Strengthening Georgia’s Human Capital with Better Schools and Skills
After seeing the poor conditions at a local farm near her hometown of Tbilisi, Georgia, Nino Zambakhidze dreamed of starting her own small farm where she could ensure high-quality production. Thanks to funding she received through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) via it’s compact in Georgia, Nino was able to fulfill this dream. But she didn’t stop there. With further MCC assistance, she now owns one of the largest farming corporations in Georgia and is helping the next generation of farmers—especially women and youth—by connecting them with trainings, funding opportunities, and valuable tools for information and networking. “As a woman, entrepreneur, and farmer, this experience has meant the world to me,” Nino says. “I cannot imagine where I would be today without the support of MCC and the United States Government.”
Tamar Basiashvili is a biochemistry student in Georgia who has big hopes for the future of education in her country. Tamar is one of 545 students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program that MCC funding helped to create. The program is a partnership between San Diego State University (SDSU) and three Georgian public universities. It delivers U.S. accredited bachelor’s degree programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. “SDSU-Georgia allowed me to see how big the opportunities are in the field and what is out there in the world,” Tamar said. “It allows us to see much more closely what we should strive towards in Georgia.”
Nino and Tamar are two examples of those benefitting from MCC’s investments in Georgia. MCC’s recent compact with Georgia—a five-year, $140 million investment that closed on July 1, 2019—is expected to benefit 1.7 million people—nearly half the country’s population. MCC and the Government of Georgia developed the compact to address the country’s shortage of human capital, which was identified as a binding constraint to its economic growth.
The compact included strategic investments in training and education, particularly in STEM fields. In addition to the joint degree program with SDSU, MCC funding helped rehabilitate 91 schools and trained 15,000 teachers and 1,800 school principals. It also helped improve Georgia’s struggling technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system, creating 51 new certification and degree programs at 10 TVET institutions, which enrolled 2,500 new students.
The compact included a strong gender equality component. The partnership with SDSU is designed to increase women’s participation in STEM degree programs. Of the students currently enrolled in the SDSU program, around 40% are women. The compact helped train TVET providers on tools to increase women’s enrollment and on delivering more gender-aware and inclusive TVET teaching. As part of the compact, schoolteachers received training on gender bias to curb the tendency to direct girls away from STEM careers.
“The compact is one of the largest investments in education and human capital development in Georgia. Human capital development is a number one priority for Georgia as it ensures economic growth and democratic development. The compact’s programs will help Georgians access high-quality education and professions that are necessary in the 21st century and will attract future investments in Georgia. And we are very thankful to the U.S. Government and the American people for over 20 years of successful partnership, friendship, and support.” —Magda Magradze, CEO, Millennium Challenge Account, Georgia.