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Home Projects Current Projects The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Program (GTU, Selkrik College , Thompson River university )
The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Program (GTU, Selkrik College , Thompson River university )
 (Country Development Programming Framework Georgia, from the CIDA website) 

PROJECT RELEVANCE

To the Developing Country and DCO

The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Program (EDPRP) released in June 2003 set as its goal the improvement of Georgians’ quality of life through sustainable development.  It focuses on growth to create employment and generate fiscal revenues for sustained poverty reduction.  Priorities include increased human capital through improved quality and delivery of education policies and services.

The population of the Republic of Georgia is approximately 5 million people; in the fall of 2005 there were over 200 degree-granting universities in the country.  The Ministry of Education and Science’s (MES) top priority, as mandated by the government, is to complete an accreditation process with the universities, reducing the number to under one hundred, and to develop 12 colleges (referred to as Professional Education Centres (PLCs)) in Georgia’s rural areas.  The first of these, to be located in Gori, approximately one and a half hours from Tbilisi, is scheduled to begin delivering programs by September 2007.  All PLCs are to be operational within five years. 

These PLCs will be modeled after the American and Canadian college system, offering practical, short term, hands on learning to meet workforce needs.  An infrastructure for delivering distance education courses across rural Georgia will be developed as part of the PLC system.  The premise is that sustainable and more equitable economic development should come as employers gain access to graduates from the colleges and as individuals have the opportunity to engage in short term training in areas such as small/medium enterprise development and management.

Archil Samadashvili, the Head of Policy and Strategy Department at the Ministry of Education and Science shared the following with the mission team during the visit to Georgia:  “We are in a unique, difficult situation; a change from socialism to free market.  We were traditionally all employees, now we must be businessmen and entrepreneurs.”  He went on to say that there is high unemployment/underemployment, particularly in the rural areas, and yet there is a shortage of trained workers.  Shortages are primarily in technical and trade areas, areas that require short term, focused training and specific skills.  As well, product exists, but access to the knowledge of marketing, economics, and business that is essential to the development of Small/Medium Enterprises (SMEs) needs to be made available to prospective entrepreneurs.  Interviews and meetings with various stakeholders confirmed Mr. Samadashvili’s statements.

Unemployment is particularly rampant in the rural communities, as factories remain closed.  Some of the youth are university educated, but because they lack the technical/practical skills to secure the few jobs that are available or to create their own jobs, they either remain living at home, in the ranks of the unemployed, or leave the rural community, migrating either to the urban areas or to other countries (illegal migration to Russia is a serious concern).   Other youth lack the financial capability to move to the city to complete a post secondary education, and also end up in the same situation.  This out-migration is eroding the rural population, and creating an unbalanced age demographic in the communities. If not stemmed, it could spell the demise of the rural communities.

The rural economy, such as it is now, is agriculturally based.  Honey, cheese, milk, potatoes, medical grasses, sunflower seed oil are all potential marketable products, but there is a lack of knowledge how to brand, market and sell these products in the national/global market.  Multi-generational families frequently live together, existing on under $100 U.S. per month and barter.  The potential for poverty reduction is there, the knowledge is not.  Hence the relevance of this project to the DCO.