SIQA continues informal education of society

Mariam Sigua, from Rustavi,  is 27 years old.  Although she has finished a school several years ago, Mariam still recalls many important projects she took part during the school days. The public organization SIQA gave her and her peers the opportunity to receive informal education.

She tells us that the activities covered various fields. The knowledge gained due to them assists  her  through life a great deal.

“SIQA projects helped me a lot. Especially during school years, I was engaged in quite  a number of  projects. I participated in all activities coinducted by them. I contacted SIQA within the scope of civic educationdiscipline . Ffurther on,  we  formed a civic club. We organized many interesting events. We planned activities  with our teacher and SIQA. Then there were the camps. I have  attended  a number of interesting trainings.

Social media training was one of the most important and memorable for me, during which I created a blog for the school, where I wrote about the activities and news of our school civic club.

I have learned  many  valuable things over the years. Thanks to SIQA, my school  times were very interesting and colorful.

If  not for SIQA, I probably  would not be the very Mariam, who I am now, I wouldn’t  be able to speak  out so confidently. SIQA taught  us  how to build relationships, express  personal opinion,  to respect  friends firstly and  to be open. I made many friends and I still  keep in touch with them.

In parallel with other jobs, I am an employee of SIQA today as well. We teach robotics and I am the administrator of the groups. It is a very interesting and pleasant job,” – Mariam Sigua, SIQA employee.

SIQA  – Georgian Association of Educational Initiatives operate from 1999. Its’ main goal is to promote non-formal education and build an active civil society. During many years of work, the organization has implemented a number of important projects and continues to work inseveral interesting diractions currently as well.

“SIQA,  being a center of non-formal education, has a very big mission which in general terms  lies in the support of  the development of society.

We had programs in very diverse directions during all these years.

We have an English language access program for children from poor families from the age of 14. Very intensive courses are conducted for up to 30 youngsters. Now, we have two such parallel groups. It is a two-year program, the children study the language very intensively and have good teachers. Literature and learning materials/resources are provided entirely by the program.

We have another ongoing project, the USAID Civic Education Program. This program has been implemented since 2010. We are a partner organization in Kvemo Kartli and during these years we covered 185 schools.

Currently we work with 75 schools in all seven municipalities of the region. This program will last until 2027. Children above grade 7, who study civic education subject are included. It covers many directions, as well as the field of entrepreneurship and digital technologies. The children who get into this program are lucky. 12 public schools from Rustavi are involved in the program on this stage. The schools were selected together with the Ministry, upon the consent of the schools. A few schools even refused to participate, because they are overloaded with activities and some believe that they already do a lot of things and are not in need of more. Children are greatly affected by such approach”, – Inga Paichadze, executive director of SIQA.

It should be noted that organization SIQA asissts  the Ministry of Education in establishment of new  teaching methodologies. The executive director of  SIQA tells us about it. Ms. Paichadze notes that the existence of civil organizations in the state provides more opportunities for development.

“There are some competencies  that are not developing on school level. During these years, SIQA offered many international programs to the Ministry of Education, which were subsequently integrated into school programs  in various directions. Especially, after the launching of digital education in 2008-2009, we introduced many international online programs. Children were already learning to apply given technologies for the educational purposes.

We introduce many teaching methodologies that are innovative for the country. We are testing  them as a pilot, and if it works out the Ministry of Education very often promotes them  and includes  in the main program. SIQA always is ahead of the  school education.

Generally, all programs, introduced in school, are agreed with the Ministry, we have signed a memorandum, as far as  such large-scale  programs  cannot  work without the involvement of  the Ministry”, – Inga Paichadze.

The organization works in the direction of digital education as well. “Robolab” is a  robotics  and  technology training center of SIQA. As Inga Paichadze explains, this is a social enterprise that aims to promote digital education.

“Robolab is  SIQA’s social enterprise. established by the European Foundation. It is aimed at promoting digital education from pre-school onwards. Children learn simple coding, write a program. Sometimes  they have specific tasks, which are entertaining and  interesting for them. We have invited specialists. Local trainers are also retrained.  The interest towards it is high and it functions as a social enterprise. It ‘s slightly different from the grant programs that we implement”, says Inga Paichadze.

SIQA plans to realize new ideas in the future as well.

“Now we are starting a new project on media literacy. We will have up to 30 participants . We are also  launching the project, “Lost in Transition” – it is very interesting project. Transition refers to the transitional period when the country moved from the Soviet system to another one. SIQA works throughout Georgia, we have partner organizations. About 35 teachers  are already engaged  in this project”, – SIQA.

We asked the executive director of the organization about so-called “Russian law” as well.

“The adoption of the law would result in organizations  not being able to receive international funding. There would be a limitation on the provision of the  education executed by our organization.Thus, the law  would interfere in the work of all organizations  in relation to their profiles and eventually hinder the development of society”, – Inga Paichadze, public organization SIQA.

Author: Nino Beridze

The article was created with the support of the Civil Society Institute, within the framework of the project “Civil Society Initiative: Sustainable, Open and Accountable Civil Society Organizations for the Development of Georgia” funded by the European Union and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. Kvemo Kartli media is solely responsible for its content and it may not reflect the views of the EU and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

The project is implemented by a consortium led by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) together with the following non-governmental organizations – Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia (CSRDG), Civil Society Institute (CSI), Counseling and Training Center (CTC), Education Development and Employment Center (EDEC) and European Institute of Policy (IEP).