The Promoting Market-Oriented Skills Training (PROMOST) in the Great Lakes Region has been up to a lot these past few months despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)- funded project has put in place several measures to ensure that they still proceed with the major project activities but cautiously and safely. The activities carried out vary within each country due to the different government responses to the pandemic.
For instance, at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak on March 21st, the Rwanda government moved swiftly to put measures in place for a total lockdown which was extended till April 30th. No citizen movement was permitted unless one was considered a critical service provider. Swisscontact staff were no exception and were required to work from home before the restrictions on movement began easing up almost two months later. The government of DR Congo responded differently. The president declared a state of emergency and imposed a partial lockdown in the capital city, Kinshasa. Within the last two weeks, the partial lockdown has also been extended to South Kivu province where some of the Swisscontact intervention areas are located. On the other hand, Burundi whose President recently passed on amidst the pandemic, remains the only African country that has not enacted any stringent policies to curb the spread of infections.
Since the project team was eager to deliver its mandate and wanted to continue creating opportunities and improving livelihoods of the rural population, the management put in place different measures to ensure staff, beneficiaries and partners are safe while performing their duties.
“We deployed different strategies in all three countries. All Swisscontact staff were encouraged to work from home and with the ease in restrictions of movement, we have created a shift schedule for our staff to return to the office. The schedule has taken into consideration social distancing requirements and preventive hygiene measures at the workplace. We have alcohol-based sanitizers in each office and project car. No staff is not allowed into the office without properly wearing a protective face mask. All big gatherings, meetings and events have also been postponed until further notice. Since Burundi is still operating as normal, the project has so far facilitated the distribution of 2,046 masks to artisans and beneficiaries currently undergoing short term training and apprenticeships including entrepreneurship training. Trainee groups have also been split up to discourage huge gatherings.We are fortunate that as of today, no beneficiary, staff or partner of Swisscontact Great Lakes Region has tested positive for the virus,” commented Charles Pouliot, PROMOST Director Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo.
Key Project Activities – Past Three Months
- Construction tenders for dormitories and refectories published. Construction is projected to begin in August 2020 in Shangi, Muhororo, Muganza, and Rubengera TVET Schools.
- Recognition of Prior Learning and Experience (RPL/E) system rolled out for tailors.
- Short term training sessions and apprenticeships ongoing in different trades.
- Entrepreneurship capacity building sessions for craftsmen held.
- RPL/E activities in carpentry launched in Cibitoke Province. Another series expected this June in carpentry, tailoring and auto-mechanics.
- Rehabilitation of training centres in Kayanza Province.
- Supply of safety equipment i.e. shoes, gloves and face shields for trainee welders.
- Youth capacity building began in nine different trades (290 short-term training and 275 apprenticeships). Another series of apprenticeships for 300 youth will be launched this June.
- Planning for the rehabilitation of training centres and supply of equipment.
- Planning for the sensitization campaigns which will be executed differently because of the pandemic. In the past, awareness was raised using street theatres and radio campaigns but because of social distancing, the awareness campaigns will now be executed using videos, brochures, explainer drawings and radio announcements.
The PROMOST project has been carried out for eight years in Rwanda, four years in DR Congo and three years in Burundi. It is currently in its third implementation phase. The 12-year SDC programme aims to help the three governments modernize their Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) systems. The projects overall goal is to contribute to increased employment and income generation for the rural population in target geographical areas in the Great Lakes Region by improving their access to quality and labour-market-oriented vocational training.