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School Resource Officers – Fighters with Criminals or Tools of Psychological Terror

08.02.2012

Davit Tsikarishvili, The free Trade-union of Educational staff „ERTOBA“

Recently, general human rights situation in the education system of Georgia has deteriorated. School resource officers have further aggravated the situation, whose responsibility was to work in the framework of anti-criminal program at schools; but in fact they created many problems that can be qualified as serious violations of human rights. In fact, it is not an anti-criminal institution, but a formation with completely different purpose, who create permanent stressful environment in most part of Georgian public schools.

The institution of the School Resource Officers was established based on the decree of the Minister of Education and Science of Georgia “About Approval of Regulations for Resource Officers Service of the Public Law Entity - Educational Institutions” (N74/N August 20, 2010 Tbilisi). The ministry officials said the purpose of the Resource Officers was to prevent crime among juveniles.

Resource officers have been piloted since March 2010. Although the society protested the innovation, resource officers were introduced in every public school when new school year started in the fall of 2010. Apparently, every school throughout Georgia needed their assistance.

Resource Officers In Relation with Pupils

Resource officers control the pupils’ attendance at lessons. They have particularly strict reaction when pupils are late. The late pupils are subjected to serious psychological stress.

Ideology propaganda is actively used among youth, which aims to compel them to blindly obey the governmental policy. The authority often announces competitions: “Why do I love my police”, etc. The winners receive expensive presents. On the next stage, officers work with the winners to turn them into informers and finally those young people will become MIA officers. One of the key purposes of the resource officers is to work with young people.

The resource officers often apply the measures regulated by the Criminal Procedural Code of Georgia. I would like to underscore the search procedure. It is usual procedure in every school to search bags and pockets of pupils in many public schools without any procedural norms. Resource officers have never received rebukes or even punished for illegal search.

Resource officers are wearing uniforms, which look like police uniforms. Consequently, the pupils associate them with the part of punishment institution. So, they are under psychological oppression.

It is noteworthy, that nobody works with pupils to explain negative impact of crime to them, that could increase judiciary awareness of young people; nobody has planned discussions or other events for school children. Instead, resource officers often speak about the successful work of police.

Resource Officers in Relation with Teachers

Very often, resource officers use various punishment methods with regard to teachers including expelling teachers, cooperating with opposition parties or with Trade Unions or other NGOs critical about the government. Formally, similar teachers are sacked from schools on different grounds. Real reason is their politically motivated persecution. Even the Labor Code of Georgia deprives us to detect real reason of teachers’ dismissal from schools.

The functions and responsibilities of resource officers are not clearly defined. Very often, they abuse their power. However, the Ministry of Education and particularly the MIA supports them even when resource officers abuse their power. It is noteworthy that the procedures for appealing the resource officer’s protocol are not worked out. I have never heard any teacher lodged suit to the court against the resource officer’s protocol. It is strange, but the protocol is believed to be the only truth. Very often, teachers are compelled to write explanation letter against a pupil, his/her colleague and even about himself/herself. Afterwards, the explanation letter is attached to the resource officer’s protocol.

Watch-cameras are installed in schools and resource officers watch everything. Very often they even ask teachers what they were speaking about at particular time.

The resource officers attend meetings with the parents of elder pupils. The purpose of their presence is unclear. Their presence at the teachers’ sessions is also unclear. Resource officers systematically check class registers – they wonder how correctly the attendance of pupils was recorded by a teacher.

It is impossible to bring independent printed media or any other texts created by political parties or Trade Union; while teachers are welcomed to distribute texts of the ruling party and booklets of the pr-governmental Trade Union.

Bearing the all abovementioned circumstances in mind, we have enough ground to allege that education process in Georgian schools goes under permanent stress and it does not have anything to do with the anti-criminal activities.

Many teachers were sacked based on resource officers’ protocols. In 2005, the parliament passed the Labor Code which unconditionally protects the employer’s interests. The Code is not properly worked out. An employer can sack an employee without any explanation. The conditions envisaged in the labor contract do not have significance. A person shall pay 100 GEL to lodge a suit to the court (appeal tax) and when discussing the suits, the judges pay attention only to one circumstance – if the employer had paid one month salary to the sacked employee as it is envisaged by the Labor Code. As for other issues, the judges never pay attention to other complaints including expired contracts. Very few of the sacked people appeal to the court. And less than 10% of those, who have appealed, are restored in the job. About one/third of the restored people, cannot return to their old jobs despite the court judgment. Sometimes they personally refuse to execute the court verdict.

