ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

The Samtredia Redemption

Nino Kakulia was born in Samtredia on 15 October 1991, in the last days of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. By the time Nino and independent Georgia were celebrating their 13th birthdays, the Georgian government embarked on a series of long overdue reforms, one of which was about cleansing the country’s higher education system from corruption. 

This was undoubtedly an excellent and timely reform for Nino, an ambitious student in Samtredia’s school. Until then, to get admitted into a public university, Nino or, rather, her family, would have had to bribe the gatekeepers, i.e. “academics” serving on the university admissions committee. After 2005, the gatekeepers could no longer take bribes because the keys to academic heaven had been appropriated by a higher up agency, National Assessment and Examination Center (NAEC)

"Unified national exams were a watershed in Georgia’s history”, reported Transparently International in 2005. “They showed that it is possible to conduct a fair and impartial competition throughout the country."

From now on, decisions about admissions and government grants were to be made based on only one factor: achievement on three nationally-administered standardized tests: Georgian language and literature, foreign language, and problem solving skills. No more corruption, no more reliance on “connections”, and no more nepotism.


UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

Combined with a swift government action to revoke licenses of almost 200 higher education diploma mills, NAEC dealt a death blow to corruption in the university system. Paradoxically, however, the introduction of standardized tests suddenly made public schooling an irrelevant concept. Private tutoring – directly geared towards success in these tests – has now become the main game in Samtredia. As Nino recalls, school attendance dropped to very low levels with both students and teachers looking the other way (to the private tutoring market).

SAMTREDIA is a small town in Imereti, 27 km west of Kutaisi. With a population of less than 30 thousand, Samtredia is one of the most important road and railways hubs on the transport artery linking the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. It was built in 1870s around a critical railway junction and acquired a town status in 1921.

Due to its strategic location, Samtredia played a prominent role in Georgia’s fight for independence and the ensuing civil war between pro- and anti-Gamsakhurdia forces. From July 26 to 31, 1990, the Samtredia junction was blocked by opposition groups forcing the Soviet Georgian leadership to adopt a liberal election code, thus paving the way for Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s election as Chairman of Georgia’s Supreme Council on November 14, 1990. The junction was again blocked in March-April 1991, this time by Gamsakhurdia’s government, in an attempt to pressure the central Soviet authorities into accepting Georgia’s independence, which was announced on March 31, 1991. In late October 1993, Samtredia became a major battleground in Georgia’s Civil War when forces loyal to Gamsakhurdia briefly controlled the town, threatening all communications to Tbilisi and further east.

Once a food and wood industry center, Samtredia lost its entire manufacturing base. Major local employers are the Georgian Railways, local government and commercial banks. Most occupations are about security, small trade and subsistence agriculture

Merely passing the standardized tests was not a problem for Nino and many other mathematically gifted kids in Samtredia. The challenge was to do better than their peers in order to get into prestigious university programs in Tbilisi (as opposed to those in the nearby Kutaisi) and qualify for government scholarships. 

With the entire extended family providing financial help, Nino started taking private lessons. All went well, and by the end of the 10th grade she was confident in her ability to prepare for the NAEC-administered tests. Moreover, since Georgia was about to extend the period of (now useless) public schooling from 11 to 12 grades, Nino decided to save a year by moving to Samtredia’s Russian language school, which was not immediately subject to this reform.

Not surprisingly, Nino was not the only one to employ this tactic. Nominally, her class included more than 70(!) guys from all over western Georgia – Poti, Kutaisi, and, of course, Samtredia. On one or two occasions, when most of them did show up for some official business, there were not enough seats for everybody. 

Nino remembers her time as a student at Samtredia’s “Russian school” as one of the best periods in her life. United by a common ambition, she and her “classmates” became extremely friendly. Working in small groups of 5-10 students, they went to the same tutors, and constantly bumped into each other on Samtredia’s streets while going from one “class” – a tutor’s private house – to another.

Samtredia’s private tutoring became a fiercely competitive industry. The best guys in the market, like Nino’s math tutor Murman Kashia, could afford being selective. With deep voice and plenty of charisma, Murman became and idol for Nino and her groupmates. To get into his group one had to be smart and motivated. 

The entire group of Samtredia’s overachievers graduated from the Russian school – which they hardly attended – in spring 2008 at a ceremony hosted by the local culture house. All five of Murman Kashia's students and most others qualified for government scholarships, redeeming themselves of their underprivileged Samtredia childhood.


