Public Defender Says 189 Public Schools Threaten Children’s Safety

Georgian Public Defender (Ombudsman) Ucha Nanuashvili has addressed the government with a request to improve the infrastructure of public schools and to implement necessary measures for the safety of school pupils.

The Ombudsman stressed that the buildings of 189 public schools are damaged across Georgia, posing a threat to the safety of the children.

“In 2016-2017, the Public Defender’s Office has been actively studying the infrastructural situation and physical environment of general educational institutions,” he stated. “It has been revealed that conditions in a significant number of general educational institutions are not safe for pupils. The situation is particularly grave in high mountainous regions and rural areas”.

42,394 pupils currently study in damaged buildings, and although “some measures” are being taken for the safety of students in the damaged schools, the Ombudsman claims that such measures, in most cases, cannot ensure the proper safety of pupils.

In 2016, 209 public schools were functioning in damaged buildings, 42 of which are beyond repair.

“Almost all public schools need some form of repair and rehabilitation,” Nanuashvili noted.

Some new public schools were constructed in different regions of Georgia in the period of 2015-2017, but the number “is small”.

Preliminary data suggests that of the planned construction of public schools, 22 were started and only eight actually completed within the framework of the 2015-2017 Infrastructure Development Plan of the Educational and Scientific Infrastructure Development Agency.

The Public Defender welcomed the fact that the rehabilitation of 35 public schools and partial rehabilitation of 518 public schools is planned within the framework of the 2017 Action Plan for Educational and Scientific Infrastructure Development.

“However, it is necessary for the process to be implemented in a more timely manner and for the start of the 2017 autumn semester not to be hampered,” he added, going on to underline that the State must take all necessary measures to ensure the relevant standards in general educational institutions.

“The infrastructure of general education institutions should be improved and the educational inventory should be upgraded, particularly in rural areas and mountainous regions,” he concluded.

Thea Morrison

31 August 2017 18:12