In 2005 during my visit to Poland I had an opportunity to familiarize myself with the activities of NGO “Educator”, which are connected with pre-school education. I have to mention that I was fascinated by innovative approaches used by this organization and decided to find means to implement similar projects in Georgia.
Unfortunately, many communities in Georgia do not have any pre-school institution. As a rule, in villages with small number of inhabitants, local governments are unable to open new or are forced to close standard kindergartens, because of budget constraints. Naturally, children who do not have opportunities for intellectual development in pre-school age, fall behind school curriculum, lack social skills and find it difficult to catch up with their peers, since their thinking and reasoning abilities are less developed. This creates unfair starting conditions in life for children without pre-school education.
Rural development is very important for Georgia’s progress. Development is not limited to promotion of tourism and farming and growth of agriculture. Development involves many components and along with economic development envisages improvement of living conditions as well as social, cultural, political and institutional development. For this, it is needed to encourage innovate approaches and raise local capacities.
Over 20 alternative kindergartens have already been established in Georgia in cooperation with “Educator”. These pre-school education centers were established in places without standard kindergartens i.e. small villages, IDP inhabited settlements etc. In past two years about 300 children attended our pre-school education centers.
It should be mentioned that Polish experience is adequate for Georgian reality. The surveys conducted by Civitas Georgica to assess the successes of these initiatives has shown high level of satisfaction from parents, children, the teachers of schools and local government officials. Alternative pre-school educational centers in villages carry not only education function but also support local community mobilization, their engagement in decision making, origination and implementation of community initiatives. The alternative pre-school centers provide communities other services as well – the doctor examination of children, psychologist’s testing, advices from lawyers. In villages with established alternative pre-school education centers, population is more active, parents take turns and help teachers, establish community organizations, propose initiatives.
Moreover, it is important to mentions, that (after completion of the project) further support of the established pre-school education centers by local government is easy. Costs are few, and the idea is very popular. Along with their basic function alternative pre-school educational centers create excellent pre-condition for development of public-private partnerships.