Over six million US dollars from the Swiss government will be spent in Georgia over the next four years to promote vocational education and training in agriculture and offer Georgian farmers modern educational opportunities and services. This new initiative was agreed on November 6 between the Georgian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
“Modernisation of vocational education and training is one of the critical reforms that has a direct impact on millions of people. Georgia is rethinking its system of vocational education to make it an integral part of development in every sector of economy, including agriculture,” said Irina Abuladze, deputy minister of education, science, culture and sport of Georgia.
Giorgi Khanishvili, deputy minister of environmental protection and agriculture, stressed that a new model of vocational education and training contributes to developing rural economy, creating jobs and boosting incomes.
“Vocational colleges and extension centres are becoming the hubs of knowledge and services for both smallholder framers and larger-scale agricultural enterprises assisting them to run their businesses more successfully,” he said.
UNDP and SDC have been assisting Georgia to reform vocational education and training for over a decade. The new initiative builds on the achievements and lessons of this long-term support and introduces new approaches to vocational education in agriculture.
“Switzerland is a world’s leader in vocational education and training. We are happy to share this long-established experience with Georgia. Our assistance has already benefitted over 10 thousand rural residents who have received better training and better consultancy in farming. In the coming four years, we will focus on key aspects of vocational training, notably work-based learning. We will also help vocational colleges and agriculture extension centres to find effective ways of cooperation with the private companies,” said Olivier Bürki, regional director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus.
Since 2013, UNDP and SDC have assisted seven vocational colleges in Kakheti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Imereti, Racha and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions of Georgia to increase educational standards and become financially viable. 20 new modular programmes and 24 training programmes in agriculture have been introduced to the vocational curricula and work-based learning opportunities have been piloted in seven colleges.
The newly appointed UN Resident Coordinator and Head of UNDP in Georgia, Louisa Vinton, said that quality education is an effective driver of sustainable economic growth that creates new prospects for people everywhere.
“I am thrilled to start my work in Georgia with the initiative that creates better access to education and training. In UNDP, we firmly believe that education lays the foundation to sustainable development, improves quality of life and equips people with the tools required to develop innovative solutions to the world’s greatest problems,” she said.
The UNDP/SDC initiative for vocational education and training in agriculture will continue through 2022 in close partnership with the government of Georgia, Georgian Farmers’ Association, vocational colleges, public and private consultancy centres for farmers, universities and local communities.