“Funding for education sector by 2022 will reach 6% of GDP, i.e. quarter of the State Budget” states Prime Minister of Georgia Print Version

2019-03-07

"Today I need to talk about a topic, which is a key motivator for me personally and my friends to be in the Georgian politics.

Georgia has two enemies manifesting themselves in the occupation and poverty. Occupation line and economic difficulties are the factors preventing from a fully-fledged development, which may not be tolerated and fight to combat them is a key goal of essence for each of us.

Political team of the Georgian Dream is announcing today the most courageous and wide-scale idea since regaining our independence. It is the National Education Concept, within which the authorities are committing to an unprecedented obligation to contribute as much as 6 percent of our national wealth annually towards this end. That is, we intend to allocate one fourth of the State Budget of Georgia for a complete transformation of the education sector to establish one of the outstanding and exemplary Georgian school of education in the world.

We always aspired and had a healthy ambition to be among the leading countries of the world. We read in the records of old Greek geographers that "prosperous" cities existed in the antique Georgia. This term predominantly meant the education centers, such as Fazisi Rhetoric School. Venues of research and science were intensively developing at Iqalto and Gelati Academies in the middle ages, which are referred to as the New Athens and Second Jerusalem by the contemporaries. Georgians were establishing education centers and libraries at Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian monasteries. Our teachers were working at the Mount Sinai and Palestine. National pride of Georgians has always been the oldest translations of the Old Testament, Treaties of Theology and Philosophy. Renaissance vision was shaping up in Georgia earlier than in the rest of the world and the Knight in the Panther Skin is a clear evidence of this. Even prior to that, many centuries before, we created the knowledge and technologies for ironmongery, winemaking, goldmining and thus made a very considerable contribution to the European and world civilizations.

Unique alphabet is part of the Georgian identity along with its original literature tracing back to 1600 years. Our great enlightener - Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani - created a thesaurus of the Georgian language, which did not exist in the majority of countries back then and is still valid today - 300 years later. Ilya Chavchavadze perceived the spread of literacy among the Georgians and introduction of European education system to be his most important aim to "get shaped into a nation among nations of the world", which meant and still means the accession to a family of leading European states.

We announced a wide-scale reform of the education system at the presentation held at Iqalto Academy last year to cover 2019-2022. This reform is implemented in all five tiers: pre-school, general schooling, vocational, higher and - of course - science. We declared that we are starting to mobilise resources for the implementation of this huge project and it has been lauched. However, now we wish to advance to a substantially new stage.

Funding allocated to the education system will be increased annually and will reach its maximum by 2022, when we will hit the target of 6 percent of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP), i.e. one fourth of the State Budget. It will be ensured with a tailor-made piece of legislation - Education Equality Act - which will be binding for the current and future Governments of Georgia for over years to keep the investments this high into the education sector and steadily increase it every single year. Moreover, such voluminous public investment in the education system will lead to respective private sector initiatives and education system will thus become dominant in our economy ultimately with its 10-11% share.

It means that Finland, Norway, Denmark, Singapore and other leading states will be joined by Georgia with a key priority being education and human capital development.

It means that pre-school education and general schooling will transform to the European level with the most efficient manner and high speed, while a teacher will become one of the highly remunerated occupation in Georgia.

It means that we will have higher education institutions of the highest quality. Georgian universities will be listed in the top international ratings, while our children and future generations will no longer need to be sent to gain their bachelor's and master's degree education overseas. Hence, superior quality and competitive higher education will be accessible to all and will no longer be a priviledge.

It also means that vocational education centers will be established in Georgia to make sure that our youth gain the skills and qualifications that are in high demand. They will obtain European certificates and get employed in any leading country of the world.

It means that scientific research will be facilitated, most advanced labs, demo sites, research centers and institutions will be established to lead to new discoveries, scientific achievements and high-tech start-ups.

It means that arts and crafts education will be intensively developed and our culture will be further enriched.

It means new schools and kindergartens everywhere, in every region; new universities and tertiary education centres; new campuses and what is most important - new researchers, teachers, scientists, artists that will alter the term of "a small nation", which is most unacceptable to me. It will respond to a somewhat rhetorical question "where is the salvation?"

Education is the short-cut road to freedom... from poverty to freedom and from occupation to freedom. Hence, salvation is in educated Georgia!

In a few years Georgia will regain its role of cultural, scientific, educational avenue and will become a clear leader in the region to compete with even leading countries of the world with our most talented youth equipped with an opportunity to gain education of European standards in their own country, along with a life-long and consistent education opportunities to gradually achieve a breakthrough in the economy, business, science and every area of public life. Problems in employment, scarcity of jobs, small remuneration and other social calamities will disappear, because as the world practice shows, none of these negative phenomena are compatible with educated, developed and enlightened society.

In current chaotic and messy times, turbulences, fast-changing and often unfair world, it is impossible to advance and develop without such strong tool as knowledge of European standards.

Hence, sovereign goal of supreme legitimacy is to ensure the accessible quality education to all by giving equal opportunities to any talented person, no matter of his/her place of residence or living conditions at birth or afterwards.

Today we are already saying that Georgia has been exposed to the world as a country of unique culture. I pledge that we will be rediscovered very soon as a country of most educated and free people!

By investing one fourth of our State Budget in the education sector, we will make sure that Georgia becomes the most educated country and Georgian people - the most educated nation!

This is the vision and initiative of our political team within the Georgian Dream. It is a plan to overcome poverty and occupation through education. It is the national idea, which now requires only one thing for implementation - concensus of the entire society and universal, national agreement of the citizens of Georgia!

I wish to close my speech with a quote of great Ilya Chavchavadze: "Nothing will ever win a victory over a war, but knowledge. Nothing will ever save us from poverty, but this tool - ability - power called knowledge acquired through learning and education".

God bless Georgia!"