Education as a vector of change

Article, 26.09.2016

UNESCO's latest Global Education Monitoring Report reiterates the key role played by universal access to quality education in the pursuit of sustainable development. It recommends that school curricula be designed to teach students about contemporary challenges. Another priority lies in making lifelong learning possible. The SDC shares these principles, which guide its action.

Cover of the Global Education Monitoring Report 2016.
The Global Education Monitoring Report 2016 highlights the close relationship that has been established between education and sustainable development. © UNESCO

UNESCO’s latest Global Education Monitoring Report, which was published on 6 September 2016, delivers a clear message: education is a key factor in achieving truly sustainable development. Sustainable development represents a broad vision in which societies take responsibility for integrating their underprivileged members. It includes social, economic and environmental dimensions. The goal of universal access to quality education plays a fundamental role in this regard. Not only does education rely on progress in other fields of development (e.g. healthcare, hygiene, employment and the environment), it also contributes directly to these fields. 

This transversal view of education conveyed by the report corresponds to the approach taken by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which the international community adopted in September 2015. The SDC believes in it fully. The new “Education Strategy” that it is about to adopt aims to continue strengthening the link between education and the other vectors of development. 

Environmental awareness and reducing inequality

The UNESCO report is called “Education for people and planet”. One of its recommendations is for school curricula to put more emphasis on climate change and its effects and on the necessary energy transition. This will help people gain a better understanding and awareness of environmental challenges. The report, which contains a vast amount of useful information, provides an example of how this can be done. It describes a preschool programme in Botswana that teaches children about nature. The programme is based on the traditional knowledge of the indigenous San people: the students’ parents and other members of the community contributed to the curriculum. In addition, the classes are taught in the local language, which makes the learning process much easier. 

Reducing inequality is another major challenge. Here again, education is a key factor. Quality, universal education leads to a more egalitarian society. It helps limit the risk of violence and conflict, especially in fragile contexts (i.e. crisis-prone countries, or countries with an underdeveloped institutional framework). Conversely, greater gender equality can spark interest in school, as shown in a study on elected officials carried out in India. In that country’s 16 largest states, a 10% increase in the number of women being elected raised the percentage of students completing primary school by 6%. Countless young girls (and their parents) will draw inspiration from these women, who are willing to fight for what they believe in. 

Lifelong learning

Education does not only take place in school. The report also touches on the widespread belief today that education is a lifelong learning process. According to this belief, core skills (reading, writing, maths and using the internet – a necessity in today’s world) are not learned only at school. Alternative educational approaches must be developed to meet the needs of those excluded from the system, such as young people who never went (or wish to return) to school, those working in the informal sector, and certain ethnic minorities, including nomadic groups. 

Alongside the core knowledge that should be shared with as many people as possible, the report calls for constant improvements to vocational training programmes, so that trainees are better prepared to meet societal needs and find jobs. 

Focus on three projects

The SDC fully agrees with these ideas. When it comes to the challenges of education, the SDC has long been at the forefront of thinking at the international level, informed by pilot efforts and projects successfully carried out on several continents. 

In West Africa, for example, the SDC has been financing an extensive education programme for pastoralist groups across seven countries of the Sahel since 2012. Custom training modules were designed around the traditional educational system, which is based largely on urban professions. Breeders learn, for example, of the conflicts that may arise when their herds stray onto cropland.

Regional Programme for the Education and Training of Pastoral Communities in Cross-Border Areas, SDC project (fr)

Sahel communities learn reading, writing and arithmetic, video (fr)

In Mali, where nearly half of all children do not complete primary school, the SDC supports the creation of accelerated courses. These courses provide a way back to school for pupils who have been forced to interrupt their studies, in some cases owing to an outbreak of conflict. For nomadic groups in the north of the country, mobile schools are another solution. In such situations, teachers and school materials travel alongside nomadic communities as they move from one grazing area to another.

