Projects/ Language Policy in Georgia Phase II
August 2005- March 2006
The second phase of the project builds on the results of the policy research paper and the discussion of the workshop of the prior phase. These revealed that language education stays a politically highly sensitive and controversial issue in the Georgian society. The discursive lines of the controversy can be defined by the concepts of integration versus assimilation. While the central government sees Georgian language education as a tool to support the integration and participation of ethnic minorities, many of the minority representatives fear that assimilation is the aim of these efforts. As a consequence, the first project phase has shown the necessity to pursue a constructive political dialogue in order to prepare the introduction of multilingual education as a common approach profitable to all parties involved.
The Multilingual Education in Georgia pilot project aims at three general objectives:
This second project phase aims at two general objectives:
Pursue the political dialogue between central authorities and ethnic minority leaders and within the ethnic-linguistic communities.
Reach a political consensus on a Georgian model for multilingual education
Activities and Results
October 17-22 2005: the project team has conducted 6 focus group discussions on the issue of language policy and education, 3 in the region of Samtshke-Javakheti (Akhalkalaki) and 3 in the region of Kvemo Kartli (Marneuli). In each region, the focus groups were composed by parents of schoolchildren, teachers from different schools and representatives of NGO's and regional authorities.
March 2 2006: in Tbilisi, the conference "Language Policies and Education in Multilingual Societies" gathered together representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and other state officials, education professionals and civil representatives from the Kvemo Kartli and Samtshke-Javakheti regions, foreign multilingual education experts and international organizations. The aim of this conference was to bring fresh insights into the issues at stake relating to the on-going education reform and broaden the understanding of the new challenge Georgia faces, by presenting language education policies implemented by other multilingual societies.
The conference was followed by a two-day workshop during which education specialists from the Ministry of Education and teachers from the regions discussed alternative models of language education.
End of September 2006: the presentations given at the conference will be published in Georgian, Russian and English and distributed to education specialists and major stakeholders in the field of education, in Tbilisi and in Samtshke-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions.
OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities
Projects/ Language Policy in Georgia Phase I
The project aims to study the current education patterns among minorities in Georgia, state policy towards language education aimed at linguistic minorities, and to elaborate an approach towards multilingual education for the largest ethnolinguistic minorities - Armenians and Azerbajanis. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia went through violent territorial conflicts with two of its ethno-linguistic minorities, the South Ossetian and the Abkhaz people. However, the two largest communities have not attracted attention because relations between them and the central government remained peaceful, if tense at certain occasions. The two communities remain, nevertheless, at the margin of the Georgian society and are cut-off from the mainstream political, social and economic developments of the country. One of the main reasons for this is that they live in an ethnically compact manner in southern Georgia and a large majority of them do not speak the Georgian language. However, language plays an essential role in order to access higher education institutions or to participate in public life. The fear of assimilation and a lack of political will as well as an inappropriate language teaching methodology and negative cultural stereotypes hinder linguistic integration. A multilingual education policy in the concerned regions facilitates the learning of the state language (Georgian), while maintaining the ethnic mother tongue (Armenian, Azeri) and is therefore a means to increase their possibilities to participate in public life.
The project "Language Policy in Georgia" aims at evaluating the conflict potential by analysing language and education policy. On the basis of this analysis we will issue recommendations and elaborate an appropriate language policy based on multilingual education
The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Peace Policy and Human Security fund the project.
Language Policy in Georgia: the project