Conflict Potential Related to the Problems of Language and Education in Georgia's Kvemo Kartli Province13.08.2012

Date: 2006    
Title: Conflict Potential Related to the Problems of Language and Education in Georgia’sKvemo Kartli Province 
Prepared by: German Organization for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Caucasus Institute of Peace, Democracy and Development (Tbilisi) with the participation of the Union of Intercultural Cooperation in Kvemo Kartli Province (Gardabani) and the Union of Azerbaijani Women of Georgia (Marneuli) 
Languages:   EnglishGeorgianRussian 
: 19 (English), 26 (Georgian), 23 (Russian)

The main objective of this paper is to analyse problems caused by the inability of the ethnic Azeri population of Georgia, the dominant ethnic group of Kvemo Kartli province, to speak Georgian, which is the only official language in the country (excluding the territory ofAbkhazia) under the 1995 constitution of Georgia. This factor has long hindered the Azeri community’s integration into Georgian society. It prevents the full participation of ethnic Azeri citizens in the country’s social and political life and denies them equal opportunities for professional and career development. Language problems fuel estrangement between the Azeri and Georgian communities and even lay the groundwork for ethnic tensions, since some Georgians view Azeris’ inability to speak Georgian as a sign of disrespect or disloyalty to the Georgian state. For their part, Azeri residents view demands to learn Georgian as unfair, especially if they are expressed categorically, and a reason for ethnic discrimination.

The system of public education, especially at the level of secondary schools, can prove an important tool to overcome the problem. So far, however, the system of non-Georgian-language schools, which provides secondary education for the overwhelming majority of ethnic minorities, has been part of the problem, not the solution. Today graduates of non-Georgian-language schools are not fluent in Georgian enough to fully participate in the country’s social and political life or achieve professional development and job promotion. Despite recent reforms carried out by the Ministry of Science and Education, the situation in this sphere has not yet improved. In fact, some elements of the reforms have drawn strong protest from ethnic minorities because, in their opinion, such measures can undermine their chances of getting a full-fledged higher education in Georgia.

The paper is based on the results of study implemented in two districts of Kvemo Kartli Province in 2003 by the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD) in cooperation with “Bridge” - a Union of Inter-Cultural Cooperation in Kvemo Kartli Region and the Union of Azeri Women of Georgia. The methodology of the research was developed jointly with experts of GTZ (German Organization for Technical Cooperation). The latter also took part in analyzing the results of the study. The research included meetings with local residents, in-depth interviews with experts, focus-group discussions, and a qualitative sociological survey. In 2005 representatives of GTZ, together with members of CIPDD, carried out new discussions and interviews with experts in order to assess changes that took place after the Rose Revolution in November 2003, which brought to power a new, reformist government. The CIPDD then revised the paper on the basis of the newly obtained data.

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