Community Learning in... Georgia

Folk and Crafts Class in a Community Education Center – here: production of one of the most popular souveniers, the Georgian Drinking Horn.

Over the years, the concept of Adult Education in Georgia has grown to become closely associated with the name DV V International. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union,
the education systems of the newly independent states have undergone considerable changes: whereas all republics once shared a common history of centralisation and state control, the turbulent period since the declaration of independence has witnessed one of the fastest moving, most visible and, for many, most controversial reforms. While the effectiveness of most changes in giving birth to a more qualified labour force has never been in doubt, they were aimed solely at public schools and universities and had little to do with bringing Adult Education into the game. This is when DV V International came in to help complete the picture by build
ing the non-formal Adult Education system.

“Active involvement of ethnic minorities in the processes organised by Adult Education Centres motivate individuals to get incorporated into society through fighting frustration and reclaiming self-esteem.”

Through shor t pilot projects for disadvantaged segments of the population, DVV International learned how to best design and implement non-formal education activities in the country. Not only do these activities serve as a prominent
tool for personal development, they simultaneously stimulate integration and social mobility of the marginalised populace. This approach, originally harnessed in 2006 and maintained ever since, was developed over the two years of implementing the project “Adult Education Centres in Samtskhe-Javakheti –
Minorities’ Chance for Integration”.

Public school teachers training in a settlement for internally displaced persons from Abkhazia.

Active involvement of ethnic minorities in the processes organised by Adult Education Centres within SamtskheJavakheti – a region in Southern Georgia where Armenians form a consistent majority – motivate individuals to get
incorporated into society through fighting frustration and reclaiming self-esteem. This is done through Georgian Language and Civic Education courses. A wide scope of vocational programmes are also offered. They help enhance civic participation of the beneficiaries and improve their competitiveness on the job market.

The Community Education Centres offer everything from
animating professional growth by cultivating crucial skills
to forming an environment that encourages a lifelong quest for knowledge. The educational programmes usually run for somewhere between 2–5 months.

From day one, all four Community Education Centres
have been offering the programme to both the internally displaced and local populations:

  • Vocational Training (Courses of sewing, woodwork, agri-
culture, construction – over 20 different directions) 
  • Personal Development Programme (Courses of Digital Literacy & IT Skills; Language Training; Small Business Management/Entrepreneurship courses; Banking and Accounting; Office Management)
  • Life Skills and Key Competences Programme (e.g. trainings in Effective Communication and Presentation, Conflict Management, Job Application, Proposal Writing and Project Management, etc.)
  • Civic Education (Public Meetings and Debates, Active
Citizenship Club) 
  • Youth Programme
  • Psycho-social rehabilitation Programme
  • Legal information, counselling and assistance

All of these are designed to increase the self-suf ficiency of participants through enhancing access to educational resources and opportunities.

In the beginning the Community Education Centres were fully funded by the European Union. Later on, four
community-based organisations inherited ownership of the premises and equipment. Today the centres run with the generosity of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), along with financial assistance from local municipalities and a number of local/ international donors.

From the very beginning, Community Education Centres emerged as prominent venues for self-actualisation, empowering people of different social and geographic backgrounds to convene and nurture a sense of shared identity. They ad
dress the needs of local residents through providing access
to free educational and cultural activities, as well as public space that can be used for community meetings and different kinds of social events.

By providing an innovative teaching methodology, technical suppor t and necessar y equipment, the Community Education Centres help local organisations, groups and individuals. The Centres give them access to an affordable office, meeting venue, or rehearsal space. As a result Community Education Centres simultaneously ser ve as sites for meetings and public hearings on community issues, information campaigns and debates.

Life in the regions with Adult Education Centres definitely
differs from that of other parts of the country. Not only do
the centres boost employment, they also make communities livelier. Above all, they contribute to developing civic consciousness. This is of utmost importance for the progress of Georgian society. The ambitions are high, development is now spurred through the aim of creating one Adult Education Centre per region.

More information
www.dvv-international.ge

Author
Lali Santeladze, DVV International Georgia,
santeladze@dvv-international.ge