Tsinamdzghvriantkari Community College in the Mtskheta region of Georgia celebrated its 135th anniversary on 2 October 2018. The event, that brought together more than 200 guests from the Government, Parliament, educational institutions, private sector, civil society, international organizations and the media, also hosted a summary presentation of a nation-wide Work-Based Learning initiative as one of the key areas of the country’s ongoing Vocational Education and Training reform.

The celebration was organized by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia, with the assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), in partnership with the Georgian Farmers’ Association and local authorities. Shalva Kereselidze, Mtskheta-Mtianeti Governor attended the event and addressed the participants with welcome remarks. 

Tsinamdzghvriantkari college is the first vocational education and training institution in Georgia, founded in 1883 as an agrarian vocational school by a well-known Georgian teacher and publicist, Ilia Tsinamdzghvrishvili. The college was supported by the eminent public figures, including Ilia Chavchavadze, Iakob Gogebashvili and Niko Tskhvedadze.      

“Distinguished Georgian statesmen who founded this college understood the value of vocational education for people and economy. Today, vocational education gains new life in Georgia while preserving its rich traditions,“ said Mikheil Batiashvili, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia.

Oliver Bürki, Regional Director of Swiss Cooperation Office in the South Caucasus, noted that vocational education reform benefits local economy and creates new opportunities for people.

“The commitment of the oldest vocational college in Georgia to reforms is a good example of how new approaches to education can change people’s lives and promote economic growth. Georgia is achieving a notable progress in reforming its system of vocational education and training. Switzerland will continue supporting this positive and much needed development,” he said.

The Work-Based Learning initiative, piloted in Tsinamdzghvriantkari college, is part of a wider assistance to the vocational education and training reform in Georgia provided by the Government of Switzerland in cooperation with UNDP.

“An innovative pilot project, UNDP has implemented in partnership with the Georgian and Swiss governments and Georgian Farmers’ Association, combines vocational education with a parallel work experience. This creates direct links between businesses and educational institutions and contributes to re-building local economy. Over 100 students and more than 20 companies across Georgia have benefitted from this educational model so far,” Giorgi Nanobashvili, UNDP Economic Development Team Leader in Georgia, said.

The celebration in Tsinamdzghvriantkari Community College kicked off with a historical exhibition next to the old school building followed by the outdoor activities organised by VET-students from all over Georgia to showcase the achievements of the Work-Based Learning programmes. Guests had an opportunity to attend masterclasses in fruit-growing and milk-processing, soil analyses and honey testing, and learn the secrets of pest control.

Seven Vocational Education and Training institutions in Georgia are already taking part in six agrarian Work-Based Learning programmes. The number of programmes is expected to double in 2019.       

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