President encouraging Georgian language amongst ethnic minorities in the regions
By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, December 27Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili met with the 150 participants of the state programme Georgian Language for Future Success which is encouraging ethnic minorities all over the country to increase the sense of their Georgian identity. Summarizing the results of the last year’s activities the President discussed plans for improving the level of Georgian language in the regions populated with ethnic minorities. Saakashvili spoke of the importance of engaging ethnic diversities in important state processes as a key priority for the country. Welcoming Georgia’s positive birth rate and migration balance in recent years compared with other post-Soviet and Eastern European countries the President said Georgia still remains one of the smallest nations. “Thus we should enable everyone living in Georgia to be an integral part of our country,” Saakashvili stated.
Calling the young project participants “the best Georgians” for leaving their ordinary lives to help others President Saakashvili spoke of the 150 teachers as “ambassadors of Georgian statehood”. The aim of the state programme is to encourage native Georgian speakers (with a Bachelor Degree) to spend a school year in Georgian regions that are predominantly populated by ethnic minorities, staying with families there and teaching Georgian language at schools, while becoming eligible for a full state-funded scholarship for a Master’s Degree at the end of the programme. Praising their commitment to Georgian statehood Saakashvili spoke of their devotion “formed” in the post Rose Revolution climate. “They feel a sense of this new Georgia based on absolutely fresh ideals which will never allow Georgia to return to a Soviet Union mentality,” the President stated.
A couple of days earlier the Minister of Education and Science of Georgia (MES) Dimitri Shashkin and the Governor of Kvemo Kartli Davit Kirkitadze opened a new Georgian Language House in Marneuli equipped with modern facilities to make it easy for ethnic minorities to learn the Georgian language. There is no age limitation at the Language House which offers study programmes with trained teachers available for everyone. Specially designed textbooks oriented at rapid teaching techniques for school principals, teachers, public officials, entrants and other interested people give teachers an additional opportunity to manage bilingual teaching in Georgian and their native language.
Five similar houses already operate in the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions, while according to the information released by MES Georgian Language Houses will gradually be opened in all the regions populated with ethnic minorities. Coordinated by Zurab Zhvania, School of Public Administration, the Georgian Language House enables participants to take public administration and intensive Georgian language courses at the Zurab Zhvania School of Public Administration established by the President’s initiative, aimed at designing and implementing professional-educational programmes for public officials of ethnic minorities working in the government sector.