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. 

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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UN Joint Programme on Youth Employment

01.01.2025 - 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.


PROMOST IV - Promoting Market-Oriented Skills Training in the Great Lakes Region

01.02.2023 - 31.12.2025

Le manque de perspectives d’emploi est un défi majeur au Burundi et en RDC. Le programme PROMOST a contribué depuis 2012 à améliorer l’employabilité des jeunes (filles et garçons) issus des milieux défavorisés en favorisant leur accès à une formation professionnelle de qualité. Ce projet a jusqu’ici connu trois phases dont la dernière se termine le 31.01.2023 au Burundi et en RDC-Sud Kivu et le 31.12.2023 après prolongation au Rwanda. Tout en capitalisant sur les acquis des phases précédentes, cette phase de sortie mettra un accent sur l’institutionnalisation des dispositifs formation, la durabilité des systèmes d’EFTP et la qualité des emplois et revenus créés au Burundi et en RDC.


Education for Employment

01.07.2022 - 30.06.2026

The project addresses the high youth unemployment rate in North Macedonia (33%), caused by the mismatch of the skills provided by the education system and those required by the economy. The project will support the Ministry of Education and Science and the private sector to strengthen the newly established dual school- and company-based vocational education and training system.


UNHCR – Solution Strategies for Education and Livelihood of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan

01.06.2022 - 31.05.2026

As part of Switzerland’s commitment to financing sustainable solutions for Afghan refugees, the contribution to UNHCR in Pakistan aims at improving the education and livelihoods prospects of around 60’000 Afghan refugee youths in three provinces of Pakistan. It strengthens Switzerland’s pledge at the Global Refugee Forum 2019 scaling up its support to the inclusion of refugee children in education in line with “SDC’s Education Strategy.


Contribution to the Council of Europe Action Plan in Georgia - Democracy Starts in Schools

01.03.2022 - 31.12.2023

Good governance is key to achieving sustainable development and just and peaceful societies. Building on its expertise in governance and human rights, Switzerland will foster Georgia’s culture of democracy by supporting the implementation of the Council of Europe Action Plan 2020-2023. In particular, by equipping young people with democratic values, attitudes and skills at schools, they should become active and responsible citizens, ready to engage in local decision-making.


Soutien aux acteurs suisses de la coopération internationale en éducation (NORRAG et RECI)

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2025

L’éducation joue un rôle clé pour les objectifs de l’Agenda 2030. La contribution aux deux institutions Suisses, le Réseau sur les politiques et la coopération internationale en éducation et en formation (NORRAG), institut spécialisé en recherche appliquée en éducation, et le Réseau suisse éducation et coopération internationale (RECI), réseau de la société civile engagé en éducation dans la coopération internationale, vise à renforcer leurs interventions dans les pays en développement et le positionnement suisse en éducation à l’international.  


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

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

Switzerland promotes social cohesion and civic peace through creating safe spaces for women, youth, and persons with disabilities in the Gaza Strip. By fostering local capacities and promoting community-led initiatives Safe Spaces strengthens the resilience of vulnerable groups. This second phase puts a stronger accent on skills and economic empowerment for youth in line with the Cooperation Programme 2021-24. By advocating for inclusive societies it contributes to mitigate the spread of extremism and radicalization.


UNFPA Contribution générale 2022-2024

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) works to address questions related to population and development, with an emphasis on sexual and reproductive health, gender equality, and youth. UNFPA is the only multilateral organization, which is engaged on a normative and operational level in promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is therefore a key partner for Switzerland to ensure progress on these joint priorities.


UNICEF Contribution générale 2022-2024

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

UNICEF is one of Switzerland’s key partners to achieve the Swiss strategic priorities in education, health and child protection in both development and humanitarian contexts. Switzerland has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which guides UNICEF’s universal mandate. As one of the UN’s largest agencies, UNICEF plays a key role in the United Nations Development System (UNDS) Reform to more effectively deliver results for children as part of the 2030 Agenda. 


ASPBAE - Contribution to Asia South Pacific association for Basic and Adult Education

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2023

Switzerland’s support of civil society organizations rests on the key role these play for reaching the Education goal (SDG4) of the Agenda 2030. The Asia South Pacific association for Basic and Adult Education is an influential civil society network engaged in the promotion of inclusive, equitable quality education and lifelong learning for the most marginalized in the Asia region as well as at global level. The Swiss contribution to ASPBAE strengthens the civil society at regional and global level and enriches Switzerland’s policy dialogue on education in the Asia Pacific region and globally.  


Formation continue en Genre et Developpement en Afrique francophone

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2026

Le Projet contribue par des cours de formation continue de l’Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales et du Développement (IHEID) a une meilleure expertise et intégration de la problématique de l’inégalités des sexes dans les politiques et programmes de développement dans les pays francophones d'Afrique (Ouest et Grands Lacs) ainsi qu’un meilleur ancrage dans les institutions locales. Le projet est aligné avec l’engagement de la Suisse pour l’égalité entre les sexes.


Contribution to the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report (GEMR) and the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP)

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2025

The Global Education Monitoring Report and the International Institute for Educational Planning contribute to ensure equitable, inclusive quality education for all (SDG 4) by producing rigorous evidence, data and recommendations on education and by strengthening education systems’ policies, planning and management. Their work is critical for SDC’s global and bilateral policy dialogue and Switzerland’s added value on systems strengthening and evidence based policy and practice.

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