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Shahkin and Liparteliani

13.07.2010
Gela Mtivlishvili

Minister of Education and Science, Dimitri Shashkin, denies information about the dismissal of the teachers with less than 18 working hours and retired teachers from public schools. The Human Rights Center interviewed the Minister and Vice-President of the Trade Union of Teachers, Maia Liparteliani.

Dimitri Shashkin: “One of the main innovations at schools is the approval of a personnel timetable which has caused serious discontent among school directors.”

Maia Liparteliani: “There is nothing new in the approval of a personnel time-table. According to the Article 17 Part I “c” of the Law on Public Schools, the Ministry of Education and Science must approve the timetable. The Article 12 Part I –“c” of the Law of Georgia on Legal Entity states that personnel-timetables and salary allocations shall be determined by the founder – the Ministry of Education and Science. The problem is that the ministry did not implement this function in the past. More precisely, every school director introduced the personnel-timetable and salary funds to the Ministry and did not receive any response from them.

Dimitri Shashkin: “We started the process and asked the school directors to provide their personnel-timetables in order to increase salaries. The process started in the regions on June 20 and will finish before August 1. The full-time occupation for a teacher is 18 working hours. The state does not reimburse extra working hours for the teachers. In many schools there are teachers who have 21 or 23 working hours in mathematics or Georgian language while many others have only 15 hours. We asked the directors to divide the working hours equally to ensure that all teachers have enough working hours and relatively high salaries. Most importantly, the teachers should have full-time job.”

Maia Liparteliani: “The Minister connects the personnel-timetable with the working hours of  teachers. It is regulated by the Minister’s resolution # 576 of October 21, 2005, which states that a teacher can have a part-time job, full-time job and extra working hours too.

The fact that several teachers work 23 or 21 hours while others work only 15 hours depends on the national education schedule and school program which regulates the number of lessons in each grade. For example, if a teacher of the 10th grade has to give 21 lessons per week in the Georgian language and literature, how can we take seven working hours from him/her and give it to another teacher?  Can two teachers teach one subject to one class? Additionally, according to what legislative norm or criteria should school directors choose which teacher will have his/her working hours reduced? If the goal of the Minister’s initiative is to increase the salaries, then corresponding amendments should be introduced to the resolution # 576, and teachers should be reimbursed for extra working hours.

The society has heard this question raised several times, but without any results. The President of Georgia ordered the Minister during our meeting to reimburse extra working hours for us.

I want to underline one more issue. The school budget shall release one uniform salary for 18 working hours regardless of how various teachers share them – one or eighteen teachers. The intended purpose of the education reform was not to motivate teachers to work as many hours as possible. The goal was a guarantee quality teaching.

Many teachers contacted us and said that they have discussed the oral directive of the Minister to assist the teachers with less working hours and have settled upon 18 hours.”

Dimitri Shashkin: “We looked through the personnel timetable and discovered that there are 115 positions in Georgian public schools. For example there are counters with the salary of 500 GEL. Yet we do not know what they are counting. There is also a position for controlling the time-sheet of teachers. It was a huge surprise for me.”

Maia Liparteliani: “Of course, there are positions in many schools which are not at all necessary. But it is within the responsibility of the ministry because the positions of the counters and controllers of time-sheets appeared in the schools within the last five years. When we raised these questions to the Ministry we received no answer. The Minister overlooked one more position at school – marketing manager. I would like to remind the Minister that business-companies do not have logopedist, librarian and psychologists but schools need them.”

Dimitri Shahskin: “The purpose of the branding is to stimulate the school fairly. I have heard the opinion that it increases the level of competition and several schools will fail. Yes there will be competition but the competition yields results.”

Maia Liparteliani: “It is pity that education system reforms are only planned for the citizens of Tbilisi. There are many villages in Georgia where there is only one school and children must walk several kilometers to get there. It is interesting, how similar schools can get 10 stars when they barely manage to pay salaries. Additionally, the Minister often mentions companies, competition and enterprises instead of schools. I want to tell him that competition and companies belong to the field of business and not to education.”

Dimitri Shashkin: “We are having huge success. Not a single incident occurred in the seven schools where we introduced bailiffs; pupils do not miss lessons so frequently. I mean, if 100 children missed lessons before that, their number now is reduced by 90 per cent. Fewer pupils are late for lessons. Consequently, bailiffs will be introduced in every school of Tbilisi and Batumi; now that they are being trained. At the second stage, the bailiffs will be introduced to the public schools of Kutaisi, Poti and other large cities. Security zones will be created in the public schools of Tbilisi and Batumi. More precisely, video-cameras will be installed in the schools which will monitor the passages and yards; there will be no cameras in class-rooms. It is very expensive project which will be funded from ministry reserves.”

Maia Liparteliani: “It is very interesting initiative considering the background of the allegations concerning increased salaries of teachers and abolishment of positions such as counters and controllers of the time-sheets. He added that they are saving money. The salary of a bailiff is almost 800 GEL, and if we add the sum necessary for the installment of the cameras, which will control passages and yards (despite the fact that school is not a penitentiary setting), it is quite clear that the process will not go according to plan. At the expense of the dismissed teachers, the school will turn into a police institution. If the bailiffs help pupil attendance, we could even abolish the position of school directors and bailiffs could organize the school process.”

Dimitri Shashkin: “We never interfere in the activities of the Trade Union. We just asked them that a TU member should write an application for the transfer of membership payment from the salary requesting that the accountant transfer money and sign agreement with us. In order to transfer the membership fee from the salary of any teacher, we need their permission. The TU wants to transfer the membership fees based on the list provided by the schools. It is a kind of extortion of the 21st century; we speak about 1, 5 million GEL and it is not small sum at all.”

Maia Liparteliani: “The TU member writes an application where s/he can request the transfer of the membership fee from the salary and concerning the membership of the TU. The Trade Union has applications for every member.”

When the Minister assesses the activities of the TU as extortion and indicates to the 1,5 million GEL, it is interference in the activities of the TU. It is an attack when he states, without any legislative changes, that he would appoint school directors, that he needs strong directors and a weak board of trustees at schools; etc. When a teacher pays the fee according to his/her wish and the Minister thinks that this money is wasted from the budget, it is his personal problem. If he is interested in the expenditure of this sum, he can visit our website or read the Transparency International report.  

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