The Minister of Education and Science Dimitri Shashkini and the staff of TLG have finished a series of meetings with TLG volunteers. The meetings were held across Georgia in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi and Batumi.
TLG volunteers had the opportunity to ask the Minister questions regarding new developments and reforms within the Georgian education system. The volunteers also shared their own experiences teaching in public schools, allowing the Minister to hear first hand their challenges and concerns. Common challenges faced by the volunteers included lack of coordination with Georgian co-teachers; power outages due to the weather conditions, especially in the villages; infrastructure problems; lack of supplies such as schoolbooks and dictionaries; and student discipline and attendance issues.
In addition to addressing the issues mentioned above and expressing his gratitude to the volunteers for their service and their special role in the Georgian education system, the Minister took time to explain some of the reforms currently underway across Georgia, such as:
Creation of the new National Curriculum; beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, the new curriculum will be introduced to the first through sixth grade levels. In the following 2012-2013 school year, the new curriculum will be introduced to the seventh through twelfth grades. It contains 60%-80% compulsory content, which includes English instruction beginning in the first grade. New subjects have also been added, such as information and communication technologies, world culture and religions, and a heavier emphasis on mathematics and sciences.
Minister Shashkini spoke about the goal of supplying all first graders with Netbooks. In September 2010, the first 3,000 first-graders received their Netbooks. The computers have wireless ability and come packaged with educational programs and games.
Certification of teachers; In order to regulate the quality of public school teachers, the teachers will undergo professional development training and a certification process, in both teaching methodology and in their subject areas. Until 2014 completing the certification process is voluntary. For the teachers who take the test this year, they will receive a pay raise of 75 GEL. Eventually, all teachers will essentially need to regain their right to teach and their salaries will be raised to 1000 GEL.
In addition to teacher certification, the Minister also described efforts to increase school director efficiency and professionalism. Minister Shashkini hopes to create a system where school directors are expert managers in order to make their schools more dynamic and competitive.
The Minister also reiterated that TLG is an essential part of this comprehensive reform and a vital piece of the puzzle that will improve the entire education system. TLG is not a purely educational program; it is also critical to the further development and globalization of Georgia.