The 2005 Law of Georgia on General Education (with amendments and additions of 2016) in its article 2 (b2) defines distance learning as “an ICT-based approach to organising teaching and learning for delivering general education and/or teaching a subject/group of subjects under the National Curriculum. Relevant methods and technologies are required for planning the curriculum and managing the educational process”. This law also defines e-learning as “an approach to learning that does not require for the student and teaching staff to be simultaneously at the same place. E-learning based on modern ICT is organised for residents of Georgia to acquire a qualification on the basis of higher education programmes. Appropriate methods and technologies are required for planning the curriculum and organising and managing academic activities within e-learning”. 1The term "EdTech" is not defined in education laws, policies, plans, strategies.
Constitution and laws: The 1995 Constitution of Georgia guarantees the right to education and academic freedom (Article 27), as well as the right to freedom of the Internet (Article 17). The realization of these rights is reflected in the legislation of Georgia on education, which, depending on the purpose of the regulation, was filled with the following documents related to technologies:
The 2005 Law on General Education regulates the conditions for carrying out general educational activities. Norms on the regulations of educational processes based on information and communication technologies were included in 2018-2021.
The 2010 Law on Education Quality Improvement defines the legal basis for the mechanisms facilitating education quality improvement.
The 2004 Law on Higher Education regulates the process of carrying out educational, and scientific research activities by higher education institutions in Georgia.
The 2007 Law on Vocational Education and Training defines the functions and the role of Vocational Education and Training (VET) and regulates the VET system in the country to meet the rapidly and constantly changing labour market requirements.
The 1994 Law of Georgia on Science, Technology and their Development forms a legal basis for the state policy that is a precondition for the intellectual and technological progress and welfare of the country.
Policies, plans and strategies: Draft policy documents and strategies were developed with the active involvement of international and local experts, structural units of the Ministry and other interested parties within the framework of the EU Public Administration Project (PAR) and the World Bank’s Programme on Innovation Inclusive Education and Quality.
The 2017-2021 Unified Strategy of Education and Science of Georgia envisages the modernization of the system of science, technology and innovation for raising the quality of general education and access to professional education.
The 2022-2030 Unified National Strategy of Education and Science of Georgia aims to strengthen the system of innovations and technologies in the educational and research process and to improve the quality and availability of data related to the system of education and science within the framework of the implemented reforms, and.
Action plans to achieve the goals of these strategies include, among others, measures to develop digital literacy and media literacy skills.
Digital competency frameworks: In 2019, to ensure better compatibility with international standards (ISCED-F 2013), a new qualifications framework was introduced, including ICT-related qualifications as an independent group. Previously, they were included in the engineering section.
By order of the Minister of Education and Science of Georgia in 2008 (with additions of 2011), the Professional Standard for Teachers implies the use of ICT and hardware (computer, mobile phone) for demonstrating various types of records, recording audio, video and photo files of the achieved creative results, searching for resources, etc. In the Standard, group activity with the use of ICT was included in the list of teaching methods.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The 2020 Decree of the President of Georgia “On Measures to be Implemented in connection with the Declaration of a State of Emergency throughout the Whole Territory of Georgia” empowered the Government of Georgia to set rules different from those established by the laws “On General Education”, “On Vocational Education”, “On Special Vocational Education”, and “On Higher Education”.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: On October 14, 2016, Georgia has signed the protocol on the “Accession of Georgia to the Treaty Establishing the Energy Community”. The 2019 Law of Georgia on Energy and Water Supply ensures the establishment of a legal framework for the uninterrupted supply of electricity at defined quality standards for the benefit of all categories of customers in Georgia. The 2019 Law of Georgia on Promoting the Generation and Consumption of Energy from Renewable Sources creates legal grounds for the encouragement, promotion and consumption of energy received from renewable sources. By the Ministry of Economy of Georgia, a number of projects are under consideration that will allow to remedy problems in the transmission network, as well as integration of new PPs into the system and strengthen Georgia’s transit capability (see Security of Supply Statement in Electricity Sector 2021).
Computers and devices: The Educational information and communication network coordinates the management information system, which represents a legal entity under the governance of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia. Its mission is to improve the quality and availability of education data, develop a variety of services, and support the introduction of innovative technologies and the digitization process of education.