REDEEMED, OR NOT?

Georgia’s success in establishing a meritocratic system of university admissions was, of course, a great step forward. Yet, the system of university education turned out to be much more resilient to change as far as quality is concerned. 

There was nothing heavenly about the four years (2008-2012) Nino spent as a student at TSU’s business and economics faculty. In fact, she has a hard time remembering anything she studied there except for math (which was taught at a fairly good level) and some very basic micro and macro economics. Most business lecturers appeared to be one chapter (and sometime only one page) ahead of the students. Gone were the corrupt gatekeepers, but very little changed inside the university walls. 

Nino continued her engagement with economics by going through ISET’s MA program. The intensity of ISET curricula and all the hard work she had to put in reminded her of the year she spent at the Russian school in Samtredia. Most of her classmates - Nino Mosiashvili, Iako and Natia Katsia, to mention just a few - became her friends for life. 

Yet, acquiring an EDUCATION remained Nino’s elusive dream. Not technical economics knowledge she received at ISET. Not business or accounting jargon she memorized for TSU exams. Not “problem solving” skills she was taught by Murman Kashia, her Samtredia idol. EDUCATION in the broad sense, of the kind kids around the world acquire at schools and in colleges. EDUCATION that comes with reading and discussions. EDUCATION that helps one navigate ethical dilemmas, judge other people’s views and values, defend own positions, or find purpose in life. 

I came to appreciate Nino’s thirst for EDUCATION when, soon after graduating from ISET’s economics MA program, she told me of her plan to get a degree in history. History? – I asked in disbelief. Yes, history, she confirmed. She did not explain, but I think I understood.


STAYING BEHIND IS CERTAINLY NOT A GOOD OPTION

Whether Nino Kakulia will get a history degree or not, making it thus far marks a great success. University education (not to mistake with EDUCATION) remains the main channel of social mobility for Georgia’s rural youth. Yet, very few are able to take advantage of Georgia’s corruption free university admissions system given the chronic weakness of rural schools, and the lack of funds to hire private tutors or cover the cost of university tuition and living expenses in Tbilisi. 

There are very few good options for those who drop out of high school or fail to advance beyond it. A quick survey Nino conducted among her Samtredia classmates is quite revealing in this regard. More than 2/3 remain in Samtredia or the nearby Kutaisi. The vast majority are lacking professional qualifications. Some of the girls found refuge in early marriage. Others serve as assistants in shops or beauty parlors. The most ambitious among the guys work (or are hoping to get jobs) as security guards, rangers, police or military personnel. Others are doing nothing, or worse. 

*     *     *

Unified national admission tests are a symbol of Georgia’s Rose Revolution. “Simple and transparent”, they represent everything that was good about Georgia’s first-generation reforms, reforms that put the country on a path towards modernization. Yet, though necessary, such reforms are not a sufficient condition for reaching that elusive destination. While helping eliminate corruption in the university admissions system, exclusive reliance on standardized tests tends to aggravate other aspects of the education system. In particular, as we have seen in Samtredia’s example, they reduce the role of schools and weaken students’ incentives for schooling. The ultimate Samtredia redemption will require Georgia to move beyond “simple and transparent” measures and invest – quite heavily! – in the quality of public schools and universities.


The article was first published in Georgia Today - Georgia's leading English language newspaper, published twice weekly.

 

Rate this blog entry:
22 Comments

Related Posts

Comments

 
Florian Biermann on Monday, 11 April 2016 11:34

The article is very idealistic, not to say romantic, about young people’s desire to acquire EDUCATION. I do not doubt that there are singular cases like Nino. However, all over the world (not just in Georgia) the following is true:

(1) 95% of young people are not interested in EDUCTION but in making a decent salary, job security, consumption, and stuff like that. They have no interest in reading and discussion or independent thinking – some are outright against it, others accept it as a necessity to acquire human capital but do not have intrinsic motivation.

(2) People who do not have EDUCATION do usually not miss it. To the contrary, they often despise it.

