Meeting of the Prime Minister with the teachers
Reiterating my utmost respect, I would like to tell you that no step will be taken in terms of ameliorating the political and educational systems of Georgia without your involvement; this is our main message today, - Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili addressed the gathering of teachers while congratulating them in advance on their professional holiday.
The head of the Government indicated that he is aware of professional difficulties faced by teachers, since both his mother and grandmother were pedagogues.
"For decades my grandmother had been a math teacher at Komarovi School, whereas my mother was a professor at the university. My mother has passed away, and 95-year old grandmother lives with me. I have seen her falling asleep at 2 am while correcting writings of pupils many times after helping my brother and me with the assignments. Hence, I am well aware of the amount of labor and selflessness linked with this profession and I would like to bow down and show my utmost respect for each of you," - Prime Minister addressed the teachers.
According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, education has become a top priority for the Government both in word and in deed and some serious steps are planned in this area.
According to the Prime Minister, much has been done to promote the importance of education. The head of the Government accentuated importance of depoliticization of education system.
"We cannot brainwash people at schools and universities by developing their mindset in one direction. Everyone is entitled to their civic positions, however, since politics in Georgia is still closely associated with confrontation and hostility, we aim at maximally distancing politics from schools and education system at large. I know that it is a pre-election period, but I am not afraid to say this, since our strength shall lie with this message - we shall focus of the quality of education. Four years ago we concentrated on raising the quality of education and prioritize theoretical and practical preparation; we also aim at development of patriotic spirit among the school students through sharing universal values and forming consciences for faithful citizenship. We realize that relevant talks shall be launched at school. We increased the funding sufficiently and funds allocated for the general education was 348 million GEL; growth of funding was over 54% and in 2016 it was 572 million GEL," - Prime Minister noted and indicated that with funding the education will become one of the top priorities.
The head of the Government stated that the wages of teachers have grown and will continue to grow; teachers' mean salary in 2017 will be 800 GEL; this is important and progress in this area will continue.
According to the Prime Minister, schoolchildren, students and scholars shall be in the limelight of system's Ministry's and Government's attention.
According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the Government has introduced the principle of allocating free books to schoolchildren, recovering school bus system at the villages, where pupils and teachers had to walk many kilometers to school; in the villages where pupils did not attend schools the attendance increased by 95% and this is a major achievement.
"We are drafting new strategy and the most important thing I would like to indicate is that we wish to strip the term "reform" off punitive connotations; we would like to link it to positive changes welcomed by and agreed with each of you; we are willing to administer reforms developed with your involvement and while taking into consideration your opinions; we do not wish to impose ideas that contradict your experience; your experience shall be the starting point of any step taken in the future. Today's meeting serves the purpose of hearing out your opinions and considering them in our future endevours," - Prime Minister noted in his conversation with the pedagogues.
Giorgi Kvirikashvili commended introduction of psychologist's service at schools, recovering the medical service as well as sports activities systems that are becoming increasingly wider and more available. The head of the Government also highlighted the inclusive education system that will become a focal point of the future policy measures to ensure that education is equally accessible to everyone.
According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, the Minister of Education has viable ideas concerning introduction of modern technologies in the education system thus streamlining the efforts of teachers. It is planned to introduce the concept of so called free lessons.
"These all will ensure streamlining of your activities and making the academic process much more interesting, attractive and entertaining. Thus the school will become a place where pupils are eager to go, where they can obtain education and have a normal talk with their teachers about any topic that bothers them. This is very important. For this purpose, it is intended to introduce the concept of free lessons, to enable schoolchildren and teachers discuss wide range of topics. As a result, we have to attain amelioration of the quality of education and requalification of the teachers. Tests and exams shall not be a punitive mechanism for the teachers, rather, pedagogues have to undergo preparatory procedures and be willing to obtain the certification of his/her increased qualification rather than be waiting for the exam with fear. I am convinced that we will achieve this. The profession of a teacher - as a central, strategic and determining career shall become rewarding and prestigious. This is our goal and I am sure that we will be able to realize it," - Prime Minister noted.
According to the head of the Government, renovation of the school infrastructure remains to be a top priority. Around 1600 public schools have been restored, whereas 10 new schools are being finalized and 10 have opened; it is also intended to fully rehabilitate around 100 public schools and arrange the natural science labs important for the quality of education; 12 such labs have already been arranged.
The Prime Minister also elaborated on 1990ies, when the pedagogues have to undergo difficult times and noted that his children attended school at this period.
"I can recall classrooms heated with Iranian ovens, I am sorry to be mentioning this, but I can recall teachers with food and austerity problems, but selflessly and vigorously taught future generations and as a result academic process was uninterrupted. Due to the energy and health of these people we can be proud of the younger generation. I mean the generation of my older child - a generation that we are rightfully proud of. I would like to thank you once again for this and I would like to bow my head before each of you. I would like to assure you that we will show you selflessness and an utmost respect for you. You will see in our words and in our actions that we fully comprehend an importance of education and that this is the top priority for the Government and this we will show you this with our words, actions, funding, attention and respect," - Prime Minister addressed the teachers.
500 pedagogues from various schools attended the Q&A meeting.