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Centers of school readiness in Georgia 2015

Early access to education determines the educational opportunities and life chances of a child. Finishing the pre-school stage helps children attain school readiness in all areas of development. Apart from intellectual development, also emotional and social development of a child, which they experience  among peers, are of immense importance. Early access to education is justified from an economic, social and psychological perspective.

In Georgia, only about 55% of children have access to pre-school education. This type of education is a task that most local governments find burdensome when they have limited financial resources. Pre-schools operate primarily in cities. Making education more accessible to young children is highly topical for residents of small towns where children have no prospect for early access to education.

In addition to access being restricted,  poor quality of pre-school education is another problem. Open pre-schools offer only care. Educational activities, if any at all, copy old-fashioned working methods based on disciplining children. Pre-schools are free of charge, but they are frequently overcrowded - groups of 40 children are not uncommon. Also, there are no standards defining the requirements that pre-school teachers have to meet.

Creating school readiness centres was supposed to contribute to the increase of access of Georgian children to early education. Their activities were to be based on the BASKO programme for school readiness. It was developed in 2014 within the framework of the project prepared by the “Edukator” Association and financed by the Polish Aid. Its purpose was to disseminate the findings of the last year’s project.

Centers of school readiness in Georgia 2015

The project was being implemented from 15 June to 15 December 2015 in Georgia, in cooperation with a local partner – the Civitas Georgica Association. The objective of the project was to support disadvantaged social groups – residents of small towns and villages – by increasing their access to early education. The planned actions were aimed at improving the mechanisms of equalizing educational chances of children from rural areas.

The solution put forward in the project for increasing access to early education for Georgian children consisted in creating 11 school readiness centres in the entire country. Schools and pre-schools were supposed to have groups of 5-year-olds consisting of 16-20 children working with a teacher who would implement the original BASKO programme shaping school readiness.

Another goal of the project was to provide teachers with a 40-hour training focused on developing their competences in terms of shaping school readiness. Moreover, training materials for working in alternative pre-school groups were to be created to facilitate day-to-day work with children.

The beneficiaries of the project were 11 pre-school teachers, who were to be given an opportunity to develop their methodological skills. The project was addressed to 220 children attending new school readiness centres.

For the purposes of calculation, the following exchange rate was applied: EUR 1 = PLN 4.2249.

Centers of school readiness in Georgia 2015

All project objectives were fully accomplished. Eleven school readiness centres were opened in five regions of Georgia (Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, Shida Kartli, Kakheti and Guria). Rooms for working with children were made available free of charge by local schools and pre-schools, which also covered the costs of municipal services. Moreover, the rooms were adapted and adjusted to the needs of children thanks to the financing provided within the framework of the project. Paints, floor coverings and equipment (desks, chairs, shelves, hangers and the teacher’s desk and chair) were purchased. In all of those centres 220 children commenced their education.

Eleven local teachers participated in a two-stage training in the methodology of working with children and shaping school readiness. During the first stage, they were trained in applying the BASKO programme for working with children, which had been prepared one year before and financed within the framework of the Polish Aid-funded project. The trainings were conducted by Olga Muskhelishvili and Nino Jijavadze, the authors of BASKO. During the second stage, they discussed the status of the programme and problems teachers face when working with children.

Thanks to the he project it was also possible to develop the “Praktikum” – about 60 pages of methodological materials for working in alternative pre-school groups. They include methodological tips and guidelines for the organisation ofwork with children. They also provide examples of weekly educational plans, lesson plans or possible games for children. The materials were developed to facilitate  day-to-day work of teachers.

The local governments selected for the implementation of the project declared that they would cooperate and continue those actions after the financing for the project was over.