After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the structures in the education sector were also destroyed and had to be rebuilt. New challenges emerged, particularly in the field of vocational education. In this context, in the southern Caucasus, the SCAEN (South Caucasus Adult Education Network) network emerged and which now plays a crucial role in community education. Nazareth Nazaretyan describes in detail a project in Armenia. He has been the head of the DVV International Branch Office and national coordinator in Armenia since February 2003.
In most countries of the former Soviet Union, and particularly in the countries of the South Caucasus, the process of forming local communities is not finished. It is finished formally, but people very often do not understand the role of the community and their particular role in the community. During the Soviet era, the phenomenon of Community was erased from society. The presence of united and strong commu nities could contain several risks for the regime. A community could have its own interests, which may not always correspond to the “State interests”, and whoever represented and protected them was seen as dangerous for the State. Of course the Soviet Government created some structures which should have replaced com munities (Kolkhoz’s for example), but they were not to obey the community or public interest, but rather “State interest”.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union most of the old structures were destroyed and the governments of some of the new independent states, which are less auto cratic and as a result have less vertical power, started to develop new structures and new tools for local government and development.
In Armenia for example, communities have been established, and we have the completely, more or less well structured, system of local authorities. Unfortunately, most of the communities are not working successfully. However, this is not a problem of legislation, or a problem which comes from the state and the government.
We will not advocate against our states, they have enough other problems (cor ruption, mismanagement, lack of professionals, etc.), but based on our project experience, we can say that a lot of difficulties which people are facing in their communities comes from their way of thinking. There is a strong need to activate people and to help them to become members of the community and not just to be an inhabitant. From this point of view, the role of educational institutions, and in particular Adult Education institutions in forming and developing communities, cannot be overestimated.
In this article, I will present projects by DVV International on the establishment of the South Caucasus Adult Education Network (SCAEN). The project in Armenia will be presented in more detail.
The first project concerned with the establishment of Adult Education centres, “The Folk High Schools in Samtskhe-Javakheti – an Opportunity for the Integration of Minorities” was conducted in Georgia from 2006 to 2008, in the realm of the “European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights”.
In two cities, Akhaltsikhe and Akhalkalaki, two Adult Education Centres (www. adult-education.ge) were established. The necessary staff was recruited and trained. Trainings were conducted in Georgia as well as, during the study visit, in Germany. DVV International implemented the project with two local partners: Union of Democrat Meskhs and the Adult Education Association of Georgia.
This project aimed to promote the rights of national minorities: First of all for the significant group of Armenians who were living in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia. The idea of the project was to support the population in Samtskhe-Javakheti, to realise their legal right to education, and in particular, to support non-formal education. The project promoted re-integration of the local population into Georgian civil society.
During the project, several trainings for members of the Akhaltsikhe und Akhalkalaki communities were conducted. Trainings concentrated on the following:
Since the end of the project in 2008, the two Adult Education Centres have been working independently and have sustainable financing from different sources, such as the local budget, different international organisations, local business structures and private individuals paying for courses.
Within the European Union, the “Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development Actions in Partner Countries – ARMENIA” programme implemented by DVV International since March 2009, is a project known as “Poverty Reduction through Active Adult Learning – Pilot Project in Tavush region (PROACTIV)”.
Our project aims to contribute to poverty reduction by promoting and establishing modern strategies and structures for human resources development. In addition, we will activate Lifelong Learning strategies and tools and foster collaboration and active participation of local authorities and social partners for the development of human resources through education and training.
By establishing sustainable adult learning services, we will contribute to the overall development of the economy and the whole community.
Specifically, we aim to create sustainable modern Adult Education services in Tavush region, reaching in particular the most vulnerable members of the community – the unemployed people. A newly established Ijevan Adult Education Centre (AEC Ijevan) is acting as an educational institution as well as a mediator for dialogue between different stakeholders and players in the field of education.
