In 2007, by the decree of the government of Georgia, LEPL Shota Meskhia State Teaching University was established. It is one of the first universities in the highest educational sphere where academic and vocational programs are implemented simultaneously. The only state higher educational institution in the region is a strong educational-scientific centre which is a guarantee of high quality education and high cultural thinking.
Since the initial stage of foundation, university has implemented 9 professional (vocational) programs: electrician, welder, carpenter, vegetable gardener, plant-grower, zoo technician, veterinary service specialist, computer networks and systems technician, information technologist.
The university together with the Association of Employers conducted a market research. As a result, the following priority directions were identified:
1. Engineering direction - construction and computing/informatics sector
2. Agricultural direction – plant growing, animal husbandry, veterinary
3. Tourism direction - restaurant and hotel sphere
4. Business and law direction - banking, finance, management, criminal law sector
5. Health care direction - medicine, pharmacy sphere
6. Education - kindergarten sphere
7. Social relations - journalism sphere
8. Art direction - choreography
The university has developed university professional development strategy taking into account the results of the survey, the strategic plan of region development and the market demand. Strategy was the vision of university management on future development of vocational education.
The following priorities were identified in the strategy:
1. Change of stereotypes about the vocational education;
2. Strengthening university capacity, ensuring high quality and effective management;
3. Improvement of infrastructure and material-technical base;
4. Preparation of qualified pedagogical staff;
5. Developing market-oriented and flexible educational programs;
6. Creation of adapted environment for persons with special educational needs;
7. Arrangement of hostel for socially vulnerable and IDP students;
8. Promote professional orientation and career planning;
9. Establish relationship with all potential employers in the region as well as with international partners.
10. Improve communication with higher, public and private vocational institutions, and schools;
The university has managed to fulfill its mission in compliance with fundamental values, successfully overcome the existing challenges and resulted in the implementation of the intentioned goals and achieved the results defined in the strategy.
Today professional education gives us the opportunity to make the best choice despite the age. It facilitates the professional development of the individual and the preparation of highly skilled staff, which provides the labor market with competitive staff. LEPL Shota Meskhia State Teaching University has more than 500 professional students annually on vocational educational programs including up to 100 professional students on agricultural directions at Senaki base. Over the years vocational as well as professional higher educational programs were fulfilled. Currently, three types of professional educational programs - subject, modular, dual (work-based learning) are being implemented. The market research conducted by the university confirms that agricultural direction is highly demanded in the region. Full load of Senaki base was impossible due to the lack of material and technical base. In 2014, the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia has fully rehabilitated the main building at Senaki base, equipped it with office furniture and computer technologies. At present, construction and agricultural land of animal husbandry farm is being fenced round with modern standards, and yard improvement is being carried out. By 2017-2018, it is planned to be completed construction process of the hostel for socially vulnerable and IDP professional students (40%) and the kitchen-training workshop. The university owns greenhouse farming, including an innovative greenhouse where renewable energy sources are used. There was created Honey Making Center. Consultation service is carried out by the University Extension Center. Pilot programs were implemented in 3 specialties such as farming, animal husbandry and veterinary programs with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science and UNDP. Within the framework of these programs the material-technical base of the university was equipped with the necessary materials.
With the support of the Ministry of Education and Science, university received authorization for the professional educational (modular) and work-based educational programs (dual) on the base of frame documents. Now it carries out all the pilot programs in the above mentioned agricultural direction together with subject, modular and dual programs.
Pilot programs and infrastructural projects increased interest and demand for agricultural specialties, as well as increased employers' interest in engaging in programs. After rehabilitation the university will receive 1000 professional students annually.