EPFL and the Canton of Vaud’s Department of Education, Youth and Culture (DFJC) have entered into a cooperation agreement that formalizes the already close ties between the two institutions. The agreement, signed on 20 September 2019, spells out their shared goals and desire to develop joint responses to the challenges arising from digitalization. The agreement also provides a framework for incorporating digital topics into school curricula, based on pilot tests being carried out in the Canton.
EPFL President Martin Vetterli and Cesla Amarelle, the head of the Canton of Vaud’s Department of Education, Youth and Culture, signed the agreement on 20 September, paving the way to closer collaboration in the field of education. The goal is to provide a framework for specific initiatives related to digitalization and innovative teaching methods in EPFL’s core subjects. For instance, one initiative involves leveraging the research being carried out at EPFL’s Center for Learning Science (LEARN) to enhance teaching practices across Vaud. Schoolteachers at all levels will be able to acquire the skills needed for preparing students for the digital age – whether by giving them a basic knowledge of computer science, showing them how to best use digital technology or equipping them to tackle related challenges. Another initiative relates to providing training for high-school teachers ahead of the requirement that, starting in 2022, computer science courses be given in all Swiss high schools; this requirement is set out in a directive issued by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education.
Numerous areas of cooperation
The agreement provides for cooperation in a variety of areas alongside digital education. These include measures to enhance the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects – such as through PLUS program – and to shore up existing mathematics courses. The agreement will also strengthen the institutions’ joint R&D efforts, the development of MOOCs and the deployment of systems to prevent cyberbullying. EPFL and the Canton of Vaud will aim to encourage children and teenagers – especially young girls – to pursue degrees in science and engineering.
EPFL is pleased to be partnering with a pioneering Canton that plays an active role in using EPFL’s knowledge in educational science to improve its entire educational system. EPFL is also looking forward to working more closely with teachers and other learning professionals to develop and test new teaching methods, measure their effectiveness and design novel teaching approaches.
Strengthening an already beneficial partnership
This agreement, which is renewable every four years, allows EPFL to formalize a new kind of partnership with the Canton, and the Canton to benefit from EPFL’s competencies, which are unique in Switzerland. It also provides an opportunity for both institutions to take stock of their already close ties and thank the flexible, enterprising staff who have worked hard to make this collaboration possible.