Challenges of the Georgian Education System and Hopes for the New Minister

Challenges of the Georgian Education System and Hopes for the New Minister

The FINANCIAL -- Scottish social philosopher and political economist Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations and achieved the first comprehensive system of political economy.

In his book he said: “It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy...”. This statement emphasizes the importance of one of Gregory Mankiw’s economic principles, that “Trade Can Make Everyone Better Off”. Thus, Georgians should not start manufacturing products that cost more to make than being bought from others. It is necessary to examine some of our advantages, such as: our climate; geography; hydropower resources; and the raw material resources of neighbouring countries. Georgia has the capability to process neighbouring countries’ raw materials and create synergy in combination with the free trade regimes that the country holds with almost the entire world. The uniqueness of Georgia has to be considered, based on which products and services can be developed which will be competitive on the regional or global markets, and generate wealth for the country and its people.

We often hear that for the development of society and the economy, it is important to protect human rights; ensure the rule of law; and uphold the existence of an independent judiciary. The strength of these institutions have been the main determinants of the economic development of European countries, which positively affected society throughout Europe.

The promotion of tourism is necessary to a certain level. At the same time we should define the priorities. To what extent do we want to influence tourism and develop a labour-intensive sector, from which public revenues are much lower than the development of science and capital-intensive sectors. Within the framework of “Check in Georgia” the country spends millions on financing cultural activities (musical festivals and concerts). However, analysts question to what level this impacts on tourism in the country. Meanwhile, there are no accurate statistics to refer to for answers.

Attempts to facilitate the development of innovations and technologies by the Georgian Government must be evaluated positively. Technopark, Innovations and Technologies Agency, Startup Georgia, and Fablab have all been created, which is good. Nevertheless, we should question how well the Georgian education system prepares technological innovators and specialists of the future to develop creative opportunities? What if “Check in Georgia” were to split its budget between cultural activities and simultaneously facilitate providing education to youths to study how to make electronic music. As we can see, thousands of US dollars are being spent on foreign DJs, which is good, but we must not forget that Georgia has very talented musical artists. Inviting world-known DJs to teach Georgians how to create electronic music would enable local musicians to become world-known generators of quality melodies. The world requires novelty, and Georgia has that in abundance in its musical genes.

In September 2017 I attended the seminar “Becoming a Cyber Hero” organized by SOLO of Bank of Georgia. Thomas De Lara, Associate Professor of the IE Business School, presented an interesting lecture. “Never before in human history has humanity as a whole had to face the amount, sophistication, and complexity of threats that we face today in the digital world. Our world has turned into a digital jungle and humanity now needs the best and most talented individuals to become Cyber Heroes and protect organizations and society. Everything is going towards digital, internet, data technologies, and artificial intelligence – mobile applications; smartphones; HVAC systems; medical and marine companies; and many other services and industries. That is why risks are increasing day by day, which show the importance of protection against cyber-attacks. Cyber security is a profession of the future, both highly paid and demanded. By 2020, there will be a lack of 2 million cyber-security specialists in the world,” noted De Lara.

It is important to consider the quotes of Chinese businessman Jack Ma, creator and owner of the world’s largest e-commerce platform “Alibaba”. He says the following about the phenomenon: that today we are witnessing the third technological and the fourth industrial revolution. We should therefore be prepared to be involved in a global business, for innovation and creativity. Everything is already in the process of activating data technologies (DT), artificial intelligence (AI), Blockchain technology. Crypto currencies are increasing in value and use day by day. In the future, a virtual economy will exist, where any individual and small businesses will be able to sell, buy, pay, deliver, and travel fast globally. Most people need to see to believe; while real entrepreneurs and leaders first believe, and then see. Entrepreneurs first believe in the future, and then they see the future. Therefore, it is important to have faith, to believe in vision and ideas; to fight for it despite the obstacles, to see the result and feel success. After the third technological and fourth industrial transformations, the competition will be in terms of wisdom and experience, not muscles. The help of young people is required for the future. Belief in the younger generation is faith in the future. Artificial intelligence will create a lot of jobs, but the first 15 years will be challenging because people don’t develop as fast as technology. It should also be considered that production would no longer create jobs in the future, because most of the production will be based on artificial intelligence, and created by robots.

In the Georgian reality, we are also actively seeing the development of technology, but so far in the following way. For example in banks’ payboxes; fast-food restaurants’ ordering machines; vending machines; internet banking; mobile banking; mobile applications; online shopping and so on. Human beings with only operators’ capabilities will soon no longer be required, because the future lies in innovations and creativity. That is why it is time for quick action in the Georgian education system, in order not to generate ‘operators only’ anymore, and ensure that future generations are ready to create novelty, create robots which will work as operators and generate value. A human is better than a robot, because a robot has no wisdom or love. Reforms are needed immediately, to promote international business. Since the world is becoming global, Georgia must be a successful part of that.

In an interview with Business Media Georgia, well-known businessman Temur Tchkonia expressed willingness to invest in the education sector, although in what format has yet to be formalized. He also recalled Kakha Bendukidze’s contribution to the development of the Georgian education system. Free University’s coding society has created a role which is vital for Georgian development. “Knowledge of programming in the modern world is just as important as knowledge of literacy and numeracy, and this is becoming more pronounced in today’s life. Coding in many developed countries is taught in elementary school classes, while pupils in Georgia have no such opportunity.” Free University offers admission from 13 years of age, to learn a basic programming and mathematics course for computer science. [Source: Freeuni Coding Lab]. The course is available in Tbilisi only. Therefore, the role of Georgian businesspersons and the Ministry of Education and Science is very high, in order to carry out similar initiatives in the country’s regions as well as to prepare future generations for the digital world.

The Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II has said that “globalization is an inevitable event and it is connected to the development of scientific and technological progress. It can be said that the whole world has become global. But this does not mean that big countries will absorb the cultural, spiritual or national values of small countries to create a uniform and featureless culture”. It is therefore essential that the state and population of Georgia is prepared and ready for globalization as an unavoidable event, while not losing its uniqueness and values that have persisted over centuries. The precise upbringing of youths is also important in order to make them ready for global challenges, but at the same time consider values that are of vital importance for the formation of a state-thinking future generation.

The development and existence of a long-term, solid strategic plan is important for complex socio-economic development. Georgia has to consider the initiative of the UAE, announced by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai – the “UAE Centennial 2071”. This is a vision and government action plan to make the UAE the best country in the world by 2071. The vision is based on the lecture of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the goal is for future generations to live a happier life in a better environment, with bigger opportunities and stronger communication with the world. “UAE Centennial 2071” is based on four aspects: Education, Economy, Government development, and Community cohesion. The vision’s objectives also include the development of education, with a focus on advanced technology and engineering, and instilling an Emirati moral values system in future generations.

It is lamentable that former Minister of Education and Science – Aleksandre Jejelava, did not have a word to say on the importance of education and science; the means of development in a modern world; the role of Georgia in globalization; and the education of the future generations of Georgia. On the contrary, we can recall a combination of criticism of Georgian folk heroes such as “Komble”, and the useless reasoning for the development of science in the country. It would be preferable if no Minister of Education and Science would ever again be appointed in Georgia without holding the appropriate academic, doctoral degree. In spite of this, we are hopeful and optimistic about the new Minister of Education and Science – Mikheil Chkhenkeli, whose biography is encouraging. Georgia no longer has the luxury of being able to waste time anymore; instant action is required to prepare the education system to respond to global challenges.

Jaba Tarimanashvili, Business Analyst and Director of Maritime services and Transportation company Trans Logistic, and Business Administration Doctoral Student of Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University.