The AEC Ijevan will be a unique educational institution, which already started to provide learning opportunities for adults in different spheres, adapted to the needs of the local economy and to the needs of the learners. Benefiting from modern adult educational facilities, vulnerable members of the community in Tavush will have a chance to foster their self-development and increase their competitiveness on the labour market.
Foreseen as a pilot project, to be shared and possibly replicated at the national and regional levels, the project seeks to contribute to promoting human resources development and building sustainable Lifelong Learning strategies and structures on local and national levels. The project will contribute to further decentralisation through capacity building of local actors, building networks and partnerships.
First of all, the most vulnerable people (unemployed, handicapped) in Ijevan and the Tavush region are our target group. With our project, we enhance their chances to get appropriate training and get jobs in the labour market or become self-employed.
The whole community of the town of Ijevan, as well as other communities (Dilijan, Noyemberyan, and Berd) in the Tavush region, are another target group of our project. Through providing several community discussions on different topics, AEC Ijevan will activate several players as well the community as a whole to influence decision-making processes on the local and regional levels. In addition, the com munity will have better access to a new type of education and training.
Local and Regional Authorities also belong to the target groups of the project. Cooperation with them will assure integration of Lifelong Learning strategies in local and regional policies.
Another target group is local educational institutions whose trainers and teachers will get new competences to provide modern training in their institutions, as well as develop and participate in new creative local, national and international programs.
Another target group of our project is the representatives of local businesses who will get a new qualified partner who is able to provide modern training courses which correspond to their needs.
In the project, we have two local partners: The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Tavush region and the Adult Education and Lifelong Learning Association.
These partners will insure that the the AEC Ijevan continues to work after the end of the project. A new limited liability company is in the process of being established by our two partners. After the end of the project, the company will get all the premises, equipment, training and all other materials from the project.
To achieve our Goals we will take the following steps:
1. Establish a sustainable Adult Education Centre in Ijevan with ? our own facilities to organise training courses and other learning activities;
AEC Ljevan: Discussion about materials
Source: Nazaret Nazaretyan
The steering committee meets once every two months and discusses issues in sup port of the project. The SC consults the project management and management of the AEC during the project. In particular, the SC provides advice and inputs regarding the functioning of the AEC, the coordination with local stakeholders, and the sustainability plan which is in the process of development. The SC also participates in the decision-making process in the project. The SC has selected the staff of the AEC Ijevan.
At the end of the project, the steering committee will be reorganised to form the board of trustees of the AEC.
The AEC Ijevan is established and already active. All activities are now taking place on the premises of the Ijevan Centre of Organisation of Youth Events, which were provided to the project by the National Centre of Organisation of Youth Events (NCOYE) for free. The project team have an office and training/meeting facilities.
A house for the AEC Ijevan is envisioned in the realm of the project. The construction work is in progress. The construction of the AEC Ijevan house will be finished by autumn 2010.
The project team and staff of AEC Ijevan have been recruited.
The first activity of the newly recruited staff of AEC Ijevan was the study visit to Yerevan. During this study visit, the team of AEC Ijevan met several stakeholders such as the National Centre for Development of Vocational Education and Training, the “State employment service” Agency, the private recruiting agency “Tanger” and several VET institutions.
Ongoing coaching of the AEC Ijevan staff by DVV International team members and partners is taking place.
AEC Ijevan have already organised trainings for trainers in English and Informa tion Communication Technologies. A continuing process of trainings for trainers until end of the project will be going on in the following topics:
a) training programs on Andragogy, including models of communication, modern technologies in education and training, Adult Education and cooperation with social partners, AE in the context of modern educational processes, management of AE;
b) training on key competences,
c) special TOTs for curriculum development,
d) team building and training on organisational development.
Two study visits to Germany (Regen, Kelheim) and Georgia (Akhalzikhe, Akhalka laki) were organised. The idea was to see how Folks High Schools (VHS) work in Germany and what the German concept was to get VHS implemented in a country with similar conditions to Armenian.
