Moldova: from crisis to opportunity. Torino Process highlights from ETF expert, Mihaylo Milovanovitch

As the world gradually emerged from the grip of the pandemic, Moldova saw an opportunity not to revert, but to advance its education and training system. Building on the foundation laid during the lockdown, Moldova committed to enhance its digital pedagogies, aligning with its broader strategy to prioritise digital skills development. This decision was particularly pertinent given Moldova's recent acceptance as an EU candidate country, a status that provided access to resources to fuel its digitalisation efforts.

"However, managing the additional workload presented a challenge," says Mihaylo Milovanovitch, Coordinator for System Change and Lifelong Learning at the ETF.

The ETF stepped in to provide the necessary support, which among other things led to the implementation of the SELFIE project in partnership with the ETF and the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), aimed at evaluating schools' readiness for digital training.

"These actions resonate with Torino Process findings, which show that Moldova is on par with other countries in the monitoring, demonstrating commendable progress in incorporating learning content related to the digital transition within its education system," explains Milovanovitch.

Simultaneously, Moldova launched the Moldova Integrated Initiative for Digitalisation in VET (MIIDIV). More details on Moldova's digital transition efforts feature in a subsequent article and conversation with Filippo Del Ninno, ETF country liaison for Moldova, in this edition of Learning Connects.

In the face of the global pandemic, Moldova swiftly embraced online learning, driven by a robust partnership between private sector, non-profit organisations, and international bodies. This rapid transformation not only demonstrated Moldova's nimbleness and creativity but also served as a testament to the potential of collaboration in tackling unprecedented challenges.

This initiative aims to enhance digital teaching and learning by promoting the sharing of examples of best practice and instituting a robust quality assurance process. It's an important move, particularly since the latest Torino Process monitoring identified quality assurance as an area where many countries, including Moldova, are under performing internationally. 

"Quality assurance is a common stumbling block, mainly due to the limited capacity of VET providers," notes Milovanovitch, adding, "It's heartening to see Moldova proactively tackling this issue."

Galina Rusu, State Secretary and Head of Vocational Education and Training Department of the Ministry of Education and Research, emphasised the importance of quality assurance as well, stating that Moldova has been aligning with European quality assurance standards since 2016 and has actively sought feedback to improve these efforts. This openness was exhibited recently this month when the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Education and Research (ANACEC) of Moldova, in cooperation with the ETF, invited peers from countries including Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Israel, Montenegro, Morocco, and Palestine to conduct an external review of their quality assurance mechanisms and the relevance of the evaluation standards for vocational programmes and institutions.

In parallel with digitalisation and quality assurance efforts, Moldova also focused on skills development for all learners, irrespective of their background and age.

"Moldova is making substantial progress in digitalisation and quality assurance in education, while also ensuring skills development is accessible to all learners, irrespective of their background and age," asserts Milovanovitch.

He highlights a key challenge from the Torino Process results, stating, "Despite the impressive strides in improving quality and boosting participation, there's still work to do. It appears that VET access and participation in Moldova does not consistently translate into better labour market prospects."

National authorities are aware of these challenges and are now implementing local employment initiatives focused on vulnerable groups, an essential step towards mitigating this issue. Indeed in the following interview with Anna Gherganova, Head of the Department for Employment and Labour Migration Development Policies, she stresses that collaboration between government, civil society, and private sector stakeholders is critical to support this endeavour.

"The Torino Process results for Moldova confirm that the involvement of employers in the steering and management of the VET system remains a weak link," adds Milovanovitch.

Moldova's response to the pressures of the pandemic reflects resilience, adaptability, and an emphasis on cooperative action. While the Torino Process evidence highlights the presence of challenges as well, Moldova's dedication to quality assurance and inclusive skills development marks a promising direction for the future.

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