On December 6, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) addressed the Ministry of Education with recommendations on how to make the selection process for school principals fairer and more legitimate. The statement was released on the second day of a round-the-clock protest and hunger strike by teachers in front of the ministry.
Around 1,200 public schools are currently run by acting principals. In only 593 cases did the Ministry of Education present a candidate to the school’s board of trustees, which subsequently approved the principal. In 927 schools, only one candidate was nominated by the Ministry, despite the availability of several applicants, causing dissatisfaction among aspiring principals, schools and the education community. CSOs have previously criticized the flawed selection process and subsequent decisions, and have made detailed recommendations that haven’t been acknowledged or acted upon by the Ministry.
The civil society organizations call on the Ministry of Education to hold another round of elections in schools where no candidate has been presented by the Ministry. They also call for a change in the regulations governing the selection of school principals, advising the Ministry to allow eligible candidates to present themselves to the Board of Trustees without having to go through the Ministry’s interview process.
Regarding the 162 candidates who passed the written exam but failed to pass the interview, the CSOs urge the Ministry to hold another round of interviews and allow the successful candidates to participate in the re-elections. The statement also notes that in schools where there are no certified candidates for principal, the Minister should use his discretion to select a certified candidate. In cases where uncertified candidates aren’t selected, the Minister’s use of discretion should be well explained.
The CSOs also urge the Ministry to establish a special commission composed of the Public Defender, representatives of CSOs of high repute, education specialists and other credible people, which will develop the new regulation on the selection and election process for school principals; hold another round of interviews for candidates who passed the written exam and failed the interviews; develop a strategy to create a system of continuous professional development for school principals. The documents developed by the Commission should be implemented by the Government of Georgia, the Parliament and the Ministry of Education.
“We call on the Ministry of Education and Science to take into consideration the above mentioned recommendations as soon as possible and to start taking effective measures in order not to endanger the health of the protesting people and to avoid aggravation of the situation… From our side, we once again express our readiness to participate and mediate in the processes,” – reads the statement.
Signatory organization: Education Coalition; Center for Civil Integration and Inter-Ethnic Relations – CCIIR; International Society for Fair Elections And Democracy – ISFED; Caucasus Open Space – COS; Social Justice Center – SJC; Parents for Education; Sapari; Civic Movement for Freedom; Georgian Democracy Initiative – GDI; Meeting Place – Dmanisi; Free Association; Transparency International – Georgia; Human Rights Center; Democracy Defenders; Civic Education and Rehabilitation Center – CERC; Families Against Discrimination; Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association – GYLA; Georgia’s Future Academy – GFA; Partnership for Human Rights – PHR.