Thus, it is very easy to discriminate a person on political, racial and other grounds. The law does not recognize the guarantees of the Trade Union at all. In similar situation, the resource officers are free to request the school director to fire a teacher from school without any motives and it often happens.

Resource officers often hinder education process. If children make noise during the lesson, resource officer and director enter class-rooms. Nobody cares if a teacher is conducting inter-active lessons or not. However, every teacher has right to conduct a lesson according to his/her own plan in accordance to pedagogical principles.

As a rule, precincts during parliamentary, presidential and municipal elections are opened in school buildings. For the last five years, teachers actively and mostly without any salaries have worked in favor of the ruling party during the elections. Often, they ask the parents of their pupils to assist them in election procedures or even hold meetings with parents and suggest them to vote for the ruling party. One of the key role of resource officers apparently is to attract particularly large number of teachers and pupils in the election process in favor of the ruling party.

Resource Officers in Relation with Media and NGOs

After the resource officers entered the public schools, the schools got closed for media. Although the school directors and teachers had received oral instructions from the minister not to give interviews to journalists, the media somehow received information about general situation in schools. However, the resource officers completely blocked schools for journalists. Nowadays, representatives of media and non-governmental organizations cannot enter the schools at all – resource officers categorically forbid teachers and pupils to enter school territory together with a journalist or NGO-representative.

The teachers, who cooperate with opposition parties or Trade Unions or non-governmental organizations, which are critical about the government, are punished by resource officers including being sacked. However, the teachers are dismissed from schools based on different official reasons.

The democratic structures in schools (basically – Trade Unions) are virtually prohibited. Transferring the membership dues of the Trade Unions has been stopped based on the Minister’s order. However, by the order of the same Minister teachers became obliged to become the subscribers of the cell-phone company Geocell and the subscribers’ fee, 3 GEL a month is forcefully deducted from their salary. This can be considered to be a corruptive agreement between the Ministry and private company. It should also be noted that the school accountants refuse to transfer the membership fees of the Trade Union fearing that they will lose jobs. Democratic institutions have been replaced by the law-enforcement structures (in other words school resource officers).
Involvement of School Resource Officers in the Politics of Ministry of Education and Science.

It had been several months the school resource officers started to work when the Ministry started moving them to the post of school principals. This process is ongoing.

It is unknown why the Ministry appoints the school resource officers to the posts of principals when they have not learned how to teach, do not know school work, do not have an experience of working as a director and are not distinguished with outstanding features of a manager.

The director of school #207 Zurab Chkhaidze was made to write a request to leave his job. The school resource officer was appointed on his post instead. He dismissed the philologist professor Lali Datashvili, author of the book right when he was appointed.

School resource officer was appointed to the post of principal also in #159 school and the principal Maia Tevzadze was dismissed.

The principal of #182 school Archil Chkhaidze was also made to write a request to leave his job and the school resource officer was appointed instead.

The former school resource officer Shorena Bunturia is a director in #157 school;

School Resource Officer was appointed to the post of principal in #43 school as well.

Schools #138 and #164 were combined and the former school resource officer Maia Kakhniashvili who had been working in school for 3 months was appointed to the post of principal. She dismissed the certified teacher Tsiala Tskhovrebadze and two more teachers right away. The situation in the school is very hard now and they are requesting to employ fourth school resource officer.

Information regarding schools #124, 152, 130, 148, 149, 107, 173 and united schools #11 and #13 is also closed.

The school resource officers are also appointed to other rather responsible posts (former school resource officer Asmat Mikadze is appointed to the post of the head of Mtatsminda Resource Center).

Involvement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in the work of School Resource Officers

According to the regulation, service of school resource officers works under the aegis of Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia. The regulation does not state that the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) is the superior body of the service of school resource officers, but in reality it is the MIA which controls the service (anti-criminal structure will not exist in the Ministry of Education and Science if it is not connected to the MIA, and is distanced from the anti-criminal environment and relevant measures).

It was the MIA which selected the school resource officers. The selection took approximately one year.

Preparation of school resource officers took three months. They do not have any special knowledge, say a pedagogical psychology. Serious preparation takes a lot more than three months.

According to our information, big majority of school resource officers regularly take courses with the officers of the MIA of Georgia. They receive certain instructions during these meetings.

School resource officers get significant information regarding the students and their parents. The private and official information is accessible to them. According to our information, MIA processes this information.

