The Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, Mikheil Batiashvili introduced the report on reforming stating that the society agrees on the fundamental role of education and science for development of the country.
“The vision of the reforming, its stages and system nature of the changes is introduced within the 3-month plan comprising the first stage of the reform and covering all sectors of education”, - he noted.
The reform was developed in collaboration with Georgian and international experts and international organizations. The Ministry hosted the active consultations for 3 weeks and 12 presentations. “It is the system reform covering all directions and concerning the pre-school, school, vocational and higher education and science. Our vision is the uniform system reform instead of the standalone steps, which cannot give the complete picture of the expected outcomes”.
Pre-school education was named as the primary task. The concept is being developed based on the vision and future achievements. New syllabuses will be established based on inclusive and civil education principles. “We work on certification of the pedagogues at this stage and respective salaries. We will introduce our uniform approach in the end of spring”.
The changes will be introduced in the lessons as well: “We shall move from the accumulation of knowledge to development of the skills: practical mindset, creative mindset, cooperation, communication, responsibility and literacy”.
150 public schools will have new model. “It is the model to serve as the basis for future education. It is the children maximally engaged in the process of the lessons, it is use of technologies at the lessons. We have outlined our plan according to years. The first stage envisages assessment and studies to then make the further respective steps on the basis of the discussion with the specialists”.
The program will cover all schools for 2023-2024. There are main principles of the reform: “enhancement of schools, autonomy and decentralization, transformation from bureaucracy to creative issues. The School Principle shall be the leader”.
The schools will be equipped with PCs and WiFi. The netbooks for the I grade children will be modified with Minecraft Education Edition, Scratch and other software. The website el.ge will be developed to accumulate educational and cognitive resources.
The Minister emphasized the pedagogues’ scheme: “In May, we will introduce the certain plan about salaries for the pedagogues and the salaries will increase as of September. As promised, the main principles of the reform are: enhancement of schools, autonomy and decentralization, transformation from bureaucracy to creative issues. The School Principle shall be the leader and oriented to the creative aspects”.
The pedagogues shall have the opportunity to pass the test and improve qualification: “In long-term run we shall maximize the institution with self-care on development quality. In May, we will introduce the certain plan about salaries for the pedagogues and the salaries will increase as of September”.
He spoke about the changes in vocational education: “The budget increased three times for construction of new schools and rehabilitation of the old ones. However, it is not enough and we will keep this tendency to at maximal extent timely solve the infrastructural problems. The Ministry along with the Infrastructural Ministry and other partners has developed the system approach to solve the infrastructural problems in schools according to priorities”.
In 2019, 8 new schools will be built of modern standards: Tbilisi Public Schools N86, 138 and 55, and inclusive schools N202 and 203, and public schools in Terjola, Tkibuli and Kaspi regions. MDF will fund construction of 27 new schools. The ESIDA will fund rehabilitation of 3 public schools (Zestafoni N1; Ozurgeti N1, Tbilisi N214) and MDF will fund rehabilitation of 82 public schools. 49 schools in spring and 100 schools in autumn will be rehabilitated.
The particular attention will be attached to the public schools in the regions. 9 new schools will be built in Tkibuli (N7), Mukhura village, Marneuli N1, Soso Gviniashvili School in Zemo Kachreti, village Etsera in Tsalenjikha region, Tbilisi N2, village Plevi of Khashuri region, village Shromisubani of Lanchkhuti region and the village Mukhura of Mestia Municipality. The New Education and Science City will be built. The schools will have qualitatively new Supervisory Service oriented to care and creation of violence-free environment. As a result of intensive cooperation with NASRO for the last 3 months, we have developed the qualitatively different approaches with special attention to the emotional state of the children.
We enhance the supervisory service and mental service centers in schools. The first document “Security and Public Order Regulations in Schools of General Education” will regulate the relations between the Supervisory Service, MIA, Social Service Agency. In view of prompt response to crisis, the schools will have the crisis intervention group. Violence-free environment will be ensured by mental service centers, supervisor officers and crisis intervention group.
Supervisor officers will be dispatched to 260 more schools. 2 new mental service centers will be added to Samtskhe-Javakheti and Samegrelo regions. The Ministry aims to the vocational education to be oriented to regional needs and rapid employment. Thus, 11 new locations exist in the municipalities already. “Enhancement of vocational education in the regions is paramount, especially that the studies revealed increased interest to vocational education in the regions”.
