Hearing of the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports resumed at the plenary session

08 Feb 2019
Hearing of the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports resumed at the plenary session

The Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze in the beginning of the session elucidated that the hearing of the Regional Development Minister, Maia Tskitishvili scheduled on February 8 was adjourned to the next week.

MPs specified the questions asked to the Minister yesterday followed with the statements of the Factions. According to the Faction “Patriots of Georgia” MP, Irma Inashvili, any civilized state shall strive to ensure high education standard and to have highly educated generation.

The experiments on the future generations shall be prohibited. We shall undertake the reform oriented to the certain outcomes and to give trust to the society that the diploma has a weight and that Georgian Universities give due knowledge to our children”.

She spoke of inadmissibility of annulment of school tests: “especially, that this decision was not publicly discussed but decided in the narrow circle of the persons – the Parliament was not engaged in the decision-making and it declines the role of the Parliament”. The basic skills test shall not be excluded from the list, she urged: “The mathematical logics - skills shall be included as mandatory tests at all three stages of general education”.

Roman Gotsiridze on behalf of the Faction “National Movement” stated that the education reforms do not serve for development of education and higher education quality. He spoke about decease of the School Principal in Zugdidi.

The Minority MP, Sergi Kapanadze extended this statement.

According to the Minority MP, Lela Keburia, the report of the Minister indicates to the absence of the long-term education development vision of the ruling team evidenced with annulment of the basic skills tests, which is inadmissible.

The Faction “European Georgia” MP, Sergo Ratiani expressed objection to annulment of the school tests as well as these tests serve the bridge between school and the universities. He emphasized Ia Kerzaia and addressed the Minister urging that he should have studied authenticity of the letter instead of auditing the school.

The Chair of the Faction “Georgian Dream – Social-Democrats” Gia Zhorzholiani responded to the hearing of Zugdidi School N6 case at the Education Committee yesterday: “We are all aggrieved with decease of Zugdidi School Principal, Ia Kerzaia and express our condolences to her family. Let me also deplore that this tragic fact was used for the political speculations. So, Mr. Minister your arguments were quite substantiated”.

According to the Chair of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee, Sofo Kiladze, education reform is paramount as the current system fails to meet the modern challenges and standards: “We shall direct the vast resources to the education reform – the human and financial. The political forces – old and new sectors of the National Movement – who wrecked the education system, today speak about the reasons why we cannot reform this system”.

She called on the opposition to criticize the certain subjects: “We need the fundamental breakthrough. Otherwise, the country cannot be successful”. The system approach of the Ministry is crucial: “We should have started it long ago. Unfortunately, we do it belated”. She touched upon the tests: “our children shall be prepared for the life and development instead of the tests”.

The Majority MP, Alexander Kantaria considered it inexpedient to merge the education with culture and sports: “We shall be simple in approach to the general education. If we answer 4 questions, then the process will start. The first question is where we teach – what is the infrastructure. We have made positive steps in this direction (now many schools have been built or rehabilitated). What we teach: what are the syllabuses? There are the gaps in this direction requiring high competence. Someone mentioned mathematics but what is the knowledge we give to our children. Do they know about their history, with cognition. Do they know that they awareness shall continue on the roots of the history of the country. How we teach? As I consider, the knowledge of the children shall be evaluated after the IX grade as the IX grade is the point for specification of the path for the children: do they resume in the vocational school or in the college. We shall differentiate this direction in humanitarian and technical terms. The university lecturers may as well receive the tests. It is just the subject for the discussion. When a person graduates from the school, he/she shall pass one national exam. The school shall issue the certificate and if the points are high, it shall serve as the basis for entering the university. At the same time, the children need to have the motivation. I think about the gold certificate reflecting participation of the pupils in the Olympic contests etc. and this certificate shall allow them studying at the free faculty of the university. And the last but not the least question: who teaches? What is the qualification, talents or the past of the teachers and can they provide light of knowledge to the children? It is a complicated issue requiring much more than a couple of years”.

The Majority MP, Genadi Margvelashvili spoke about education reform and shared the approach of the Ministry. He outlined the pre-school education component, general education, national academic plan, informal education etc. He spoke about success of the Olympic children and wished for invitation of these children and pedagogues to the Parliament.

The Chair of the Faction “Georgian Dream – Industrials”, Simon Nozadze emphasized the current situation in the education system: “You are on a correct path as a reformer, Mr. Minister. It would as well be preferable if you share the experience of practitioner pedagogues and Georgian theoretical specialists”.

He hailed re-inclusion of the school primer “Mother Language” to schools and spoke about necessity of the tests in the X, XI and XII grades. As to the basic skills, it needs no extreme situation, so annulment of the basic skills test is expedient.

