The education sector in Georgia is marked by excellent reform initiatives carried out by the ministry of Education and Science in collaboration with development partners.
However, one issue threatens the realization of human rights for disadvantaged groups and negatively impacts human capital development: according to field evidence and observations, hundreds of children in Georgia are still denied in their right to access compulsory education.
How to reach young people who have been left behind
The education system in Georgia lacks teaching and learning programs and approaches that would help young people who are excluded or dropped out and give them the skills they need to transition from schools to the labor market in their early adulthood.
The ministry does not report the number of young people who are out of school or at risk of dropping out. Excluded children are either completely invisible as they are never registered or are registered though never attend school.
According to PISA Plus report of 2009, only 38% of students in Georgia are proficient in reading literacy. This fact speaks to the low quality of teaching and learning.
Moreover, the lack of second chance education programs undermines the opportunities for excluded children to enter or re-enter formal education, have good transition from schools to work and become competitive in the labor market.
Second chance education is embedded into SDG4
Second chance education is widely applied across the globe. Within the European Union, it is understood as education and training opportunities for young people “excluded and who lack the skills and qualifications to enter further training or the job market.” (European Commission, 2001).
The International Standard Classification of Education defines second chance education as “education specifically targeted at individuals who, for a variety of reasons, never attended school or left school before completion but wish to enter an education program or occupation for which they are not yet qualified. Catch-up programs and accelerated learning programs are designed to provide opportunities for children and young people to re-enter into formal education and catch-up on compulsory education.”
Second chance education is also embedded into the Global Goal for education (SDG4), which has a target that states that: “By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship”
Young people need to be empowered
Since 2015, UNICEF has been providing technical assistance to the ministry of Education and Science in Georgia to develop a second chance education program.
We help in designing systems and developing the capacities of teachers and decision makers on second chance education. This will help Georgia further develop its human capital and make the country more economically resilient through empowering young people to lead independent lives and find good job opportunities. The assistance specifically seeks to enable young people who have dropped out of school to:
- enter or re-enter mainstream education,
- supply them with life skills, and
- empower them to be competitive on the labor market.
To get started, the ministry has prepared a list of children most at high risk of not being in school or not completing school. It includes children with disabilities, children living and working on the streets, children from ethnic minority groups, children in public care, orphans, internally displaced and stateless children, refugees, and children from very remote areas.
UNICEF supports Georgia in research and establishing a new program
So far, the ministry, with UNICEF support, has carried out comparative analyses of international best practices on second chance education. Through this, it has identified relevant models and developed an action plan with immediate steps.
As part of the partnership, UNICEF is currently assisting the ministry with the development of teachers’ manuals and catch-up curricula for the primary grades.
The government of Georgia has also asked UNICEF to help them ensure that the second chance programs and approaches are widely disseminated and implemented in schools, that teachers are trained and equipped with knowledge and skills, and that the needs of learners for accessible and quality education are met.
We are happy to be able to provide our assistance, for the benefit of marginalized children and youth in Georgia.