Research / History Teaching in Georgia

Georgia is a multi-linguistic country, and is in search for a model for governing its pluralism. Thirteen percent of its population does not speak Georgian as first language. The two major ethno-linguistic groups are the Armenians, mostly living in Samskhe Javakheti (approximately 6%) and the Azeris in Kvemo Kartli (6.5%).

History teaching has undergone major changes since the independence of Georgia in 1991. The number of history classes in the curriculum has considerably increased and focuses nowadays on national Georgian history, the study of historical personalities and the influence of the Georgian kings. In this view, new textbooks have been written by Georgian historians in Georgian language. Most of them have been already translated in Russian, Azeri and Armenian languages, to make them available for the minority schools.

History has a very important place in the human relations. History and language are basic elements of the identity construction of a group. Yet, in Soviet and post-Soviet Caucasus, history and historians have also played a controversial role creating polarized visions of the past and present. Against this background of competing historical perspectives, how are minorities represented in the new Georgian history textbooks? In view of the importance of intercultural education in multi-lingual and multi-ethnic societies, do the new Georgian history textbooks ensure that the general compulsory curriculum includes the teaching of the histories, cultures and traditions of their respective national minorities? And how do the minorities living in Georgia perceive and agree with these current history textbooks?

The general aim of the project is to analyse the representations and place attributed to Armenian and Azeri minorities in the Georgian history schoolbooks. The project pursues two specific objectives, which are:

- To raise non-partisan knowledge and awareness about issues of representations as potential sources of conflict and;
- To develop constructive ideas on how to deal with these issues in the future.

In order to achieve these objectives, a study on the representation of Armenian and Azeri minorities in the Georgian history schoolbooks will be conducted, followed by a workshop.

Activities and project outcomes

- A research paper consisting of three parts:
  • a background article dealing with the evolution of history textbooks and history teaching in Georgia since independence;
  • a summary of the interviews of history teachers, textbooks authors, representatives of the Ministry of Education and parents on the issues at stake in history teaching in Georgia; and
  • a text analysis of history schoolbooks extracts. The choice of the books and extracts to be analysed will be done based on the interviews. The selected extracts will be translated to English and analysed according to academic text analysis methods.

- A workshop gathering authors of the school manuals, history teachers of Azeri and Armenian schools from Kvemo Kartli and Samskhe Javakheti regions, representatives from the Ministry of Education and International Organisations. During the workshop the results of the text analysis and interviews will be presented and the discussion will focus on how put the basis for a teaching of History that would be acceptable for all groups of the Georgian society.

- A set of recommendations for the improvement of the textbooks addressed to the Georgian Ministry of Education. The recommendations will be based on the outcomes of the workshop and the analysis of history textbooks extracts.

Workshop "History Teaching in Georgia & Representations of Minorities"

On December 12, 2006 CIMERA organized in Tbilisi a workshop to present the findings of the research project and to discuss integrating the history of minority groups into mainstream History teaching in Georgia

The 40 participants included: textbook authors, history teachers from Armenian and Azeri schools in Georgia, representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, foreign and local historians, as well as international and local NGOs dealing with minority issues.
The research papers are now available on CIMERA website.

Workshop programme

Moderation: V. Cheterian, Director of Programmes, CIMERA, Switzerland

10:00 - 10:10   Welcome address H.E. Lorenzo Amberg, Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia and Armenia

10:10 - 10:25   Key aspects of the textbooks reform in Georgia Simon Janashia, Director, National Curriculum and Assessment Center, Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia

10:25 - 10:45   Introduction to the workshop: "From ethnic to civic identity in History teaching" V. Cheterian, CIMERA, Switzerland

10:45 - 11:00   Reforming history textbooks: changing patterns & the issue of minorities in Georgian History L. Gigineishvili, Historian, Georgia

11:00 - 11:10   questions

11:10 - 11:40   Teaching History & Minorities in Georgia: main findings of a research conducted in autumn 2006 I. Gundare, Historian, Latvia

11:40 - 12:00   coffee break

12:00 - 12:45   Discussion

12:45 - 13-45   lunch break

13:45 - 15:45   Group work: "How to integrate minorities' perspectives in History teaching in Georgia"

15:45 - 16:15   coffee break

16:15 - 17:15   Plenary session

Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Political Division IV

History Teaching in Georgia: representation of Minorities in Georgian history textbooks

© Cimera 2001