Shashkin to award stars to schools07.02.2011 | 16:29
As proposed by Georgia's education ministry, Georgian schools will have a star classification system like hotels or restaurants. 1-10 evaluation is supposed to facilitate choice of an educational institution for parents. Why are people so displeased with this initiative taking it as another attempt to eliminate remaining islands of free-thinking among Georgian teachers? GeorgiaTimes asked Petre Mamradze, a parliament deputy and a well-known education expert, to answer this question.
Dmitry Shashkin, Georgian minister of education and science, has long been obsessed with the idea of school branding. He constantly speaks about the need to classify the country's educational institutions. Though it is completely clear that this is just a way to disguise incapability of one of Saakashvili's most favorite ministers to cope with the responsibilities he undertook two years ago. Sure he doesn't cope since before that he worked as minister of punishment execution, probation and legal assistance requiring much less tact. But even ministers must handle oncoming generation with care. But in his new position Shashkin deserves Mr. Misfit award.
Most proposals the current education minister makes reveal his past occupation as the country's chief prison-keeper. For instance, the experiment to introduce superintendents in schools. Now they have more authority than school principals. Besides, Shashkin's speeches on protesting schoolchildren sound as if referred to the behavior of prisoners. However, it is obvious that Shashkin's appointment was required for creating the atmosphere of fear and servility among the country's teachers. Georgian authorities want to have non-free, frightened people as teachers so that they could bring up equally obedient, accommodating and never contradicting citizens.
The upcoming distribution of "stars" to Georgian schools is aimed at making heads of educational institutions totally dependent on the authorities. Lack of distinct criteria of ranging makes this process a most convenient method of manipulating teaching staff. For general public the loss of a "star" would look a milder punishment than dismissal of teachers though in reality it will force them to lose their jobs. Apparently, low-rated schools are doomed: hardly would a parent be glad to send his or her child there.
Georgian parliament deputy Petre Mamradze, former head of All Georgian Union of Teachers, agrees that Dmitry Shashkin's initiative offers nothing good to the country's educational sphere. "Presently we have an active politicization process that concerns all activities of educational institutions. Literally everyone whom I have spoken too condemns introduction of this system", - he emphasized in an interview with GeorgiaTimes correspondent.
Mamradze explaines that according to him it is inadmissible that the state "label" schools. "Certainly, each school has a reputation, different levels of popularity. But I haven't seen any government (not school-goers or their parents, I mean) labeling schools", - the Georgian parliamentarian remarked.
According to the deputy, decision to assign "stars" means that in future Georgian schools will be divided into groups depending on "eligibility". "Schools with principals that will be loyal to the country's authorities will be given top marks", - Mamradze is sure.
The deputy considers it unlikely that personnel of educational institutions will launch large-scale protests over Dmitry Shashkin's ruinous idea. However, Mamradze adds, pursuit of this wrong policy is fraught with the rise in oppositional sentiment among teachers.
"Now anyone who dares to express personal opinion in contradiction to the official position is fired. No matter whether it was expressed publicly or not - the authorities seek total control. Here is an absolutely absurd example of a foreign teacher named Fletcher who uploaded his porno photos on Facebook distributing them among his pupils. When local teachers reported on this fact they were all were fired, - he said. - Anywhere else such a situation would be impossible - even in most progressive countries where gay rights are fully protected. Perversion is banned everywhere. And here even our minister apologized to him. So for the time being no one will protest; this is not a matter of fear - just a practical position: it's almost unreal to find a new job. But soon people will lose patience completely".