The successes and challenges of promoting citizenship education in Georgia were the focus of the discussion that kicked off the EENCE Caravana-Sarai.
Maka Bibileishvili, a representative of the Civic Education Teachers Forum, said that citizenship education has long been introduced into the school programme in Georgia. In grades 3-4 pupils study the subject “Me and Society”. From 7th to 12th grades pupils study the course “Citizenship”. For the second year already, a course “Civic Education Projects” has been introduced in grades 10-12, within the framework of which pupils come up with and implement projects in the sphere of civic education and civic participation.
A system for training teachers of citizenship education has been established in the country. teachers and organisations working in this area have the opportunity to provide financial support for their educational initiatives.
Nino Gvaramadze noted that within the framework of teacher professional development a Resource Platform has been created where one can find materials necessary for civic education lessons. An electronic magazine “Education for Global Citizenship” is also published.
Tamar Karaia spoke about how civic education is promoted in higher education institutions of Georgia. She noted that the course “Democracy and Citizenship” has been developed in the country and is now taught in 65 higher education institutions. Within the framework of the course, students study topics such as human rights, civic participation.
Students also develop and implement their own projects in the field of civic education. For example, at Tbilisi State University, students drew attention to the fact that the infrastructure of higher education institutions in the country is not adapted to the needs of visually impaired people. They developed a special audio-assistance programme for such people. Thanks to this, the students have learnt that they themselves can initiate important changes in society.
Natia Kuprashvili from the Regional Media Association highlighted the key challenges for civic education in the country as a whole. Natia compared what is happening in Georgia to a “blood transfusion”, which is how she characterised the process of transition from the Soviet authoritarian legacy to democracy. She noted that the education sector and Georgian media are actively contributing to this process.
Georgia is the only country where the enlightener and publicist Ilya Chavchavadze received the status of a saint. Therefore, the tradition of civic education in the country has a long history.Natia Kuprashvili
The panellists also focused on challenges for citizenship education.
Among them is the gap between what teachers teach students and how they themselves behave in school and in society. This causes mistrust and disorientation among students.
There is also a lack of research on citizenship education in the country.
There are countries where governments are afraid of civil society, and there are countries where civil society is afraid of governmentNatia Kuprashvili
High staff turnover also negatively affects the situation in this sphere.
The impact of global processes on the situation in Georgia remains a big challenge. There is still a risk of democratic backsliding in the country. It will especially grow if Georgia does not receive the status of a candidate for EU accession.
Making conscious choices based on values is a key challenge for Georgia’s adducators.Tamar Karaia
More than 50% of young residents of Georgia declare their commitment to the European vector of Georgia’s development. To lose the opportunity to integrate with the EU would be a disaster for Georgian society,” says Tamar Karaia.
Caravan-Saray is organized by Eastern-European Association for Citizenship Education under support of the Federal Agency of Citizenship Education of Germany (bpb) and funded by German Foreign Office. The local partner of Caravan is a Civic Education Teachers’ Forum (CETF, Georgia).