The article is very idealistic, not to say romantic, about young people’s desire to acquire EDUCATION. I do not doubt that there are singular cases like Nino. However, all over the world (not just in Georgia) the following is true: (1) 95% of young people are not interested in EDUCTION but in making a decent salary, job security, consumption, and stuff like that. They have no interest in reading and discussion or independent thinking – some are outright against it, others accept it as a necessity to acquire human capital but do not have intrinsic motivation. (2) People who do not have EDUCATION do usually not miss it. To the contrary, they often despise it.
Eric Livny on Monday, 11 April 2016 14:18

Nino is certainly a romantic idealist, but I dont think there is anything idealist or romantic about the article. I dont claim that students want to acquire an EDUCATION. All they care about is doing well in these NAEC tests. Thats why I am pragmatically arguing for a different approach to admissions, which, in addition to standardized IQ-style tests, gives some weight to proper subject exams (history, literature, etc.) as well as critical thinking and other skills that are impossible to measure through standard tests

Nino is certainly a romantic idealist, but I dont think there is anything idealist or romantic about the article. I dont claim that students want to acquire an EDUCATION. All they care about is doing well in these NAEC tests. Thats why I am pragmatically arguing for a different approach to admissions, which, in addition to standardized IQ-style tests, gives some weight to proper subject exams (history, literature, etc.) as well as critical thinking and other skills that are impossible to measure through standard tests
Florian Biermann on Monday, 11 April 2016 14:50

I got your point. Critical thinking should indeed be encouraged in Georgian schools, that is also my impression, even if the students are not fond of it.

I got your point. Critical thinking should indeed be encouraged in Georgian schools, that is also my impression, even if the students are not fond of it.
Guest - zaza on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 09:20

Eric, I fully agree with the mainstream of your article. You have touched very essential problem of Georgia- System of Education. I completely agree with your conclusion - The ultimate Samtredia redemption will require Georgia to move beyond “simple and transparent” measures and invest – quite heavily! – in the quality of public schools and universities. I also agree with the statement that creating the institution NAEC is a necessary step making the reforms in education but not a sufficient. By myself I will add that the most essential problem of public schools in Georgia is the lack of dedicated teachers with high qualification. And I see the only way to solve this problem - the investment in right direction. In raising the prestige of the teaching profession and in attracting talented young people in public schools as teachers.
I also would like to correct some inaccuracies from your article.
1) You write - From now on, decisions about admissions and government grants were to be made based on only one factor: achievement on three nationally-administered standardized tests: Georgian language and literature, foreign language, and problem solving skills. Accept these three subject all faculties obligatorily have to choose the forth subject among: math, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography etc. This forth subject plays the crucial role in deciding the government grant for the students.
2) You wright - Paradoxically, however, the introduction of standardized tests suddenly made public schooling an irrelevant concept. Private tutoring – directly geared towards success in these tests – has now become the main game in Samtredia. As Nino recalls, school attendance dropped to very low levels with both students and teachers looking the other way (to the private tutoring market). I have to note that the students attendance is the Achilles heel of Georgias public schools starting from 1989. This is not the problem which have been appeared after the introducing national exams. I agree that this is very big problem. But haw to solve this problem? I see only one way - investment in right direction.
The another big problem you have touched in your article the university education is a topic for another conversation.

Eric, I fully agree with the mainstream of your article. You have touched very essential problem of Georgia- System of Education. I completely agree with your conclusion - The ultimate Samtredia redemption will require Georgia to move beyond “simple and transparent” measures and invest – quite heavily! – in the quality of public schools and universities. I also agree with the statement that creating the institution NAEC is a necessary step making the reforms in education but not a sufficient. By myself I will add that the most essential problem of public schools in Georgia is the lack of dedicated teachers with high qualification. And I see the only way to solve this problem - the investment in right direction. In raising the prestige of the teaching profession and in attracting talented young people in public schools as teachers. I also would like to correct some inaccuracies from your article. 1) You write - From now on, decisions about admissions and government grants were to be made based on only one factor: achievement on three nationally-administered standardized tests: Georgian language and literature, foreign language, and problem solving skills. Accept these three subject all faculties obligatorily have to choose the forth subject among: math, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography etc. This forth subject plays the crucial role in deciding the government grant for the students. 2) You wright - Paradoxically, however, the introduction of standardized tests suddenly made public schooling an irrelevant concept. Private tutoring – directly geared towards success in these tests – has now become the main game in Samtredia. As Nino recalls, school attendance dropped to very low levels with both students and teachers looking the other way (to the private tutoring market). I have to note that the students attendance is the Achilles heel of Georgias public schools starting from 1989. This is not the problem which have been appeared after the introducing national exams. I agree that this is very big problem. But haw to solve this problem? I see only one way - investment in right direction. The another big problem you have touched in your article the university education is a topic for another conversation.
Eric Livny on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 10:36

Zaza, thank you very much for your comments and for correcting my inaccuracies :-) I could not agree more with the thrust of your argument. Ive written about the problems we have in both basic and higher education (and how they could be solved). The point I tried to make in this piece is that we should not relax. Winning in the battle against corruption is great, but is far from enough.

