By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, September 3
As we approach the new academic year, educational issues become more and more debatable for the Georgian authorities and representatives of the opposition. Apart from the reality on Georgian controlled territory, the opposition talks about the threat of Georgian language discrimination in those Georgian regions that are currently under the control of occupiers.
“The Georgian language has already been banned in non Georgian schools in Akhalgori region, under the control of occupying forces. As for Georgian schools, there were only two in the region, now however, only one is left, in which the teaching process is based on the Russian program. This violates international convention concerning mother tongue and I appeal to the authorities to inform the international community of the issue, Vice Speaker for the Opposition, Paata Davitaia stated during the special briefing to Parliament,” on September 2.
Georgian authorities state that the Georgian side cannot stop anti-Georgian activities being carried out in occupied parts of Georgia; large scale international support is the main weapon in favour of Georgian interests. “Unfortunately, we cannot respond to the anti-Georgian politics in the occupied regions, however we have very significant international support and very soon we will manage to change the situation there,” MP Pavle Kublashvili stated.
Problems related to educational issues exist not only in the occupied regions. Ministry of Education and Science delivered textbooks to children pupils from socially vulnerable families, on September 2. The Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Koka Seperteladze stated, “This is how we are trying to help those families and enable their children to get a proper education. We have delivered books to pupils from forms 1 to 12, whose families do not have the means to buy the books.” This action was appreciated by the Parliamentary minority Christian Democratic Movement, however on September 2nd they voiced serious accusations towards the Authority and especially towards the Ministry of Finance related educational inventory. “Vehicles loaded with school items have been detained at customs for several days and there are signs that this was done deliberately. The fact that books have been delivered free to the unprotected families is to our credit, as this is what we demanded, however pupils need more than just books. As a result of the vehicles being kept at customs, prices of educational items have increased significantly. It appears that the authorities are preparing a new monopoly in the marketplace, which will come to light only after those small manufacturers whose vehicles are being stopped are bankrupt and the new monopolist on the market will sell those items at a high price with no one opposing it,” the movement representative, Giorgi Akhvlediani stated. Christian Democrats have already demanded a response from the Finance Minister on the issue, however so far no comments have been available.
Another issue that greatly annoyed the opposition was the invitation of teachers of English from abroad to Georgia to teach English. According to the authorities, this is a very important programme, which will enable Georgians to study the world's leading language. However the opposition's attitude significantly differs. “Everyday our authorities state that Georgian teachers are not good. However instead of giving them training, the Government dismiss them from schools and replace them with foreigners, who are not teachers at all. All this is completely illogical,” Republican, Levan Berdzenishvili stated.
Analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili told The Messenger, “The idea of inviting foreign English teachers to Georgia is interesting for me, however the authorities should make the project more transparent, to persuade society that the reason they have voiced is real and nothing is hidden behind it. In addition the project is coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Science and not by the National Movement. Also the Government should explain that the project does not treat Georgian English teachers. However it would be better for this kind of project to be carried out in Georgian regions settled by national minorities and teachers of Georgian language to be sent there, as this is a bigger problem for Georgia than studying the English language. At the same time, the main language of communication with our neighbours, Russian, should not be removed from the curriculum,” Tsiskarishvili said and added, “As for the situation in Akhalgori, until Georgian people are allowed into the region, the situation regarding the Georgian language cannot be improved.”