Miminoshvili calls dismissal from NAEC politically-motivated
By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, May 30
Maia Miminoshvili, the recently dismissed director of the National Examination Centre (NAEC) has remarked that the years she spent in cooperation with Minister of Education and Science Dimitri Shashkin were not easy.
Speaking of the Unified National Exams as an exemplary system even in the international sphere, Miminoshvili said that all decisions made at NAEC had always been unanimous after long discussions with her team.
She said the planned liberalization of the exams would leave only skills and ability exams for university entrants, which she opposed. “If the educational sphere isn't a priority, the country won’t have a future,” Miminoshvili said, suspecting that her views on this matter were the cause of the “principle incompatibility” cited by the Ministry as the cause of her dismissal.
Miminoshvili’s former colleagues from the NAEC were discouraged with the Minister’s “vague” excuses and quit in protest. Meeting with the former NAEC staff on Monday, Minister Shashkin could not provide evidence of Miminoshvili’s “principle incompatibility” with the policy of the Ministry during the reformation process. He told them he had used his authority and took the examination process under his responsibility.
Miminoshvili’s former colleagues announced that if Shashkin is unwilling to publicly explain the real reason for his decision they would consider his actions irresponsible and against the public interest. Kakha Jamburia, head of the Georgian Language and Literature Group of the NAEC, noted that they may demand the Minister’s withdrawal, but would remain in office for a month in order to smooth the transition to the new team as the success of ongoing exams depends upon the professionalism and management of the new staff.
The new director of the NAEC is expected to be announced today.
In an open letter sent to President Mikheil Saakashvili on Monday, Miminoshvili’s colleagues said they had always tried to ensure high quality of education with their objectivity, transparency, and fairness. Discouraging the Minister’s rapid decision, the NAEC asked President Saakashvili to personally make a decision that would protect the society from "distrust and nihilism".
In response to the suggestion that his decision had political motivation, Minister Shashkin instructed assembled journalists to “leave that nonsense”.
Yesterday, Deputy Minister of Education Koka Seperteladze said that there were three reasons for Miminoshvili's dismissal: she opposed the creation of a comfortable environment for teachers for their certification; the addition of skills and ability exams to certification exams for graduating high school students; and the issuing of school leaving certificates for ethnic minorities to continue their studies abroad. According to Ministry spokeswoman Nino Potrjebskaya, the dispute between Miminoshvili and Minister Shashkin had been ongoing for ten months. She said Miminoshvili was offered a diplomatic service either in one of the leading European countries or a position at the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, but turned them both down.
Leader of the Georgian Dream coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, believes that President Mikheil Saakashvili personally stands behind the Minister’s decision to fire Miminoshvili. He remarked that the entire government is beholden to “one single man’s ideology”, who is not concerned about the integrity of the exams.
Meeting with Ivanishvili on Tuesday, the former director also linked her dismissal with her son’s participation in the Georgian Dream demonstration on Sunday. Finding it impossible to identify her son among the estimated 200,000 participants, Miminoshvili suspected that the only source for this information was their private telephone conversations. “And we think that we live in a normal country,” she said, adding she has always respected her children’s decisions.
Miminoshvili's brother, Zaza, had previously contacted Ivanishvili’s spokeswoman, Maia Panjikidze, to express his support for Georgian Dream a day before the rally. A member of the band Shin, Zaza Miminoshvili worried that a brother and a sister cannot have different opinions in Georgia. “We should have a different country, it’s impossible to live this way,” he said.