Sakartvelo (Georgia) is located in the Southern Caucasus of southwestern Asia and is bordered by Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and the Black Sea. The population is 4,630,841 and the literacy rate is 100%. Georgian is the official language and is spoken by 71% of the population, while Russian (9%), Armenian (7%), Azeri (6%) and other languages are also spoken.
The area of current day western Georgia was colonized by the Greeks in the 8th century. Anatolian Turks arrived in eastern Georgia in the 7th century. By 400 AD, western Georgia was part of the Byzantine Empire. The area was constantly changing between Arab and Byzantine control until 1060 when it became known as Iveria. By the 18th century, Georgia was part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1795, it was annexed by the Russians and, after the Russian Revolution in 1917, it became the independent Democratic Republic of Georgia from 1918 to 1921. In 1922, it was one of the founding countries of the Soviet Union. Georgia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
In 2004, the Ministry of Education and Science completely reformed the educational system of Georgia. The reforms were completed and initiated within one year. Education in Georgia is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 14.
Primary school is 6 years beginning at age 6. No educational credential is issued after completion of primary school.
Basic (lower secondary) is 3 years and students are awarded a Arasruli Sashualo Ganatieblis Motsmoba upon completion.
Beginning in 2009, general secondary schools require 3 years of study and lead to the Sruli Zogadi Ganatlebis Atestati. The last Sashualo Skolis Atesti and Sashualo Ganatlebis Atestati were awarded in 2007. No degrees were awarded in 2008 as the last 11 year system students continued on to the 12th year of the new system and became the first 12 year graduates in 2009.
Upper secondary school programs are offered at vocational-technical secondary schools, specialized secondary schools, and general secondary schools. There are 2, 3, and 4-year vocational-technical school programs. The 2-year program awards the Prophesiul-Teknikuri Sastsavlebis Diplomi, the 3-year program awards the Prophesiul-Teknikuri Sastavlebis Danartit or the Prophesiul-Teknikuri Sastsavlebis Diplomi, and 4-year programs award the Prophesiul-Teknikuri Sastavlebis Danartit. Special secondary schools are 3 years and award the Sashualo Specialuri Sastsavieblis Diplomi.
First Cycle, Academic
There are 24 public higher education institutions and more than 81 private higher education institutions. Admission to university programs to post-secondary requires a Sashualo Skolis Atesti, a Sashualo Specialuri Sastsavieblis Diplomi, or a Sashualo Ganatlebis Atestati, plus sufficient scores on the Unified National Exams which were first administered in 2005 and are the first of series of national examinations that are being developed. The exams are still evolving, and now include Georgian language and literature, foreign language (English, German, French or Russian), general ability, math, natural history, and Georgian history. First level university programs are 4-5 years, depending on the program of study, and students are awarded a Specialistis Diplomi or a Bakalavris Kharishki.
First Cycle, Vocational/Technical
Post-secondary professional, vocational and technical programs are 2 years and require a Sashualo Skolis Atesti, a Sashualo Specialuri Sastsavieblis Diplomi, or a Sashualo Ganatlebis Atestati, plus sufficient scores on the Simplified Unified National Exams. Upon completion, students are awarded a Prophesiul-Teknikuri Sastsavleblis Diplomi or a Sashualo Profesiuli Sastsavleblis Diplomi. Students who completed these are eligible to apply for transfer admission to a university program after passing the Unified National Exams.
Graduate programs leading to masters degrees are 1-2 years long and, upon completion of coursework and successful defense of a thesis, students are awarded a Magistris Kharishki (Masters Degree). Doctoral programs are 3 years and, upon completion of coursework and successful defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Doctoris Akademiriu Xarisxi (Academic Doctorate).
Some universities still follow the pre-reform graduate school system and use the Russian names for degrees. Graduate programs leading to masters degrees are 3 years long. Once a student has completed the program, they are awarded an Attestat Okontchaniya Aspirantury. This attestation is not sufficient to document that a graduate degree has been awarded. Students must then sit for examinations in foreign language, political history and their field of study, and, if successful, are then awarded a Svidetelstvo Kandidatskovo Minimuma.
Doctoral programs are at least 3 years and require a Svidetelstvo Kandidatskovo Minimuma for admission. Upon successful defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Metsnierebata Kandidati. Researchers who hold a Metsnierebata Kandidati are awarded a Metsnierebata Doktori after highly advanced research and defense of a thesis.
Historic Milestones in Education Reform
All changes are driven by the goals of improving the functioning and quality of institutions; improving access and funding for students, creating transparency and effective accountability systems, and reducing corruption and fraud.
Bologna Process and Implementation of Bologna Principles: 2005
Georgia joined the Bologna process in 2005. Changes since then are mainly the result of Bologna-related reforms.
National Education Accreditation Center (NEAC) Established: 2006
The NEAC's functions are to implement the accreditation procedures for all levels of education. It also houses the European Integration and Mobility Division (ENIC). Accreditation applies to both private and state institutions:
- Licensing (for private institutions), which gives the institution permission to offer education programs
- Accreditation of the institution. Only Institutions that are accredited have the right to issue recognized degrees. A system of accreditation for programs at accredited institutions is being developed. Please click here to find the MOE list of higher education institutions in 2006
Higher Education Institutions: Types, Structure, and Funding, Reorganization: Beginning 2005-06
- Institution types: “University” (has the right to confer the bachelor, master and doctor degrees); “training university” (confers only bachelor and master degrees); “college”(confers only the bachelor degree).
- Better oversight of private higher education; reorganization of institutions; reduction in their numbers through mergers and closures, in 2005 and 2006; decrease in the number of private institutions.
- New organizational and management structures; more autonomy for public institutions; new institutional funding models; more outcome-oriented and learner-centered; student loan system introduced in 2006.
National Examination Center Established
Goal: To address problems of corruption, elitism, nepotism in higher education admissions.
- Unified National Admissions Examinations (for admission to higher education) introduced in 2005.
- Best achievers get tuition waivers/scholarships at accredited public and private institutions.
- Unified Examination for Admission to Master Degree Program Introduced in 2007.
New Degree Cycles Introduced in 2005: Bachelor, Master, Doctorate
Bakalavriati (Bachelor studies), Magistratura (Master studies) and Doctorandura (Doctoral studies).
Note: The “Certified Specialist” diploma remains in the higher education structure. It grants a qualification to work in a specific profession. It is a 5-year program, except in the medical field (including veterinary medicine), which requires 6 years. The Certified Specialist from a 6-year program may be deemed equivalent to the new degree of Master.
ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) Mandated for Implementation by 2009-10
Implementation of the ECTS system by 2009-10 is a requirement for accreditation, but more resources are needed to make the system operational and effective.
Diploma Supplement Mandated for Implementation in 2007
As of 2007 all higher education institutions are expected to issue a Diploma Supplement (DS) in a format that conforms to the EU/CoE/UNESCO Diploma Supplement format, free of charge, and automatically, without requiring a special request from the student. Tbilisi State University issued its first DS in 2006.