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Georgia Closes Gülen-Affiliated School in Tbilisi

The National Center for Education Quality Enhancement (NCEQE), an agency at the Georgian Ministry of Education, which studies conformity of educational institutions with standards set by the Georgian legislation, decided to close down the Private Demirel College in Tbilisi, operated by the Chaglar Educational Institutions, a Gülen-affiliated network in Georgia.

The NCEQE authorization council decided not to renew the school “authorization,” a certificate required for any institution to carry out high educational activities in Georgia, at its meeting on August 29, citing problems with teacher and student registration, as well as the school infrastructure and equipment.

In the words of Revaz Apkhazava, one of the members of the NCEQE authorization council, the school had “numerous problems” and its closure had nothing to do with “the political question.”

“The school enrolled Turkish citizens (students) in violation of Georgian legislation; it registered in a very short period of time that the students completed the Georgian-language program, which is a nonsense… the student registration procedures were not well-organized as well,” Apkhazava told Civil.ge and added that the monitoring carried out at the College documented the illegal registration of 87 such students.

The Ministry of Education commented on the matter as well.

Nata Asatiani, head of the Public Relations Department, stated that the College had “violations,” and added that the Ministry would assist in transferring the students and teachers to other schools in Tbilisi.

“We have reached out to a number of private schools and they have expressed readiness to accept Private Demirel College students and teachers,” Asatiani noted.

The decision comes slightly over three months after the detention of Mustafa Emre Çabuk, one of the managers of the Private Demirel College. Çabuk was detained on May 24 at the request of Turkish authorities and was sent to three-month pre-extradition detention by the Tbilisi City Court a day later. On August 23, the Tbilisi City Court upheld the prosecution’s motion and extended Çabuk’s detention period by three months.

The Private Demirel College is the second Gülen-affiliated educational institution to have been shut by the Georgian Ministry of Education in 2017.

The NCEQE authorization council cancelled the school “authorization” of Batumi Refaiddin Şahin Friendship School on February 3, on the grounds that the school compliance monitoring revealed “significant problems with respect to student enrolment.”

The Private Demirel College was founded in 1993 pursuant to the agreement of former Georgian and Turkish Presidents Eduard Shevardnadze and Suleyman Demirel, respectively.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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