Adult Education Centres in Samtskhe-Javakheti

Country Profile: Georgia

Population

4.4 millions

Official Languages

Georgian

Primary School Net Enrolment/Attendance

93.7% (2007)

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

74% (2006)

Poverty (Population living on less than US$2 per day)

6.5 % (2003)

Sources

Programme Overview

Programme TitleAdult Education Centres in Samtskhe-Javakheti
Implementing OrganizationInstitute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (dvv international) Georgia; Adult Education Association of Georgia (AEAG)
Language of InstructionGeorgian, Armenian, Azeri and others
FundingGerman Government (BMZ) and European Union
Programme PartnersUnion of Democrat Meskhs; Adult Education Association of Georgia
Annual Programme Costs500.000 EUR (approx. 377.000 USD)
Date of Inception2006

Context and Background

Georgia – A multinational nation between poverty and industrialisation

Georgia finds itself in an ongoing process of democratisation and the development of a national civic identity. After the civil conflicts and political tensions that continued until the mid 90s, Georgia’s economy is registering exceeding growth. Looking to Western Europe, it is eager to be part of the European community while relations with its geographical neighbour Russia are difficult. Despite ongoing development, the country faces serious challenges like high unemployment, especially in rural and remote areas.

Georgia is a traditional multiethnic nation and is host to more than 26 ethnic groups. Little progress has been achieved in integrating Armenian and Azeri minorities, who make up over 12 per cent of the population. Although some efforts have been made by Armenian and Azeri representatives, they remain underrepresented in almost every political institution. Tensions within regions in southern Georgia, where ethnic minorities struggle for their rights, are evident. It is usual to speak of an integration problem here. Armenian and Azeri people frequently migrate to Armenia and Russia.

Samtskhe-Javakheti – Isolated in South Georgia

Samtskhe-Javakheti is one of 12 political regions, situated in South Georgia and predominantly populated with an Armenian minority. Cut off from the capital by a mountain range it finds itself geographically isolated from political decision-makers in Tbilisi. There is very little economic, social and cultural interaction between this region and the rest of the country which leads to conditions of poverty, unemployment and resignation.

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Some steps have been taken to improve the life of the Armenian minority. With donor support, Georgia has invested in road and infrastructure rehabilitation in Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli and created a Ministry for Civic Integration. Georgia has already ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, but overall defence of minorities’ rights has to be still improved.

The minorities’ biggest problem in Samtskhe-Javakheti is the inability to speak Georgian, the national language. State jobs and professional licenses are dependent on knowing Georgian and passing new qualification exams. But language instruction in schools is inadequate, and few minorities are attending higher education institutions. Therefore courses for mastering the Georgian language and courses providing training in income generation are essential, such as basic skills in understanding the market economy.

Literacy rate among minorities

Literacy is an important factor in overcoming poverty and, especially for minorities, integrating into society. Although official data displays an adult literacy rate of 100 per cent (UNDP 2008) a substantial part of the minority population, especially in remote areas like Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli does not possess sufficient functional literacy skills to carry out jobs within the public sector.

The indicated UNDP literacy rate is obviously based on the positive achievement reached before the collapse of the Soviet Union when 100 per cent of the population was literate. But today these data should probably be critically revised as, on the one hand, they do not include levels of functional literacy, and on the other hand, no data collection is being carried out in Georgia.

Adult Education Centres

Programme Implementation

Adults in Samtskhe-Javakheti have not had many opportunities in additional/further education. Supported by the advocacy activities of the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (dvv international) Georgia and the Adult Education Association of Georgia (AEAG), democratic adult learning and the concept of livelong learning has only become a subject very recently. The modernisation of the vocational education system is in its initial phase. Two adult education centres were established in Samtskhe-Javakheti: one in Akhalzikhe, the capital of the region and another in the second biggest town, Akhalkalaki. These two centres were the location for pilot adult education activities and are an important example to other districts and regions. The annual cost of the programme mounts up to 200.000 EUR (approximately 265.000 USD) while the cost per learner is averaged out to 100 EUR (approximately. 133 USD) for a training course lasting two to three months. In both centres approximately 20 facilitators offer courses to groups with an average size of seven to nine learners.

Target Group

The main target group of the programme is adolescents and adults from the region, especially ethnic and religious minorities. To understand and accommodate the learners’ needs, the community is involved in the planning and implementing of the course programme. Steering committees were established at a local level in both adult education centres (AEC) and one of their roles was to collect ideas for development of the AECs and their programmes and to assure transparency and accountability towards the local target groups. Representatives of local government, the NGO-community and of local media were invited to participate in the meetings of the steering committee on a volunteer basis. Meetings of the steering committee were organised on a quarterly basis.

For advertising the programme and to motivate individuals to participate, announcements were made using local bilingual (Georgian-Armenian) newspapers and local TV stations. Furthermore, the announcement board and the distribution of leaflets were used to spread information about the offered educational services.

Programme Objective

The project’s overall objective is the protection of rights of different ethnic and religious minorities living in Samtskhe-Javakheti, and the reintegration of these minorities into the country’s civil society.

