Central Heating Is On but Classrooms Are Still Cold
Central heating is an unresolved problem in public schools in the Akhaltsikhe District. School directors say that the system has been repaired but children still collect money to buy firewood for heating. Representatives of the resource center suppose that an increase in vouchers will resolve the problems after December.
In the framework of the “Iakob Gogebashvili” program implemented by the Georgian Ministry of Education and Science, public schools have been supplied with central heating for two years already. Deputy Minister, Teimuraz Samadashvili, said that central heating is on in almost 300 public schools. Eight million lari was apportioned from the state budget for the effort.
The central heating in several schools in Akhaltsikhe District was switched on early in November because of foul weather. In some of the schools the systems broke down and many of the classrooms were not heated.
Craftsmen tried to repair the central heating in the Public School # 1in Akhaltsikhe several times though in vain.
Teachers state that most classrooms are not heated.
“We can not endure the winter cold in such conditions. Children are wearing coats during the lesson. I do not know what the problem is. Maybe it is the poor central heating or large size of the building. We have to bring a stove in the classroom,” said Mariam Inasaridze, a teacher at Public School # 1.
Maka Janashvili, the director of the school, agrees with teachers and intends to place stoves in freezing classrooms until the system is completely repaired.
Zaza Zamtarashvili, director of the Public School # 6, said that the central heating works in their school properly. They installed it in spring and worked on the system continuously from the very beginning.
He added that their school is comfortable and clean. It was quite difficult to place stoves in the classrooms and supply the school with firewood, not to mention that in windy weather classrooms became smoky.
Directors of the Public Schools believe that the central heating will soon work properly in their facilities. The main problem is the fuel supply.
In Georgia, schools are funded according to a voucher system and they must purchase fuel themselves.
Small schools like Public School # 6 in Akhalstsikhe are finding it very difficult to purchase fuel. The vouchers are only enough to cover teachers’ salaries. “We do not have enough money for other expenses,” Tamarashvili said. “Thus we had to collect ten lari from each pupil.”
Several weeks ago directors of the public schools gave notice of their problems to the Minister of Education and Science, Aleksandre Lomaia. They requested the Minister apportion additional sums of money to the schools to purchase fuel.
“Winter is very cold in Akhaltsikhe and lasts too long,” Lia Kobesashvili, the head of the Akhaltsikhe Educational Resource Center, said. “Consequently, heating the schools has always been serious problem in the district. Non-deficient schools have more advantages when getting ready for the wintertime. Deficient schools need additional sums for a fire wood supply.”
She said that even those non-deficient schools have faced similar problems recently because they do not have enough money to purchase fuel for their heaters with their own funds. Kobesashvili stated that the problem is practically resolved, as vouchers will be increased in December to 300 lari.
“Currently almost all schools have adequate supplies of fire wood,” Kobesashvili continued.
“It is still cold in the schools with the fire wood supply,” students say. “In the mornings, it is so cold we cannot sit in the classrooms.”
In schools where central heating was not installed, the state apportioned sums raging from 1,500 to 2,000 lari for firewood based on the number of pupils.
Gulo Kokhodze, Akhaltsikhe
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