The study visits to Germany were organised by DVV International in cooperation with the VHS Regen and the German Organisation for Technical Cooperation (GTZ).
During the study visits, the project implementation team, staff of the AEC Ijevan and representatives of the steering committee visited many different stakeholders in Germany and Georgia.
During the ten days of the study visit in Germany, the group visited Folks High Schools (VHS), local, regional and national employment agencies, chambers of in dustry and commerce, vocational schools as well as regional and local authorities. We were also able to visit employers who are active as social partners, cooperating with VHS and Vocational Education and Training (VET) institutions.
During the visit, concrete issues of overall management (formation of boards of trustees, mechanisms of work), financing (structure of financing: state, business, community members, international projects, etc,), PR & marketing, training supply (existing supply, structure of courses: vocational, cultural, civic education), partnership and lobbing/advocacy were studied and discussed.
We were able to see the importance of the role of VHS in the local and regional development in Germany. During all the meetings with stakeholders in the Landkreis Regen, their active cooperation with the VHS Regen in several areas, such as dif ferent types of adult courses for the community, development of tourism and other issues on the local agenda was mentioned. We could also see that the VHS Regen is seen as one of the main players in the whole regional development strategy (Agenda 21) in the Landkreis Regen.
One of the main goals will be to develop AEC Ijevan into an institution which is also actively participating in all local and regional development processes in Ijevan and in the Tavush region.
The Georgian AECs in Akhalkalaki and Akhaltsikha should also be actively involved in local policy through their experience of organising trainings for local teachers, businessmen and for the local labour market in general.
From the visits, it was obvious that the role of the VHS in Germany and the Adult Education centres in Georgia is to tackle various issues in their communities. This experience was very important for us and for our partners.
For a further exchange of experience and development of cooperation between AEC Ijevan and the VHS Regen, we have invited the director of the VHS Regen, Mr. Herbert Unasch, to visit Ijevan.
Based on the results of the first community discussion, which was organised in the frame of Adult Education Week in Armenia 2009, the process of development of the sustainability plan was started. The sustainability plan will assess the situation of the AEC Ijevan (SWOT analysis), the potentials, mission and vision of the AEC for the future, and will draw several scenarios for the development of the AEC (in cluding types of courses, management structures, financial resources – fee based courses, securing alternative sources of funding) and will be fully based on the needs of the local community.
Based on the labour market needs, the project implementation team started to develop several training modules for unemployed people, as well as for a broader range of interested people from the local community. Training programs will be developed in strong cooperation with social partners and take into account the needs of the target groups (in particular in terms of timing, length, topics covered). Now in development are the modules on construction and assembly of furniture. Several labour market analyses are planned to be conducted in cooperation with the Tavush regional employment centre.
Particular attention will be paid to ensure participation by unemployed women.
All training modules will be sent for expertise to the National Centre for Voca tional Education and Training Development (NCVETD).
During the development of training programs, PIT is actively cooperating with local and national state employment agencies, NCVETD, local business representa tives, local government and NGOs.
Parallel to the construction of the AEC Ijevan premises, a training course in conducting cooperation with GTZ is being given.
For the training, two experienced trainers were selected by PIT. In addition, participants of the training were selected from a broader list of unemployed peo ple provided by the regional employment centre. Trainees were selected through interviews, based on their motivation and experience.
An external, licensed company controls all the construction work.
All training participants will receive certificates. A special certification procedure is being developed for the AEC Ijevan, based on existing DVV International exam ples from Georgia and countries of Central Asia.
The first community discussion was organised in the realm of Adult Education Week 2009. The topic of the discussion was the issue of sustainability of the AEC Ijevan. In the discussion, representatives from different NGOs, local authorities, employers and educational institutions participated.
The main topics discussed and proposed by workshop participants were directly linked to community development.
A series of further discussions are planned. Besides discussions, several nonvocational trainings will be conducted.
