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New Wave of Reforms in Schools

25.06.2010
Shorena Kakabadze, Kutaisi

The tension in Kutaisi public schools increases every day. Teachers protest the new initiative of the minister of education. “It is violation of our rights. Why do they think that teachers with only 18 working hours are valuable people for school? Finally, let them tell us that we are not necessary any longer. But they should not send us out of the street and offer new working places,” the teachers start their meetings in every public school of Kutaisi with similar discussions every day.

New initiative of the ministry of education aims to dismiss retired and part-time teachers from schools. Reportedly, heads of the education resource centers (of course with the support of school directors) will leave only the teachers with 18 working hours at schools in September. It means several thousands of teachers will join the unemployed people in Georgia.

“It is terrible. We live in a police state and the law enforcement officials run the ministry of education. The minister does not know what the school in fact is and how a person should work there. This person has not created legislation and listens only to those directors who have already “eaten up” much. Teacher, even with 5 working hours should not be dismissed but all conditions shall be created to keep them at school. However, our minster does not understand it. School is completely strange institution for him and he does not care about teachers,” said the teacher Manana Kokhreidze.

Directors do not deny that schools have started serious working on the new initiative of the minister. However, nobody comments on this fact.

“Directors are in complicated situation. The ministry of education tries to carry out the initiative with the support of directors. Our Kutaisi education resource- center is particularly active in this direction. However, there is a resolution # 576 of the former education minister (Kakha Lomaia) about “working hours of teachers” which states that teacher even with 2 working hours can work at school. Apparently, the officials of the ministry do not know and do not wish to know that ten thousands of teachers will remain without income,” said the head of the Kutaisi office of the Free Trade Union of Teachers of Georgia Lia Ratiani.

“The reform is going on; everything is improving and it will have better result. I will not say anything more. Wait for results,” said the head of the Kutaisi education resource-center Lado Pataridze.

Teachers clarify that the ministry of education resolves many problems without agreeing them with teachers and other competent people. There is no social dialogue to discuss the problems and reach one common conclusion.
 
“When they resolve the problems like certificate testing of teachers, working hours and dismissal of people from school, they should at least discuss the topic with teachers. They should not speak only with directors or the heads of education resource-centers. Do you know what will be result of leaving only the teachers with 18-working hours at school? A lot of families will lose income and effort of the ten thousands of people will be wasted. It will not end without serious results. Nobody will put up with it,” said teachers.

The teachers have already petitioned to the chairman of the parliamentary education committee. Teachers urge Goka Gabashvili to find out what is going on and settle the problem in their favor. “Finally, they should put an end to remarks. Otherwise, petitions will change into large-scaled protest demonstrations,” said teachers.
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