The messenger logo

Mokhe schoolchildren refuse to attend classes

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, December 27
Mokhe school students have stopped attending classes in protest. The students express solidarity with a 12th grade pupil, Teona Beridze, who said that the school principal, Natia Rekhviashvili, requested not wear a hijab at school.

The village of Mokhe in the Adigeni region in the south of Georgia, is mostlypopulated by Muslims. The locals call on the authorities to send its representatives to the village and study the case thoroughly.

The principal of the school denies the claims, and says that she did not forbid the pupil to wear a hijab.

“This is a total lie. I have not prohibited anything. I just advised her that this is a state school and everyone should be properly dressed,” she stressed.

The principal says the issue was deliberately raised by external forces. She also said the girl was new at the school.

The Ministry of Education of Georgia has issued a written statement on the matter, which explains that if students believe that their rights are restricted by the school, they may apply to the Ministry's internal audit to study the matter.

The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) said they were studying the alleged discrimination fact of the schoolgirl.

The TDI reports that Natia Rekhviashvili, the current principal, is not approved of by the Muslim community of the village.

The TDI says some locals told them that the previous director, a member of the Muslim community, was allegedly fired on religious grounds, and the candidacy of another candidate for the principal’s post was rejected allegedly due to the same reason.

“The locals say that Natia Rekhviashvili, with her beliefs and activities, creates a discriminatory environment at the school,” the report of TDI reads.

The TDI reports that in total there are 180 pupils at Mokhe’s school, and 90% of them are Muslims.

The NGO says that according to Article 18 of General Education Law of Georgia, it is not allowed to impose such responsibilities on the students, which is fundamentally contrary to their belief, conscience and religion.

The TDI calls on the Ministry of Education to study the case carefully.