EWMI’s Policy, Advocacy, and Civil Society Development program in Georgia (G-PAC) is a four-year initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development. The goal of the project is to strengthen civil society’s role in advocating, monitoring, and influencing the development and implementation of effective public policy reforms in Georgia. A key component of this initiative is to make improvements to the education system by analyzing current and future policies, recommending new ideas, and advocating for reforms.
To achieve this goal, EWMI has awarded more than $185,000 to four civil society organizations (CSOs) in Georgia to improve primary and early childhood education in their country. These four CSOs were selected by EWMI for their innovative and effective methods. Although each CSO is using a different approach, they are all committed to improving the quality of education for young Georgian students.
The Society of Democrat Women in Marneuli (SDWM): Advocating to fund improvements to Georgian Kindergartens
EWMI provided The Society of Democrat Women in Marneuli (SDWM) with an Open Door Grant to support a broad range of advocacy initiatives. Before SDWM, the municipal government of Marneuli barely funded preschool education. This took a toll on the infrastructure of the schools and the morale of the teachers. The plumbing, heating, and kitchens were aging and in disrepair, and there were no child-friendly classroom furnishings. This created an unsafe and uncomfortable classroom conditions. At the same time, kindergarten teachers and personnel were offered low salaries, which diminished the quality of teaching and created a discouraging learning environment.
To face these challenges, SDWM advocated for funding and reforms that will improve preschool education in the town of Marneuli. SDWM advocated for local officials to allocate 200,000 GEL (US$121,301.74) for the renovation of three Marneuli preschools and a for a 50% increase in preschool teacher salaries. The local government also established a community-based commission to develop a management strategy for municipal preschools as well as an action plan to ensure that these newly allocated government funds are used effectively. Finally, SDWM ensured community engagement and accountability by conducting face-to-face meetings with local authorities and community members to develop an improved and more sustainable spending budget for kindergartens.
The Education Policy and Research Association (EPRA): Policy analysis for education reforms
The Education Policy and Research Association (EPRA) was the recipient of a Think Tank Support Grant (TTSG) – an EWMI G-PAC grant that funds Georgian think tanks to conduct policy research and analysis, make recommendations, and advocate for change. With the assistance of this grant, EPRA will venture to produce a conceptual policy document on the future of the education system by providing a systematic analysis of the current state of education in Georgia. The education policy document will be based on the results of international surveys and national assessments. Georgia participated in several of these international surveys from 2006 to 2011, which were initiated by the International Association on Educational Achievement and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The analysis of these international survey results revealed many of the existing deficiencies and disadvantages of the Georgian education system. When the document is complete, the EPRA will start an advocacy campaign to inform the public and officials of changes that need to be made to the education system.
The Center for Civil Integration and Inter-Ethnic Relations (CCIIR): Improving access to culturally sensitive curriculum
EWMI G-PAC also awarded a Think Tank Support Grant (TTSG) to The Center for Civil Integration and Inter-Ethnic Relations (CCIIR). The CCIIR will utilize the grant to ensure equal educational opportunities for all Georgian students in order to develop more nurturing, tolerant, and inter-culturally sensitive citizens.
The CCIIR will use many different approaches to accomplish these goals. First, the CCIIR will study and evaluate the new National Curriculum, subject standards, and primary grade textbooks with an emphasis on intercultural education and growing intercultural sensitivity. Second, they will facilitate improvement of the textbook quality approval criteria, national curriculum, subject standards, and textbooks. Finally they will develop a recommendations package for improving textbook approval criteria, national curriculum, and school textbooks for primary grades.
The Center for Educational Initiatives (CEI): Strengthening pre-school education in Georgia
The Center for Educational Initiatives (CEI) was granted the Citizen’s Advocacy Grant from EWMI G-PAC to support educational improvements in Georgia. CEI plans to collaborate with local stakeholder groups, including the local governments, kindergarten teachers, administrators, and parents to raise their awareness on the importance of pre-school education and the role each of them plays in solving the problems the educational system is facing. More specifically, CEI will use the grant to advocate for local governments to raise the Pedagogical Standard for qualifying of kindergarten teachers. Overall, the goal of the project is for the students to become better prepared for school, and that they will develop critical thinking skills while learning to actively participating in their own learning process. By investing in early education, Georgia will be advancing the next generation of civil society leaders.