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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SDC Education Fund

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2021

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.


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.


Programme de Cantines Scolaires gouvernementales ( ProCaS)

01.10.2018 - 30.09.2022

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.


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.


Soft earmarked contribution to Asia South Pacific association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE)

01.08.2018 - 31.12.2021

The Asia South Pacific association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE) is an influential civil society network engaged in the promotion and provision of inclusive, equitable quality education and lifelong learning for the most marginalized populations. This support to ASPBAE, who is also a key civil society representative in the global education dialogue, contributes strengthening the capacity of the civil society both at global level and in the Asian countries where SDC is engaged. 


Fostering Active Civic Engagement

01.07.2018 - 30.09.2030

Moldova’s democracy is still young and fragile. The population is hesitant to participate in decision-making and to demand their rights. Good-quality civic education is an essential element for promoting democratic values, raising awareness about the rights and responsibilities of every citizen, and for stimulating a stronger civic engagement. Switzerland supports Moldova in providing children and adolescents with opportunities to apply civic learning inside and outside the classroom.



Promotion de la qualité de l’éducation de base au Tchad (ProQEB)

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2022

Au Tchad, l’éducation de base formelle et autres alternatives éducatives sont peu accessibles, de faible qualité et inadaptées aux besoins des populations. La DDC contribue à l’amélioration du système éducatif en renforçant la formation des enseignants, en développant les conditions d’enseignement-apprentissage et en favorisant l’inclusion des groupes marginalisés dans deux régions et sur le plan national. L’éducation permet d’ouvrir de meilleures perspectives pour les jeunes tchadiens qui souhaitent rester dans leur pays.  


Contribution to the UNESCO International Institute on Educational Planning (IIEP)

01.05.2018 - 31.12.2021

Sound educational planning and management allows national governments to help translate the right to education and principles defined in the Sustainable Development Goal 4 into policies and actionable plans and budget. IIEP assists countries translate the principles of inclusive, equitable quality education into credible policies and plans. It provides Ministries of Education technical expertise and capacity support and engages in applied research and knowledge sharing.


IBC-Improving protection, social cohesion and skills development services for Syrian and host communities in Kilis

01.04.2018 - 31.07.2019

There are almost 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, residing in different provinces across the country, mainly in non-camp settings. Their vulnerabilities are growing and tensions between them and host communities are on the rise. The national NGO IBC, active in humanitarian relief and emergency aid, aims with the proposed project to improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees, while focusing on strengthening social cohesion between host communities and refugees.

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