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Minister outlines education reforms

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, February 10
Teachers should be able to teach and pupils should be able to study, Dimitri Shashkin, Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, told his colleagues at the Government meeting on February 9.

Shashkin gave brief information about the ongoing reforms for 2010-2011, highlighting the main priorities of the education system. “The main thrust of the reform is to establish a minimal competence level pupils will need to achieve to be granted their school-leaving certificate from 2011. As the education system has particular gaps we will create special preparatory lessons for 12th form pupils in each school so that they are ready for the final exams,” Shashkin said at the meeting, adding that he had met about 300 hundred pupils from different schools at the Ministry of Education and Science and explained the ongoing reforms to them in details.

“I met pupils who will have to pass the school-leaving exams next year. I gave them a few examples of questions in the tests and assured them that they won’t need a special teacher to deal with elementary issues of arithmetic. It is important to decrease the price of school books to make knowledge available for each pupil. The Ministry of Education and Science will provide each pupil from socially unprotected families with books from the next school year,” Shashkin added.

The Minister also spoke about the certification process for teachers, which aimed to improve their qualifications and skills. Shashkin said these exams would not be compulsory but every teacher would receive a special grant to prepare for them and those who pass will receive an increased salary.

Nika Gilauri, the Prime Minister of Georgia, stressed that education and healthcare are the two main priorities for Georgia nowadays. Gilauri said that he will discuss the issue of establishing professional schools in the near future, approved Shashkin’s reforms and expressed his hope that they would be fully implemented.

35 issues in all were discussed at the Government meeting. Gia Baramia, Chairman of the Abkhaz Legitimate Government, made a special statement about the visit of Maxim Gvinjia, the Deputy Foreign Minister of breakaway Abkhazia, to Italy. Baramia said that Gvinjia was attempting to discuss the issue of Abkhazia’s independence with the international community. “Gvinjia’s visit is a part of his game but has brought no results. The Italian authorities have already expressed their position on this to the world. They fully support Georgia's sovereignty and territorial unity and this is definitely known to both the de facto Abkhazian Government and Russia itself,” Baramia told the media before the meeting.

A plenary sitting of Parliament was held on February 9 without Davit Bakradze, the Chairman of Parliament, who is on a visit to Turkey. Mikheil Machavariani, the Vice-Speaker, led the sitting. The deputies discuss a number of issues, including constitutional changes, and prepared questions for President Saakashvili concerning the development of the country’s defence capability and unsuccessful social projects. The spring session should have opened with his annual address, but the exact date of his visit to Parliament is yet unknown. It is up to a future bureau sitting to reschedule it.