Sunday, April 1, 2012

Educational Profile of Ministers in Georgia & Armenia

An interesting article by Kate Chkhikvadze in the Financial, a Georgian online magazine, discusses the educational background of Georgian ministers. This inspired me to do a similar study of the Armenian cabinet of ministers.
According to the Financial article, Tbilisi State University (TSU) seems to be the institution where most Georgian cabinet members completed their first degree: Out of the 19 ministers, including the PM, 10 have graduated from TSU, 5 from the Georgian Technical University, 2 from foreign universities, 1 from Rustaveli State Cinema and Theatre University, and 1 from the Holy Seminary of Tbilisi.

A Master’s Degree is possessed by 13 ministers but in contrast with the case with the first degree, the majority holds a Master’s Degree from foreign HEIs in the USA, followed by Germany, the Netherlands and Russia.

Western Touch

As mentioned, the Georgian cabinet includes a significant number of western educated ministers.

Nikoloz Gilauri, the Prime Minister, graduated from TSU, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in International Economics. He pursued his education at the University of Limerick, Ireland, where he studied Economics and Finances and gained a Master’s Degree in International Business Management from Temple University, USA.

Nikoloz Rurua, Minister of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sports, graduated from Rustaveli State Cinema and Theatre University and continued his studies in the USA. He graduated from the State University of Georgia, USA, with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.

The only female minister, Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance, is one of the two cabinet members who have done both their Bachelor’s and Master’s studies abroad. She graduated from Hunter College with a Bachelor Degree in Political Science. Then she was enrolled in Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, USA.

Kakha Baindurashvili, Minister of Finance, is one of the other western educated ministers. He received a Master’s of Arts degree in Economics from TSU and Master’s Degree in Economic Development from Williams College, USA.

Zurab Pololikashvili, Ministry of Economic Development, received a Bachelor’s degree from Georgian Technical University with specialization in International Banking and later studied at the Instituto de Empresa, Spain (degree unkown).

Aleksandre Kvitashvili, Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, has a degree of Master of Public Studies from the the New-York University.

Davit Tkeshelashvili who is Minister for Infrastructural and Regional Development graduated from Emory University, USA, with a degree of Master of Law (LLM).

In Love with Law
According to the Financial, the majority of ‘the influential ministers’ has done their Master’s studies in Law.

In addition to Davit Tkeshelashvili and Nikoloz Rurua, and, obviously, the Minister of Justice, Zurab Adeishvili, who graduated from the Royal University of Groningen, the Netherlands, this is the case with the ministers of Defense, Education and Foreign Affairs:

Bachana Akhalaia, Minister of Defense, holds a Master’s Degree in Law from TSU. Dimitri Shashkin, Minister of Education and Science, has a Master’s Degree in Government, Tax and Criminal Law, again from TSU, and Grigol Vashadze, Minister of Foreign Affairs, received his Master’s degree in International Law from Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Armenian Contrasts

The Armenian ministers have a very different educational profile. All except 3 have completed their higher education in the late Soviet period and half of them have studied in Russia. Unlike in Georgia, no discipline seems to be favored in Armenia.

Based on the information available on the official website of the Armenian government, I examined 18 out of 19 members of the cabinet as the profile of the newly appointed Minister of Labor, Arthur Grigorian, is not available at this time.

It is important to note that most educational backgrounds of the ministers are poorly written and therefore this review may be inaccurate. For instance, for the Minister of Economy it is written: “1993-1995, Yerevan State Institute of National Economy, post-graduate student at the Macroeconomics Department.” Being a student doesn’t necessarily mean that the person completed the program. The official website of the Ministry of Economy does not offer further clarifications.

Or, for the Minister of Justice it is indicated “1975-1983, Yerevan State University, Law Department.” It is unclear what degree the person earned at the end of 8 years of study, if he studied full-time and without interruption.

Out of the 18 members, including the PM, 4 have completed their first degree (5-year specialized degree program that was the norm before the adoption of the Bologna structure) at State Engineering University of Armenia (SEUA-Polytechnic), 3 have graduated from Yerevan State University (YSU), 2 from Yerevan State Medical University (YSMU), 2 from Institute of National Economy, and the rest at various HEIs.

It is interesting to note that 6 ministers have conducted their higher education entirely or mainly (except the first 1-2 years) in Russia. These are: Tigran Sargsyan, Prime Minister; Armen Gevorgyan, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Territorial Administration; Armen Yeritzian, Minister of Emergency Situations; Tigran Davtian, Minister of Finance; Edward Nalbandian, Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Manuk Vardanian, Minister of Transport and Communication.

Those who have completed their 5-year degree program in Armenia and then have studied for a post-graduate degree outside Armenia (cannot say abroad as at the time Armenia and Russia were parts of the USSR) number 3. All these ministers have studied in Russia. They are:

Armen Ashotian, Minister of Education and Science, who after completing his studies in Medicine continued at the Moscow School of Political Sciences.

Armen Movsissian, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. After graduating from SEUA, he completed his postgraduate degree at the USSR Institute of Light Industry.

Gevorg Danielian, Minister of Justice, who earned his first degree in Law at YSU and then a Master’s degree from Institute of State and Law in Moscow, affiliated to the USSR Academy of Sciences.

One minister has studied in Azerbaijan: A native of Karabakh, Seyran Ohanian, Minister of Defense, studied at Baku Military Academy.

Interestingly, 8 ministers have done their entire higher education in Armenia. The most prominent among this group are: Nerses Yeritsian, Minister of Economy; and Haroutioun Koushkian, Minister of Healthcare.

Only one minister has had some western experience. This is, of course, if we ignore that Gevorg Danielian, Minister of Justice, has served in the Soviet Army stationed in the former German Democratic Republic for 2 years and has strangely included this in his educational profile.

So the only exception to the rule is Armen Gevorgian, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Territorial Administration, who simultaneous to his post-graduate studies at St Petersburg's Gertzen All-Russian Teacher Training University, completed a Master's degree in Programming of Educational and Training Systems at Twente University, the Netherlands.

Relevant Education

Most Armenian ministers seem to be involved in a field that is relevant to their educational background. There are, however, some interesting exceptions.

Hasmik Poghosian, Minister of Culture, for instance, has no academic background in arts and culture; she has studied Biology at YSU. The official website of the Ministry of Culture adds that she took piano lessons at school.

Hranoush Hakobian, Minister of Diaspora and the only other female minister, has studied Mathematics.

And more: Gerasim Alaverdian, Minister of Agriculture, has graduated from SEUA-Polytechnic whereas Vardan Vardanian, Minister of Urban Development, has studied at the Armenian State University of Agriculture.