Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Study on School Violence in Georgia | UNICEF

The UN Study on Violence against Children, presented in the UN General Assembly in October 2006, has been followed up with an individual country report on School Violence in Georgia. The cross-regional study has a sampling plan including over 1300 children from 93 Georgian schools. The study illustrates a generally sad school environment in Georgia where as much as 47,1% of the school pupils have reported physical violence and 47,5% psychological violence during the last year. Below are some of the findings that capture the rate of victimization to physical, psychological or sexual violence in Georgian schools:

The graph above illustrates that different forms of abuse is following different trends across age groups. Whereas physical violence decreases as children grow older, psychological abuse reaches its peak among 12-13 year olds and thereafter decreases marginally in the coming years. Sexual violence increases steadily as children grow older but the significance is statistically very small considering the fact that the margin of error is ± 3%. However, the actual number of sexual violence is higher than what is indicated in the graph above. UNICEF points out that reporting of sexual victimization has a low frequency which makes reporting of some cases of sexual violence go unreported.

Scrutinizing the indicators of gender differences entails significant differences between boys and girls. In all of the three violence variables, Georgian boys reported a higher grade of victimization to physical, psychological and sexual violence. According to UNICEF, this makes the Georgian school environment to stick out globally since girls usually indicate a higher rate of psychological victimization than boys in equivalent studies undertaken in other countries.

Despite the fact that nearly half of the pupils in Georgian schools have been subject to one or another form of violence, the overwhelming majority feels either safe in the school environment and/or likes to go there. But, these numbers should not be taken as an indicator that captures the overall perception of personal safety of children. The school environment may be a safe environment for ¾ of Georgian children but can also indicate that it functions as a substitute and/or a haven for children with a worse home environment.

In order to access the full report in English, click here, and for Georgian, here.
You can access the webpage of the UN Study on Violence against Children, where the World Report on Violence against Children is accessible (coming soon in an Azerbaijani version), by following this link.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Carnegie Research Fellowship Program!

CRRC is happy to announce the Carnegie Research Fellowship Program (CRFP). The program offers exceptional research opportunities in the United States for scholars from the South Caucasus.

Specifically, scholars in the social sciences and the humanities may apply for individual, non-degree research opportunities at universities and institutes in the United States. The program is directed at advanced researchers that already have a demonstrated track record in research. The research period lasts up to a full semester (4 months), starting either September 2009 or January 2010. In 2008-2009, two fellows from Georgia and one from Armenia have been sent to Harvard University, University of Chicago and University of Washington to do their research.

Individuals who are eligible to participate in the fellowship program:

  • Citizens of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
  • Advanced graduate students, university faculty and scholars at any stage in their careers who have not recently conducted research projects at U.S. institutions.
  • Scholars who hold a “Kandidatskaya” degree or higher, or who are working towards a “Kandidatskaya” degree at the time of application.
  • Scholars who have publications (advanced graduate students may cite papers presented at academic conferences) in a particular field.
  • Scholars who have a level of proficiency in written and spoken English that is sufficient to conduct independent research and engage colleagues.
  • Scholars who are able to receive and maintain a United States J-1 visa.
  • Scholars who are able to begin the CRFP in the United States in September 2009, or January 2010.

NCEEER, the American Councils, and the CRRC do not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, national or ethnic origin, and disability. For more information please visit NCEEER website.

Applications need to be submitted in a hard copy to your local CRRC office. Deadline for applications is April 30, 5 p.m., 2009. We suggest applicants to study details in the guidelines and the application form closely, and in good time, to avoid disappointment. We will be accepting applications in the social sciences and the humanities. All costs for the scholars are covered, including round-trip airfare.

The Carnegie Research Fellowship presents an extraordinary chance to researchers that can advance their work through a period of self-directed study in the US. Note that the application process is very competitive, since a concise research proposal is expected.

In order to get application materials, go to CRRC website. If you are interested in getting further training on how to improve your application, please email nana+nceeer@crrccenters.org with 'interactive online trainings' in the subject line.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Caucasus Exceptionalism in Google Maps

While this post is not directly related to social sciences, maps have lots of great social science applications. You can map all kinds of data. One example of this is the Funnel the Money Project.

We keep waiting for Google maps to come out with more data on the Caucasus including basic regional divisions and roads. You see, the Caucasus is a blank slate, except for settlement names.

At first we wondered if this was just a regional thing, so we looked at Turkey. There the data is magnificent. Regional boundaries, and even minor roads are there all the way up to the Georgian border.

Then, we thought it might be a post-Soviet thing. So we looked at Russia. North Ossetia even has good maps similar to Turkey's.

Well, maybe it's just the southern tier of the Former Soviet Union, we thought. However, to our surprise, we saw that Kyrgyzstan (and all of Central Asia) for that matter had road data and Bishkek was even outlined. Sure, it wasn't as good as Turkey or Russia (there were not regional boundaries), but it was significantly better than the Caucasus.

Then we started thinking about the poorest and most war torn of states. Maybe they didn't have road data or other geographic boundaries.

Yet lo and behold, Afghanistan's roads are clearly marked -- though regions aren't.

What about Somalia? Roads again.

Or East Timor? Well, there is only one road, but I am not sure how many there are in the country. Though this map shows more roads.

Finally, we cruised the entire world. The Caucasus are the only three countries without road data.

We know that this data exists for the Caucasus. So, what's up Google?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Gallup: Azerbaijan is One of Least Religious Nations

According to a Gallup poll, Azerbaijan is considered to be one of the least religious countries in the world. Now, whereas this may be shocking news for those that perceive people in predominantly Muslim countries as devoted or even fanatical believers, those with experience of Azerbaijan probably would shrug their shoulders about this finding. But what exactly does least mean, and what causes the Azerbaijani lifestyle to be the most secular in the Moslem world?

How does religiosity in Azerbaijan look according to CRRC Data Initiative (DI)? According to our dataset, 97,2% of Azerbaijani identify themselves as Muslims, although this does not mean that religion is practiced on a daily basis by all of them. 14% of the Azerbaijani respondents pray every day, 30% admit that they do so “less often” and 25% of the Azeri’s say that they never bow in the direction of Mecca.

How about practice of religion in Azerbaijan from a regional perspective? Indicators determining importance of religion in people’s decision-making show that neighboring Armenians attach the same weight to religion as the Azerbaijani. Georgians, on the other hand, indicate that religion plays a much more important role in their daily lives in contrast to its two neighboring nations. For a more elaborate cross South Caucasian comparison on religious practices, check out this previous CRRC blog post.

Our dataset can not provide a conclusive answer to the second question on why the Azerbaijani lifestyle tends to be secular to its nature. One could point to the effects that Soviet rule might have had on expression of religiosity or that Azerbaijani, in general, perceives Western concepts of secularization and modernization as ideals. However, the depth of Azerbaijan’s secularity has also a pre-Soviet history to it. The country’s own version of Islam, one that has been heavily influenced by Sufi mystics over the centuries, has contributed to the un-dogmatic interpretation of religious decrees that is characteristic for secular nations, such as Azerbaijan.

These are just some possible explanations to the state of religiosity in Azerbaijan. If readers out there have other opinions, insights or critique on this issue, please comment!