On Friday 22 February, EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell travelled to the North of the Kakheti region of Georgia. Together with Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, he met with a group of schoolteachers and principals who had visited Brussels on a recent study trip.
The Ambassador and the State Minister visited a state school in Birkiani and engaged in a lively conversation with both teachers and local schoolchildren. Later in the day, the 20 teachers who travelled to Brussels recently shared not only their impressions of Europe, but also some delicious traditional food from the local area of Pankisi.
“Earlier this month, teachers from Pankisi travelled to the European Union. Today the European Union visited Pankisi,” Ambassador Hartzell said. “I am truly grateful for the warm hospitality that I encountered here, and I am convinced that the teachers will spread their newly gained knowledge about the EU among their students and communities.”
During the visit to Pankisi, Ambassador Hartzell and State Minister Tsikhelashvili sat down together with representatives of local authorities, the Council of Elders and the Women's Council to discuss current issues in the Pankisi community.
This week, a group of 20 teachers from Georgia visited the Belgian capital of Brussels. All the teachers came from public schools in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge region.
They attended meetings in Brussels to learn about the local education system. The teachers also gained a better understanding of the European approach to education.
This was the first ever visit of Georgian public school teachers and principals from the Pankisi Gorge to Brussels.
On May 28, 2017 Lia Gigauri, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, Nino Buachidze, USAID representatives and Marina Ushveridze, Chief of Party of “Momavlis Taoba” program welcomed participants of Civics Teachers’ National Fair-Conference at the Tbilisi Exhibition Center.
The Civics Teachers’ National Fair-Conference brought together 250 civics teachers from all regions of Georgia to discuss innovations in the field of civics education, share experiences, and participate in professional development. Awards for the best civics teachers of the year were given to civics teachers at an award ceremony during the conference.
National Fair-Conference of Civics Teachers was held in the framework of USAID-funded Momavlis Taoba Project, which is implemented by PH International.
One of the key components of the Four Point Plan of the Government of Georgia - reform of the education system - gets launched. H.E. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia attended a presentation of the reform agenda together with the fellow Government Members.
Head of the Government of Georgia (GOG) addressed the attending audience: teachers, university professors, rectors, representatives of NGOs with a welcoming speech and wished great success to them as key stakeholders of the reform.
According to the explanations given by the Prime Minister of Georgia, this initiative is entirely oriented towards the rapid development and advancement of the country.
"Education is core to the development and progress in any country. Overall advancement without a significant development of the education system may not be achieved in Georgia. Solution to the problems challenging us in the country is embodied in the education system. That is why, its development and reform have been included in the Four Point Plan as Number One Priority. Education system should be based on progress, development, aspirations of free and happy individuals. On behalf of the entire Government, our political and parliamentary team, I wish to express our full support to the reform agenda that is being launched. Let me also wish great success to the Minister! Sandro is the person, who will superbly tackle the challenge and education system, that we will create, will thus be based on advanced technologies, access to superior quality education in the rural areas of the country, professional development of teachers and healthy life style" noted the Prime Minister of Georgia.
Head of the Government of Georgia stressed the ambitious plan of the authorities to transform Georgia into a regional hub of higher education, science and research. He expressed optimism towards successful adherence to the initiative by the authorities. In his opinion, concept behind the University City of Kutaisi will substantially advance the opportunities created in the education system of the country.
"We should have our attitude towards vocational education and have thus chosen the dual education model, which is regarded as the best model throughout the world. Higher education will be oriented towards the needs of rapid development in the country. Georgia will transform into a regional hub of science, research and education. We have all the resources and potential to materialize this goal. I believe that concept behind the University City of Kutaisi will substantially change the opportunities offered in the education system of the country and will be truly revolutionary break-through towards this end. We have the greatest potential in the face of teachers and I am confident that every effort will be made to the right direction. This is our goal and brain drain from the country will thus be substantially reduced. Nevertheless, we also need to note that it will be equally essential to allow for the inflow of talents in high numbers" added the Prime Minister of Georgia.
He expressed hopes about the education system reform, which is designed to fundamentally change the reality and advance Georgia to a substantially new stage of development.
"Let me wish great success to you all! I strongly believe that this initiative will create solid grounds for the most positive, outstanding changes in our country, thus benefiting each and every person living in the country. It will give rise to freedom, progress and rapid development in our country. All the reforms that we are launching will be based on traditional and best values, along with the synergy of these two. Once again, please accept my best wishes. I am thrilled that we are together launching a truly new life in our country" concluded the Prime Minister of Georgia.
Presentation of the Education System Reform, which was delivered by H.E. Alexander Jejelava, Minister of Education of Georgia, was attended by the Cabinet of Ministers, diplomatic corps, NGOs, university professors and teachers at large.
Reiterating my utmost respect, I would like to tell you that no step will be taken in terms of ameliorating the political and educational systems of Georgia without your involvement; this is our main message today, - Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili addressed the gathering of teachers while congratulating them in advance on their professional holiday.
