Swiss Ambassador to Georgia Heidi Grau, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus, Embassy of Switzerland Danielle Meuwly and UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia Nick Beresford visited Dmanisi Municipality on 7 May to see the progress of the Swiss and UNDP-supported educational initiatives at the Swiss Agricultural School ‘Caucasus’ (SASC).
During the visit, UNDP and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) signed an extended cooperation agreement ensuring continued support for the SASC.
“Switzerland and Georgia celebrate 30 years of diplomatic relations. The Swiss Agricultural School, which serves quality education and business success is a great example of our collaboration. We welcome the achievements of the school and feel proud that Switzerland’s experience contributes to the development of agricultural training in Georgia and to improving the lives of Georgian farmers,” said Swiss Ambassador Grau.
“UNDP helps retrain teachers and create new educational programs. Our support for the Swiss Agricultural School and other educational institutions contributes to reforming and developing vocational education and training in Georgia,” said Beresford.
“Our college aims to be a benchmark for agricultural vocational education in the region. The high-quality Swiss curricula and modern infrastructure enable us to achieve that,” said the SASC founder Mikheil Svimonishvili.
Since its launch in the fall of 2021, the Swiss Agricultural School ‘Caucasus’ has enrolled its first 10 students on the two-year training course in the fields of farming and cheese-making. Over 200 farmers have benefitted from agricultural extension services.
Modelled on the historic Plantahof agricultural school in Switzerland, the SASC serves as an exemplary training facility for cattle breeding and Swiss cheesemaking, aiming to graduate 300 professional farmers in the next 10 years.
The SASC is one of the largest private initiatives in the field of vocational education in Georgia. The school is funded by Swiss and Georgian private sources, including the Swiss South Caucasus Foundation / Gebert Rüf Stiftung.
The SDC and UNDP support draws on $560,000 in Swiss funding and is focused on developing theoretical and practical training programs, training teachers and promoting agriculture extension services. In the future, this assistance will extend to internship programs for students and teachers and business consultations for graduates.