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COVID-19: how Swisscontact is reacting to the pandemic

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is facing new and unprecedented challenges. Overcoming this crisis demands our united forces and a lot of agility. In many of the projects, measures to contain the coronavirus are already having an impact on our work. We are doing our best to react to the exceptional situation with innovative solutions.

Project Management and Employees

 

We are in constant contact with our local staff in project countries. For the time being, work-related travels are suspended. In all countries, where it is required, our employees work from home. Our project teams reacted quickly and, wherever possible, shifted activities into virtual space. We have introduced many innovative solutions to development challenges and are already applying new technologies in many of our programmes. This crisis is also an opportunity to enhance our efforts related to digital transformation. We are doing everything in our power to continue our project work to create opportunities for disadvantaged people and find new solutions to development. Our staff reacts with a lot of dedication and creativity.

Project countries will be more affected

 

The effects of this pandemic are not yet foreseeable and are unfolding continuously. Unfortunately, we have to assume that this crisis will have much more serious effects on our project countries than in Europe. Most of these countries are poorly prepared, have weak health systems, no insurance coverage and no governments that can quickly put together comprehensive financial and economic aid packages. It will take all of us to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in our target countries.

 

In the coming months, we will share with you various examples from our projects of how we are trying to react to this exceptional situation with innovative solutions.

 

1. Distant Learning via digital platform

 

The project "Skills for Jobs" is supporting partner institutions and all Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers in Albania with a digital learning platform.

 

Since 2016, the project “Skills for Jobs” focuses on skills development of youth and promoting employment opportunities in Albania. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are closed and employees work from home. To make the VET offer accessible for students, the use of technology in the classroom has now been extended into the realm of distant learning.

 

In collaboration with the Albanian government, “Skills for Jobs” customised Mesovet.al – an online learning platform based on the open source software Moodle. The website has been made ready to compensate for the lack of in-class lessons due to closed schools. Mesovet serves as an all-inclusive temporary solution to help students learn independently. The number of students using the tool is growing by the day. Special attention is paid to supporting students in their last year of study. Most teachers have promptly reacted to the call of developing and making online learning materials available for all Albanian students in preparation for their final exams.

 

Joint creation of up-to-date online learning content

 

All materials on the platform are based on learning plans. Additional practical materials recommended by industry experts have also been made available. This ensures that students’ training and education suffers as little as possible. The platform is updated daily and can be used for free. Meanwhile, teachers have been trained to upload content and to maximise the use of the platform. Apprentices also actively contribute to the digital learning solution by documenting workplace processes and procedures. This documentation is particularly useful for entry-level students.

 

Currently, several courses on tourism and hospitality are ready. To facilitate new ways of learning, the materials are interactive and include theory, case studies, graphics, videos, quizzes, vocabulary, games, class activities, homework as well as links for further information etc. “Skills for Jobs” is soon launching new digital content on the topics of ICT and Electro-Technics.

 

“Skills for Jobs” is a project mandated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Swisscontact in Albania.  

Mesovet demo video

"Skills for Jobs" project video

2. Online support programmes for start-ups

 

Within days, the global Swiss Entrepreneurship Programme (Swiss EP) moved the majority of real life networking events and mentoring sessions online.

 

The programme is financed by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO and implemented by Swisscontact in seven countries. The country teams report that they are now receiving more enquiries from partner organisations. Both the teams and experts are responding to the new situation and helping to set up online programmes. The Peer Exchange Meetup, scheduled for the first week of April, has been postponed indefinitely. As a replacement, Swiss EP will offer a webinar on "How to effectively deliver online programs" for all partner organisations.

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