Children in Georgia will benefit from quality and inclusive education – a new partnership initiative is launched
Tbilisi, Georgia, 19 March 2021 – A three-year programme was launched today, by the Ministry of Education and Science, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Government Agency for Special Needs Education (Statped) and UNICEF, to strengthen the quality and inclusiveness of the national education system.
The programme will focus on children between 3 – 18 years of age, with a specific emphasis on children with disabilities, national minorities, and marginalized children, including those who are currently not attending school and are at risk of dropping out. The programme will support these children to receive an inclusive and quality education.
The project is funded by the Norwegian government and will be implemented during the period 2021-2023.
The launch of the programme took place at the Ministry of Education and Science, where the Minister of Education and Science Mr. Mikheil Chkhenkeli, Ambassador of Norway H.E. Ms. Helene Sand Andresen, UNICEF Representative in Georgia Dr. Ghassan Khalil, and General Manager of Statped Ms. Annemarie Bechmann Hansen signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to kick off the programme.
"We are launching a very important programme in cooperation with the Government of Norway and UNICEF. The programme will help ensure equal access to quality education for every student." - Mikheil Chkhenkeli
"We are launching a very important programme in cooperation with the Government of Norway and UNICEF. The programme will help ensure equal access to quality education for every student. It should be noted that the development of inclusive education is one of the top priorities for the Ministry and a number of support programs are being implemented in cooperation with international organizations. I hope that the process will continue and will bring tangible and productive results," said Mikheil Chkhenkeli, Minister of Education and Science.
"The four-party partnership embodies a shared vision between two countries." - Helene Sand Andresen
“The four-party partnership embodies a shared vision between two countries,” said H.E. Ms. Helene Sand Andresen, Ambassador of Norway to Georgia. “The project is grounded in national development priorities and global sustainable development goals; the exchange of best practices, knowledge, and skills between practitioners in a meeting of like minds; the support of a major UN agency with subject matter expertise, and decades of field work experience; and finally, a common goal. In this project, that common goal is to realize every child’s right to develop their personality, talents, and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities”.
"Every child has the right to quality learning and inclusive education." - Ghassan Khalil
“Every child has the right to quality learning and inclusive education”, said Ghassan Khalil, UNICEF Representative in Georgia. “Like all children, children with disabilities have ambitions and dreams for their futures but they often face persistent barriers to education stemming from stigma and the failure to provide appropriate support in school services. Inclusive education means all children learn together in the same schools, and appreciating diversity and multiple voices in the classrooms. This necessitates making sure that teaching and the curriculum, school buildings, classrooms, and play areas are appropriate for all children. UNICEF is grateful to the Norwegian Government for their tremendous support; and in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science, and with national and international experts, we will make sure that all children with special educational needs learn and develop to their full potential”.
The programme will achieve the following objectives:
- Effective teacher learning programmes and supportive teaching and learning resources that meet international standards will be developed.
- Resource schools will have improved physical environment, teaching and learning resources will be identified, and training of resource school leaders, teachers, representatives of educational resource centres and local government members will be conducted.
- Partner schools will provide children with after school programmes for learning, recreation, and supervised leisure.
- Knowledge Hubs/Child Rights Centres will be established in State universities offering collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders and sharing knowledge on inclusive and child rights-based education
- Pre and in-service teacher training programmes in universities and in the Teacher Professional Development Centre will be strengthened to provide new teachers with adequate knowledge and skills.
- Stigma and harmful social norms against children with special educational needs and disabilities will be reduced.
Many children, especially from the most socially and economically marginalized groups, are not benefitting from inclusive and quality compulsory education. There are 10,404 children out of school in Georgia according to the Ministry of Education and Science. While the system opens doors to children with disabilities, there is a lack of an overarching, national, inclusive education support system to facilitate the provision of safe, inclusive, and effective learning environments for all children. Many children with disabilities are invisible due to harmful social norms against those with disabilities. Teachers lack knowledge about people with disabilities, and find it difficult to conduct lessons and manage the behaviour of children with disabilities. Inclusion of children with disabilities in preschool and general education remains one of the major challenges.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/georgia/