The persons with special education needs will have the opportunity to study the higher vocational programs. The Minister spoke about changes in the higher education: “The Universities are allowed receiving the students through the tests of the profile subjects necessary for their future education”.
The entrance exams will be mandatory in 3 subjects: Georgian language, foreign language and the third subject according to the syllabuses: mathematics – technical and history – humanitarian profile. Basic skills will no longer be mandatory. The XI and XII grade children will not pass the tests. The mandatory basic education system will increase from 9 to 10 years. “Our vision is directed to the European educational space”.
The Minister emphasized facilitation to science: “higher quality education starts with science”. 32 ml GEL is allocated to fund science. Georgia will access EURAXESS in 2019 through EURAXESS-Georgia portal. Currently, the portal comprises more than 40 countries. ERC standards, blockchains and 3D technologies will be established to enhance science management. The state will fund access to ELSEVIER for Universities and SRIs. The young scientists will be encouraged with nominal scholarships and visits to ERC, DAAD, French Institution etc.
MPs asked about annulment of school tests, basic skills tests and inclusive education. Speaking about the Black Sea University, the Minister elucidated that the decision of the Board to suspend receipt of the first year students was based on the financial liability of the University. “If the University loses authorization, it has a year to re-apply – this approach is not proper and as the Universities may eliminate the problems within the month but still wait a year. In the event, if the University timely eliminates the gaps, we will hail it”.
About mobility he noted that the students are not allowed to participate in mobility for the first year. The tests are annulled on the basis of the consultations with the Georgian and international experts. In response to the question what was the basis for the concept, he noted the organizations engaged in the consultations: Training and Consultations Center; Civil Development Institute; Civil Relations and Initiatives Center; Education4All; School Administrations, as well as the WB, ADB, USAID, MCC, UNICEF, EU Delegation, US Administration, Switzerland and other funds, Microsoft, as well as the pedagogues.
“We plan the field sitting of the Committee with participation of Deputies and Heads of the LEPLs. We want to ensure maximally close cooperation with all organizations. The final document will soon become strategic”, - the Minister stated.
The study results will be uploaded on the website of the Ministry reflecting the basis for the decision to annul CAT tests. The reform is directed to increase autonomy of the Universities. “The difference between the region and the Capital in the basic skills tests is 8-9 points because the children in the regions lack the opportunity of the additional lessons. The basic skills tests initially were oriented to the noble result: elimination of social inequality. In fact, the statistic data revealed that these tests have become the standalone sphere with the consultants and special literature. The task to eliminate inequality was not accomplished. We increased the budget for the infrastructural projects but it is not enough. We need some more billions of GEL to accomplish rehabilitation. At this stage, we need the uniform base to be guided under”.
Regarding Zugdidi School N6 incident, he noted that he will introduce the detailed statistic data about inspection of the schools. “I am ready to introduce the complete report and answer the questions. I am the Head of this structure and bear sole responsibility for all the processes – starting from the inspection up to the reforms. Our duty is to promptly response to the violations. The consideration dates of the Board of Trustees do not concern the elections. Respective unit of the Ministry holds regular inspections in various schools. It serves for assessment of schools, elimination of gaps etc. In fact, it is the Parliament that shall demand inspection from the Ministry”.
As to merging the Ministries, he gave the positive assessment and as to the tragedy of Khorava street, he stated that the recommendations of the Commission issued to the Ministry are fulfilled. Speaking about the first document on “Security and Public Order Regulations in Schools of General Education”, it is the mechanism for coordination between the supervisor officers and school. For risk assessment and provision of security and order in schools, the software is under development to ensure high engagement of parents, school administration, officers and Education Ministry in the school program.
The Board of Advisors is established in schools. The internet portal www.befriend.mes.gov.ge is in the test regime and allows online mental consultation. The schools have the crisis intervention group to study the situation in situ and undertake all necessary measures to reduce mental damage of the children. The Police Academy will train 1300 supervisor officers for 2021 and they will be equipped with metal detectors.
Speaking about the guideline developed by the Defense Ministry, he hailed the patriotic aspiration: “At this stage, the guideline is in pilot regime in one of the schools. As soon as the pilot mood is over, we will discuss establishment of this model”.
