For many in DVV International, Georgia has become a synonym for their network of Adult Education Centres in community ownership, latest after the conference on ‘Adult Education Centres as a key to development’ had been conducted in Tiflis in October 2017.
The Georgian experience in the establishment and professionalization of Adult Education Centres was identified then as being of high relevance and interest also for the work of DVV International and its partners in Central Asia. As a consequence, the DVV International office in Tajikistan organized a separate study trip to Georgia with five participants (1 representative from DVV International and 4 participants from the local NGO Tomiris), while a mixed group with nine participants from Kyrgyzstan and four participants from Uzbekistan visited Georgia in October.
Both trips served two main purposes: for participants to get acquainted with the set-up, functions and sources of financing of the Georgian centres, and to learn about the cooperation between the centres themselves, DVV International and local authorities. In addition to that, it was of high relevance to those Kyrgyz representatives who came from the Kyrgyz Adult Education Association to learn about the role of the Georgian Adult Education Network (GAEN) in supporting the development of a relevant lifelong learning (LLL) system in Georgia.
From the 17th to the 21st of October, the group from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan met with DVV International staff in Tiflis, saw a total of three Adult Education Centres in very different regions of the country, and met with representatives of GAEN.
As all the participants had different backgrounds, they all identified different highlights during the trip for themselves as well. Among them was the concrete exchange on education offers, on the potential impact from international and local volunteers at adult education centres, and on ways of financing the centres. At the same time the group was impressed by the Georgian hospitality and by elements of the more informal parts of the study trip programme such as the welcome lunch with villagers around a long and richly filled table in the yard of Leliani Education Centre which included a spontaneous performance of the village choir.
The meaning of practical elements in any learning experience was demonstrated to participants one more time when they were shown how to make churchkhelas – a traditional sausage-shaped candy made by repeatedly dipping a long string of nuts in a mixture of flour, sugar and concentrated fresh grape juice.
The visit became particularly interesting due to the fact that although the contexts of the three countries are fundamentally different in many respects, still a lot of parallels were sensed as well, which provided a good basis for fruitful exchange and comparison.
When reviewing what they had learnt once back in Kyrgyzstan, the five directors of Adult Education Centres in Kyrgyzstan identified the following themes for further exchange and potential cooperation with their Georgian colleagues: Collection and documentation of ‘centre best practices’; joint learning on ways of cooperating with local authorities and on working ‘from bottom-up’; development of social entrepreneurships around the centres; exchange on legislative frameworks for adult education; development of social partnership.
They were also inspired in their own planning of concrete future work in Kyrgyzstan in many areas, some of them being the deepening of their communication and cooperation with the local authorities in Kyrgyzstan’s regions, an analysis of the potential of volunteerism for their centres, the widening of the education offers based on local needs analyses e.g. in the fields of national handicraft, cultural activities and civic education. The Kyrgyz Adult Education Association will come together soon to compile an action plan for their future contribution and services in support of the member centres.
Also the participants from Uzbekistan, representing the Adult Learning Centre at the Centre for Culture and Leisure in Namangan, the NGO ‘Umid’ from Karshi, and the newly established national organisation ‘Oyla’ expressed their high appreciation and interest for the experience of the Georgian colleagues. Especially the cooperation with local administrations, as well as the establishment of social enterprises was highlighted by the participants as relevant experience for Uzbekistan as well. They also stressed their interest in learning from this experience and keeping in touch with the colleagues in Georgian Adult Education Centres. pecially the cooperation with local administrations, as well as the establishment of social enterprises was highlighted by the participants as relevant experience for Uzbekistan as well. They also stressed their interest in learning from this experience and keeping in touch with the colleagues in Georgian Adult Education Centres.