Good schools for all Malian children, SDC project

In the western Balkans, the SDC has long been a partner of the Roma Education Fund, which seeks to integrate Roma children in the education system as early as preschool. Major challenges remain (including that of pupils who are forced to interrupt their studies), but the initiative has delivered some significant results: from 2005 to 2015, 235,000 Roma children and youth and 375,000 sets of parents benefited from it.

The social integration of Roma children requires education, SDC project

Roma children discover the joy of learning, video (fr)

In the coming years, the SDC will further expand the resources it allocates to education and vocational training, with a particular focus on fragile contexts. To do this, it will deepen existing partnerships with the private sector in an effort to diversify funding sources.

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 93

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Improving nursing care for better health services

A nurse sitting in a treatment room.

01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021

In Bosnia and Herzegovina nurses make up the largest group of healthcare professionals. However, the potential offered by their proximity to local communities is underexploited. They are often responsible for administrative tasks rather than patient care and, with limited career prospects, many nurses are attracted by better working conditions in Western Europe. This is regrettable because nurses and the care they provide can be a gateway to better health services for people living in rural areas and marginalised communities.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Health
Education
Health systems strengthening
Primary health care
Education facilities and training

01.12.2017 - 30.11.2021


CHF 5'125'000



Better training to facilitate the integration of youngsters in rural areas into the labour market

Three young Nigerien men walking through a plantation.

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021

The SDC is committed to improving the education and vocational training system in Niger. Over 1.5 million young people living in rural areas currently have no access to education or vocational training. Their future ability to enter the labour market depends on good-quality basic education and vocational training tailored to their needs.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Niger

Dosso and Maradi

Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Education
Vocational training
Employment creation
Primary education

01.01.2017 - 31.12.2021


CHF 14'500'000



Lebanon: education and care in a neighbourhood shared by Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Inside a classroom where a woman teacher is sitting in front of a group of children showing them a book.

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2020

The inhabitants of Hay el Gharbé in southern Beirut live in a very precarious situation. Since 2012, a number of Syrian refugees have joined their neighbourhood. The SDC supports the Lebanese NGO Tahaddi, which has made a real difference in people’s lives here – such as with its education centre, helping a large number of children to (re)discover schooling and escape their daily hardships. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Lebanon
Education
Health
Primary education
Primary health care
Medical services

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2020


CHF 1'270'000



Forging a common «Nile culture» through music and academic training

Nile Project musicians on a boat.

01.05.2015 - 30.11.2020

To make the Nile Basin a common ground and shared ecosystem for the inhabitants of the eleven countries through which the Nile River flows, the SDC supports the innovative musical and educational Nile Project. The project brings together artists, students and concerned citizens. A series of acclaimed concerts has taken place since 2013; at the same time, students are developing initiatives to foster a better use of water resources.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Egypt
Culture / development awareness
Employment & economic development
Education
Climate change and environment
Gender
Governance
Migration
Other
Vocational training
Human rights
Rule of Law - Democracy - Human rights
Culture & recreation
SME development
Education policy
Disaster risk reduction DRR
Women’s equality organisations and institutions
Democratic participation and civil society
Information and communication technology (ICT)
Migration generally (development aspects and partnerships)
Sector not specified
Development awareness
Business support & economic inclusion
Environmental policy
Public sector policy
Vocational training
Biosphere protection
Legal and judicial development
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)

01.05.2015 - 30.11.2020


CHF 750'000



Developing Skills for Better Employment

A student screwing a solar panel together.

