Inga Paichadze, Communications Officer in the World Bank Georgia Office, offers this story.
The staircase into the old schoolhouse in Jugaani was missing steps. Inside the building were cracked ceilings, peeling walls and rickety desks. The building was structurally unsound and too dangerous for classes to continue. A replacement was needed urgently. In 2010, a new school filled with modern supplies opened in Jugaani, giving students no excuse not to learn.
Twelfth-grader Anuki Dznelashvili has been to both the old and the new Jugaani schools. "The school we used to go to was dilapidated, almost in ruins. The new, nice environment gave us motivation and a chance to study better. We have separate classrooms for every discipline and have a computer class as well, where we can browse the internet and search for various materials."
Jugaani is not an exception. Other schools were so hazardous students had to be moved out and taught in ad hoc buildings. Many Georgian schools were so dilapidated that fixing them would have cost more than replacing them.
Thanks to a $15 million program supported by the World Bank, seven schools were built replacing ones that were structurally unsound. As part of the same project, 31 schools were rehabilitated or newly constructed with the government’s financial support.
"The new, favorable school environment disposes positively both students and teachers and motivates them further. Fully equipped computer classes, study rooms for physics, chemistry, biology, a library, a conference room, a gym, comfortable toilets and ample classes give the opportunity to the students to widely explore their opportunities," says Jugaani’s deputy director and physics teacher, Manana Kikilashvili.
In some cases, two old schools in the same neighborhood are consolidated into one modern building.
Education has long been prized by Georgians. An estimated 94 percent of eligible children are enrolled in primary school and the country has almost universal literacy among adults. The country has 52 accredited institutions of higher learning and a large number of school graduates complete higher education.
Over the past few years, Georgia has implemented a range of reforms to improve education. New buildings whose architecture departs from Soviet styles and which aim to become "schools of the future" are part of that push. Equipping them for rapidly evolving needs of 21st century students reflect the same forward looking mindset. These schools are meant to become focal points for networking, sharing resources and ideas, and fostering innovation in their regions.
They include classrooms tailored for interactive teaching and learning, libraries, well equipped gyms and recreation zones for meetings, group work and discussions, improved access for children and adults with disabilities, and other provisions to ensure inclusive education. Curricula are more innovative and teachers are trained in new methods of teaching and assessing students’ performance, thanks to the project.
Newly reconstructed schools are becoming assets to their communities, easily identifiable as 21st century centers of learning. They offer resources and space to support learning and access to new technologies for the greater community, including adults, youth and civil society organizations.