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NAEC staffers united behind Miminoshvili

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, June 4
The former Unified National Examination Centre (NAEC) team has spoken out about possible “risks and threats” from law enforcement. In a statement released on Friday, the group spoke of pressure that has been laid against them after they quit in protest over former director Maia Miminoshvili's sudden dismissal.

Asking international human rights organizations for support, they said some of their colleagues had returned to their positions because of this pressure. Eka Popkhadze of the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association calls this “signs of a criminal act” and requested relevant government bodies investigate.

Chair of the Parliamentary Education, Science and Culture Committee and United National Movement MP, Goka Gabashvili, is confident that there is no pressure on former NAEC staff. He stated that if it occurs, it is absolutely inacceptable.

It was on May 28 when Minister of Education and Science Dimitri Shashkin removed the NAEC director for her “principle incompatibility” with Ministry policy. Sixty people immediately left their jobs at the NAEC in protest. Calling Minister Shashkin’s decision “irresponsible,” they demanded a public explanation of the reasons for his decision to remove the director on the sixth day of the high school graduate examinations.

Khatia Dekanoidze, Director of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Police Academy, was appointed NAEC Director the day after Miminoshvili’s dismissal.

Why Miminoshvili was removed in the middle of the examination period remains unanswered. Calling it the Minister’s “spontaneous decision”, former head of NAEC research department Ia Kutaladze says there was a disagreement between the Minister’s policy and Miminoshvili’s views. The Ministry also confirmed a ten-month controversy. Kutaladze believes that Shashkin might have decided to remove Miminoshvili at a later date, but her son’s participation in the Georgian Dream opposition rally last weekend hastened his decision.

Miminoshvili’s colleagues say all decisions made at the Centre were unanimous. As Kakha Jamburia, former head of the Georgian Language and Literature Group said, they could not have stayed at the office and avoided responsibility when their director was dismissed. Emphasizing that they had always been fair and transparent, former NAEC staff said the Ministry had been trying to interfere in NAEC activities in a way that Miminoshvili and her team opposed.

“We have stayed in the public space with no public job,” former NAEC staff wrote in their statement. Having spent years improving the examination environment, some former staffers are considering establishing an NGO on educational issues. Hoping that the exams would be smooth this year, they say they are ready to discuss policy with the Ministry.