“One morning, as I was going to work, a neighbor's boy took a short trip with me in the elevator, who was naturally headed to school. I talked to him and asked if he was glad to go to school or whether he liked school at all in that matter. She contemplated and responded with a counter question: "Do you think there is a child who is happy to go to school?" These words are still haunting my mind to this very day.”
After this prelude, it was unusual to ask the minister my next question, but I persisted:
- Mr. Minister, the public has heard your submissions on the changes to be made at each level of education. People interested in the issue were able to get acquainted with your position through various news channels, so they probably already have the idea of what you have proposed and what they expect from you. Can I please start my interview with a simple question; Why did you agree to become a Minister?
The key contributor to my final decision is that my entire background is very much tied to the field of education. The problems and existing challenges in the education system is not really foreign to me. I have talked to my local colleagues and foreign counterparts about these issues and when I was offered the ministerial position, I thought that I really wanted to take part in the amendments needed to make our education system slightly better and innovative. Generally, I think that when you do not like something and you have a chance to improve it, you do not have to wait when you take responsibility for the other.
"Education is the priority of our country" - these words are often understood by people who take political and economic decisions in our country and determine what amount should be allocated for the state budget. What does these words mean to you?
The priority of education means that the state recognizes its unconditional significance, supports reforms, empowers the money or human resources affected by it and not only. The priority means that education must become valuable in the eyes of the public, the education will give you a decent life, social mobility and much more. The priority means to believe that knowledge and skills acquired at school or university will help in the future self-realization and will provide you a well-being.
The priority of education is expressed by the fact that we are aware of: We do not have time to make more mistakes, so after a lot of thought, debates and discussions we make decisions which will not significantly damage the processes in the system. The vision needs to be uninterrupted, one mistake now may take years to fix.
There are also urgent problems that needs fixing. One of them is the textbook approval process. We have analyzed the mistakes and there will be no such shortcomings in future school textbooks. Authors and publishers should have a reasonable time to work on textbooks.
It is impossible to directly introduce and implement a successful foreign school model. We have to account for our existing reality in our country. The school environment should be desirable to students and teachers alike. The parents must believe their children are learning in a safe environment. In order to create such environment, it is necessary to take into consideration the role of School Resource security officers as well as the psychologists and most importantly the parents. To have a successful, safe environment, these stakeholders must cooperate harmoniously.
We have chosen a random school for piloting the program. By the end of the year we will have a more or less clear picture and we will discuss the details and results of this model publicly. If they are satisfactory, we hope that the reform will cover all schools of Georgia before 2023.
How would the Minister describe a teacher, who he wishes to see in classrooms or outside of it? What do you think you will do to attract successful and young teachers? It is also interesting, which regulation you think must be abolished?
The ideal situation is when a person does their job with passion. Occasional people should not choose a teacher's profession; This profession should not be chosen only because they do not have any other job available. When you are happy what you do, you will pass this joy to others. Being a teacher is a very difficult profession, so the choice should be thoroughly thought out. Naturally, this hard work should be appreciated properly - with the salary, teacher's social status ... We said that by 2022 the teacher's minimum salary should be 1500 GEL. It is very important to attract new people to the profession. Hence the minimum wage regulations must be amended and regulated.
It should be noted that no school environment, no modern technologies can produce the desired result if the educational system has been deprived of values. The teacher must be the one who, along with knowledgeable facts showcases the core values by personal exemplification. I understand it is difficult, but otherwise it is virtually impossible to develop a society for the better.
How can we assist teachers in their professional development? In general, what is their way of professional development and what should they expect along the path?
Being a teacher is a vocation that requires self development and acquiring knowledge throughout the entire life, like any other vocation. One should take care of their professional development and for that there is a need for correct resources to be available. Modern educational resources must be provided, there needs to be more discussions around problems, sharing of various experiences and etc. .
When submitting the reform, there was an emphasis on "Quality Education" and " Universal Access to Education". What does this statement mean?
Reform is not a fragmentation of individual problems – it is the amalgamated elimination of the gaps in it. Schools should gradually move on the electronic management. I want to tell you that we are not oriented on the quantity and but rather we think of quality. The reform is a live process, constantly finding new ways to overcome challenges.
First of all - the modern school infrastructure, which is not easy to create and can not be fast, but that does not mean that we are not working in this regard. The expenditures allocated for the infrastructure will be doubled next year. In addition, schools should be provided with modern technologies and appliances.
I should definitely ask you this: What does the school principal look like under your new reform?
The director should be an individual familiar with the education system and its challenges; A director must have managerial skills; Can make a decision and bear responsibility for it; Is a leader and can calculate the expected results. The director must be free to take responsibility for the school's internal reforms and make effective decisions. It's not easy, but more freedom and responsibility can be possible.
Why should our magazine readers trust your education reforms to be effective and sustainable?
The answer to this question will be seen by our education reform. The sustainability and effectiveness of the reform will not depend on individuals and their substitution will not hinder the coming change.
My main message to the readers is that education is truly an acquired freedom. And that we should cherish it.
Author: Nato Ingorokva