- CRITTER TALK
- NEWS I FIND INTERESTING
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Situated at the juncture of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the east by Azerbaijan. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 km², slightly smaller than California, and its population is almost 4.5 million. Georgia’s constitution is that of a representative democracy, organized as a unitary, semi-presidential republic.
Georgia has to import all gas and oil, the things that currently drive world economies. So, without those resources they are turning to education, the government wants to make its people the best educated in the region, they see teaching English to all students as a key element.
As an ex-satellite of the old Soviet Empire, Russian was the first (maybe the only) foreign language taught to students, not any more.
The Georgian government, as well as importing oil and gas, has recruited a 1,000 volunteer English teachers. They have come from the US, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand as well as Scandinavia and eastern Europe. The aim is to have all schoolchildren fluent in English, the reason, to make them competitive in the world markets.
Could the sour political relations between Russia and Georgia, at an all-time low since their conflict in 2008, be driving the attitude of Georgia’s youngsters? How will Russia respond to a well educated population who wants to join NATO and the EU on their doorstep?
The modernization of Georgian schools began more than five years ago, when corruption was rife in the post-Soviet education system.
By 2008, according to Unesco, Georgia was still spending less of its state budget on education than any other former Soviet country.
According to the same figures, only 25% of youngsters were continuing their studies at university.
The education minister says he is starting to address these issues. He says £2.8m ($4.5m, 3.3m euros) has been spent on text books for children from poorer backgrounds.
“Education brings prosperity,” says Mr Shashkini. “When the children have this feeling of fairness [and] when there is no corruption in the exam system, [there will be] results.”
Click here for reuse options!