Lado Apkhazava – one exceptional teacher’s recipe for unlocking Georgia’s human capital potential

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I am very happy I met Lado Apkhazava, a truly gifted, committed, and professional Civics Education teacher from Guria - one of Georgia’s poorest regions. Lado’s innovative and student-centered approach is transforming the culture of teaching and learning at his public school in Chibati.
 
Lado is bringing much creativity and passion to his teaching, making students work in teams around exciting projects and empowering them to participate in the daily running of the school.  Inspired by Lado, more and more teachers are adopting elements of his approach and working in teams to achieve better learning outcomes for their students.

Lado’s teaching style and innovative approach to education have not gone unrecognized and he is now one of the top 10 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2019.


As a professional teacher myself, prior to joining the World Bank, I remember very well the enormous emotional fulfillment you feel when you are able to empower and inspire young people to acquire knowledge and help them achieve remarkable things. At the same time, I know that being a good teacher is a huge responsibility that requires passion, devotion, and patience. 

My meeting with Lado reinforces my belief in the critical role teachers play in developing the human capital of a nation. Healthy, educated, productive, and resilient people can take advantage of new technological economic opportunities.
 
In 2018, the World Bank Group launched the Human Capital Project, aimed at accelerating investments in human capital as a critical step in boosting inclusive and sustainable growth. Georgia wants to be one of the few countries selected as an “Early Adopter” of this project. This presents an excellent opportunity for the country and the World Bank Group to continue working together and drive transformational progress.
 
Why is investing in human capital vital for Georgia?
 
We all agree the country has made tremendous progress on multiple fronts since gaining independence a generation ago. It ranks high on governance and doing business indicators. Considerable improvements in infrastructure and other foundations for economic growth have been made, and it has positioned itself as a leading tourism destination. Georgia now has mature institutions and a vibrant civil society.
 
But there are still serious challenges facing the country - including a widening income gap, an aging and shrinking population, and other social and economic difficulties creating vulnerabilities to external shocks. Now is the right time to prepare the people of Georgia for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead by building on the progress of the past.

Rapid technological change, coupled with globalization and demographic developments, require Georgia to prioritize human capital as a key strategy. At present, human capital contributes about 48 percent of Georgia’s wealth, compared to 70 percent for high income countries (measured by the value of earnings over a person’s lifetime).

With Georgian students continuing to perform below their peers in international learning assessments, it’s difficult to fully mobilize the competitive potential of this country, its economy, and its people.

While two decades of education reform have established significant improvements, more needs to be done. The teaching and learning culture in Georgia must be advanced to improve learning outcomes.

The time for action is now. We at the World Bank are heeding this call – through programs like the Inclusion, Innovation and Quality Education Project in Georgia being prepared at the moment. It aims to expand access to preschool education and improving the quality of education, as well as the learning environment, eventually helping accelerate the human capital development.

It is time to pave the way for Lado - and teachers like him - to unlock the potential of this country by inspiring its youth. As Lado perfectly phrased it: “The future is in education.”

Lado has a good chance to win the Global Teacher Prize 2019 this Sunday, March 24th. And even if he doesn’t, he has already made Georgia - and all of us - very proud!
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Authors

Mercy Tembon

Regional Director for the South Caucasus

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