| 30 Nov. 2009
Study Tour for Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti Youth in Tbilisi
22 representatives of Civic Education Centers in Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti visited Tbilisi during a week to meet with representatives of state agencies, higher education institutions, local and international non-governmental organizations in the frames of National Integration and Tolerance in Georgia program (NITG) sub-component CSO Development/Civic Education.
The Civic education Centers were launched in Akhalkalaki and Gardabani to increase local civil society capacity and promote active community participation in civic integration processes. The study tour was organized by the Union of Democrat Meskhs and the Civic Integration Foundation with the support of UNA Georgia and aimed at raising awareness of participants about the activities and programs being implemented and opportunities of funding and cooperation provided in the field of national minority integration.
The study tour was launched at the Office of the State Ministry for Reintegration. The Deputy State Minister for Reintegration Elene Tevdoradze informed the participants about the ongoing work of the Ministry in coordinating the implementation of the National Concept and Action Plan for Tolerance and Civil Integration. The next meeting took place at the Ombudsman’s Office, where the deputy Ombudsman Tata Khuntsaria and head of the Tolerance Center Beka Mindiashvili presented the work of the National Minorities and the Religions Councils. Later in the evening, the study tour participants met with members of the Youth Club of the Ilia Chavchavadze Tbilisi State University to exchange views on different experiences of community mobilization and civic engagement.
The Second day of the study tour involved meetings with the Chief Producer of National TV/Radio Programs of the Public Broadcaster Nino Khidasheli, Matra Program (Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands) coordinator in Georgia Sopho Gelashvili, and Human Rights and Rule of Law Program manager of Open Society Georgia Foundation Tamar Kaldani. The study tour participants were given opportunity to discuss the news programs on national minority languages and talk-show Italian Yard broadcasted by the Public Broadcaster, express their concerns and present recommendations. They were provided with the information about the ongoing and planned activities within the Matra Program and funding opportunities offered by the OSGF Human Rights and Rule of Law Program.
On the third day, the group of students and young professionals attended the Interethnic Festival held in Rustavi, Kvemo Kartli. The round table meeting “Prospects of Cross-border Cooperation” involving members of local government bodies of Georgia and Armenia, art exhibition, drama festival and other cultural activities were part of the program.
Next day, study tour participants met with the regional representative for the Caucasus of the EuropeanCenter for Minority Issues Tom Trier and received information about the activities of Javakheti Citizens’ Forum, small grants program and other activities. Afterwards, meeting with the American Center for Information Resources specialist Nana Shugladze (ACIR) took place at the US Embassy in Georgia, where educational programs and funding opportunities provided have been discussed. In the second half of the day, two meetings were held at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development focused on ongoing programs related to national minorities and prospects of future cooperation.
The Parliament of Georgia hosted the study tour participants as well. The Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Akaki Minashvili, the Deputy Chair of the Education, Science and Culture Committee Chiora Taktakishvili and Majoritarian MPs from Kvemo Kartli and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions presented news legislative proposals related to national minorities, including the initiative of the Ministry of Education and Science to simplify national entrance examination procedure for Azerbaijani and Armenian language speaking citizens of Georgia and establish one year intensive Georgian language learning program at the Georgian state universities for national minority students. After the meeting, study tour participants learnt about the history of the Parliament of Georgia and were introduced to the original copies of the founding documents of the modern Georgian state, the Constitution and the Act of Independence. Second meeting of the day took place at the Ilia Chavchavadze Tbilisi State University with the head of the Quality Assurance Board of the Education Department Simon Janashia and the Director of the Center for Legal Education and Civic Studies Merab Basilaia. The meeting was focused on the educational programs of the University, including development of the one year Georgian language learning program for national minorities.
The study tour participants, apart from holding daily meetings, were introduced to the rich cultural heritage of Georgia. The sightseeing tour was organized in the old parts of Tbilisi and historic city of Mtskheta.