The head of the Government indicated that he is aware of professional difficulties faced by teachers, since both his mother and grandmother were pedagogues.
"For decades my grandmother had been a math teacher at Komarovi School, whereas my mother was a professor at the university. My mother has passed away, and 95-year old grandmother lives with me. I have seen her falling asleep at 2 am while correcting writings of pupils many times after helping my brother and me with the assignments. Hence, I am well aware of the amount of labor and selflessness linked with this profession and I would like to bow down and show my utmost respect for each of you," - Prime Minister addressed the teachers.
According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, education has become a top priority for the Government both in word and in deed and some serious steps are planned in this area.
According to the Prime Minister, much has been done to promote the importance of education. The head of the Government accentuated importance of depoliticization of education system.
"We cannot brainwash people at schools and universities by developing their mindset in one direction. Everyone is entitled to their civic positions, however, since politics in Georgia is still closely associated with confrontation and hostility, we aim at maximally distancing politics from schools and education system at large. I know that it is a pre-election period, but I am not afraid to say this, since our strength shall lie with this message - we shall focus of the quality of education. Four years ago we concentrated on raising the quality of education and prioritize theoretical and practical preparation; we also aim at development of patriotic spirit among the school students through sharing universal values and forming consciences for faithful citizenship. We realize that relevant talks shall be launched at school. We increased the funding sufficiently and funds allocated for the general education was 348 million GEL; growth of funding was over 54% and in 2016 it was 572 million GEL," - Prime Minister noted and indicated that with funding the education will become one of the top priorities.
The head of the Government stated that the wages of teachers have grown and will continue to grow; teachers' mean salary in 2017 will be 800 GEL; this is important and progress in this area will continue.
According to the Prime Minister, schoolchildren, students and scholars shall be in the limelight of system's Ministry's and Government's attention.
According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the Government has introduced the principle of allocating free books to schoolchildren, recovering school bus system at the villages, where pupils and teachers had to walk many kilometers to school; in the villages where pupils did not attend schools the attendance increased by 95% and this is a major achievement.
"We are drafting new strategy and the most important thing I would like to indicate is that we wish to strip the term "reform" off punitive connotations; we would like to link it to positive changes welcomed by and agreed with each of you; we are willing to administer reforms developed with your involvement and while taking into consideration your opinions; we do not wish to impose ideas that contradict your experience; your experience shall be the starting point of any step taken in the future. Today's meeting serves the purpose of hearing out your opinions and considering them in our future endevours," - Prime Minister noted in his conversation with the pedagogues.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili commended introduction of psychologist's service at schools, recovering the medical service as well as sports activities systems that are becoming increasingly wider and more available. The head of the Government also highlighted the inclusive education system that will become a focal point of the future policy measures to ensure that education is equally accessible to everyone.
According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the Minister of Education has viable ideas concerning introduction of modern technologies in the education system thus streamlining the efforts of teachers. It is planned to introduce the concept of so called free lessons.
"These all will ensure streamlining of your activities and making the academic process much more interesting, attractive and entertaining. Thus the school will become a place where pupils are eager to go, where they can obtain education and have a normal talk with their teachers about any topic that bothers them. This is very important. For this purpose, it is intended to introduce the concept of free lessons, to enable schoolchildren and teachers discuss wide range of topics. As a result, we have to attain amelioration of the quality of education and requalification of the teachers. Tests and exams shall not be a punitive mechanism for the teachers, rather, pedagogues have to undergo preparatory procedures and be willing to obtain the certification of his/her increased qualification rather than be waiting for the exam with fear. I am convinced that we will achieve this. The profession of a teacher - as a central, strategic and determining career shall become rewarding and prestigious. This is our goal and I am sure that we will be able to realize it," - Prime Minister noted.
According to the head of the Government, renovation of the school infrastructure remains to be a top priority. Around 1600 public schools have been restored, whereas 10 new schools are being finalized and 10 have opened; it is also intended to fully rehabilitate around 100 public schools and arrange the natural science labs important for the quality of education; 12 such labs have already been arranged.
The Prime Minister also elaborated on 1990ies, when the pedagogues have to undergo difficult times and noted that his children attended school at this period.
"I can recall classrooms heated with Iranian ovens, I am sorry to be mentioning this, but I can recall teachers with food and austerity problems, but selflessly and vigorously taught future generations and as a result academic process was uninterrupted. Due to the energy and health of these people we can be proud of the younger generation. I mean the generation of my older child - a generation that we are rightfully proud of. I would like to thank you once again for this and I would like to bow my head before each of you. I would like to assure you that we will show you selflessness and an utmost respect for you. You will see in our words and in our actions that we fully comprehend an importance of education and that this is the top priority for the Government and this we will show you this with our words, actions, funding, attention and respect," - Prime Minister addressed the teachers.
500 pedagogues from various schools attended the Q&A meeting.