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The WCO Fellowship Programme is modernizing

14 June 2023

The Fellowship Programme will combine online and in-person activities from September 2023 onwards. Already used for several activities, the method is expected to be cost-effective and to provide Fellows with an equally rewarding experience.

As with the rest of the world and other sectors, COVID-19 had a massive impact on business continuity at the WCO, and the Secretariat had to adapt to work with Customs administrations entirely remotely, including when providing technical assistance. As the remote working methods proved to be effective, some activities continued to be conducted virtually once travel restrictions were lifted.

To ensure overall consistency, the Secretariat engaged in a review process of the delivery modes of all capacity building activities and programmes. The goal was to determine which type of activities, depending on requirements and objectives, should be carried out remotely, in person or using a blended delivery mode (i.e. combining online/virtual and in-person components). During discussions at the February 2023 meeting of the Capacity Building Committee on Assessing the effectiveness of the online, on-site and blended approaches to Capacity Building activities, the Secretariat presented the results of the review and argued that using a blended approach, when possible, was cost-effective and offered sustainable results.

The method is to be applied to the Fellowship Programme from its 87th session for French-speaking officers, which is scheduled from 18 September to 3 November 2023. Launched in 1985, the WCO Fellowship Programme forms part of the WCO’s initiatives to enable Customs officers from developing countries to acquire sound knowledge of internationally recognized Customs standards, techniques and practices, and to bolster their supervisory and management capacities so as to help them carry out reform and modernization within their respective administrations.

Under the traditional format, during their six-week stay, Fellows were made acquainted with WCO standards and tools, and undertook a research study on a Customs topic of choice (first component); participated in a Leadership and Management Development (LMD) workshop (second component); and visited a Customs administration for a practical field study (third component).

Under the new format, the first component is to be delivered entirely remotely, while the other components are to be delivered in a face-to-face mode. Actually, this formula was used during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the LMD workshop and field visits scheduled for when health and travel restrictions allowed. The duration of the programme has been slightly modified, with the programme extended by one week.

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