He spoke about absence of the pedagogical institutions: “Pedagogical institutions shall be restored in Tbilisi or Kutaisi to give the new pedagogues to the country, to train the pedagogues, to ensure pedagogical scientific activity and maintain pedagogical heritage”.

The Deputy Chair of the Sports Committee, Shota Khabareli spoke about necessity of sports education: “Sports development started in 2012 and it was a political will. Sports education is important for the country and we shall consider the importance of sports for the country to prevent the precedents and the diseases we encounter today”.

The Government has restored the Sports University: “The greatest damage was inflicted to sports by the National Movement by annulling the sports schools, Sports Academy, sports college and the sports faculties. It will take years to eliminate the damage”.

The Chair of the Education Committee, Mariam Jashi started with the case in Zugdidi School N6 and the Committee assessment: “Extremely expressive and emotional speech about this very sensitive case we considered yesterday is not expedient and it creates doubts that the accusations are based not only on the political motifs but this case is used for the political interests”.

She emphasized some moments of the Minister’s speech: “I hail that the Education Ministry not only confirmed but expressed commitment to develop the pre-school and early education system policy. Three-fold investments to schools are as well important. We discussed the progress of the law on School Supervisory Service. I also hail the Bill on vocational education and in this case, the Ministry has made certain steps as in terms of elimination of the legal deadlock at the spring session 2019 so in terms of financing private schools. First, the private schools have been provided with the equal conditions for public school in competition”.

She responded to annulment of the school tests: “The school tests as they were, failed to meet the education quality improvement goals, so annulment of the basic skills test is expedient as it provided unequal condition for the children. Today, it was mentioned that the basic skills test was the only mean to make education accessible for the socially vulnerable children. It is not a logical link as these socially vulnerable children were in unequal conditions at the tests as the schools fail to give the knowledge so the parents have to pay extra sums”.

Speaking about case in Zugdidi School N6, she underlined the statement of MPs that allegedly the hearing had the background of the statements by the pedagogues supporting the ruling team. She noted that the Committee hearings are always attended by the opposition supporters as well: “Practically, we always have the guests at the sittings from the opposition. Yesterday, on the basis of the demand by Giorgi Vashadze, we have invited the representative of his party and the guests from European Georgia, as well as other pedagogues with the political attitude. The Committee is open for any member of the society as we shall not evade from the critical questions”.

She expressed condolences to Ia Kerzaia family. “I believe that the society observing the considerations yesterday, gives healthy assessment to the political motives. Let me once again express my wish to separate the human tragedies from the political speculations”.

She underlined exclusion of the questions even on political pressure in the education system and issued 3 recommendations to the Minister: “Moratorium in the electoral process – it was the initiative of the Minister which I fully share. We shall exempt the electoral process from unscheduled inspections to prevent the theoretical questions about political sympathies in schools. Every pedagogue, director or administration member is free to make the political choice. However, neither the supporters nor the opponents of the Government shall bring politics to schools. The second recommendation concerned identification. As I know, the record introduced by Sergi Kapanadze lasts 5 or 7 minutes and it is edited. I believe the Minister will make the respective assessment. In any case, the ID is necessary for the tests. The third recommendation – today, Mrs. Lela Keburia admitted the system offense when the political school administration was summoned and then dismissed. Yesterday, Mr. Otar Kakhidze and Mr. Nika Melia indicated to possibility of the letters to SSS and Education Ministry. Today, we have people in the education system used as the political instrument by the preceding Government. We can recognize them as the victims of the system, though the education system is very sensitive and we shall exclude political interpretations. I appeal to you to revise the human resources in inspection and education system”.

The Education Minister, Mikheil Batiashvili took the floor and summed up the hearing: “For 2 days I hear insults, lies, editions and slander and have the sense of déjà vu. As if I live 9 years ago. So, I would like to thank Georgian Dream for the fact that today, when I am out of the Parliament, I will no longer live 9 years ago. I live in a different country where people are free to express their opinions and where the people have the right to listen to the secret recordings and give the dignified answer. I believe that the path we take is oriented to the reforms and has no other alternative”.

After the report by the Minister, the Parliament resumed with the agenda and discussed with the I reading the Bill on Criminal Code of Practice introduced by the Deputy Justice Minister, Mikheil Sarjveladze.

The Bill extends the list of the Articles of the Criminal Code provided in the Code of Practice and envisages the covert investigation activities. The new Chapter XXXIX is to be added concerning the official misconduct.

The Bill on Narcotic Means, Psychotropic Agents, Pre-cursors and Narcological Aid envisages addition of new agents to the list. The Bill was introduced by the Deputy Labor Minister, Zaza Bokhua with the I reading.

Gedevan Popkhadze introduced with the I reading the Bill on Business Ombudsman granting the right to the BO to inquire information from the administrative body other than the cases stipulated under the law.

The law extends the authority of the BO in the part of amicus curiae.