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Kindergarten row rumbles on

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, August 29
Changes within the pre-school educational sector were the subject of disputes among the opponents of the City Council on Friday. Opposition MPs disapproved the establishment of Tbilisi Kindergarten Agency which is responsible for improving the environment for pre-school children. As Christian-Democrat Jaba Samushia stated “it’s the state’s responsibility to provide pre-school education”. The Tbilisi City Hall based agency uniting public Kindergartens around the capital have entitled the principals to put their own price on their services which according to Mamuka Katsarava, Head of Social and Cultural Services of Mayor’s Office “would provide the kindergartens with innovative methodological and administrative activities”.

Tina Khidasheli from the Republican Party said that this process would financially oppress the citizens while the majority MPs unanimously approve of the initiative. “All the kindergartens would introduce their prices according to their infrastructure and services (between GEL 20-80) while socially unprotected children would receive the full state grant,” Vakhtang Natsvlishvili Chair of Education and Culture Commission stated. Controversies around the issue are still burning for society. Kindergartens in previous years had been funded by the state so that poor families could afford it. That’s why lots of families have now found the initiative “socially unfair” but according to the information released by the City Hall 44 000 children have already been registered at 153 kindergartens in Tbilisi.

Analyst Gia Nodia didn’t find it necessary for all the children to have the pre-school education at the kindergartens. As Nodia told The Messenger pre-school education may be “desired” rather than “inevitable.” “I don’t think the kindergartens give such a level of knowledge which is necessary for pre-school education,” Nodia said disapproving the state participation in these processes. “I think it’s high time that the kindergartens should become decentralized so that the municipal bodies like the local self-government or regional organizations should take responsibility over the sector like it is in many other states,” the analyst told us.