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For the first time, the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, Mikheil Chkhenkeli participated at the summit on the transformation of virtual education, organized by Microsoft Corporation. The minister addressed the public and introduced them to the challenges facing the Georgian education system and various mechanisms to solve the obstacles amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main purpose of the summit was to discuss effective measures to promote distance learning during the pandemic. Mikheil Chkhenkeli, the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia together with the Ministers of Education of Austria and Ecuador shared the experience of Georgia with more than 300 leaders working in the education sector at a panel discussion.
Mikheil Chkhenkeli: “It is a great honor to be a part of the very first summit on the transformation of education. I would like to thank the representatives of Microsoft for organizing this remarkably interesting event. My personal gratitude extends to Anthony Salsito, with whom we have been cooperating for many years, and have implemented exciting projects in collaboration. Microsoft products are our main tools through which we have been able to overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic. Teamwork, creative approach, and quick response, appeared to have the vital importance, given the current circumstances. Our youth was the main source of motivation for our team, and despite the crisis, we should create equal opportunities to receive quality education."
In his speech, the Minister stated that due to the closure of schools and universities, the priority of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia has been to provide distance learning services to students across the country. Various tools have been developed to reduce the negative impact of the COVID-19 on the education system and to ensure a continuous learning process.
According to the Minister, to promote distance learning, the Ministry has acted in two main directions: using Microsoft products to introduce online teaching in schools and launching a large-scale project – “TV School”.
Numerous Microsoft Office 365 user profiles have been created for administration, teachers, and students. Microsoft TEAMS has created virtual classrooms for all school grades and subjects. Detailed instructions and recommendations have been developed for public schools. Ministry officials assisted teachers and students to keep the learning process running smoothly.
In order to ensure universal access to education, a project "TV School" was created in cooperation with the Public Broadcaster, allowing all students, regardless of whether they have access to the Internet, to attend engaging lessons across all subjects. According to the Minister, the project, which is aired on the First Channel - Education, has received an incredibly positive response from the public. TV lessons, which are held in all subjects across all grades, are watched not only by the students, but also by their family members. Due to such success, the project will continue even after the end of the pandemic.
Additionally, the Minister noted that the next stage of the Ministry's activities, is its ambitious plan to introduce Microsoft's "Minecraft Education Edition" pilot program in 150 schools selected throughout Georgia. Gradually, the program will be introduced in all schools of Georgia. Learning through playing - a 21st century pedagogical approach - will make the learning process even more efficient and interesting.
Furthermore, the Minister also spoke about higher education and noted that as a result of the successful e-learning, after the return of students to the auditoriums, the component of the use of electronic resources in study curricula will be strengthened.
Moreover, the Minister emphasized the enthusiasm and creative approach of lecturers and high school teachers in the process of designing distance learning. According to Mikheil Chkhenkeli, during the pandemic, the teachers, like the doctors, found themselves on the front line of the battle and successfully coped with the new challenges.
Representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) and more than 300 leaders in the education industry participated at the very first virtual education transformation conference organized by Microsoft.