About religion in schools, the Minister noted that many schools have religion as a subject. In response to the question if the Ministry struggles against the tutors, he answered that the “Ministry does not struggle against the tutors but it is inadmissible to have only tutors as providers of education. Any person – parent, pupil or the tutor are free to make choice, though the system shall not serve this sphere only”.
The concept of the education city shall move to the regions: “Kutaisi is one of the cities with the greatest tradition, including the School of Maths. As to Kutaisi Technological University, we have developed the syllabuses in cooperation with the Munich Technological University and hold construction of the campus. It will be accomplished in summer”.
He agreed with the idea of the uniform strategy and long-term vision. “It shall no longer depend on the Ministers. Each step made during the reform will be measured and followed with the assessments. These results will show correctness of the strategy we have developed”.
Significant deficit is evident in sports education: “There are the problems in infrastructure but the problems are acuter in terms of the pedagogues”.
Speaking about the salaries of the pedagogues, he mentioned the new financing model. “We actively cooperate with the WB experts to develop the new model for stimulation of Universities. The Voucher system remains valid. As to the resource directed to free faculties, it will be distributed to the indices within the new model”.
The Minister spoke about the mother language: “ We are actively engaged in re-inclusion of the school primer of Iakob Gogebashvili to school subjects”.
The Chair of the Education, Science and Culture Committee, Mariam Jashi thanked the Minister for the report: “The number of the questions was unprecedented as the changes in education are very important for each and every of us”.
She emphasized some of the aspects of the report: “After the legislative initiative at the early and pre-school education stage adopted by the VIII Term and intensively monitored by the Parliament, the significant agreement is achieved in terms that the Education Ministry to establish on the national level the early and pre-school education system structure to coordinate development of education policy and to ensure quality improvement”.
As to the school education, she emphasized: “I hail the investments in infrastructure. The budget for the infrastructure has been increased three-fold. In 2019, we will have 9 new schools. 265 schools will be rehabilitated. 29 new schools are already built with support of MCC and more than 35 000 pupils enjoy better conditions. This project is supported by our strategic partner –USA”.
She outlined school resource officer reform: “In terms of the Parliamentary oversight, in 2018 we have developed the Bill on school resource officers to ensure safety in schools. I hail provision of this service in the regional schools to coordinate establishment of the changes”.
She expressed her position about the tests: “I, as the Chair of the Committee, have been critical to the current test system. It required modification. The tests failed to meet the education improvement tasks and despite that no final position has been achieved by us on annulment of the tests, the tests were not effective and school was oriented to the tests solely instead of improvement of education”.
M. Jashi emphasized the shadow education problems stating that at least 100 ml GEL is spent by the society. “Despite, I confirm my greatest respect to every pedagogue who in schools of beyond undertake pedagogical activity. We shall not oblige the parents for the right guaranteed under the Constitution to spend much more for education of their children for the test oriented system”.
It is necessary to increase the motivation of the pedagogues: “It was announced by the Prime Minister. In upcoming years, we will equally increase the salaries of the pedagogues not in schools only but in the kindergartens and in informal education institutions. The pedagogues of the art schools still have the low salaries. I also hail merging of the Ministries as it will affect improvement of the arts education and sports education”.
The new law on vocational education is successfully established.
She thanked all pedagogues for their active engagement of development of the law. “School N57 is already offers the vocational education. 8 new colleges will be built in 2019-2020. Significant change is equalization of the private colleges with the public colleges. 2019 is the first year when the private colleges will receive state financing. The legislative deadlock is as well eliminated and since spring, 2019 the students will be able to simultaneously participate in integrated program”.
As to science, the finance shall be increased: “We shall maximally emphasize engagement of Georgian scientists in international programs”.
She stressed the problem which the Committee will solve along with the Ministry. “It is the problem of the premises for the Institute of Linguistics; National Manuscript Center; Central Music School and Chabukiani Ballet School. The problem remains in investments, in the status-terminated students the part of which stops studying due to termination of financing and here, the private sector will be of high importance”.
She underlined importance of uninterrupted coordination: “Education Ministry enhanced regular coordination with the pedagogues by means of the resources, though in terms of the announced system reform, it is important to deliver every change to the pedagogues, parents and pupils”.
The Committee plans the field sitting in Borjomi on February 13-15 attended by the Education Minister to sum up the action plan for 2019.