Zaza, thank you very much for your comments and for correcting my inaccuracies :-) I could not agree more with the thrust of your argument. Ive written about the problems we have in both basic and higher education (and how they could be solved). The point I tried to make in this piece is that we should not relax. Winning in the battle against corruption is great, but is far from enough.
Guest - zaza on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 10:55

Eric Indeed this is a good paper. You have touched the important problem. As I know you are the adviser of Prime Minister Kvirikashvili. Let us hope that he will make the steps in the direction of solving the problem.

Eric Indeed this is a good paper. You have touched the important problem. As I know you are the adviser of Prime Minister Kvirikashvili. Let us hope that he will make the steps in the direction of solving the problem.
Guest - NinoKakulia on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 11:36

Dear Eric, I just want to comment on several issues mentioned in the article.
Not only the guys who moved to Russian school were Samtredia’s overachievers. Many others who graduated their original schools were quite successful and in some cases even better ones.
I do not think that my childhood in Samtredia was underprivileged. I got that this is your feeling but I wanted just to state mine.
I see and agree that TSU needs further development, but it is ungratefulness to cross out all the years spent in Maglivi. Besides the math, there were subjects/courses which were very well planned and taught (like principles of economics, macroeconomics, probability theory and mathematical statistics, financial accounting, etc.). Moreover, Maglivi gave quite good base, to many of us, for our studies on Master at ISET.

Dear Eric, I just want to comment on several issues mentioned in the article. Not only the guys who moved to Russian school were Samtredia’s overachievers. Many others who graduated their original schools were quite successful and in some cases even better ones. I do not think that my childhood in Samtredia was underprivileged. I got that this is your feeling but I wanted just to state mine. I see and agree that TSU needs further development, but it is ungratefulness to cross out all the years spent in Maglivi. Besides the math, there were subjects/courses which were very well planned and taught (like principles of economics, macroeconomics, probability theory and mathematical statistics, financial accounting, etc.). Moreover, Maglivi gave quite good base, to many of us, for our studies on Master at ISET.
Eric Livny on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 13:56

Dear Nino, you are a very kind soul :-)

I apologize for inadvertently distorting some of the views you expressed to me or using harsh language when interpreting the situation in Samtredia or TSU. In my justification I would like to say that what we all need and want is strong improvement in the quality of schooling available to Samtredias kids, and university education available to future students of TSU. Being kind and saying that everything is great would not get us very far. Yes, we dont want to be ungrateful to people who tried to teach or help us in any way they could, but at the same time we have to say there is a LOT of room for improvement. It is not the fault of your professors at TSU that they have no proper business experience or PhD/MBAs from top notch US academic departments. It is the systems fault that it does not provide any incentives and opportunities for good people to join the teaching profession. Systems are easier to blame but, unfortunately, they are much more difficult to fix.

Dear Nino, you are a very kind soul :-) I apologize for inadvertently distorting some of the views you expressed to me or using harsh language when interpreting the situation in Samtredia or TSU. In my justification I would like to say that what we all need and want is strong improvement in the quality of schooling available to Samtredias kids, and university education available to future students of TSU. Being kind and saying that everything is great would not get us very far. Yes, we dont want to be ungrateful to people who tried to teach or help us in any way they could, but at the same time we have to say there is a LOT of room for improvement. It is not the fault of your professors at TSU that they have no proper business experience or PhD/MBAs from top notch US academic departments. It is the systems fault that it does not provide any incentives and opportunities for good people to join the teaching profession. Systems are easier to blame but, unfortunately, they are much more difficult to fix.
Super User on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 00:42

