Georgians have very high standards and expectations for education. Yet, Georgia’s education system has not always lived up to those expectations, particularly over the past two decades. While successive governments have endeavored to improve the quality and efficiency of the system, reform efforts have often been impeded by a shortage of financial resources and limited institutional capacity.
To support Georgia in its ongoing efforts, the World Bank recently carried out a comprehensive study of the country’s education system and identified a comprehensive set of recommendations that can provide strategic direction going forward.
The analysis looked at all levels of education, from development of preschool to general and tertiary education, and science. In addition, the study assessed the quality and accessibility of education in the country, the importance of which is outlined by the Bologna Process and recommended by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.
Georgia’s Minister of Education and Science, Tamar Sanikidze, recently acknowledged the relevance and timeliness of the study. “The document, reflecting the main directions of development of the education and science system, is based on the priorities of the government’s Socio-Economic Development Strategy-2020,” says Sanikidze. “These include employment, job creation and supporting the formation of innovation based economy. Preparing relevant staff and strengthening research potential in the education system is very important in that regard, and the Ministry of Education and Science will actively participate in that process.”
When Georgia’s education system is compared with those of the world’s leading countries, several weaknesses stand out. The study proposes ways to address those challenges and outlines overall directions for a concrete action plan – which will be taken into consideration by Georgia’s government when planning state budgets for the coming years.
Several important education reforms have been implemented in Georgia over the past decade, leading to improvements in transparency and efficiency in the sector. But, the overall quality of education is still cause for concern: across all levels, student outcomes in key areas such as reading comprehension, mathematics and science are lower than they should be.
“Georgia’s prospects to compete in the global economy will largely depend on its ability to produce a highly-skilled workforce via improved teaching and learning,” says Henry Kerali, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus. “Creating improvements requires a long-term and sustained effort as evidenced by the experience of many countries with now advanced education systems. Georgia can benefit from the experiences and lessons learned from these school systems, which have made impressive gains.”
The strategic directions of the World Bank study were discussed at a conference in Tbilisi on 21 December 2014, attended by parliamentarians and representatives from general, vocational and tertiary education, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations.