As part of an educational project implemented through an EU programme, a master’s course has been established in Georgia in the area of addictology, meaning the study of addictions and dependence.
The project, entitled “The Development of Human Resources, Evidence Base and Quality Standards in Addictology in Georgia”, was implemented in the period 2014–2016; however, the related master’s degree programme has continued at Ilia State University since the completion of the project, with 10 students graduating each year. Although a Master Programme has been developed and implemented at the Ilia State University, specific courses and modules on addictology have been incorporated in study programmes of other partner higher educational institutions.
With a budget of approximately €1 million, the project was implemented by a consortium of different universities (the Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University, the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (Tbilisi), Ilia State University, Tbilisi State University and Tbilisi State Medical University, as well as Charles University in Prague, the University of Hamburg and the Jagiellonian University in Kraków) and the NGOs “Alternative Georgia”, a drug dependence research centre, and the “Global Initiative on Psychiatry – Tbilisi” foundation.
“This is an educational support project. Generally, the idea behind such projects is to share the experience of universities in the EU,” explains project beneficiary Nino Javakhishvili, from Ilia State University. “Our project implied the development of addiction research in Georgia. A master’s programme has been developed for this purpose and we currently have our fourth set of students. They will each become a new type of specialist, capable of working in multidisciplinary teams, as addiction is a very serious problem and a multidisciplinary team is needed to manage it.”
The addiction research master’s programme was launched in Ilia State University in 2015. Course and training materials were prepared, as eight modern scientific books on the subject of addiction studies were translated and published. Six distinct educational programmes were developed: for narcologist doctors, nurses, psychologists, teachers, journalists and addictologists. The programmes were accredited by relevant professional associations and 72 specialists were professionally retrained.
The project also established the Institute of Addiction Studies and Professional Society of Addictologists in Ilia State University.
“In terms of dependency, drug addiction is a big problem in Georgia. Another serious issue is gambling, and I think that serious work is needed in this field. Students who apply to us, who have previously obtained bachelor’s degrees in various fields, learn to look at this problem from their colleagues’ point of view and to consider each other’s approaches,” says Javakhishvili.
The addictology project was one of the 77 projects funded under the EU’s Tempus programme. Until 2014, Georgian universities were actively involved in the Tempus programme, which focused on the development of higher education systems and institutions. In 2014, Tempus was replaced by another institutional development programme, Erasmus+.
Erasmus+ is an EU programme implementing projects in the fields of education, training, youth and sport in the period 2014–2020. Some of the goals of the programme are to modernise education, improve knowledge and employment levels, as well as training and working with young people. The budget of the seven-year programme is €14.7 billion.
Tata Lordkipanidze, national Erasmus+ programme manager in Georgia, says that participation in the programme is open to any authorised higher education institution that has a willingness and appropriate resources to cooperate with European universities.
“Our office helps Georgian universities as much as possible to establish relationships with European partners. Two types of partnership are possible: 1) Development and implementation of institutional development projects, and 2) Short-term exchanges (known as “International Credit Mobility”, or ICM) for students and academic and administrative staff. The latter is especially popular in Georgia and is implemented in 33 of the 54 authorised higher education institutions, covering all university regions of the country,” Lordkipanidze says.
As for student and youth participation, there are also two key areas: short-term exchange programs (ICM) for active students at any level of higher education and in any academic field, and Joint Master Degrees for bachelor level graduates, to which individual applications are accepted once a year on a competitive basis.
Of the 141 countries participating in Erasmus+, in recent years Georgia has consistently been in the top 10 countries in terms of the number of grants.
Author: Nino Chichua
Article published in Georgian by Netgazeti.ge