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Supporting changes to increase access and quality of preschool education in Georgia

From the beginning, the Edukator Association has been promoting early education in rural areas. In cooperation with the Civitas Georgica organisation and local Georgian governments, Edukator has been establishing centres in Georgia since 2008, providing 3- to 6-year-old children access to early education, thereby equalising educational and developmental opportunities. Before 2016, the association had 144 preschool centres throughout Georgia (80% of which are still in operation).

Preschool education is inadequately funded. From 1 September 2013, under amendments to the Act on local government, kindergartens in Georgia became free of charge. Abolishing fees led to a large influx of children. As a result, groups of more than 40 children were formed. The aim of this project is to help alleviate the severity of this problem for the rural communities of Adjara, Mingrelia (Samegrelo) and Imereti.

It is also important to improve the skills of teachers working with these children. Few have higher education in their field. The curricula are based on old programmes, and teachers have no means to supplement their education or learn about modern teaching methods.

Supporting changes to increase access and quality of preschool education in Georgia

The two-year project was implemented from 1 April 2016 to 31 December 2017 in three regions of Georgia: Adjara, Mingrelia (Samegrelo) and Imereti. The aim was to provide support for socially disadvantaged groups, upgrading the mechanism for equalising educational opportunities of children from Georgia’s rural areas by creating access to early childhood education in newly established Alternative Preschool Education Groups (for children aged 3 to 5) and School Readiness Centres (for children aged 5 to 6).

The aim is to start, in cooperation with local governments, 16 Alternative Preschool Education Groups. These centres will be operating under the specially prepared BASKO educational programme for children aged 3 to 5. Teachers will be trained under long-term programmes.

The project’s implementing entity is the Social-Educational Association for Assistance to the Disadvantaged and Disabled, known as Edukator, in Lomza, together with the Civitas Georgica Association as the local partner.

Supporting changes to increase access and quality of preschool education in Georgia

In eight regions – Chkhorotsqu, Zugdidi, Tsalenjikha (western Georgia, Samegrelo), Kharagauli, Baghdati (Imereti), Keda, and Shuakhevi (Adjara) – 10 School Readiness Centres and 10 Alternative Preschool Education Groups were organised, affecting a total of 346 children aged 3 to 6 who took part in educational activities supporting their comprehensive development (above all, cognitive and social development) and preparing them for a better start at school. The residents of the localities where the preschool groups were formed became involved in activities for the children. Parents helped in renovations and in furnishing interiors. All children went through medical and psychological examinations which helped to create individual support programmes.

Two training sessions were organised for 20 teachers (nine training days with a total of 100 hours of classes) on methodologies for working with children of different age groups, cooperation with parents, diagnosis of developmental problems, modelling and development of school readiness for children, and developmental psychology. The teachers received teaching aids, were provided methodological and psychological consultations and applied their acquired knowledge and skills in their daily work with children.

The local governments of Chkhorotsqu, Zugdidi, Tsalenjikha (western Georgia, Samegrelo), Kharagauli, Baghdati (Imereti), Keda, Khulo, and Shuakhevi (Adjara) received support in updating the Local Preschool Education Strategies. Representatives of 16 local governments completed training on organisation of preschool education and current legislative changes in this area (altogether three days, with 24 hours of classes).

A week-long study visit to Poland was organised for 14 representatives of partner local governments, regional support centres, and directors of schools and NGOs from Georgia. Participants learned about the Polish experience with preschool education in schools.

An appointed group of Georgian methodology specialists and preschool education specialists adapted one curriculum of the BASKO program for shaping school readiness (for children aged 5 to 6) and instruments for diagnosing progress in a child’s development.

Teaching skills were improved in the case of 80 teachers of local government-run kindergartens for children of preschool age during two days of training sessions (16 hours of classes).