Arts education in general and in particular higher vocational art education (as is the higher education system as a whole) has always been prestigious in Georgia. The academic art education system created in the Soviet period provided the stability and admissibility of high-quality education, on the one hand, and guaranteed the strictly centralised and ideology driven control on the other. From the 1960s, ideological pressure slackened, especially in the art institutions of higher education resulting in an abundance of courses supported by a large cultural market.
When Georgia regained its independence in 1991, the country had an extended network of public music schools, children’s art schools and folklore ensembles with access to studios and amateur arts groups. Tbilisi had a high concentration of the specialised institutions of higher education – Tbilisi State Academy of Fine Arts, Tbilisi State Conservatory and the State Institute (now University) of Theatre and Cinema. In the early 1990s the trend of a high number of arts students continued and new institutes of higher education were established – Batumi State Conservatory, Batumi State Institute of Arts and the Tbilisi State Institute of Culture and Arts. New departments majoring in art specialities were opened in traditional institutes.
The period of economic crisis and civil wars has drastically influenced the general state of art education both from the material, technical and professional human aspects. This period is characterised by the outflow of gifted young professionals, especially in the performing arts – music, ballet, opera singers and artists. The issue of ageing educational specialists became very acute.
The arts education field suffered also due to the lack of a system of social insurance, extremely low wages in education and scarce budgetary funds in the institutions of cultural education. Reforms were required from both institutional and curriculum aspects. In 2003 the status of teachers of the secondary art schools was equated to the status of teachers of general secondary schools whereby their wages have been increased and the outflow of professionals has stopped.
The art education system (similar to the general education system) consists of three main stages:
Stage I: primary education, including art schools (music, fine arts, dance etc.) According to data from 2005, there are 258 of these schools in Georgia.
Stage II: secondary vocational education, including art colleges (of art, music, dance, cultural education). In 2006 there are 26 of these secondary colleges in Georgia.
The Ministry of Education and Science drafts the Law on Vocational Education in Georgia based on the concept of vocational education in Georgia approved under Resolution N150 of 31 August 2005. The amendments to be made to the applicable law provide separation of the comprehensive component from secondary vocational education, whereby establishment, reorganisation and liquidation, state control etc. of a vocational art college will come under the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection.
Stage III: higher education in culture is regulated by the Law on Higher Education which provides for specifics on art education in some issues. Today there are 9 institutions of higher education in Georgia.
Within the annual state programme of art education of Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection funding is assigned for the following activities:
- development of standards in art education;
- design and upgrading of the syllabi;
- drafting legislation in art education; and
- producing textbooks and manuals.
In 2004, after a long debate, the Law on Higher Education was drafted by the reformed Ministry of Education and Science. Following this Law, the first Universal National Exams were held in 2005. Difficulties have been created for art institutions, however, in that the unified system of assessment cannot cater for the specifics of practical art specialties. Consequently, discussions have been held between the Ministry of Education and Sciences and the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection to resolve the issues in arts education.
At present the Ministry of Education and Science has no clear concept of educational reform in the sphere of culture or any policy on cultural issues. Delimitation of responsibilities of the two ministries is specified in the Law on Higher Education (Chapter III, Article 2, paragraph 2). Under the Law on Higher Education, Chapter 8, the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia is the central body for the formation and implementation of policies in education, art and cultural heritage.
However, the institutional and curriculum accreditation of an art institute of higher education shall remain within the competence of the Ministry of Education and Science.
In the same context is foreseen the implementation of Strategy 5 declared by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia (see chapter 1.1 and chapter 2.1).
Main programmes / activities under the strategy:
- reforming arts and sports education in line with the principles guiding higher education reform;
- updating study plans, text-books and methodologies in the area of secondary professional and higher arts and sports education;
- integration of arts and physical education in the general education curriculum;
- technical re-equipment of corresponding educational institutions; and
- arrangement of summer camping and hiking expeditions, and student games.
- the level of teaching at arts and sports educational institutions will be improved.