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Minister promotes university improvements

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, July 6
Minister of Education and Science of Georgia Dimitri Shashkin visited the refurbished 10th and 11th buildings of Tbilisi State University on July 5. The Minister summarised the results of the refurbishment, which was part of the University Infrastructural Development programme conducted by the Ministry.

“I really feel the improvements in the university since I studied here myself for four years but still lots of gaps remain to be filled. I personally have objections to the university administration, as you can never get the information you need from them. As for the quality of studies, this generally differs from faculty to faculty but if you want to learn, you will!” the Minister said. 21 year-old Mariam, who is studying political science and international relations, told The Messenger that even the number of libraries at TSU varies. “The lawyers have 2 high-standard libraries while we have none. They seem to be providing all the buildings with relevant materials nowadays but unfortunately I won’t be able to use them because I’m graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree this year,” she added.

24 year-old Nino, who graduated from the social science faculty in 2007, said she was actually content with the level of her lecturers’ knowledge. “I must confess that 90% of the academic staff were quite intelligent, although the other 10% were the opposite. Lectures were only missed in rare cases and marks were given relevantly. The one thing I would like to advise the university staff to do is to devise some practical courses for students. No one from TSU has had an opportunity to practice what they have learned, at least during my studies there, which is a real failing of TSU. But the worst thing about TSU was, is and will be the Secretariat [the Dean’s office], whose incompetent secretaries can never provide a student with the necessary information,” Nino told us.

Around 60 rooms, 37 auditoriums, 12 computer classes and one resource centre, a total of 7,500 square kilometres, has been refurbished and 38 work rooms have been equipped with new materials for the academic staff and the faculty administration. Relevant materials have also been provided for the sports hall and the heating system at the TSU library has also been improved. The refurbishment of other universities has also been conducted under the same programme. “The Ministry of Education and Science will continue rehabilitating all the other state universities to ensure a pleasant studying process for both lecturers and students,” said Dimitri Shashkin.

Meanwhile changes in the Law on Education were introduced to the Parliamentary Bureau on July 5. Gia Khuroshvili, Parliamentary Secretary of the Government, said that 55% of boards of trustees had so far been unable to choose Directors for their schools. “As these trustees have been unable to deal with their responsibilities the Government of Georgia has made the decision to give three additional months to the boards to appoint Directors, following which the Minister of Education and Science will personally do so,” explained Khuroshvili. School Directors, according to the draft law, must be people under 65 with a higher education and at least three years relevant experience. Those who meet these criteria can be appointed Directors for six years rather than the current four, but not more than twice.

The changes to the law will also reduce the school entry age to 5, a controversial measure. Some people claim this is an “exploitation” of small children while others think that modern children are wise enough to deal with school responsibilities even at such a young age. MPs will discuss this issue in the near future, but the professional advice of psychologists, medical experts and academic boards should be considered before this change is made.