National Assessment and Examinations Center
Overview of Education System
In 2005, the Georgian parliament adopted the Law of Georgia on General Education,1 which regulates issues related to the provision of general education, mechanisms of governance and financing, and the status, establishment, and management of the teacher workforce.
Following the country’s independence, major transformations in the Georgian education system were initiated in the early 2000s. Educational reform gained momentum beginning in 2003, when an ambitious reform package was implemented comprising the following initiatives: decentralizing education governance and financing schemes, establishing a per capita funding formula, designing new curricula and relevant textbook and teaching materials, introducing new regulations regarding teacher professional development, and introducing standardized assessments and national examinations for higher education admission. The overarching aim of these reforms was to provide students with access to high quality education and to improve student achievement through granting greater autonomy to educational entities at different levels of the system, establishing national standards and frameworks, and developing adequate resources to implement a nationally mandated curriculum. Under the framework of decentralization reform, schools were transformed into entities of public law; boards of trustees were established in public schools comprising school teaching staff, parents and student representatives, and representatives of government ministry and local authorities; and regional resource centers were established to support school operations by acting as intermediary agencies between the central government and local schools.
Overall, the Ministry of Education and Science is the primary authority on educational policy and reform. The Ministry delegates to national agencies established under its umbrella, as follows:2
- The Teacher Professional Development Center—Teacher professional development
- The Education Quality Enhancement Center—Quality assurance, accreditation, and authorization
- The National Assessment and Examinations Center—National and international assessments, certification, and examinations
- The Education Management Information System—Education system data and statistics
- The Education and Science Infrastructure Development Agency—Infrastructure
- The Office of Resource Officers of Educational Institutions—Safety and security services
- The Shota Rustaveli Science Foundation—Supporting science
In accordance with the Law of Georgia on General Education,3 the education system encompasses primary education (Grades 1 to 6), basic education (Grades 7 to 9), and secondary education (Grades 10 to 12). Education in Georgia is compulsory to Grade 9, after completion of which students may choose to continue with secondary education, which typically leads to higher education or professional education, or they may choose to continue their studies at vocational institutions that provide professional training and qualifications. Students must pass school leaving examinations in order to complete general education. These examinations implement a computer-adaptive testing approach and are administered in most school subjects. Upon completion of general education, students are qualified to take national entrance examinations for admission into higher education institutions, and through a competitive process they may obtain state funding on a sliding scale. Financial support also is available for students with low socioeconomic or minority backgrounds.
There are approximately 554,000 students studying at different levels of general education in 2,331 schools throughout Georgia. The majority of schools in Georgia are public (2,085); these provide instruction to 500,000 students. There are 246 private schools in Georgia located predominantly in larger cities; these enroll 54,000 students. There are approximately 67,000 teachers in Georgia, of whom 58,000 are female, 60,000 are employed in public schools, and 7,000 are employed in private schools.4
Languages of Instruction
According to the constitution, the official language of Georgia is Georgian, and Abkhazian is the official language in the territory of Abkhazia (currently occupied by Russia). The majority of general education institutions provide instruction in Georgian. The Georgian language belongs to the Caucasian language group, which has its own unique alphabet. Considering the multiethnic population of the country, comprising Azeri, Armenian, Russian, Abkhazian, Ossetian, Greek, Jewish, Kurdish, and Ukrainian communities, the law stipulates that students have the right to receive general education in their native language.
In accordance with state policy regarding the integration of minority students in the education system, the Ministry of Education and Science has implemented different initiatives5 supporting opportunities for students to learn the country’s official language in schools where instruction is delivered in minority languages. Additional services and scholarships are available for students who pass the national entrance examinations and decide to continue their education at higher education institutions.