Dear Eric the same problems we have with our education system in Armenia. Schools become less attractive because by only getting education at schools is not enough for passing university exams. So, pupils need private tutors, they stop going to schools. And what about teachers? Teachers get low salaries and therefore are not incentivised to provide higher level of education so that pupils will not need private tutoring. Moreover, they can make intentionally less efficient the time that pupils spend at schools. Their purpose is quite clear, they earn low wages and private tutoring is another source of income. The other inefficiency in our education system is connected with universities as in Georgia. Again we have corruption problem in most universities. Professors have very low wages and clearly have incentives to take money from students. But then we can think that professors will teach properly, provide high level of education and simultaneously take money from the students. However in those universities, which are much corrupted (meaning that the majority of students does not care about gaining knowledge, they just care about passing exams and taking diploma) we cannot expect that professors will care about providing good knowledge. Nevertheless, we have also good universities being very less corrupted. One of them, where I have graduated from, is Yerevan State University. I can claim that education is rather strong and one can gain good knowledge. However, in such good universities the problem is not much connected with the education level that universities provide. Rather the problem comes from the labor market. Mostly, employers do not pay attention whether you have graduated with honour diploma or not. Consequently, this fact disincentives students to study properly. One can also ask why employers do not pay attention on that. Because they are aware of the problems in education system and are not sure whether the student with honour diploma is really that much highly educated or that is the diploma which he/she got by paying for it. So, you can see that this is a cycle; students do not study well because it does not matter which diploma in the end they will get, and employers do not trust to any diploma that students get.
There are of course ways to fix the problem. For that purpose Ministry of Education should have a huge budget in order to implement good, efficient programs. And I am not sure whether it has that much budget.
In Georgia again the problem can be fixed, but for that I think Ministry of Education will need much money. Once it has, many things can be done to improve education system in Georgia.

Dear Eric the same problems we have with our education system in Armenia. Schools become less attractive because by only getting education at schools is not enough for passing university exams. So, pupils need private tutors, they stop going to schools. And what about teachers? Teachers get low salaries and therefore are not incentivised to provide higher level of education so that pupils will not need private tutoring. Moreover, they can make intentionally less efficient the time that pupils spend at schools. Their purpose is quite clear, they earn low wages and private tutoring is another source of income. The other inefficiency in our education system is connected with universities as in Georgia. Again we have corruption problem in most universities. Professors have very low wages and clearly have incentives to take money from students. But then we can think that professors will teach properly, provide high level of education and simultaneously take money from the students. However in those universities, which are much corrupted (meaning that the majority of students does not care about gaining knowledge, they just care about passing exams and taking diploma) we cannot expect that professors will care about providing good knowledge. Nevertheless, we have also good universities being very less corrupted. One of them, where I have graduated from, is Yerevan State University. I can claim that education is rather strong and one can gain good knowledge. However, in such good universities the problem is not much connected with the education level that universities provide. Rather the problem comes from the labor market. Mostly, employers do not pay attention whether you have graduated with honour diploma or not. Consequently, this fact disincentives students to study properly. One can also ask why employers do not pay attention on that. Because they are aware of the problems in education system and are not sure whether the student with honour diploma is really that much highly educated or that is the diploma which he/she got by paying for it. So, you can see that this is a cycle; students do not study well because it does not matter which diploma in the end they will get, and employers do not trust to any diploma that students get. There are of course ways to fix the problem. For that purpose Ministry of Education should have a huge budget in order to implement good, efficient programs. And I am not sure whether it has that much budget. In Georgia again the problem can be fixed, but for that I think Ministry of Education will need much money. Once it has, many things can be done to improve education system in Georgia.
Eric Livny on Saturday, 23 April 2016 21:47

Laura, what you are saying about Armenian school teachers is quite alarming. Did your teachers offer private lessons to students in their own classes?

As for the university systems in our countries. I am quite pessimistic. In my view, universities have been captured by post-Soviet faculty (who, by the way, are much worse than Soviet faculty). These faculty block reforms and do not allow new people to come in. They draw nice salaries (relative to time and effort spent), and feel important. No government investment will solve this problem. I see this in our relationship with the economics and business faculty at Tbilisi State University. The only thing these individuals care about it is their jobs. Not research. Not quality of education. Not students.

This system of post-Soviet university education would have to be broken. One way to do it is to accredit in our countries international online education programs provided by leading universities (starting with MIT). Courses in these programs are taught by the best professors in every subject worldwide. This will completely eliminate the need for (bad) local professors. Students will study online, at a time that is convenient for them, and their own pace. They will meet in groups to go over problem sets, do projects, and have discussions. This model already exists today. It is known as the flipped classroom approach. Instead of lectures, classes are used for team work and seminars. Lectures are provided online. In this model, local teachers can be young guys, they dont have to be professors or anything. An MA degree would be sufficient. They role is not to teach but to help solve problems, moderate discussions, etc.

