Aiming to help Georgia’s rural economy to overcome the pandemic shock, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) are supporting vocational colleges across the country to resume education and training for farmers that was suspended during the lockdown and introduce new educational programs in agriculture and forest management.
Implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, this assistance draws on over $400,000 support in Swiss funding and UNDP’s long-term expertise in promoting Vocational Education and Training (VET).
As part of this support, four tractors, 21 computers, GPS devices, farming and forestry implements, and other supplies were delivered to six colleges in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region and the Ajara Autonomous Republic.
On 6-8 April, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. Anna Chernyshova visited vocational colleges in Khobi, Mestia, Jvari and Batumi, to examine the progress of practical training in farming and forestry and meet with local authorities, teachers and students.
“We help vocational colleges to become stronger, forge partnerships with local business and create employment opportunities for students and graduates,” said Chernyshova. “When equipped with knowledge and skills, people can withstand the crisis and find the way out of poverty.”
With UNDP and Swiss support, up to 1,000 farmers received short-term training and retraining in 12 agricultural professions, including farming, bio-farming and farm management, tea production, cheese-making, horticulture, viticulture, winemaking, beekeeping, plant protection, cattle breeding and poultry farming.
In addition to assisting vocational training in agricultural professions, UNDP and SDC helped the VET centers in Batumi and Mestia to roll out new educational programs in sustainable forest management, focusing on the conservation of forests for commercial and recreational use; the assessment and restoration of forests damaged by wildfire, pests and illegal logging; and forest inventory and maintenance through harvesting, reclamation and planting.
Pandemic support to the VET colleges is part of a wider partnership between UNDP and SDC to help reform vocational education and training so that the educational system responds to the demands of the labor market.