Education

Myth that the west is interested in worsening Georgia’s education and science system is groundless

31 August, 2015

Simon Janashia

For many years now, the Georgian state has been receiving a substantial assistance from Western countries and private sponsors to develop the education sphere. Georgia receives monetary assistance in the form of grants and loans to achieve a significant improvement in the education system. Among those loans was the loan from the World Bank, which was quite substantial and spent, for example, to set up a unified national examination system. As for the grants, they have been awarded for many years now to enable Georgian scientists to purchase needed equipment, to establish contacts with foreign colleagues, to conduct researches, et cetera. Other useful targeted programs have also been implemented. For example, one of the largest financial gifts, a grant from the government of Japan, was used to translate more than 60 modern textbooks in the field of education thereby enabling Georgian students and teachers to get familiar with professional literature, latest achievements in education and science.

The second important direction of assistance to improve the education system is the so-called technical assistance. This assistance implies the arrangement of visits of international consultants to Georgia by international donor organizations to provide opportunities for the Georgian government and representatives of the academic circles to acquire new knowledge, develop modern systems and more importantly, integrate into international systems with the aim to strengthen the Georgian educational system. Over the past 20 years, with the assistance of various states, international organizations and private donors, many renowned scientists and experts in the field of education has been brought to Georgia. For instance, from 2003 to 2007, professors from the Harvard University assisted Georgia in reforming the public education sphere. With the assistance of foreign experts, Georgian universities introduced new, high-quality programs such as master’s programs in education administration, public administration and others.

The third important area of assistance was the support to the enhancement of scientific and educational potential of Georgia by enabling youth to obtain education abroad. Numerous states award scholarships to Georgian youth to study at best Western universities. For example, with the assistance of German academic exchange service, several hundreds of young people got funding to receive education at best German universities over the past 24 years. Many Georgian students study now at leading universities through educational programs such as Chevening and IREX implemented by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States. Scholarships are also awarded to enable young scholars and pedagogues working at Georgia’s higher educational institutions to improve their qualifications by acquiring international experience. For example, many Georgian scientists had an opportunity to enhance their qualification at Oxford and Fribourg universities owing to funding allocated to this end.

The fourth area involves the direct participation of Western countries in the establishment of new high-standard educational institutions. For example, it was within the scope of such a project that the US government allocated the aid of several million laris to establish one of the most successful schools in Tbilisi - the Guivy Zaldastanishvili American Academy where Georgian children receive best quality education.

 

A similar but much a larger-scale financial aid has enabled the establishment of new technological higher educational programs in partnership with San Diego University. With the assistance from the United States, millions of laris are spent to train Georgian professors, develop programs and physical infrastructure in order to help Georgia raise engineers and software programmers equipped with high, modern technical skills.

Today, in the conditions of globalization, political and economic stability of Georgia is important not only for Western countries, but also many Eastern states. In this endeavor, the education system has a pivotal role. Education is not limited to technical competencies alone but involves the establishment of various forms of coexistence and values necessary to this end. For this very aim the Western countries are interested in Georgia possessing not only technical knowledge but also having a high level of civic education. Therefore, a large share of assistance from Western countries and international organizations goes to civic education.

When talking about threats coming from the West it is important to recall the history of development of our education and science. Many Georgian scholars whose achievements we are so proud of and whose activities resulted in Georgia having a rich history of scientific researches, obtained education in Europe, outside Georgia and the Russian Empire. For example, a famous Georgian scientists, Dimitri Uznadze, studied at several universities in Germany and defended his doctoral degree in that country too. Before starting the scientific career, the first rector of Tbilisi State University, Petre Melikishvili, acquired his first working experience in various labs of Europe. Ivane Javakhishvili was invited to the Berlin University in 1901-1902, where he worked and studied under the leadership of famous German historians. We must also bear in mind that the science experienced a serious setback in those times when relations with the West were blocked. Under such conditions, it was very problematic for Georgian scientists to interact with their leading colleagues, to implement joint projects, to exchange knowledge. A clear illustration of this problem is a very small amount of scientific publications of Georgian scholars in international scientific journals as compared to such publications of other countries with similar population size.

The replication of Western practice in Georgia without taking into account Georgian reality may also create problems to the system of education and science in Georgia. Such problems basically emerge when such practice is not sufficiently adapted to our reality. To what extent can Georgia protect itself from undesirable influences which may be associated with the receipt of financial assistance and international projects? Western states have numerous international obligations defining how to act when they decide to assist a country’s development. One of such mechanisms is the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness which defines one of main principles which implies that the donor assistance must meet those needs of the recipient, which the recipient country identifies itself. Consequently, only if Georgian state proves to be weak in identifying its interests there is a threat that the earmarked assistance will be wasted or used to the detriment of Georgia. If representatives of Georgian education and science correctly identify their problems, the likelihood that the assistance provided by the West will bring results will significantly increase.

Source of the myth:

Merab Jibladze, academician: "To cut it short, the demise of scientific-research institutions in Georgia, the abolishment of labs of natural sciences at universities – all this happened according to recommendations of Americans! If we want to advance, we must somehow free ourselves from the American expansion into the education sphere! Today, Georgia is a distant colony of America and we are led by Americans!”

Asaval-Dasavali, 22-28 June

 

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