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Georgia discovers what its young people think

By Ernest Petrosyan
Thursday, March 11
On March 5 the National Council of Georgian Youth Organisations (NCGYO) launched the National Youth Research report at Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS). This launch was funded by UNDP, Tbilisi City Hall, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Civil Institutions Development Fund. The research, conducted by the Institute of Polling and Marketing [IPM] among Georgians aged 16 to 30, was the first attempt to completely understand the problems of Georgia’s youth.

The research, conducted between September and December 2009, investigated youth policy; demography; the social-economic situation; unemployment; healthcare; education; civil activities, youth rights, religion and culture and entertainment. The report will enable all bodies working on youth issues to fully address the problems of Georgia’s youth.

“This research covered a very wide area. It has revealed various significant problems among the young. Socio-economic problems, specifically the economic problems of young married couples, have a serious impact on the country’s demography. Since the young are the country’s future the problems of the young are the problems of the country. We will present this report to the Georgian Government, which in its turn will try and resolve these problems,” stated Chair of NCGYO Vakhtang Asanidze.

The report identified a number of serious problems. In the youth policy field 67% of 1,000 respondents expressed a slight mistrust in the Government and 39% considered that the Government has an inappropriate youth policy. According to experts, the Government has neither a youth policy nor a strategy towards youth.

The socio-economic problems of Georgian youth are particularly grave. 80% of respondents were unemployed. Asked how they were trying to find a job, 51% of respondents said that they asked their acquaintances, 44% applied for vacancies placed on the internet and in the press, others placed their own ads or contacted employers directly. The two major reasons given for youth unemployment were absence of jobs and lack of acquaintances.

Economic problems are also significantly affecting demography. 60% of the 1,000 respondents to the research survey had never been married, 35% were but 5 % were divorced. Only 36 % of the married couples had children. The most common problems of young married couples were related to finance and unemployment.

87 % of the respondents considered religion a very important part of their life. They said that the main factors in the creation of a family are mutual love (89%), a shared faith (64%) and similar interests (58%). 77% found it acceptable to have a neighbour of a different origin but only 50% would live near a person with a different religion. 36% would live alongside a superstitious person, 13% with an alcoholic, 5% with a neighbour of a different sexual orientation, 4% a drug addict or drug dealer and 3 percent a traitor.

The young have a more positive view of the healthcare situation in Georgia. 88% of the respondents said they do not claim on health insurance but the majority of these could not afford any medical service except an ambulance. 83% of the respondents were not insured, and only 45% of those insured had used it. However the majority were satisfied with their insurance service. The young's attitude to HIV/AIDS is rather different. About 30% of respondents said they were ready to eat with infected people or look after an infected relative, 42% were ready to study with infected people but only 30% to be taught by an infected teacher.

Internal migration is also a very keen problem for Georgian youth. 21% of respondents had changed their abode. 61% had moved to Tbilisi, others to major regional cities. 34% of the regional respondents had worked abroad, 30% had gone abroad as tourists, 22% had visited their relatives and only 3% had gone abroad for an education. In Tbilisi the situation was different: 52% had been abroad as tourists, 15% for education, 10% had visited relatives and only 9% had left for employment. 27% of the respondents have thought about leaving the country for an education, 24% for employment, and 48% had considered studying abroad in the next two years.

The majority of the respondents assessed the educational quality in Georgia as satisfactory. 57% considered that it is impossible to apply for university on the basis of secondary school, 28% thought otherwise. About 60% of respondents had a negative opinion of the 12 year school system. More than 50% were sceptical about the possibility of getting an education abroad, and only 14% said that this was readily possible. Respondents said that the main barriers to getting an education abroad are financial and family ones. About 80% considered that American and European education is much better than Georgian.

In general the report showed that Georgia's economic problems affect young people particularly keenly but their values are more traditional than is usual in other countries, or social pressure prevents them expressing their real opinions.