The role of local universities in this model would be three-fold.
__ Conduct research.
__ Provide classroom space and junior instructors (TAs) for seminars and other meetings for courses taught using the flipped classroom approach.
__ Proctor online exams (this is the main weakness of online education programs - it is difficult to make sure that people who take the exams are not being helped by their friends or teachers).
__ Develop online courses that cover subjects that are unique to a certain country, region, or culture. For instance, Armenian/Georgian languages, history, politics, art; Silk Road economics, Armenian economic history, Georgias anti-corruption reforms or economic growth. All the standard macro/macro courses, general history courses, etc. would be taught by MIT or Oxford professors online.

What do you think of this reform and education approach?

Laura, what you are saying about Armenian school teachers is quite alarming. Did your teachers offer private lessons to students in their own classes? As for the university systems in our countries. I am quite pessimistic. In my view, universities have been captured by post-Soviet faculty (who, by the way, are much worse than Soviet faculty). These faculty block reforms and do not allow new people to come in. They draw nice salaries (relative to time and effort spent), and feel important. No government investment will solve this problem. I see this in our relationship with the economics and business faculty at Tbilisi State University. The only thing these individuals care about it is their jobs. Not research. Not quality of education. Not students. This system of post-Soviet university education would have to be broken. One way to do it is to accredit in our countries international online education programs provided by leading universities (starting with MIT). Courses in these programs are taught by the best professors in every subject worldwide. This will completely eliminate the need for (bad) local professors. Students will study online, at a time that is convenient for them, and their own pace. They will meet in groups to go over problem sets, do projects, and have discussions. This model already exists today. It is known as the flipped classroom approach. Instead of lectures, classes are used for team work and seminars. Lectures are provided online. In this model, local teachers can be young guys, they dont have to be professors or anything. An MA degree would be sufficient. They role is not to teach but to help solve problems, moderate discussions, etc. The role of local universities in this model would be three-fold. __ Conduct research. __ Provide classroom space and junior instructors (TAs) for seminars and other meetings for courses taught using the flipped classroom approach. __ Proctor online exams (this is the main weakness of online education programs - it is difficult to make sure that people who take the exams are not being helped by their friends or teachers). __ Develop online courses that cover subjects that are unique to a certain country, region, or culture. For instance, Armenian/Georgian languages, history, politics, art; Silk Road economics, Armenian economic history, Georgias anti-corruption reforms or economic growth. All the standard macro/macro courses, general history courses, etc. would be taught by MIT or Oxford professors online. What do you think of this reform and education approach?
Super User on Sunday, 24 April 2016 00:22

The model that you suggest will be much much better of course and perhaps more realistic compared to what I have in mind. Online education is quite common. It is a matter of time, students will get used to that once the approach is introduced at universities. Do you think you can succeed in implementing this approach, will government support? It will be great. Once it is there, it will be improved year after year leading to new more efficient approaches. I wish you good luck on that. If you could, this would have been a great example for Armenia to start doing something like that.
About the teachers, unfortunately in my time we had that problem. I believe the situation did not change much now.

The model that you suggest will be much much better of course and perhaps more realistic compared to what I have in mind. Online education is quite common. It is a matter of time, students will get used to that once the approach is introduced at universities. Do you think you can succeed in implementing this approach, will government support? It will be great. Once it is there, it will be improved year after year leading to new more efficient approaches. I wish you good luck on that. If you could, this would have been a great example for Armenia to start doing something like that. About the teachers, unfortunately in my time we had that problem. I believe the situation did not change much now.
Greta on Thursday, 21 April 2016 22:09

Thank you for an interesting article. While reading I was remembering the year of study before entering the university that me and my friends had. It was the same case as in private tutors and motivated lessons. One difference is that those National Exams in Armenia are still corrupted and it is very little likely to obtain government scholarship for girls (it allows guys to postpone army service, so mainly they get the scholarship). However, it is still very important to pass those exams well to get into university. And then you enter into a very prestigious program (Faculty of Economics at Yerevan State University in my case) and you lose motivation year after year.
This is a very important problem that I see both our countries face, as well-educated people are key to countrys development and prosperity. I think it is true that governments should allocate much more resources to the improvement of public schools and universities. But the problem goes even beyond that. It is also peoples mentality that leads to everyone enter university and get education because it is shameful not to do so. This creates inefficiencies. First, people who do not have motivation to learn disturb the lessons, cheat and have negative effect on learning environment at university. And second, university diploma looses its value as everybody has one. So, it seems to be a deeper problem that only investment may not solve. Maybe creating better alternatives for individuals who do not have ability to obtain higher education but can be very good at other things can help. Removing corruption from very different levels not only examinations to enter a university is another key point. I am waiting for this kind of revolution in Armenia.

