Exchange and mobility is about more than just learning a language; it is also about managing in an unfamiliar environment, questioning your own habits and views and making new friends. A period spent immersed in another culture brings many formative experiences that broaden personal horizons. Exchange and mobility also reinforce core elements of the curriculum, such as intercultural skills, and improve employability. And finally, as a country with four national languages, Switzerland benefits from enhanced national cohesion.
The Confederation and cantons put significant financial resources behind the promotion of education programmes for exchange and mobility. To provide fresh impetus in this area, they set up a national agency to act as a central player, which began operation under the name Movetia on 1 January 2017. This national agency is sponsored by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the Federal Office of Culture (FOC), the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) and the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK).
Promoting exchange and mobility in education
Movetia’s aim is for all young people to take part in an exchange or mobility project during the course of their education and to take advantage of exchange and mobility on their subsequent further education and training paths. Movetia develops and implements appropriate education programmes for this purpose. It promotes and funds projects and partnerships within Switzerland and internationally, in schools, in vocational education and training and in the extracurricular sphere. Movetia also intends to raise awareness of the advantages of taking part in exchanges and to encourage teachers and people in continuing education and training to embrace exchange and mobility.
Another aim of the national agency is to ensure better networking of the various players involved. Enhanced cooperation allows offers to be better tailored to requirements and administrative and organisational obstacles to be removed. The aim is to firmly establish exchange and mobility in education policy.
2017 – a transition year
Movetia will use its first year of operation to record existing activities and to clarify requirements. At the same time, the Confederation and cantons are developing a comprehensive exchange and mobility strategy for Switzerland, which Movetia as a key player is collaborating on. These two processes will lay the foundations to develop new programmes and add to existing ones by the end of 2017.
In parallel Movetia will continue to run existing and new federal and cantonal funding programmes, for example exchange during the holidays, language assistance programmes for teachers, and the Swiss interim solution for Erasmus+.
Cooperation – a key to success
The initial elements of Movetia’s strategy are already clear: the existing activities of the Confederation and cantons, as well as the many projects run by educational institutions, associations and businesses, are to play a key role in the national agency’s diverse offering. “To get more young people and more educational institutions interested in exchange and mobility and to provide fresh impetus, in addition to the new programmes, Movetia wants to link up existing initiatives more effectively and thereby give them more visibility,” stresses Olivier Tschopp, the new director of Movetia. “We see ourselves as facilitators and coordinators. We can only achieve these goals if we work closely with our education partners – in particular the cantons here in Switzerland. We want to create a structure that builds on the strengths of the various players, while respecting their competences.”