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), or the “Digital School – Georgia” project is implemented by the Ministry Education of Georgia in close cooperation with the Tallinn University under financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia. The project has been implemented in a number of public and private schools since 2019.
Internet connectivity: The 1995 Constitution of Georgia guarantees the right to freedom of the Internet (Article 17). The National Broadband Development Strategy for 2020-2025 and its Action Plan allow for the large-scale measures on providing Georgian citizens with access to the Internet. Within the Action Plan, the Log-in Georgia project was developed by the World Bank in order to support the development of broadband networks in Georgia. The project envisages building optical networks in about 1,000 settlements, including high-mountain villages, to let 500,000 people benefit from it. Another project worth mentioning is “Charte”, transparent social project aimed to equip more than a thousand students with computers through crowdfunding.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
In the 2005 Law on General Education of June 12, 2020, with amendments and additions, distance learning is regarded as a temporary measure to be taken by the decision of the Minister of Education and Science in case of temporary restrictions due to various contagious diseases in the school/settlement/municipality/country, limitations caused by adverse weather/extreme conditions or other circumstances. In case the distance mode of learning comes into force, students should compulsorily attend online lessons. If a student lack appropriate technical tools (devices and/or Internet access), the class teacher provides this information to the school head, discusses the available opportunities with a group of teachers and plans alternative measures for the student to get included in the learning process.
Article 47(4) of the 2004 Law on Higher Education stipulates that e-learning should be carried out through the Learning Management System. Several teaching models are defined:
synchronous teaching – the teacher and students simultaneously use any electronic platform allowing for audio and/or video communication;
asynchronous learning – in accordance with the teacher’s plan for the education process, students learn independently at different times and places, without real-time communication, using either digital resources, or audio and/or video files, or TV broadcast;
By order of the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia of 20 August, 2019 hybrid learning – a combination of face-to-face learning and some form of e-learning.
Students’ legal representatives should ensure and facilitate their involvement in the distance learning process, support them in developing the ability to study independently; cooperate with the school and help students achieve the educational goals set by the school; monitor the distance learning process and promptly notify the school of any form of bullying; inform the school on the existing difficulties related to the involvement in the distance learning process; follow the requirements established by the Georgian legislation on personal data protection.
In 2020, following the 2020 Decree of the President of Georgia “On Measures to be Implemented in connection with the Declaration of a State of Emergency throughout the Whole Territory of Georgia”, the Ministry of Education and Science with the support of Microsoft, USAID, World Bank and UNICEF opened virtual classrooms in all public schools; relevant technical and financial support was provided in equipping schools with necessary ICT tools. A “catch-up curriculum” ensured that educational gaps were eliminated for students who were left behind and for the vulnerable groups of learners. The Teleschool project created in cooperation with the Public Broadcaster and the Ministry of Education and Science was a vivid example of such measures. The Webschool project provided webinars for prospective university students. Within the iSchool project, a collection of homework assignments and learning aids was created for students of grades 1 to 12 in various subjects and downloaded on the electronic library portal. Interactive Georgian-language Chat Bot and electronic magazine are being integrated into Microsoft Teams.
The New National Curriculum for 2018-2024 envisages that computer technologies can be taught as an independent mandatory subject, as an optional subject, or can be integrated into other disciplines. The 2022-2032 Unified national strategy of education and science of Georgia states that cooperation in the fields of STEM between universities and schools will be strengthened to ensure the improvement of the quality of STEM education and reach the percentage of women beneficiaries of the STEM programs for at least 30%.
Creating a learning environment and effectively teaching the subject requires the teacher to use information and communication technologies. In order to ensure this standard, since 2017, teacher professional training includes developing computer skills according to the “Scheme of starting teacher activity, professional development and career advancement”. Within the framework of the Scheme, the main functions of assessment and professional development related to the teaching profession are delegated to the school. The Ministry of Education systematically conducts training for teachers, including for teachers of subjects included in the subject group of technologies.
