The school system in Georgia has continued the Soviet tradition of running "minority" schools with various languages of instruction. The positive aspect of this system is that linguistic minorities have the opportunity to receive education in their mother tongue. But the current system has also drawbacks. The education system separates children along ethnic and linguistic lines. Moreover, the children end up having different linguistic capacities which, unfortunately, has an important impact on their professional opportunities and civic integration in the Georgian society.
In this context, Georgia has been pursuing, after independence, a language policy, aimed at strengthening the weight of the State language Georgian in all spheres. The objective is to achieve a situation where Georgian will be used both in the administration throughout the country and as language of communication between different linguistic groups living in Georgia. But ethno-linguistic minorities, especially the ones living in a compact manner, in particular the Armenian speaking community in Samtskhe-Javakheti and to a lesser degree also the Azeri speaking community in Kvemo Kartli perceive this policy as an attempt to culturally assimilate ethnic minorities.
CIMERA builds its work in Georgia on its experience in developing and introducing multilingual education in different regions and linguistic settings in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan http://www.cimera.org/en/projects/ind_projects.htm.The Multilingual Education in Central Asia project was launched in 2000 and refers to the use of two or more languages as mediums of instruction. In regions where the language of the learner is not the official or state language of the country, multilingual education can make mother-tongue instruction possible while providing at the same time for the acquisition of the state language, or any other language used as a means of communication in the country and possibly in larger areas of the world.
The Multilingual Education in Georgia pilot project aims at three general objectives:
Introduce multilingual education in the academic school year 2006/2007 in a total of 12 to 15 classes in primary schools of Samtskhe-Javakheti and of Kvemo Kartli regions;
Prepare methodological material, train teachers and involve parents and community leaders in order to develop the needed professional skills and the understanding and acceptance for the project among teachers, parents, political leaders;
Together with education policy planners develop possible strategies for a broader implementation of MLE in Georgia.
Full academic year of education in a bilingual/multilingual setting in six primary schools in Southern Georgia for 200-300 students in 12 to 15 first grade primary classes (2-3 classes per school);
Adaptation of the model of multilingual education to the realities and possibilities of each pilot school;
45 teachers (3-4 teachers per class) from the pilot schools have received training by experienced trainers on multilingual teaching and on modern pedagogical methods (interactive teaching);
120-180 community representatives and parents have participated at 2 information seminars: one before the academic year starts and one towards the end of the school year;
Teachers involved in the project use modern, interactive teaching methods by using games and interactive tools proposed in the Gamebook. Other primary schools in the region are aware of the new methodological support and have received a copy of the Gamebook;
Module of demand-driven introduction courses to interactive teaching and multilingual education.