Thank you for an interesting article. While reading I was remembering the year of study before entering the university that me and my friends had. It was the same case as in private tutors and motivated lessons. One difference is that those National Exams in Armenia are still corrupted and it is very little likely to obtain government scholarship for girls (it allows guys to postpone army service, so mainly they get the scholarship). However, it is still very important to pass those exams well to get into university. And then you enter into a very prestigious program (Faculty of Economics at Yerevan State University in my case) and you lose motivation year after year. This is a very important problem that I see both our countries face, as well-educated people are key to countrys development and prosperity. I think it is true that governments should allocate much more resources to the improvement of public schools and universities. But the problem goes even beyond that. It is also peoples mentality that leads to everyone enter university and get education because it is shameful not to do so. This creates inefficiencies. First, people who do not have motivation to learn disturb the lessons, cheat and have negative effect on learning environment at university. And second, university diploma looses its value as everybody has one. So, it seems to be a deeper problem that only investment may not solve. Maybe creating better alternatives for individuals who do not have ability to obtain higher education but can be very good at other things can help. Removing corruption from very different levels not only examinations to enter a university is another key point. I am waiting for this kind of revolution in Armenia.
Nodar on Saturday, 23 April 2016 17:14

Laura I cannot agree with you in the last part of your comment. As you said Georgian government needs much money to fix the problems in Georgian educational system. But what about the story professor Livny told us several days ago in an open lecture? When a little attempt, a little effort changed whole school. I agree that this modernization of educational system in Georgia was really timely and took the considerable effect as it was first attempt and in my village it had same effect as in other parts of Georgia. After this we or government can think of ideas like professor Livny said. A little incentive can change at least on starting stage the conditions in the schools. I was under same conditions as Nino Kakulia was, except that I did not graduate Maghlivi but I had aim, I had dream and I worked very hard to reach them. This was my incentive and now Im here. We have base or starting point to change, to help our new generations to have brighter future but without their help we cannot do anything.

Laura I cannot agree with you in the last part of your comment. As you said Georgian government needs much money to fix the problems in Georgian educational system. But what about the story professor Livny told us several days ago in an open lecture? When a little attempt, a little effort changed whole school. I agree that this modernization of educational system in Georgia was really timely and took the considerable effect as it was first attempt and in my village it had same effect as in other parts of Georgia. After this we or government can think of ideas like professor Livny said. A little incentive can change at least on starting stage the conditions in the schools. I was under same conditions as Nino Kakulia was, except that I did not graduate Maghlivi but I had aim, I had dream and I worked very hard to reach them. This was my incentive and now Im here. We have base or starting point to change, to help our new generations to have brighter future but without their help we cannot do anything.
Super User on Saturday, 23 April 2016 18:07

Nodar my point was about the quality of our universities, which causes no differentiation between good and bad students in the labor market (more on this you can read in my previous comment). Of course you can incentivise many students from villages to enter universities, but that does not solve the problems that are mentioned in the article, namely the quality of education and corruption at universities.

Nodar my point was about the quality of our universities, which causes no differentiation between good and bad students in the labor market (more on this you can read in my previous comment). Of course you can incentivise many students from villages to enter universities, but that does not solve the problems that are mentioned in the article, namely the quality of education and corruption at universities.
Nodar on Saturday, 23 April 2016 19:07

Okay Laura, let see it from another side. If students have incentives to get good education why they can not change the system? As I know they can, we can change the system. We all know the kind of strike, protest in TSUs 1 campus where students required to change the president of TSU and they achieved that goal. Im not reviewing the facts what happened here in details but when they put enough effort to make a change they made it. So what can we conclude? Also the reforms may not have immediate effect but in the long run the will work as happened in Georgia in 2004, so if we see that the government is stuck in the mood and wait when they will have enough money to implement some structural reforms we can do something to catalyze this process.

