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Giorgi Chavleishvili ’08 Researched Schools in Republic of Georgia as Levitt Fellow

By Lisbeth Redfield
Posted August 30, 2007
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Since declaring its independence from the USSR in 1991, the Republic of Georgia has been working to establish a fully democratic government and educational system. Giorgi Chavleishvili '08, a native of the Republic of Georgia, had a Levitt Fellowship this summer to investigate the changes in the Georgian education system and how it has been adapted to democracy.

Chavleishvili took his Sophomore Seminar with Professor of History Esther Kanipe. It dealt with education in a democratic society, and Chavleishvili has been interested in the relationship between education and government ever since. It was after conversation with various faculty including Kanipe, who is now Chavleishvili's project adviser, that he decided to apply for a Levitt Fellowship and pursue summer research.
He spent this summer traveling around Georgia conducting interviews with students, teachers and politicians about the Georgian public education system. He wanted, he explained, to find out how the educational system worked, and then to tie it to the government. "My main goal is to show how a bad educational system (such as one in the Republic of Georgia) is the base for the bad, corrupt political system," he said.

Chavleishvili went to Georgia with a good base for his research previously established. During the spring semester of his junior year, he conducted an independent study is which he analyzed textbooks from Georgian schools to see how the content varied. If the books still contained communist ideas, Chavleishvili reasoned, the education system was not supporting the government. He concluded that the books were outdated publications of another regime. "People are lacking the understanding of what democracy exactly is, and how it will benefit them," he wrote in his Levitt proposal.

His research in Georgia this summer has supported his hypothesis that a weak education system contributes to a weak government. Chavleishvili was able to interview a number of different Georgians involved in the education system. "People were happy to share their experience; they wanted me to know what they thought," he said. He concluded finally that "the conclusions are exactly what I was expecting to see. The educational system in Georgia needs serious reconstruction."

Chavleishvili has enjoyed his first summer of research. He especially enjoyed the interview process, commenting that "it was great to hear how different everyone's ideas were, how differently people thought about the same subject." He hopes to use his results from his summer's work as data for his senior thesis on education and its part in world politics and economy.

During the year, Chavleishvili, a member of the varsity basketball team, is an RA and an e-board member of the Brothers and WIAA Organizations, as well as being involved with the Afro-Latin Cultural Center. Chavleishvili plans to attend graduate school in international relations eventually, although he will take some time off after college to work and travel both in Georgia and the U.S.

His research this summer is funded by the Levitt Research Fellows Program, operated through the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center. The students spend the summer working intensively in collaboration with a faculty member on an issue related to public affairs.

-- by Lisbeth Redfield

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