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NDI Polls: Majority of Georgians Believe Country Develops in Wrong Direction

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, january 29
Poll results released on January 28 by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia show that the majority of Georgians believe their country is developing in the wrong direction.

In particular, 38% of respondents believe Georgia is moving toward the wrong direction, while key issues, concerning Georgians are the court system, corruption, crime, jobs, poverty, territorial integrity, and prices.

The organization says that Georgians are also concerned about air pollution (57 percent), food safety (44 percent), and the presence of hazardous materials and toxins in products (40 percent). Residents of Tbilisi identify environmental pollution as the number one issue at 48 percent, followed by the cost of utilities (38 percent) and traffic (32 percent).

Laura Thornton, NDI global associate and senior director stated that “alarming concern about environmental degradation requires immediate policy changes and investment, with an assurance that resources are not reduced given the reduced status of the Environmental Ministry.”

However, despite the respondents’ concerns, issues of freedom of speech, healthcare, EU and NATO membership, media independence, and education are viewed as slightly improving.

The majority of respondents approve of the Government’s goal for Georgia to become a member of the European Union (EU) and NATO.

In particular, 83% of NDI respondents said they support Georgia's integration into the EU while 78% of respondents support NATO membership and 13% don't.

“While some issues, notably NATO and EU approval, are viewed as moving in the right direction, there remains an urgent need for policymakers to address a number of issues that affect citizens, including a problematic justice system, rising crime and a weak economy,” said Thornton.

The survey reads that half the respondents assess the government’s job performance on education as “good,” with rural residents most satisfied at 58%.

However, 57 % of Tbilisi residents evaluate the government poorly on this issue.

43 percent of people believe the teachers’ knowledge and skills are average at schools, while 42% assesses them as ‘good.’

The vast majority of respondents - 73%of respondents believe hiring outside tutors is essential to pass national exams, 47% say it is essential to study well at school, and a majority (55%) also thinks it essential to pass final high school exams.

At the university level, state schools are viewed as having a small advantage over private institutions. Also, education is not viewed as a key factor in getting a good job, where 37% of Georgians believe connections matter most.

Laura Thornton believes that the perceived need for tutors demonstrates that schools are not viewed as adequately preparing students for success.

“Improvements are needed in public education, particularly to equalize educational attainment between those who can afford private schools and/or tutors and those who cannot,” she stated.

The survey was carried out on December 6-20, 2018 and it included 2,205 completed interviews.