Civic Education for Youth & Other Steps Forward in the Georgian Education System

From 2018 to 2020, the Civic Education program ‘Momavlis Taoba’ (MT - Future Generation) is providing assistance to 230 new schools in Georgia, improving the quality of school-based Civic Education and its practical applications, promoting informed and responsible citizenship among young people and thus enhancing civil society’s role in promoting transparent and accountable governance.

The project has been ongoing in various volunteer schools since 2010, run by PH International within the framework of the USAID-funded Applied Civic Education and Teacher Training Program. It has so far covered 30% of schools in Georgia, with noticeable results. It is designed to complement and build on the State’s civics ed curriculum, a program which is also “being stepped up this year,” says the Ministry of Education.

So how does it work? MT partner organizations in 10 regions of Georgia facilitate the creation and development of school-based Civic Clubs and support students in the implementation of local community initiatives generated through the work of Civic Clubs or in the civics ed classroom, that respond to community and school needs. Through such projects, students address topics such as the prevention of bullying among youth, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, and the installation of speed bumps near schools to protect student safety. The projects are identified by the students based on their interests and the community’s needs. Successful schools and civic education teachers are recognized for the delivery of quality civic education in schools through various contests.

But how can they afford to do it when municipal budgets are so limited? Through the mini-grants online portal, students and teachers have an opportunity to apply for up to $450 to support their applied learning initiatives. One of the criteria of a mini-grant award is to demonstrate increased partnership and engagement with local government, media, private sector, government and/or non-governmental organizations. Examples of such projects include the participation of students in the renovation of their school library, improvement of the school gym or stadium, installation of a ramp for peers with special needs at the school entrance, an analysis and panel presentation of the negative results of early marriage, greening of the landslide zones in villages, other initiatives to protect the environment, and other issues that are of interest to the students.

“People- we- were sitting and waiting for someone to come and fix our problems for us,” a Kobuleti No6 Public School pupil said. “Now we know that if we want something done, we have to be proactive and reach out to those who can help us. And now we know how to do that.”

Indeed, by applying the training provided to the teachers and using the information given in the free MT textbooks, and by reaching out to local governance and the police, the students at Kobuleti 6 got a new zebra crossing painted near their school and road safety training given to the school pupils.

But where the Ministry and school children might see a Civic Education as an opportunity, how to persuade the “old-school” teachers to change their ways? The first thought is higher salaries- and the Ministry has made moves to address this very important issue by promising that in 2019-2021, salaries will increase in stages. By 2022, the average teacher's salary will be 1800 GEL, and higher-level teachers will receive an average of 2000 GEL. With many teachers in their sixties, a new generation is needed, but without the financial motivation encouraging that generation to choose teaching as a viable career, Georgia was finding itself heading towards a crisis. The higher salaries and teacher training go some way to prevent such an eventuality. And teachers are not the only challenges the program has faced.

One opponent to aspects of civic education was the Church, which even now has issues with some of the modules, such as gender studies, which, it says, are eroding the traditional Georgian values and women’s “necessary” role in society.

The positive progress is tangible, though, and the Georgian Ministry of Education itself is very much invested in developing civics ed. In September, the textbook ‘Me and My Society’ was introduced to 3rd and 4th graders in public schools as an integrated component to be used in the teaching of history, or any other subject in which the teacher feels a connection can be made and covering such topics as road safety and community awareness. Grades 5 and 6 have the next stages, also integrated, in a book named ‘My Georgia’ which has a strong focus on the meaning of citizenship and which fits particularly well into the subject of history. From September 2019, grade 7 will also have its own civic education textbook, while grade 8, and perhaps even the lower grades, will have to wait until 2020. Grades 9 and up will continue with civics ed as a separate subject encompassing such elements as Financial Literacy (with training for teachers to be provided by the National Bank of Georgia).

The Ministry cooperates with international organizations such as PH International in the implementation of its civics ed program and runs nationwide competitions to encourage active participation. In future, they plan to add more topics and expand the program further, all the while with the intention to maintain the sustainability of the project when the international help is eventually phased out.

Mariam Chikobava at the media tour in Paragraph Resort Shekvetili. By Tamar Ikobishvili

We spoke to Mariam Chikobava, Head of the Department of Preschool and General Education at the Ministry of Education regarding the recently abolished national school leaving exams and the much-touted “New Modal”.