The project’s specific objective lies in the development of human resources in Samtskhe-Javakheti in order to increase the level of participation by the local population in the public, economic and cultural life of the region and the country.

Approaches and Methodology

The adult education centres run different types of activities: free legal consultation, cultural events, debates, lectures and exhibitions or meetings, as well as an elaborated programme in continuing education courses, which form the core of the activities.

Through continuing education courses the main group of beneficiaries – representatives of the local population – get access to civil education programmes. The adult education centres offer vocational training courses like computer or handicraft courses, language classes and various cultural events. The implemented course programme comprises of one to four months training in different subjects, addressing participants’ assessed needs and interests.

The courses include the following topics:

A variety of modern interactive methods of adult education such as lectures, presentations followed by discussions, group work, role playing, facilitated discussions, brainstorming are used during the training activities at the AECs. The training manuals and handouts used are those developed by the AEC trainers, alongside textbooks and other educative materials, which are developed by adult education providers and the Ministry of Education and Science. The language of instruction is mainly Georgian, but in the area of Akhalkalaki, Russian is also used.

The most popular courses are the computer, small business and office manager courses. The participants of the courses are: beginners, those having related professions, those with certain experience, and representatives from ethnic minorities. The knowledge and experience acquired at the courses became a promoting factor for most of them in starting their own businesses, finding employment and improving their job opportunities.

Computer Courses

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The computer courses help professionals such as teachers, medical doctors, accountants and public servants in their activities. Mastering computer skills free of charge (773 students in all) helped the representatives of various social strata meet the current demands of the employment market. The computer courses were in high demand at the AECs. The computer equipment was also actively used during other training activities of the AEC.

Georgian Language

The use of the Georgian language facilitates the integration of the local non-Georgian population into their community and helps with their professional communication. For instance, several participants who worked as hotel administrators found the language classes useful for talking to their customers. For the repatriated Meskhetians the knowledge acquired at the coursers is a significant help with communication and reintegration. The teachers of the Armenian schools also show interest in these courses.

Handicraft courses

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These courses are mainly helpful in the process of socialising the unemployed population, increasing their involvement in civil processes and reintegration into public life. For successful students, the acquired knowledge helped with starting income-generating activities.

Learners’ Assessment and Evaluation

To track learning achievements participants of computer courses needed to pass a test at the end of the course. After completing any training course the learners fill in a feedback questionnaire to evaluate the course and to give proposals for future course design. The results are used for internal evaluations like the one undertaken in 2007, one year after the implementation of the programme. An external evaluation was carried out by an independent consultant in 2008. The report incorporates perceptions from lecturers, learners and public and describes the programme impact and effectiveness.

Impact

In the two-year programme period from 2006 to 2008 more than 3,500 learners participated in computer, entrepreneurship/small business, language (Georgian) and VET courses. More than 2,000 learners took part in the civic awareness programme and more than 1,200 learners obtained free legal advice.

The external evaluation report states that the project has been well managed with high-quality administration in terms of financial management, documentation and reporting as well as narrative reporting. The project activities have been largely delivered according to the proposal and activity plans with small and justified deviations in terms of scope and timing.

Most deliverables of the AECs have been highly effective in increasing participation of local citizens in public, economical and cultural life. The majority of graduates from the Akhaltsikhe adult education centre declared in the evaluation process that the courses taken in the centre helped them in the process of integration and in finding employment through improving their qualifications. Furthermore, the AEC has achieved high recognition and appreciation by the local community, central government institutions and international stakeholders.

Sustainability

At the end of the programme the centres were not closed down. After the accomplishment of the project period, the centres (buildings and equipment) were transferred to the ownership of the project partner, the Adult Education Association of Georgia (AEAG). Since 2009 educational activities have been taking place in both centres, either fee based or through various granted projects.

Lessons Learned

Based on the external evaluation report in 2008, the following lessons learned have been identified: -The directors of AECs should receive respective training in advanced management skills such as leadership, human resources management, strategic planning, organisational development and marketing, followed-up by on the job advice (coaching). Individual learning needs should be considered. -Continued attention should be given to the (further) qualification of trainers. This is more difficult, as they are employed on a fee basis. The obligation to stick to AEC training quality criteria should be part of contracting. The AEC managers should monitor trainer performance and be able to give methodological advice. They should also monitor the quality of course curricula and materials. Mechanisms for experience exchange and mutual learning among trainers should be identified and applied (periodical trainer meetings, supervision, coaching by more experienced and qualified trainers). - The AECs have to find the right balance ‹between mission and market›. On the one hand, they are mission-based by promoting civil values, aimed at increased participation, giving access to education to underprivileged groups. On the other hand, they have to develop market-orientation aiming at cost-recovery and financial sustainability of the AECs.

Sources

Contact

Levan Kvatchadze
Dvv international – Georgia
Napareuli str. 4 / Apt. 5, 0179
Tbilisi, Georgia
Phone: + 995 32 / 251752 or 913475 (office);
Fax: + 995 32 / 913475
Email: info (at) dvv-international.ge
Website: http://www.dvv-international.ge

Last update: 16 July 2010