The GTZ, with the support of the German government, is implementing the project “Disaster Prevention in the South Caucasus”. In cooperation with this project, we are planning to organise trainings for members of the local community on several topics related to disaster prevention.
One of the key factors of modern and qualitative education and training is the active involvement of social partners in the educational and training process at different stages, as well as the role of mass media in disseminating best practice. The involvement of mass media and social partners is leading to more transparency and as a result to more effectiveness and efficiency in education and training.
Active cooperation with media representatives allow us to provide information about our activities to members of the local community.
In cooperation with the GTZ, employment forums are periodically organised and serve as an open forum for discussions on issues of employment, and as a result, issues of appropriate training supply. Representatives of employers, regional and local employment centres, as well as local and regional governments of the Tavush region participate in these employment forums.
A project web site has been created. Information on ongoing courses as well as other news on the project, in two languages (Armenian and English), is presented at: www.aec-ijevan.am.
To ensure that Lifelong Learning strategies and approaches, highlighted by the AEC Ijevan example, will be better known and acknowledged by local authorities and local stakeholders the PIT is in active contact with regional and local governments of the Tavush region and the town of Ijevan. The project was presented to the Gov ernor of the Tavush region and mayor of the town of Ijevan. The Vice Governor of the region and the representative of the mayor office are members of the steering committee of the project. The Vice Governor of the Tavush region participated in the study visit to Germany and got a significant amount of information about the role of Adult Education and Lifelong Learning in communities everyday life and development. A visit by the Director of Regen Folks High School, which is planned for 2010, will also serve as a forum for policy advice on the level of local and regional Governments for integration of Lifelong Learning strategies into local development plans.
An adult learning festival in the Tavush region will be organised to raise interest and awareness and create public momentum on the issue of adult learning.
It is important to explain and show the results of this type of project to other regions and communities of Armenia. For this purpose, a handbook will be developed in the last phase of the project. The handbook will provide concrete information on how to create AECs, the history of this project, the collected experience, best practice as well as lessons learned. The handbook will serve for further similar projects; it will present the mechanisms for successful partnership, Adult Educational institutions self evaluating tools, models for training program development and implementation. The handbook will be disseminated at the national level and in other regions.
In August 2009, DVV International and a Spanish non-governmental organisation started “Acción contra el hambre (ACH)” to implement two projects “Supporting socio-economic Integration of IDPs in Kvemo Kartli region” and “Supporting socioeconomic Integration of IDPs in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region”. The “Supporting socio-economic Integration of IDPs in Kvemo Kartli region” project is being imple mented in cooperation with the Georgian non-governmental organisation CiDA. Both projects are funded by the European Union in the realm of the “Instrument for Stability” programme.
In January 2010, three centres in Koda, Rustavi and Shaumiani in the Kvemo Kartli region, as well as two centres in Jvari and Senaki in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region were opened.
The duration of each project is 18 months.
The purpose of Community Education Centres is to carry out programs in informal education and thus support community integration and human resources development in IDP settlements.
Establishment of Community Education Centres and implementation of education programs is only one component of the project. Besides that, micro projects intending to rehabilitate local infrastructure and development of agriculture are also envisaged. Grants will be released to implement these projects.
Community Education Centres will commence to provide gratuitous education service to both IDPs and local dwellers. The following programs will be offered at CECs: personal development training, vocational training, computer and English language courses, youth programs (civic education, sporting events, interest clubs, etc.), legal and psychological consultation, public lectures on different issues, etc.
Implementation of community, agricultural and youth projects will start in six municipalities.
The sustainability and strength of the project will be ensured through the work of the community centres, created at the level of the municipalities, by providing vocational education to young people and increasing the opportunities of the local govern ment and community leaders. Around 9000 IDPs and representatives of the local population with ethnic, cultural and language differences from Tsalenjikha, Senaki, Tetritskharo, Marneuli, Bolnisi and Rustavi will be involved in common useful social and economic activities and create a dialogue platform accepted by everyone.
