On 2 October 2014, at the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, Parliamentary Minority MP, Sergo Ratiani, elaborated upon the issue of the certification process of school principals and stated: “The Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia has been holding selections of school principals for two years. Only one candidate has been presented to about 80% of the school boards which means that the boards were not, in fact, given a choice whilst in Adjara, local structures did not take part in the selection process at all.”

FactCheck

took interest in Mr Ratiani’s statement and verified its accuracy.

FactCheck wrote

about the certification process of school principals earlier in the year as well. According to the 24 February 2011 Directive No. 25/N of the Minister of Education and Science of Georgia, the selection of school principals consists of two main stages; namely, certification and presenting candidates to school boards. The certification process itself consists of registration/testing (both of which are electronic) and personal interviews with the candidates.

In the period of the new government’s coming to office, the selection process started on 25 July 2013 and ended on 26 December 2013. A total of 981 candidates completed the certification process successfully. The Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia announced a new stage of the selection process at the beginning of 2014 with a total of 327 candidates completing the process.

FactCheck

addressed the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and requested the most recent information about the process of the selection of school principals. The response letter from the Ministry says that a total of 583 candidates have successfully completed all stages of the selection process (testing, personal interviews and presentation to school boards) as of today. Among them are those who obtained their school principal certificates in 2011 but were only able to face the commission in 2014. The letter also says that the selection process is on again at the moment and for this reason the Ministry does not yet possess complete information about the statistics in terms of all of the country’s regions. According to the Ministry, the presentations of the candidates to school boards have already been held in certain regions whilst they remain in progress in other regions.

The information on the type and number of schools which have been presented with their candidates can be found on the official website of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia. According to the aforementioned data, school boards in the following regions have already been presented with their candidates: Tbilisi, Rustavi, Telavi, Tsalenjikha, Zugdidi, Abasha, Senaki, Mtskheta, Bolnisi, Gardabani, Marneuli, Gori, Kutaisi, Batumi, Poti, Sighnaghi, Kvareli, Borough of Tianeti, Borough of Kazbegi, Sagarejo, Tskaltubo, Samtredia, Dusheti and Martvili. A total of 455 (which is 80% as stated by the MP) schools from the aforementioned regions have been presented with only one candidate.

The Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia gave two reasons for this situation. The first is the lack of qualified and certified candidates. The second is that the majority of candidates applied for the position of principal in only one or at most – two schools. Hence, the presentation of only one candidate to the majority of schools is directly owing to these reasons.

Sergo Ratiani pointed out in his interview with us that the lack of an appropriate number of qualified and certified candidates after almost two years of the selection process is already an enormous problem.

In a conversation with FactCheck,

Mariam Raminashvili, Co-Chair of the non-government organisation, Educational Alliance of Georgia, pointed out that making a final conclusion about the certification process of school principals is still too early as the process remains on-going; however, using the example of Tbilisi we can say that about 30% of city school boards have been presented with only one candidate even though in reality more than one candidate expressed interest in becoming a principal in certain schools and completed the appropriate electronic application form. As a result of this, about 90 candidates were blocked from the application process. For example, a total of 17 candidates sought to become principal of Public School No. 87 in Tbilisi although none of them were presented to the school board. It was also possible to present several candidates to the board of Public School No. 53 in Tbilisi although only one was actually given this opportunity.

It should also be pointed out that the directive regulating the rules of the selection process of school principals has been amended. According to the initial version of the directive, a candidate was able to fill in the form and indicate the desired school(s) for placement. After the amendment, a new Article 201 was added. According to this Article, the candidate is obliged to submit a strategic plan for the development of the school of his/her choice to a special commission before being presented to the school board. As a result, the aforementioned commission decides whether or not to present a certified principal to the board. Mariam Raminashvili considers this amendment to be “another instrument to block candidates.” According to her, this is an artificial barrier which enables the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia to hinder the presentation to school boards of those who they deem to be unfavourable candidates. However, FactCheck

cannot endorse that this amendment was indeed introduced solely to block unfavourable candidates.

Conclusion

A total of 80% of public school boards have been presented with only one candidate for the position of school principal. The directive regulating the rules of the selection process of school principals has been amended. As a result, an additional barrier, in the form of an interview, has been created for the candidates as a part of this process.

According to the previous rules, the presentation of a candidate to a school board was based upon the applicant’s completing the application form and presenting all of the necessary documents. In addition, the candidate was required to submit a school development strategy to the school board as a part of the selection process. According to the new rules, an additional procedure in the form of a personal interview has been created in which the candidate is obliged to present the development strategy to an additional commission.

FactCheck concludes that Sergo Ratiani’s statement: “The Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia has been holding selections of school principals for two years. Only one candidate has been presented to about 80% of the school boards which means that the boards were not, in fact, given a choice,” is MOSTLY TRUE.

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