Solutions and Recommendations:

Based on all above mentioned, we can conclude that:

Though according to the statistics the crime level has increased among the youth, this was caused by the shortcomings of the education reform. Thus, the solution lied in the eradication of these shortcomings. However, there was no necessity to create such a service.

Secondly, the prevention of crime is neglected. The school resource officers are part of law enforcement body, not the structure for crime prevention. The Ministry of Education abolished the staff of psychologists. However, professional work of psychologists was essential both for the students with criminal inclinations as well as problematic children.

Thirdly, improvement of criminal background is not the main objective of school resource officers. Their primary goal is to fully control the schools and education system by intimidating the teachers and students.

We think it would be advisable to take following measures:

Restrict the school resource officers to intrude in the education process and enter the classrooms unless they are called by the teacher

Restrict the school resource officers to search the students.

Restrict the school resource officers to give written explanations. If this is anti-criminal structure, they should not intrude in the labor discipline.

All schools where more than 300 students study should allocate one official for cooperation with the press and NGO sector.

I think it would be desirable to plan a short-term project by the NGO-s, to thoroughly study this problem on this stage. As for the future, with a joint program – measures directed against the human rights violations.

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Name: ისევ მაია
2012-03-23 21:27
რამდენი კომენტარი დავდე და ვითომ არაფერი. რა თქმა უნდა პრობლემები განათლების სფეროში ბევრია, მაგრამ ასეთი ცილისმწამებლური და რეალობას მოკლებული ე.წ.ფაქტებით კი არა, ჯანსაღი ქმედებებით უნდა ვეცადოთ მათ დაძლევას.
Name: ისევ მაია
2012-03-19 22:19
ქალბატონო,როგორც თქვენ თავს უწოდებთ გულნარა, ნეტა ყველა სკოლას ასეთი დირექტორი ყავდეს, როგორც ზურაბ ჩხაიძეა. ისეთ რაღაცეებს წერთ, აშკარაა ვიღაცამ ძალიან გაგანაწყენათ და არც ქრისტიანულ ცხცოვრებასთან უნდა იყოთ ძაან ახლოს, თორემ განა ისეთი რა გულშემატკივარი ხართ ამ სკოლის, რომ ასე გაგვლანძღეთ ყველა. იქნებ ჩაფიქრდეთ: ცილისწამება დიდი ცოდვაა და თუ ასე არ მოგწონთ ამ სკოლის სიტუაციები, რაიმე უკეთესი შემოგვთავაზოთ ეგება.სირცხვილიაააააააააააა ღმერთმა შეგინდოთ.
Name: გულნარა
2012-03-16 19:00
207-ე სკოლას რაც შეეხება,ამ სკოლის მარტო დირექტორი კი არა,მტელი დირექციაა მოსახსნელი...ძაღლი პატრონს ვერ ცნობს ისეთი სიტუაციაა სკოლაში,სრული განუკითხაობა...საუკეთესო დირექტორები დახსნეს და ზურაბ ჩხაიძისნაირი დირექტორები მრავლადაა დღევანდელ სკოლაში.
Name: ლევან ჯავახიშვილი
2012-03-15 20:06
ძალიან მაგარი წერილია! მართლა კოლონიებში ასწავლიან ბავშვებს. და რაც არ წერია?
Name: მაია
2012-03-05 20:49
არ ვიცი რატომ ან ვის დასჭირდა, მაგრამ 207-ე სკოლაზე აბსოლუტური სიცრუე წერია.არც არვინ წიგნის ავტორი არ მოუხსნია დირექტორს და არც ტვიტონ ჩაუნაცვლებია მანდატურს. მოკლედ,სიცრუეა და საიდან მოიგონეთ???
Name: ზურაბ ჩხაიძე
2012-03-05 08:50
ინფორმაცია #207 საჯარო სკოლის შესახებ მთლიანად ყალბია.ეს არის ცრუ ინფორმაციის მიზანმიმართული გავრცელება.
Name: Kiki
2012-02-28 08:12
I came, I read this artlice, I conquered.
Name: მანანა
2012-02-09 14:36
დღეს ქართული სკოლა კოლონიას უფრო მაგონებს ვიდრე საგანმანათლებლო დაწესებულებას,ბოლო წელიწადნახევრის მანძილზე მდგომარეობა კატასტროფულად დამძიმდა, ბავშვების მომავალი საფრთხის წინაშეა. ჩვენ არ გვაქვს დუმილის და გილგრილობის უფლება!
Name: რეზო
2012-02-08 21:57
კარგია...
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