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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Afghanistan Quality Learning (AQL)

01.03.2019 - 31.03.2023

Though it remains low, access to education in Afghanistan has improved significantly over the past decade. The low standard of education however is a serious problem and impedes the development of the country. Working through the competent directorates of the Ministry of Education, the project therefore aims at improving the quality of education. This, by strengthening methodology and subject specific knowledge and promoting community involvement for school improvements.


Accès aux populations vulnérables grâce au soutien au Service Aérien Humanitaire des Nations Unies (UNHAS)

01.01.2019 - 30.11.2024

L’UNHAS est le service aérien des Nations Unies qui appuie la mise en œuvre d’interventions humanitaires ainsi que du développement économique et social en faveur des populations les plus vulnérables et marginalisées du Niger. L'UNHAS facilite et sécurise au Niger l'essentiel des déplacements des agents des programmes respectifs, leur permettant de rejoindre les régions reculées du pays et leurs populations rapidement et en toute sécurité.


Support to Safe Spaces for Women, Youth and Children in Gaza Strip

Safe Spaces Project, Khan Younis, Gaza Strip

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2020

In 2019-2020, Switzerland will support the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA) and the Culture and Arts Association (NAWA) in the Gaza Strip to provide quality educational and cultural services in safe learning environments for children, youth and women, including persons with disabilities. This contribution aims to enhance the inclusion of marginalized groups in local development and in community-led initiatives, and to prevent wider spreading of violent extremism and radicalisation.


Contribution programme pour Enfants du Monde 2019 – 2020

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2020

L’ONG suisse Enfants du Monde (EdM) mène des initiatives participatives visant à améliorer la qualité de l’éducation de base et la dimension communautaire de la santé maternelle et infantile. S’inscrivant dans les poli-tiques publiques, EdM travaille sur la base d’approches développées avec ses partenaires locaux. Elles sont adaptées aux réalités sociales, culturelles, organisationnelles, politiques et économiques des pays d’intervention d’EdM en Afrique de l’Ouest, en Amérique latine et Haïti, ainsi qu’au Bangladesh.


Relief International: Providing educational opportunities for Syrian refugees in Za’atari and Azraq camps

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

SDC’s contribution will help to maintain essential education services provided by Relief International (RI) for Syrian refugee children and youth in Za’atari and Azraq camps especially after the drastic funding cuts announced by UNICEF in June 2018. The project contributes to retain school-aged refugee children in the formal education system by providing support through: 1) Remedial Education services for in-school children with learning difficulties and 2) the certified drop-out programme for out-of-school children who can only go back to school if they complete the programme.


Program Contribution to Terre des Hommes Schweiz 2019 - 2020

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2020

Youth, especially girls, are far more exposed to missing out economic opportunities, gender based violence and HIV-Aids than adults. TdH Schweiz promotes social participation of young people in nine countries in Africa and Central and South America, with a specific focus on prevention of violence, promotion of income opportunities and improving the reproductive health of youth. With its combined approach, involving individuals, communities and institutions it reaches out to over 190000 peers and some 2000 institutions.


SDC Education Fund

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2020

As part of its increased commitment for Education and of the implementation of SDC’s Education Strategy, the SDC launches an Education Fund in order to incentivize innovation and the application of new approaches in basic education/vocational skills development and through educational activities across sectors. Innovation can have a catalytic effect on the effectiveness of programmes in and through education. Education is a core enabler for sustainable development and is an important lever in Switzerland’s commitment to promote human and economic development, peace and stability. 



Projet Ecole résiliente au Burkina Faso

01.11.2018 - 30.10.2021

Les attaques terroristes qui frappent le Burkina Faso depuis 2017 ont entrainé la fermeture d’écoles et privé quelque 875’000 enfants (46% de filles) de leur droit à l’éducation. La Suisse soutiendra le Gouvernement, à travers l’UNICEF, afin d’assurer la continuité éducative à tous les enfants dans un environnement scolaire sûr. Par cette intervention mettant l’accent sur les enfants/jeunes, la Suisse agit en faveur de la stabilité du Burkina Faso et de la région, répondant ainsi aussi à ses intérêts propres.


Programme de Cantines Scolaires gouvernementales ( ProCaS)

01.10.2018 - 30.09.2020

Le scolarité primaire au Bénin est confrontée à une performance faible: les élèves apprennent peu et abandonnent massivement l’école. Une des causes tient à l’absence de repas pour les enfants. Les cantines scolaires contribuent ainsi à créer un environnement propice à l’apprentissage et au maintien à l’école. En 2017, le gouvernement du Bénin a initié le programme de cantines scolaires (ProCaS 2017-2021) qui vise 351'109 élèves dans 3'174 écoles primaires publiques sur l’ensemble du pays.


Appui à la résilience de l’élevage pastoral en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.10.2018 - 30.09.2021

L’Afrique de l’Ouest connait une crise alimentaire qui touche environ 10 millions de personnes dont beaucoup d’éleveurs. Les plans de réponse des Etats et des institutions régionales ne mettent pas assez l’accent sur les éleveurs. Ce programme fournira une aide d’urgence à 174’240 éleveurs vulnérables de la région et améliorera les outils de distribution de l’aide dans les mécanismes régionaux et nationaux de gestion de crises alimentaire. Il réduira les conflits, en limitant les transhumances précoces.


Disaster Risk Reduction for Sustainable Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Joint UN Project

01.09.2018 - 31.12.2022

High exposure to natural hazards coupled with insufficient technical, organizational, and financial capacities of BiH’s institutions and governments directly impede the country’s socio-economic development and increase population vulnerability. This Project, jointly implemented by five UN Agencies, will reduce the social and economic vulnerabilities of citizens and institutions affected by disasters and climate change by introducing and operationalizing an integrated model of disaster risk governance and livelihood enhancement starting with selected local municipalities.

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