The project for supporting the socio-economic integration of IDPs will help inter nally displaced people and the local population in Samegrelo and Kvemo Kartli to be involved actively in the economic, cultural and social life, and the dialogue between the population and the government will foster integration and unity among the population.
Studies conducted in the framework of the project:
The next project I would like to present is “The Adult Training Centres as an Opportunity for Poverty Reduction, Education and Social Inclusion COPE (Cooperation through Partnership for Education)” and it was started in Aserbaidschan in 2010. The project is financed in the realm of the program “Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development – Aserbaidschan”.
The project will be implemented in 30 months in six southern regions of Az erbaijan. The project aims to promote active citizenship and social integration of the poor local population, supporting poverty reduction by offering educational services through a network of Adult Training Centres (ATCs).
A building for the ATC will be purchased in the Masalli region and renovated. The newly established Masalli ATC will be linked to five existing training centres located in Jalilabad, Lankaran, Yardimli, Lerik and Astara regions belonging to Agro-Maslahat, the local partner NGO of DVV International. Thus, the network of regional ATCs in the southern part of Azerbaijan will be founded to provide labour market oriented vocational training courses on agriculture and tourism as well as courses in the Azeri language, civil education and basic business competencies. In order to effectively implement the action, the local non-governmental organisations, such as Agro-Maslahat and the Adult Education Association and the Ashurlu mu nicipality of Masalli region, as a local authority, will be engaged in partnership.
The project targets supporting poverty reduction and promoting the social integra tion of ethnic minorities through the establishment of a network of Adult Training Centres to offer educational services. The idea is to stimulate the important role of Adult Education for increasing employability and social inclusion in rural areas of the Azerbaijan Republic.
Specifically, the project aims to build partnership and enhance the capacity of the staff of the ATC network, local authorities and non-governmental organisations, which will help create an effective educational system and ensure its sustainability. It is expected that their partnership will be achieved in order to more efficiently tackle the social, economic, political and cultural issues of the local communities.
The activities of the ATC network will be dedicated to empowering the indigenous population to resolve their self-realisation and self-organisation problems. Overall, this will contribute to the development of a stable democratic society in the country.
The project will be implemented in six selected regions of Azerbaijan: Masalli, Lankaran, Jalilabad, Yardimli, Lerik and Astara.
Based on our experience, we can say that to have a real input in community development through educational programs, it is important to work on different levels.
It is important to work on the level of national, regional and local decisionmakers, convincing them to take into consideration the role of Adult Education in
community development and to allocate financial resources for learning activities of community members.
At another level, there are the social partners. Work with them should concentrate on encouraging them to participate in the processes of developing an adequate supply of learning and to invest in human resource development, showing their real benefits from having a better trained staff.
It is also important to work on the level of local and regional stakeholders such as NGOs and educational institutions. Here, it is important to have continuous information exchange, cooperation in the training of trainers, awareness raising and advocacy of the issues of Lifelong Learning.
And last but not least is work with community members, showing them the pros pects of better opportunities in the labour market and also raising their awareness on various issues and, as a result, assuring their participation in local decision making as active citizens.
As shown by examples from our South Caucasus Adult Education Network, DVV International implements projects in more than 14 communities, by establishing a sustainable supply of adult training, activating members of communities and key stakeholders by organising:
We are doing that through active involvement of different players, stakeholders and partners in the processes of idea development and decision-making. We help to make sure there is a high level of ownership by local authorities and partners and thus contribute to an increase in participation of the whole community in local decision-making processes.
A final point which I would like to mention here is that cooperation between several Adult Education Centres from different countries within the South Caucasus network and also with partners from other countries is bringing new ideas and new experience for project implementers and helps them learn from each other, to find better ways and to avoid some mistakes.1
1 I would like to thank my colleagues Lika Katsitadze from DVV International Georgia and Iskender Sadig from DVV International Aserbaidschan for providing all the necessary information for this article.
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