Inclusive Education in Georgia

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Disability symbols

The public debate held on 5 October 2011 at the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office on the topic: “Inclusive Education in Georgia”.

Key Speakers:

  • Tatia Pachkoria - Inclusive Education Coordinator, National Curriculum Centre, Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia;
  • Ana Arganashvili – Representative of Public Defender of Georgia;
  • Nana Gegelishvili – Chairperson, “Tanadgoma” Library-Cultural Center for People with Disabilities.

Moderator: Gogi Gvakharia.

The first state-financed project of the inclusive education was launched in 2006 by the National Curriculum Center at the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia. At the same period, wide discussion was initiated within the public on the issue of inclusive education. Tatia Pachkoria, the Inclusive Education Coordinator at the National Curriculum Center, remembers that throughout many years they had to overcome a great variety of problems as the beginning of the project was met with many doubts from the society, however, as she mentioned, they managed to achieve considerable success.

According to Tatia Pachkoria, many things have changed since the creation of a separate chapter for inclusive education in the National Curriculum; teachers were provided with special guiding materials, initiatives were aimed at increasing opportunities of secondary education for students with special educational needs.

Ms. Pachkoria regards it as an achievement that today the Georgian society discusses intensively and freely issues of inclusive education. The National Curriculum Center managed to design and distribute guiding books and supporting manuals to school teachers. However, problems remain – teachers are not able to, or do not apply the manuals in the practice.

Nana Gegelashvili from “Tanadgoma” Library-Cultural Center for People with Disabilities remembered the period when the non-governmental sector in Georgia started to work on needs of children with disabilities. She studied and analyzed implementation of reforms and projects of inclusive education in other countries and paid a special attention to mistakes and problems made there. The goal of such analyses was to share best international practices with Georgian specialists and to avoid the same mistakes in the implementation of the reform in Georgia. “All counties I analyzed pursued reforms in the field of the inclusive education in a speedy manner, at the initial stage of the project the quality was low everywhere, so that sometimes it looked like a mechanical inclusion” – said Nana Gegelishvili. Adding that, she also highlighted a role of parents and spoke about a characteristic feature of Georgian parents – They overwhelmingly focus on child's medical rehabilitation, while the integration is left aside.

“If nothing is adopted in our environment, neither transportation, nor block houses, discussions about inclusion might sound cynic and funny” – said Ana Arganashvili, representative of Public Defender of Georgia. Agranashvili also mentioned that one should highly appreciate this program considering that dire situation in the other areas of human rights for people with disabilities.

Ana Arganashvili particularly underlined inaccessibility of inclusive education for the disabled children living in orphanages.”Inclusion should not refer only to some children – why children in orphanages should be subjected to double or triple discrimination?” – asked the representative of the Public Defender.

A number of questions were raised during the discussion by parents of children with disabilities present at the HBF discussion. Some of them were fully answered, but many were left unanswered, for example questions regarding inadequate infrastructure, the lack of access to healthcare, the need of additional teachers for resource rooms in the schools, intolerant public attitudes and stereotypes, the lack of teachers' qualification, the issue of voucherization in schools and the lack of special manuals for children with disabilities – these were the main concerns raised up by the audience at the discussion.

The debate was organized within the framework of the EU-funded project: Addressing Hate Speech in Georgia: A Litmus Test for Human Rights and Social Tolerance.