“The canceled exams have allowed us to lighten the situation for teachers, pupils and parents,” she said, reasoning that by taking the focus away from rote-learning, they are giving each teacher and each school room to be creative and competitive.

“Georgian teachers being creative?” we wonder. Then she tells us about the New Modal. From this semester, 50 schools, followed by 100 more in the next semester, 200 thereafter, and then every public school in Georgia, within the next five years will see their teachers taught how to teach creatively. The system was first successfully implemented in School 150 in Tbilisi at the end of last year.

“It took three months for our in-school experts to convince the teachers of the need to change, then to implement the necessary changes: to change how they teach, change how they respond to students and how they embrace the workings of their job,” Chikobava noted. “Gone are the days when the Ministry provided the script and the teachers followed it word-for-word, cramming facts into the pupils’ heads and presuming the ability to analyse, critique and debate would follow thereafter. Now the education system is being built on building teacher creativity: supplying them with the basic requirements and the tools to create their own school, and personal, curriculums”.

Of course, success requires motivation and imagination. But teachers who have been through the training have apparently come out enlightened, seeing the difference in the eyes and abilities of their students.

“The teachers are being prepared by teams that make the schools their home for the entire semester, working hand-in-hand with the teachers to implement the changes. We show them how to analyse the needs of their own students and adapt and build on the basic material provided in the textbooks,” Chikobava says, noting that a computer-based diagnostic assessment of the results of 4th, 6th and 9th grade students of the first 50 schools will be conducted after a year to see how the program is progressing.

The Momavlis Taoba team, headed by Marina Ushveridze, took GEORGIA TODAY and other Georgian media representatives to a school just outside Batumi which has been one year out of the MT program already, the Salibauri No2 Public School. Clean, freshly renovated and boasting plentiful infrastructure, and represented by smartly-dressed and proactive pupils, “This is an example of what we’re aiming for in infrastructure and mentality,” Ushveridze told us.

The pupils presented their Civic Club activities, demonstrating that even without MT by their sides, they were still active in their school and community lives- pushing for change and the betterment of their surroundings, engaging adult help in teachers, politicians, legal representatives, media and more to forward their goals.

Having further spoken to students of other MT beneficiaries, the Gurian schools of Tskaltsminda and Kviriketi and the Ajaran Achkvi and Kobuleti public schools, it seems the biggest takeaway for the youth involved is the empowering knowledge that they can make a difference in their own lives, the lives of their peers and community and in wider society as a whole. Some would say it’s all changing too slowly. But when you're fighting a mentality brought so low as it was by Soviet pressure and the following civil breakdown, the effects of which are still seen in every street and in the eyes of those who experienced it, one has to realize that change takes time. But it is happening, and for that we must be grateful and everso supportive.



Educational Resources: MT partner schools, including Armenian and Azerbaijani language schools, are given civics supplemental textbooks free of charge which cover such topics as: ‘How Can I Become an Active Citizen?’; ‘Cooperation for Community Benefit’; ‘Participation in School Self-Governance’ and ‘Cooperation with Local Government and the Media’. Schools also receive additional resources in the form of toolboxes, containing instructions for teachers to guide them through the process of planning the work of school-based civics clubs and implementing civics classroom projects.

Civic Education Teacher Training: The training course ‘Teaching Democratic Citizenship’ is provided to all civics teachers in partner schools. Teachers are also trained in the use of the provided educational materials (see above).

Professional Development of Civics Teachers: Regional Roundtables, Model Lessons and Professional Learning Community meetings are regularly organized in all regions of Georgia for the professional development of civics teachers. Each year, awards for the best civics teachers in each region are presented at the Annual National Conference of Civics Teachers organized by the Civics Teachers Forum, a professional organization of civics teachers.

Supporting the Ministry of Education: The program supports the Ministry to increase the quality of school-based civics education in Georgian schools.

Civic Education Web Portal: is a bi-lingual web portal offering a wide variety of resources and information for teachers, school administrators, students and parents about civic education. The portal features daily news about the different civics activities taking place in the program and provides an opportunity for students to share information and increase their engagement in civic initiatives.


The Momavlis Taoba Program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is being implemented in Georgia by PH International (formerly Project Harmony). The Momavlis Taoba Program is supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia. The program is implemented in collaboration with the Civics Teachers Forum and regional Georgian non-governmental organizations.


By Katie Ruth Davies

The Editor would like to apologise for a misquote presented in the printed version of this story.

21 February 2019 19:25