Estonian and eSwatini National Commissions for UNESCO started cooperation

In 2019, a pilot project on interregional youth volunteering and ASPnet is implemented by Estonian and eSwatini National Commissions for UNESCO. The pilot project initiates UNESCO ASPnet cooperation and school links between Estonia and eSwatini, and encourages the exchange of experiences and best practices. The cooperation supports the building of youth´s social skills and personality formation, the development of youth’s international and intercultural capacities, empathy and openness towards the world and other cultures, as well as contributes to the work of both National Commissions. 

For the pilot project, an open call was announced in May to find a young Estonian volunteer, who was offered a possibility to participate in the work of National Commissions, with a focus on eSwatini. A three-months program consists of three weeks introduction and preparation phase at the office of Estonian National Commission, followed by ten weeks volunteering period in eSwatini.

A fresh graduate of history and international relations studies from the University of Tartu, Laura Toomlaid, was selected for the program. In eSwatini, Laura assists local education programme officer, participates in education and UNESCO related meetings, organises together with eSwatini colleagues teacher trainings for ASPnet teachers, helps Estonian and eSwatini schools to create contacts, etc. eSwatini National Commission is located in the Ministry of Education and according to Laura, she has learned a lot during her volunteering period, truly enjoyed her time there and values highly the possibility to contribute to the cooperation of the National Commissions as well as to the development and support of eSwatini UNESCO ASPnet and school links between the two countries.

The cooperation strengthens the capacities of Estonian and eSwatini Commissions and it is expected that further possible cooperation areas between the two commissions will be pursued. Also, Estonian National Commission hopes to host eSwatini colleagues in Estonia for a return study and cooperation visit in the future.

The cooperation is funded by Estonian National Commission for UNESCO, but was started with the help of German National Commission, who is active in several African countrites, incl. eSwatini, and elsewhere. Parallel to Estonian program and young volunteer, there are two young German volunteers in eSwatini. German Commission has been working with national commissions on international youth volunteering for ten years and a further youth volunteering program with UNESCO MAB areas, Geoparks and World Heritage sites was started in 2019.