On November 10, 2016, in the mountain heights of Ambrolauri, Racha, DVV International and its partner organisation GAEN (Georgian Adult Education Network) celebrated the opening of the 10th adult education centre in Georgia. As in the other nine locations in seven regions of Georgia, local people of all ages are now able to attend one or more courses, choosing from a wide selection ranging from computer, language, accountancy, driving and handicraft courses to vocational and personal development training. Civic education trainings, public discussions and outdoor activities are especially designed for young people.
Since 2006, when the first two adult education centres were established in Akhaltsikhe and Akhalkalaki, more than 60,000 beneficiaries have enrolled at one of the centres to get back into learning – many of them for the first time in years.
When DVV International’s Project Office Georgia was founded in Tbilisi in 2002, adult education was not recognised as an independent education sector in Georgia and received no governmental support. The situation hasn’t changed enough since, so DVV International Georgia is geared particularly towards educating the general public and policymakers about the role and importance of adult learning.
But why is it so important to pave the way for non-formal adult education in Georgia? Why is lifelong learning so essential and indispensable? Isn’t it enough to learn as a young person at school and maybe as a grown-up at university or during an apprenticeship – and then quit learning and start living?
Gaining new perspectives and abilities, dealing with a painful past, strengthening self-esteem and self-realisation, enjoying a sense of community with new friends, having fun, feeling young again, escaping from everyday life and learning new ways to communicate – these are just some of the reasons that brought adults, especially elderly people, to the adult education centres and motivated them to start learning again.
Young adults at an English class at the Koda Adult Education Centre
For young adults without educational achievement, or for middle-aged people who lost a job (or never had one), attending the vocational training courses, which are often adjusted to the demands of the local labour market, is very often the only chance they have to acquire income-generating capabilities which may lead to better living conditions. Up to 11% of those who have attended and completed a vocational training course at one of the centres find employment afterwards or are able to build their own businesses. And the percentage of those who keep their job because they have gained additional skills through vocational training is around 40%. So, reentering the learning process can be essential in many ways.
By establishing such centres – a project which is still ongoing because each Georgian region should have at least one – DVV International is providing and fostering the conditions for lifelong learning in Georgia. A chance that should be taken.
Want an example? Take Ludmila Klimenko, from Siberia, who after living in Tbilisi for 52 years, and only able to speak Russian, finally started to learn the Georgian language at the age of 72.
It’s never too late to learn. Each day we can start again.
This article was first published in Georgia Today: www.georgiatoday.ge