More than 25,000 teachers participate annually in state-sponsored training in such areas as subject modules, interactive learning, diverse assessment and teaching strategies, information technology, inclusive education, etc. According to the 2020 changes in the teacher's professional standard, the teacher's ICT competence framework was developed. The use of ICT and consideration of the principles of digital citizenship becomes an indicator of the Standard. Training on ICT provided by the National Center for Teacher Professional Development under the Ministry of Education aim to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools to reach high-performance standards.
According to the 2021-2024 State Program “For the construction of a European state”, the priority of the Georgian government in cooperation with the European Union in the field of security and defence, as well as deepening sectoral integration. This document envisages raising the level of knowledge of teachers in the field of cyber security and conducting training on relevant issues.
The 2021-2024 National Cyber Security Strategy and its Action Plan envisage the implementation of the cyber security policy including the development of students’ skills to navigate safely in cyberspace. Cybersecurity training for students and teachers involve courses on digital citizenship, cybercrime, cyberbullying, personal data protection and the basics of media literacy in cyberspace.
2.4.1. Data privacy
General principles of data protection defined by the 2012 Law of Georgia on Information Security aimed to promote the efficient and effective maintenance of information security. The Law defines rights and responsibilities for public and private sectors in the field of information security maintenance and identifies the mechanisms for exercising state control over the implementation of information security policy.
The Data Exchange Agency develops standards for the facilitation and coordination of the functioning of information technologies (systems) and implements information security policy. The Agency should identify data storage and data provision standards, establish a unified electronic document exchange system and increase the efficiency of government digital services.
Law of Georgia on Personal Data Protection is intended to ensure the protection of human rights and freedoms, including the right to privacy, in the course of personal data processing within the territory of Georgia.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
UNICEF, the Ministry of Education of Georgia, the National Communication Commission and the Personal Data Protection Agency are involved in the prevention of Internet abuse and cyberbullying in schools. With the support of the Ministry of Education, the National Communications Commission, the Institute of Public Affairs of Georgia, the Office of the Personal Data Protection Inspector, and representatives of Internet Society-Georgia systematically conduct training for students in the school regarding safe Internet.
The Ministry of Education and Science coordinates and manages the implementation of technologies in the education system presenting proposals for state policy in the field of science and technology to the Government of Georgia for approval and ensuring its implementation. To ensure these functions, the Ministry has established a number of specialised institutions including the National Centre for Education Quality Development and Educational and Scientific Infrastructure Development Agency.
The National Centre for Education Quality Development is responsible for authorising educational institutions and accrediting educational programmes, monitoring their compliance with national standards, developing recommendations, and conducting consultations, training, seminars and conferences for educational institutions.
The Education Management Information System (EMIS) is a legal entity under public law, which is aimed to develop IT infrastructure within the education system of Georgia, to ensure the availability of modern ICT for educational institutions and to monitor and evaluate their use in educational institutions. EMIS ensures the development and promotion of access to ICT and IT infrastructure, registration of students’ personal data, maintenance of educational institutions’ records, organisation and control of document flow, planning and evaluating the results of projects and programmes implemented by the Ministry of Education and Science, teachers’ training and retraining in the field of information technologies, and development of the key educational indicators.
The National Centre for Teacher Professional Development contributes to developing and implementing professional standards for teachers and training teachers in digital skills to ensure the implementation of distance learning.
Georgia’s National Communications Commission is a permanent national regulatory body established to define the main directions of national policy in the field of electronic communications. Since 2017, on the basis of the Law on Electronic Communications, the Commission has been assigned the function of developing media literacy.
While implementing any model of distance education, schools are assigned the following responsibilities:
to ensure the organisation of the educational process adapted to the abilities of students with special educational needs, involving tutors, subject teachers, special teachers and, if necessary, additional specialists in inclusive school education
to protect personal data and fulfil legislative requirements for cyber security
to allocate appropriate space for teachers to conduct remote lessons in case they are unable to connect from home or do not have appropriate technical equipment/Internet access
to use all the opportunities available, so that no student is excluded from distance learning, or falls behind his/her classmates in learning
to systematically track students' attendance at remote classes according to the rules established by the Ministry.
School authorities are responsible for planning the distance learning process taking into account the resources of the school, and the interests and abilities of each student. According to the internal regulations of some schools, the use of mobile phones during the educational process is prohibited. Some schools allow cell phone use as long as it does not interfere with the learning process. There is no national law in this regard.