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The Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Georgia - Mikheil Chkhenkeli hosted the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Georgia - Kelly Degnan. The meeting was attended by the US Embassy Cultural Attaché - Julius Tsai.
The meeting focused on the opportunities for further strengthening and expanding relations in the fields of education, science, culture and sports within the scope of strategic partnership and cooperation between the two countries.
Mikheil Chkhenkeli expressed his gratitude to Kelly Degnan for the years of cooperation and assistance provided by the American side to improve Georgia's education system. The Minister stressed the importance of USAID's $ 7 million large-scale project. Achieving Student-Centered Education for a New Tomorrow (ASCENT) - The project aims to develop literacy, mathematical and critical thinking, problem solving amongst the elementary students.
According to Mikheil Chkhenkeli, this rather important investment by USAID will strengthen the ongoing "new school model" project as part of the education reform.
Furthermore, the meeting also incorporated a comprehensive discussion on the Fulbright program, which will be expanded under the USAID $ 7 million venture. Moreover, The English Language Teaching Assistant (ETA) component will be added to the program, to support the internationalization of regional higher education institutions.
Mikheil Chkhenkeli: “Together with the Ambassador of the United States of America, we discussed the joint programs we are implementing with our main partner, the United States. America's role in the development of the Georgian education system is very important and vast. As you know, USAID's new $7 million grant will be fully devoted on our education system. This in turn, of course, will play a huge role in moving the education system to a new level, and will remain as one of the major initiatives under the new education reform. As a dual citizen of Georgia and the United States of America, I am extremely pleased and proud of American people and their generous contribution in the development of Georgia's education and science.”
The sides positively assessed the activities of the Millennium Challenge Fund in Georgia. An emphasis was placed on the fund-supported infrastructure projects and the implementation of numerous courses by the University of San Diego in Georgia.
Kelly Degnan: “I had an extraordinary meeting with the Minister. We have an extensive and fruitful cooperation with the Ministry in various fields: education, science, culture and sport. We discussed ways to expand our cooperation with the Minister. I think that the new USAID Education Initiative, with an overall budget of $7 million, will support the Government of Georgia's efforts to improve general education. This project is also well suited for the infrastructure and school renovation projects implemented by the Millennium Challenge Corporation. All in all, this is an excellent model for strengthening the education system in Georgia. ”
Mikheil Chkhenkeli provided the US Ambassador with full information about the world-class mega-project - Kutaisi International University, which will receive its first student stream in September 2020. A lump sum of € 1 billion was donated by Mr Bidzina Ivanishvili and his family in order to complete the above-mentioned mega project. The notion and concept of Kutaisi International University was well received by the Ambassador.
Similarly, owing to the Minister, a modern Hadronic Therapy Center will also be established at the University, also funded by Cartu Foundation. Modern research in medical and nuclear physics will be carried out along with treatment of oncological diseases at the Hadronic Therapy Center. Well-known scientists from various research centers around the world, including the United States, will be actively involved in the research process.
The sides also discussed the development of vocational education in Georgia. The Minister noted, that the enhancement of vocational education is paramount for the government, as it’s closely linked to the employment. He expressed hope that the American side would be actively involved in the development of vocational education in Georgia through various joint projects.
Discussions also focused on the need to strengthen the teaching of the English language at all levels, for both students and teachers alike. The parties agreed to implement more exchange programs in the future in the fields of education, science, culture and sport. It is noteworthy, that the Ambassador Degnan, welcomed the government's efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
The US ambassador described the cooperation with Georgia as exemplary and expressed readiness for the new upcoming projects.