Our Recurrent Educational Vicissitudes


Education per se is a global problem, but here in Georgia, it has been one of the acutest issues since the erstwhile communist era. The Ministry of Education here is a very big deal, and it regularly uses its overwhelming power to introduce changes in the system, maintaining its everlasting authority in dictating to the nation what to learn and how. Meanwhile, the effect is zilch, and changes continue from generation to generation and from minister to minister.

Discussions on the topic are ubiquitous, the internet bursting with comments and families lost in thought. I too am sailing that boat. The other day, I found a couple of minutes of rare leisure time and browsed the local TV channels, flicking through literally every available program making affordable attempts to elucidate the recent changes in the education system of Georgia, And what do you think I came across? Almost every show was a genuine madhouse, all the participants talking over each other, practically shouting, hysterical, not giving each other even the slightest chance to speak their minds.

The reason for the current national exaltation is the abrogation of high-school graduation examinations, singlehandedly executed by the newly appointed Minister of Education of Georgia. But that’s not the reason for the resulting all-national delirium. The real problem is that the nation has no clue what’s better – to have the graduation examination in schools or not. Actually, the crux of the issue is that the so-called Skills Test, purely based on Western testing experience with a somewhat modified name, was made obligatory in Georgia as the high school graduation examination, opening the way to higher education. In a word, the change in question is mostly about making access to college education easier for our young men and women.

The State is using a lot of taxpayer’s money on the primary, middle and higher education of the generations, and it is natural that the State wants to know if that spending is justified. Therefore, checking the knowledge and skills of high school graduates seems to be indispensable – you spend money, you want to know what you get for that money. Isn’t this natural? On the other hand, a scary number of high-school students fail the obligatory Skills Test, even those who have gone through special drills in the hands of expensive private tutors.

Listening to public comments, one can hear umpteen different opinions. Some say the Skills Test is optimal and necessary because it reveals the preparedness of a youth for contemporary norms of civilized life; others would try to prove that it is the most corrupt and unfair test that has ever been invented because kids are tested in matters that are not taught in school; still others would connect the abrogation of the Skills Test with the possibility of reinstating corrupt examinations; and some would nihilistically emphasize that no good education is possible without enough money to actually run the schools.

Controversy is hot, characteristic for a young and developing democracy like ours, but controversy alone will not save the day. Facts push us to believe that education in Georgia is suffering a sudden and ignominious failure, and faced with this seemingly insurmountable debacle, the nation has to find a way out without delay. The cancellation of the earlier experimental Skills Test might be one endeavor to cope with the difficulty of the situation.

Well, it might work, and it might not, but trying is always good. At least it never hurts. The entire world is living in an educational experiment and only a few nations have had some success in renovating the process and optimizing the results. What do we need our education for after all? Probably, to make a better living, and if this is true, it is worth continuing to experiment with it. It feels good that we are not alone in our confrontation with modern enlightenment demands and exigencies. All the nations of the world are dragging their educational feet in the same boots. What might help here, though, is to know that pumping our kids with the maximum of useful information in the minimum of time and then turning the yielded product into general and private wellbeing so that translation of knowledge into money is recognized as the bottom-line.

By Nugzar B. Ruhadze

Image source: dailytimes.com.pk


14 February 2019 19:46