15.12.2014 - 31.12.2020

Unequal access to employment and the mismatch between education and labour market requirements are among the reasons for the high youth-unemployment in Albania. The Vocational Education and Training (VET) system therefore is undergoing a reorientation in order to meet labour market needs. Through the Skills Development for Employment Programme Switzerland is supporting these reforms.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Albania
Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Human rights
Education
Vocational training
Employment creation
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)

15.12.2014 - 31.12.2020


CHF 3'000'000



Programme for Supporting Decentralised Management of Literacy in Benin (PAGEDA)

An adult literacy centre in a Fulani camp in the village of Goure Bene, municipality of Nikki, Borgou, 2014

01.01.2014 - 30.09.2021

The programme for supporting the decentralised management of literacy services in Benin (PAGEDA) aims to provide high-quality literacy programmes that will enable 30,000 people (50-50 gender split, with most aged 15-30), who are excluded from or have no access to the formal education system, to acquire life skills and fully exercise their rights. The programme also aims to address gender, age and regional disparities in relation to access to education.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Benin
Education
Vocational training
Employment & economic development
Basic life skills
Education facilities and training
Vocational training
Employment creation

01.01.2014 - 30.09.2021


CHF 7'320'000



Programme d’appui aux communes urbaines du Mali (PACUM)

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2020

Un des enjeux de la reconstruction du Mali se trouve dans la promotion de villes secondaires délivrant des services de base aux populations et redevables devant leurs citoyens. C’est l’objet de ce programme financé par la Banque Mondiale à hauteur de CHF 65’000'000. Sollicitée pour son savoir-faire en matière de développement local, la DDC apporte une contribution de CHF 18'200'000 (21% coût global) pour structurer la gouvernance à la base et soutenir les dotations d’investissement pour les villes de Koutiala et Tombouctou.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Mali
Agriculture & food security
Governance
Education
Rural infrastructure (till 2016)
Decentralisation
Public sector policy
Primary education

01.01.2012 - 31.12.2020


CHF 18'220'000



UN Joint Programme on Youth Employment

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2028

Cambodia is the most youthful country in South East Asia with more than 50% of the population below 25 years. The key challenge of Cambodia is to create decent and productive employment opportunities for new entrants to the labour market. With its contribution, SDC addresses the challenge by enabling young people to have access to skills and quality education and employment whilst promoting rightful and decent working conditions.


Social Justice for Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (SORAE)

15.07.2020 - 31.12.2022

In order to improve the social inclusion of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) in Kosovo, this project will develop their livelihoods through ensuring better access to educational opportunities, enhanced children rights and protection, upgraded housing conditions and more income generation prospects. These multi-sectorial interventions will be complemented with antigypsyism policy interventions that counter discrimination against RAE and foster equality in Kosovo.

 

 

 


Contribution to Education Cannot Wait Fund – earmarked to Africa/MENA

01.12.2019 - 31.12.2021

75 million children in emergency and protracted crisis situations are being deprived of their education and the chance to prepare for a productive adulthood. Yet, education remains the least funded sector during crises. Complementary to other initiatives and established in 2016, the global fund Education Cannot Wait is geared at putting quality education for conflict and natural disaster affected children at the center, advancing SDG 4 also in such contexts and bridging the gap between humanitarian and development. 


Master of Advanced Studies in Development Cooperation (MAS) - NADEL

01.12.2019 - 30.11.2023

Mit der Unterstützung des “Master of Advanced Studies“ des «NADEL- Center for Development and Cooperation» an der ETHZ leistet die DEZA einen Beitrag an die Ausbildung von Nachwuchskräften für die Entwicklungs-zusammenarbeit. Diese praktisch ausgerichtete akademische Aus- und Weiterbildung von Fachkräften hat zum Ziel, Wirksamkeit, Effizienz und Innovation der Schweizer Entwicklungszusammenarbeit dauerhaft zu sichern und zu steigern.


Programme de Renforcement de l’Éducation de Base au Batha (PREBatha)

01.12.2019 - 30.11.2023

Au Tchad, la situation de l’éducation primaire est alarmante. Les taux de scolarisation et d’achèvement y sont très faibles, y compris au Batha, province d’intervention prioritaire de la Suisse. A travers le PREBatha et en complémentarité avec son programme « Promotion de la Qualité de l'Education de Base » (ProQEB), la Suisse contribue à l’amélioration de l’environnement et des conditions d’accès à l’éducation et d’apprentissage des enfants du Batha, particulièrement des filles.

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