter. Following SDC/HA’s emergency and early recovery interventions, SHA will provide the Ecuadorian government with technical support in capacity building on earthquake resistant construction, capitalizing SDC’s experiences from Pakistan and Haiti.



Rehabiltiation of public schools accomodating Syrian refugee children

01.04.2016 - 31.12.2019

Education is one of the public sectors particularly under pressure due to the influx of refugees. There are currently 143,000 school-aged Syrian refugees enrolled in public schools in Jordan, another approx. 83,000 remain out of school. Overstretched infrastructure and lack of space are major challenges. SDC will continue to support the Ministry of Education (MoE) in non-structural rehabilitation of schools accommodating Syrian refugees, including water and sanitation facilities, contributing to increase the accommodating capacities. The project will also include an awareness component addressing maintenance issues.


Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI)

01.01.2016 - 30.06.2020

The Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) supports policy development and provides technical support for the improvement of psychosocial wellbeing and mental wellness of children and young people to mitigate the negative impact of HIV and AIDS, poverty, and other vulnerabilities. It provides technical assistance to governments and non-governmental organizations to integrate and implement psychosocial support into social services, health and education in East and southern Africa.


Contribution to the Roma Education Fund (REF)

01.12.2015 - 31.12.2020

REF is the lead organization for Roma education. SDC is supporting REF from its inception, contributing in a relevant way to the Roma decade. REF recently defined a strategy (2015-20) and is strengthening its results orientation. By continuing the partnership with REF, with a focus on pro-inclusion policy dialogue, SDC ensures coherence and consistence of its position in the Roma inclusion agenda. REF's focus on children from early childhood is crucial for the social inclusion of the next generation of Roma.


Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF)

01.11.2015 - 31.10.2024

Millions of Afghan women, men and children gained access to services and improved their income since the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund’s initiation (ARTF) in 2002. It also significantly contributed to the Afghan state’s capacity and legitimacy. ARTF constitutes a coordinated financing mechanism for the state's budget (Recurrent Cost Window) and for its priority national investment projects (Investment Window) in the areas of agriculture, rural development, infrastructure, education, health and governance.


Cartographie des Ressources en Eau

01.09.2015 - 30.09.2021

Une vaste partie du territoire tchadien souffre d’une pénurie chronique d’eau, alors que le pays dispose d’importantes ressources souterraines et de surface. Cette situation est due à un manque de connaissances des ressources et à l’absence d’une politique de l’eau au Tchad. Dans ce contexte, la DDC veut soutenir l’amélioration des connaissances sur les ressources en eau et renforcer les capacités des acteurs clés à établir une gestion active, durable et souveraine des ressources en eau au Tchad.


Skills Development in Uzbekistan

Apprentices standing in a park learn how to use a theodolite

01.03.2015 - 29.02.2020

The fourth Phase of the Skills Development Project (SDP) in Uzbekistan contributes to the improvement and further development of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system by introducing and strengthening the systemic approach to cooperation among stakeholders in the water sector within the cycle “Demand-Training-Job Placement”. The systemic approach to be followed in this Phase of SDP is going to serve as a blueprint for other sectors of the economy and be replicated accordingly.


Programme d’Appui à l’Education non formelle

01.01.2015 - 31.12.2019

Classé 22ème sur 28 pays par l’indice de l’éducation pour tous au niveau africain, le Mali compte plus de 60% d’adultes analphabètes dont les 2/3 sont des femmes et environ 70% des jeunes de 15 à 24 ans ne savent ni lire, ni écrire, selon l’UNESCO. Ce programme permet de former et d’insérer plus de 10'000  jeunes et des adultes. Les résultats des nouvelles approches pédagogiques obtenus par le programme sont partagés au niveau central en vue de leur mise à l’échelle.


Programme d’Appui à la Qualité de l’Education Formelle (PAQUE)Phase II

01.12.2014 - 31.12.2019

L’éducation au Niger est dans un état déplorable : étudiants en décrochage ou sortant de l’école sans les acquis de base, enseignants non formés et rencontrant les mêmes difficultés que leurs élèves, encadrement pédagogique inexistant, etc. La seconde phase du Programme d’Appui à la Qualité de l’Education Formelle permettra de réformer le système éducatif en soutenant la mise en place de dispositifs efficaces pour la formation et l’encadrement des enseignants.


Empowering Media in Tanzania - EMT

01.08.2014 - 31.12.2020

Information provided by media contributes to improve government accountability and people’s livelihoods by providing relevant information to citizens. Yet, the media sector faces challenges including a restrictive legal environment, low professional standards and lack of economic viability. This is a contribution towards addressing those key challenges through partnering with UNESCO, Tanzania Media Foundation and the Media Council of Tanzania.

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