Since May 1997 the Swiss Cooperation Office in Albania has focused on strengthening democratic institutions, implementing decentralisation at local level, advancing the rural economy, increasing employment and renovating infrastructure. Particular emphasis has been given to gender equality and social inclusion of disadvantaged groups such as the Roma. Through bilateral cooperation and international programmes Switzerland has contributed to Albania with about 133 million Euro up to beginning 2010 - approximately 8 million Euro per year - in form of non-reimbursable grants only. Switzerland’s contribution to Albania is equally distributed between governmental and civil-society channels.
The overall goal for 2010-2013 is to support Albania in its efforts towards European integration by contributing to the improvement of Governance and Rule of Law and to the competitiveness of the Economy. Swiss development assistance in Albania operates in the domains of Democratisation and Rule of Law and Economic Development. Examples of work include enhancing capacities of local government, increasing citizens’ participation in decision-making, introducing regional development plans and policies, improving the social inclusion of Roma people and other disadvantaged groups, rehabilitating water and energy infrastructure, and supporting vocational education.
The Swiss Cooperation brings to Albania Switzerland’s comparative advantage and specific know-how in areas such as decentralisation, vocational educational training (due to its dual educational system), risk insurance and energy. Switzerland plays a leading role in the dialogue and cooperation between the Government of Albania and the international donor community and is recognized for its efforts to increase aid effectiveness.
Please click on menu items on the left for more detailed information about Swiss Cooperation’s programmes and projects in Albania.
The following article by Swiss journalist Gaby Ochsenbein appeared on the website swissinfo.ch - the official site of the International Service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. The Swiss Cooperation Office in Albania is not responsible for its contents.Land of contrasts
by Gaby Ochsenbein in Tirana, swissinfo.ch
June 3, 2013 - 11:00
Success StoryProfessional School Enables Graduates to Find Employment
“Without the practice part of the Swiss curriculum we would not be able to perform well in the job market. Old generation plumbers are envious of our knowledge and skills”
A good educational sector must ensure optimal employment opportunities. But how can education help to increase employment in a country like Albania? Part of the answer lies with a newly-introduced approach: project-based learning in vocational education and training. Through AlbVET, a programme that supports vocational education, the Swiss Cooperation is promoting a radical change in the educational system in the country.
The change is visible in 10 schools throughout Albania that have been supported and renovated through Swiss technical assistance and funding. They are part of a project-based learning programme that has provided teacher and instructor training, curriculum development and new practice equipment. As a result, the newer generation of graduates are now finding gainful employment in the labour market and reaping the benefits of their studies.
One of the schools that benefited from Swiss assistance is the Professional High School in Lushnje. Established in the 70ies under the communist regime, the school went through a difficult period in the 90ies when infrastructure became dilapidated, curriculum became outdated and teaching staff unmotivated. After including the school in its programme, AlbVET started with teacher and instructor training which laid the foundation for changing the old scholastic way of teaching into modern methods. It introduced a new curriculum that centers on the practice environment and problem solving. In addition, the Swiss programme provided workshop equipment and tools that the school was not able to find otherwise.
Niko Nikolla and students during an examination session at the Professional High School in Lushnje
“A 100% change took place once we participated in the Swiss programme”, says Niko Nikolla, the chief instructor at Lushnje’s Professional High School. “This included a new curriculum and high quality workshop equipment”. One indicator of change stands out: in the old days the school offered only heating equipment in its workshop, whereas now these are replaced with plumbing systems. As Niko explains, this was a response to market requirements whereby plumbing work is in high demand. “Students now are more able to fit in the market and they exceed by far the old-generation plumbers since they can draw outlines and operate new machinery”, adds Niko.
Ardian Tata studied for 3 years at the school and benefited from the new Swiss support. After graduation he was initially employed by a private plumbing business but at the end of the year he started his own business. “I felt confident about being self-employed”, says Ardian. “My area of work includes cooling, heating, fuel stations and swimming pools”. He mentions that the big change came through the school’s practice orientation. “Through the practical work we were ready to function in the job market; the old school curriculum could not give us practical skills”, adds Ardian.
When he first started to work he was using an old bicycle but soon he upgraded to a station-wagon car that allows him to travel to longer distances and carry a full set of equipment. His latest contract is the installment of a full plumbing system in a 12-storey block of flats. “Quality and reliability are crucial”, says Ardian. Like dozens of other students from these professional schools, Ardian sees a bright future in his chosen profession.
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