“The Georgian [people] need access to the internet and computers to know what’s happening, so that people know what services are in highest need; what enterprises have a chance to become successful so we do not lag behind and have something to offer to the world’s markets,” Saakashvili said in Kvareli.
The Society for Spreading Computer Knowledge recently held a ceremony in Ilia Chavchavadze’s museum home in Kvareli. The ceremony, which featured an opening speech by President Saakashvili, was attended by several prominent figures.
Ilia Chavchavadze was a Georgian writer and public figure in Georgia in the 19th century, and is considered by many to be the father of modern Georgia. During his lifetime, Ilia Chavchavadze contributed greatly to the creation of an educated and tolerant society in Georgia, founding and chairing his own organization called the Society for Spreading Literacy among Georgians.
According to Saakashvili, the Society for Spreading Computer Knowledge will play the same role as Chavchavadze’s organization did. The newly-founded society aims to promote and deepen Georgian society’s knowledge of the computer and the internet, to help the country in its shift towards modernization. Deputy Minister of Justice Giorgi Vashadze said that during the first stage, the centers for spreading computer knowledge will be located in various villages; later, they will cover all villages in Georgia: “Georgian citizens will have the opportunity to spread information regarding their own products and businesses throughout the whole world, export the information and familiarize those tourists who plan to visit Georgia with their services.”
Despite the emotional speech given by Mikheil Saakashvili and the frequent use of Ilia Chavchavadze’s ideas and statements, the project and the whole idea of the Society for Spreading Computer Knowledge seems to be irrelevant, and appears to be a hasty and inconsistent political decision.
In his paper entitled A Theory of Human Motivation published 1943; psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed a theory known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This hierarchy of human motivations consisted of physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness, love, esteem, and self-actualization needs. This pyramid-like structure ordered the largest and most fundamental human needs at the bottom and the need for self-actualization at the top.
The most fundamental and basic four layers of the pyramid contain what Maslow called deficiency needs: esteem, friendship, love, security, and physical needs. With the exception of the most fundamental (physiological) needs, if these “deficiency needs” are not met, the body gives no physical indication but the individual feels anxious and tense.
Maslow’s theory suggests that the most basic needs must be met before an individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher-level needs. The most important deficiency needs are: physiological (enough water, food and sleep to survive) and safety (personal, financial and health/well-being, safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts security). Without satisfying these crucial needs the person isn’t motivated to move on.
Interestingly, during the same speech given at Ilia Chavchavadze’s house museum, the president of Georgia made an angry statement: “I came to know that 30-40 representatives of the Ministry [of Economy] planned to travel to Brazil to organize a Georgian stand at the conference on environment protection issues. So these guys are willing to take a pleasure tour, right?! Boys and girls, my advice would be – let’s go on tour in your own country… Georgia… [because it’s no time for such pleasures like going to Brazil]. Do you think that Georgia’s income is already equal to that of the [United Arab] Emirates or Singapore? We have unimaginable poverty around here, around 20 percent of our population survives on less than two dollars [a day]…”
Based upon the statement made by Mikheil Saakashvili, the creation of computer centers in the villages, providing computers for rural families and financing such projects altogether, must be evaluated as an inconsistent political decision. In Georgian villages people lack not only personal, financial and health safeties, but sometimes even food, water, gas and light which is essential and crucial for surviving.
So an attempt to foster computer literacy and internet knowledge in places where the poorest part of Georgia’s people survive mainly on social assistance seems ridiculous. Currently, the paramount needs of rural families are not being met; and consequently, those residing in Georgian villages cannot spread or export any information or products, as they possess neither.
On the other hand, an attempt to draw parallels between the newly founded society and its predecessor seems to be even more absurd. The Society for the Spreading of Literacy among Georgians led by Ilia Chavchavadze was founded to protect Georgian culture and Georgian identity through the spread of literacy; this need for protection was spurred on in large part by the Russification process launched upon Georgian lands.
Today, Georgian culture isn’t under attack or doubt, therefore, the main goal of the Georgian government should be satisfying the basic needs the population. It seems that the creation of such a society is more “election talk”, rather than a consecutive, consistent step toward improving the living conditions in the Georgian countryside.