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Centers of School Readiness in Georgia

In Georgia, many children from rural areas are deprived of access to preschool education. In smaller villages, there are no kindergartens, and schools have no preschool divisions. From 1 September 2014, the situation of Georgian children of preschool age changed radically. Kindergartens in Georgia became free of charge under changes in the Law on Local Self-Government. Many requirements were also set with regard to furnishings.

The elimination of fees led to an immense influx of children. Kindergartens had groups numbering more than 40 or even up to 60 children. In such conditions, it was difficult to carry on educational activities, and the kindergartens could not fulfil their role effectively. The School Readiness Centres in Georgia project is addressed to five-year-old children who are able to attend preparatory classes. School Readiness Centres can equalise the educational opportunities of village children.

Centers of School Readiness in Georgia

The project was implemented from 1 February to 31 December 2014 in Georgia and Poland. The partners were Civitas Georgica from Tbilisi, Edukator Georgia and the Teacher Training Centre in Lomza. The aim of the School Readiness Centres in Georgia project was to support socially disadvantaged groups and to improve the mechanism of equalisation of educational opportunities for children from Georgia’s rural areas by creating access to early childhood education. The project actions contributed to better access to early childhood education and the development of school readiness in five-year-old children, promoting equality in early education and developing awareness of the need to support a child’s development from their youngest years.

Sixteen School Readiness Centres (SRCs) were established in Georgian schools in Qveda Chkhorotskhu (Chkhorotsku region), Lia, Chitatskhari, Akhalsofeli, Korckheli, Zugdidi, Shkola N8, Zugdidi, Shkola N12 (Zugdidi region), Tivi (Kvareli region), Saqadagiano (Kaspi region), Boshuri, Arashenda (Gori region), Tsalenjikha Shkola N1 (Tsalendjikha region), Vaziani (Mtskheta region), Otobaia 1, Otobaia 2, and Nabakevi (Gali region, Abkhazia). These centres were adapted to the needs of the children and furnished with appropriate toys, books and teaching aids. In these centres, 278 children are now learning and getting ready for school. The project included preparation of a model for the operation of the SRCs, including an original curriculum and correlated tools for diagnosing progress in children’s development as well as training programmes to prepare teachers to work with five-year-old children. These programmes served as the basis for training 40 teachers.

Activities associated with global education included development of a board game called On the Georgian Trail, a card game called Mischievous Swan and an educational package called Let’s Get to Know Georgia for working with Polish children 5-10 years of age.

Centers of School Readiness in Georgia

From September through December, 16 groups took part in the project, with 278 five-year-old children participating. The children underwent medical and psychological examinations, which were the basis for individual support programmes. The local communities in the 14 localities in which the alternative preschool groups were created became involved in the children’s activities. Parents helped with renovations and furnishing the premises.

The curriculum for the Programme for preparing school readiness – Basko (for children five to six years of age) was developed, reviewed, and implemented along with diagnostic tools for children attending the School Readiness Centres.

Curricula for teachers working in the SRCs was also developed. Training was completed by 40 Georgian teachers, who deepened their knowledge and skills in supporting children’s comprehensive development, shaping school readiness and conducting pedagogical diagnoses.

Participants of a study visit became acquainted with the Polish experience in getting children ready for school and conducting preschool education in schools in rural areas.

As part of the global education component, a model was developed for School Readiness Centres operating within schools to prepare five-year-old children for school using the teaching aids Let’s Get to Know Georgia, including the board game On the Georgian Trail for older children and the card game Mischievous Swan for younger children.