Okay Laura, let see it from another side. If students have incentives to get good education why they can not change the system? As I know they can, we can change the system. We all know the kind of strike, protest in TSUs 1 campus where students required to change the president of TSU and they achieved that goal. Im not reviewing the facts what happened here in details but when they put enough effort to make a change they made it. So what can we conclude? Also the reforms may not have immediate effect but in the long run the will work as happened in Georgia in 2004, so if we see that the government is stuck in the mood and wait when they will have enough money to implement some structural reforms we can do something to catalyze this process.
Super User on Saturday, 23 April 2016 21:28

I am not informed about that protest, and if the students succeeded in changing the president of TSU, then what effect that change had on the quality or corruption (positive?). I am not sure also that there are many such incentivised students, but I also cannot exclude. However, one thing is very certain that currently there are problems with the education system in both our countries. Nevertheless, you can be optimistic and hope that after many many years incentivised students can make the system better. The fact there are such students (if there are) is very pleasing of course. However, in my opinion these are not the problems that students can that effectively solve (it might be that they can change something into better). rather many programs can be implemented by ministry (which is another topic to discuss) leading to much more effective results. What I said above is that these are not much student - level problems to solve. It is government that should aim and mostly incentivise its youth to become more educated society.

I am not informed about that protest, and if the students succeeded in changing the president of TSU, then what effect that change had on the quality or corruption (positive?). I am not sure also that there are many such incentivised students, but I also cannot exclude. However, one thing is very certain that currently there are problems with the education system in both our countries. Nevertheless, you can be optimistic and hope that after many many years incentivised students can make the system better. The fact there are such students (if there are) is very pleasing of course. However, in my opinion these are not the problems that students can that effectively solve (it might be that they can change something into better). rather many programs can be implemented by ministry (which is another topic to discuss) leading to much more effective results. What I said above is that these are not much student - level problems to solve. It is government that should aim and mostly incentivise its youth to become more educated society.
Nodar on Sunday, 24 April 2016 00:11

Laura we know that the quality of education is really low in both country and there is also corruption, however the positive effect of that protest was that they changed the president, they achieved their goal. That is the point, and how they will reduce the level of corruption or increase the quality of education thats another topic. They moved one step forward and united for some reason and we need this. I dont know the educational system in Armenia but here in Georgia it seems clear for you what happens ( at least I do hope). I believe, one day, not after many many years, we will change the system via government in such a way that it will be more focused on students needs not particular persons interests. Furthermore, Im not denying the role of government intervention in public education but the unfortunate thing is that the government doesnt do anything and we still have the last remains of Soviet Unions system in education and we should intervene at least here where we can change the our future.

Laura we know that the quality of education is really low in both country and there is also corruption, however the positive effect of that protest was that they changed the president, they achieved their goal. That is the point, and how they will reduce the level of corruption or increase the quality of education thats another topic. They moved one step forward and united for some reason and we need this. I dont know the educational system in Armenia but here in Georgia it seems clear for you what happens ( at least I do hope). I believe, one day, not after many many years, we will change the system via government in such a way that it will be more focused on students needs not particular persons interests. Furthermore, Im not denying the role of government intervention in public education but the unfortunate thing is that the government doesnt do anything and we still have the last remains of Soviet Unions system in education and we should intervene at least here where we can change the our future.
Super User on Sunday, 24 April 2016 00:30

Nodar I claimed above that students can do not much without support from any other source, in particular governments role is substantial. If they are in line with each other, the system can be improved much effectively.

Nodar I claimed above that students can do not much without support from any other source, in particular governments role is substantial. If they are in line with each other, the system can be improved much effectively.
Nodar on Sunday, 24 April 2016 12:41

Thats the point what Im saying Laura. The role of students can be considered as important as role of government and may be even more important because the system works for us. You support the role of government I support the role of students because I guessed that the government is not going to do something and if we force them it may have some results.

Thats the point what Im saying Laura. The role of students can be considered as important as role of government and may be even more important because the system works for us. You support the role of government I support the role of students because I guessed that the government is not going to do something and if we force them it may have some results.
Super User on Sunday, 24 April 2016 20:29

Ok, dear classmate you are free in your opinion, so am I :)

Ok, dear classmate you are free in your opinion, so am I :)
Already Registered? Login Here
Register
Guest
Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Captcha Image

Our Partners