New Educational Resource Centers in Bolnisi and Marneuli
On August 30th Ambassador Tefft was invited by the Georgian Minister of Education and Science to witness a significant transition in Georgian education.
Together the Minister and Ambassador opened educational resource centers (ERCs) in Marneuli and Bolnisi, both south of the capital, Tbilisi, and situated in areas where there are diverse cultural groups serviced by Georgian general education schools. These are areas where local empowerment and active school-community relations are critical to stability and effective instruction.
The General Education Decentralization and Accreditation (GEDA) Project, funded by USAID and managed by the Academy for Educational Development and Research Triangle Institute, provides support for the refurbishment of centers that are functionally capable to provide resource bases for school networks and training to professionalize the services of the ERCs and improve their interface with the Ministry and Boards and schools. There will be a system of over 70 ERCs across the country.
In the opening speeches the Minister pointed out that old district education offices “interfered” in the management of schools. Under the new system, the schools are legal autonomous entities that are managed locally by boards of trustees and fairly and locally selected school directors. The new educational resource centers (ERCs) provide support and additional assistance rather than interference and control. They serve as hubs for school networks and facilitate training and technical assistance from the new centers of excellence in curriculum, examinations, teacher certification, and accreditation, as well as other professional development opportunities for schools. They also provide advice on legal issues, disputes, school finance, and act as a center for the collection of school data to improve the validity of information and establish a foundation for local and national planning.
The Ambassador emphasized the core importance of education to create a new attitude and ethic for a culturally rich and venerable country like Georgia. As Ambassador Tefft summarized, “education is costly, but ignorance is more expensive in the long run.”
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