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A Research Study into Multilingual Education in Georgia 2015

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The aim of this study was to find out how effective the multilingual education (MLE) reforms had been in Georgia after the multiannual Georgia Education Programme between the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) and the High Commissioner on
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    Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe High Commissioner on National Minorities A Research Study into Multilingual Education in Georgia 2015 Authored by Teresa Wigglesworth-Baker (PhD)    Table of Contents Executive Summary  """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" #   1. Overview  """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" #   2. Research Methods  """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" #   3. Research Findings/Conclusions from Research  """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" $   3.1. Hierarchical Educational Issues  """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" $   3.2. Teacher Professional Development and Certification  """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" $   3.3. MLE Reform Processes  """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" %   3.4. Integration and Attitudes  """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" %   4. Recommendations  """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" %   List of tables  Executive Summary The aim of this study was to find out how effective the multilingual education (MLE) reforms had been in Georgia after the multiannual Georgia Education Programme  between the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) and the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE HCNM) came to an end in 2013. Furthermore, this research aimed to find out how MLE could be made more sustainable for the future and to identify possibilities for future cooperation between the MoES and the OSCE HCNM. The research was carried out by the international expert Teresa Wigglesworth-Baker in close cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Education (MoES) of Georgia and supported by the OSCE HCNM. 1. Overview  Ethnic mobilisation and the politicisation of identity have brought the language issue to the fore of political debates across the post-Soviet space, due to the multi-ethnic and multilingual composition of these countries. Georgia is home to a multitude of ethnic minorities, many of which have remained isolated from Georgian society due to their limited knowledge of Georgian, the state language. From 2003 the MoES in cooperation with the OSCE HCNM has initiated projects to help the ethnic minorities to improve their Georgian language skills in order to socially and economically integrate them into the wider Georgian society. Examples of some of these projects included regulatory documents to promote MLE implementation in ethnic minority schools, the development of bilingual teaching methodologies and resources for use in ethnic minority schools and awareness-raising activities that helped the ethnic minorities to see the value of Georgian language learning. In 2010 a capacity assessment of the MLE system was carried out with the assistance of experts from the OSCE HCNM. This assessment identified several capacity constraints that needed addressing such as more strategic and financial planning of MLE as well as more coordination of MLE implementation. In addition, the Georgian language proficiency of the ethnic minority teachers was found to not be high enough for them to take part in teacher professional development training programmes or to ensure the sustainability of MLE throughout all grades of obligatory education. As a result of this capacity assessment, the MoES focused on the expansion of MLE in ethnic minority schools, and with the support of the OSCE HCNM it carried out initiatives such as awareness-raising activities and exchange programmes that targeted the entire educational chain. This baseline study therefore examined how effective the MLE policies and practices have been since the last capacity assessment was carried out and what further improvements could be made for the future. 2. Research Methods Empirical research methods were used for this research and included extensive in-depth interviews with relevant professionals of the MoES, local and regional experts, representatives of national and international organisations, non-governmental  organisations (NGOs) and school directors. A survey was also completed by 146 ethnic minority teachers, which can be found in appendix 1. The research was carried out across sixteen former pilot schools in the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli districts, two non-pilot schools in Samtskhe-Javakheti and two former pilot schools in Tbilisi. Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli districts were chosen because the largest ethnic minority groups in Georgia reside in these districts (Armenians in Samtskhe-Javakheti and Azerbaijanis in Kvemo Kartli). 3. Research Findings/Conclusions from Research  The research revealed several important findings with regard to the MLE system in Georgia. Firstly, there had been high expectations in the development of the MLE system in a relatively short period of time. This led to some school directors and stakeholders feeling disappointed in the slow progress being made in MLE. However,  positive steps have been made since the last capacity assessment in 2010, although it will take more time to see improvements from the efforts that have been made by the MoES within the MLE system. Secondly, the Soviet legacy was found to be still influencing the attitudes of some educational actors, particularly the older generation, and this was felt to be contributing to the slow development of implementation  processes within the MLE system. The main findings of the research have been categorised into the following areas and which are summarised briefly below: hierarchical issues; teaching capacity; teacher  professional development; certification, issues of MLE in ethnic minority schools; integration and attitudes. 3.1. Hierarchical Educational Issues  As far as hierarchical educational issues were concerned, there was a general consensus among all interviewees that more coordination and consistency was needed  between the ministry and the legal entities of public law within the MoES. School directors and teachers from ethnic minority schools reported that it was difficult to  prepare students for examinations because the curriculum, bilingual textbooks and examinations were not coordinated. Furthermore, the schools needed more information and instructions about how to take MLE forward. They reported that they had seen positive results from the MoES bilingual pilot programme that was set up in 2010 and they felt that it was the way forward for the future generations. However, they did not know which direction to take regarding bilingual education because they had very limited information and instructions from the MoES. 3.2. Teacher Professional Development and Certification  In terms of teacher professional development and certification, the research revealed that more needed to be done to incorporate ethnic minority teachers into the new certification scheme so that they have an equal opportunity to improve their  professional development in line with other teachers of general education within Georgia. More finance and training in subjects are required as it is for Georgian as a second language training. Only 49% of the ethnic minority teachers who participated  in this study reported that they had received teacher training during the last five years. The teachers showed that they were extremely motivated to retrain in order to help the ethnic minority children prosper in the future. 3.3. MLE Reform Processes  With regard to the MLE reform processes, there had been many positive developments. Many of the schools, which participated in this study, were continuing with the bilingual education programme with the resources available to them, despite the fact that they reported having no information from the MoES on how to take the  bilingual education programmes forward. The bilingual textbooks also remain a  problem, although the ministry is taking steps to improve bilingual textbook  production through a pilot study that was launched in spring 2015. 3.4. Integration and Attitudes  As far as integration and attitudes were concerned, the research discovered that language shift was happening as a natural process. The research discovered that the motivation to learn Georgian among young people from ethnic minority backgrounds had increased due to the desire to improve their socio-economic opportunities in the wider Georgian society. Smart phones and social media networks have contributed to the awareness of socio-economic opportunities and the necessity to learn the Georgian language. The Russian language used to be the language of inter-ethnic communication, particularly among the older generation. However, evidence from this study suggests that the Russian language is less frequently used as the language of inter-ethnic communication than it was previously. If ethnic minorities do not learn Georgian, they will be cut off from the rest of society because of the lack of communication skills. 4. Recommendations  Some of the most important recommendations are proposed here and outline how the MoES and its legal entities of public law could make the MLE system more sustainable for the future with the cooperation of the OSCE HCNM and other relevant stakeholders, national and international organisations and NGOs. Further details of the other recommendations can be found in section 5 of this research study: •   To have a MLE coordination unit to project manage all relevant legal entities of the MoES; •   To promote the teaching profession in order to recruit new teachers, especially from ethnic minority backgrounds, and to raise the salaries further in order to make the profession more attractive again. A nationwide publicity campaign, including in national minority languages, could be organised to help with this; •   To provide more funding for Georgian language courses for ethnic minority teachers; •   To provide more funding for teacher-trainings to develop different bilingual approaches to be used in schools, which take into account the demographics, linguistic and cultural background of the ethnic groups in question;
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