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Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Ministry of Education is the central governing body and oversees most decisions regarding education throughout the country. The ministry has 10 regions and the city of Tbilisi, which has a separate region. Each region has an education department, with 72 districts comprising the region, and there are local school administrators. The ministry is responsible for approving textbooks, courses, and curricula at all levels. It also licenses and certifies teachers, principals, and schools.

The office of the Ministry of Education experienced a fire several years ago and had insufficient funds to repair the building. Therefore, it works out of two separate buildings. Department heads are often separated from their staff and, with the energy crisis facing Tbilisi, telephones and electricity often do not work, making communication even among officials and staff difficult. The ministry has a few computers, but regional and local offices do not, nor do they have copy machines, so most still fill out forms, registrations, and records by hand.

Funding Sources: In responding to its charge of establishing budgets and overseeing financial matters, the ministry has taken zealous measures. In 1997, Parliament imposed a fee of 10 laris per month (about 8 U.S. dollars) for all but the top 30 percent of students attending public schools. The money is collected at the school level or deposited directly into a bank account set up by the ministry. However, the money does not stay at the school level. Schools are, in fact, forbidden to open their own bank accounts. Because the ministry plays such a significant role in the distribution of funds, having friends and connections at such a level can often increase a district's funding. Some schools have chosen to charge more than the required 10 laris and use the money to purchase heating fuel or pass it along in the form of a teacher's bonus.

A major cause of tight education budgets and inadequate funding for schools is the way the national education budget is spent. All money goes through the Ministry of Education and from there is dispersed to the rayons, the substructures of Georgian government. At the rayon level, the funds then go to local districts and finally to the schools. The triangular nature of the system allows for diversion of funds into noneducation functions. The Ministry of Education reportedly uses 40 percent of the national education budget for salaries, social contributions, and the "miscellaneous" category. In Tbilisi, the capital, 60 percent of the budget goes to personnel costs at the administrative level.

Other sources of budget disparity are the methods of revenue generation. While each rayon receives some funding from the national level, the rest must be generated locally through taxes and contributions. Rayons in rural areas are much poorer, and in some areas bartering and trading are more common than using money, causing real problems in generating money for schools. Consequently, schools in Tbilisi and other cities are much better equipped and in better condition. Since the Soviet period, local businesses have assisted and sponsored local schools, and some are still able to do this today, which greatly helps schools operate, especially the poorer schools in the regions. Other schools rent out space in the buildings to businesses to generate revenues.

Expenditures: Most school facilities in Georgia are fairly old and have not received much maintenance since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Ministry of Education estimates that over 80 percent of schools are in need of serious repair or reconstruction. Although schools in Tbilisi and other larger cities are in relatively good condition, many schools pose serious threats to students health, with no staircase railings; cracks in walls, ceilings, and hallways; peeling paint; broken windows; no running water; leaking roofs; and decaying, uncomfortable furniture. In rural areas, some schools do not have bathrooms. Fences have not been repaired, allowing animals to roam the schoolyards and creating unsanitary conditions. Some rural schools also lack basic teaching equipment including blackboards, desks, and books.

Lack of teaching materials has forced teachers to become creative in order to carry on their work. A number of teachers make teaching aids in their own homes or ask others to do so. For beginning grades some make alphabet letters and calendars out of cardboard. Most teachers, however, view creating their own teaching materials as something outside their defined roles and responsibilities, and consider it an extra burden forced on them by the lack of funds.

School buildings were constructed during the Soviet period, when energy was well below world price, and many buildings were not insulated. In the cities, there was an underground heating system provided free of charge to schools. In the post-Soviet era energy became scarce, and underground systems are no longer used. Each school is given funding for energy and water, but usually in name only. What money actually makes it to the individual schools is hardly adequate and not enough to install insulation or introduce new technology to conserve water. Consequently, schools are forced to find additional funds or simply close. In the cities, the school budget covers the purchase of some fuel for stoves or space heaters, and parents must provide additional money. In the rural areas, schools usually have wood-burning stoves, and students bring what wood or fuel they can contribute. During the coldest part of the winter schools often close for weeks or months due to lack of heating.

During Soviet times, a certain percentage of the government's funds was allocated for food in the education system. Three meals a day were provided in kindergarten and boarding schools. Meals in primary and vocational schools and university cafeterias were also subsidized. Even though the kindergartens can no longer afford to buy food and provide meals for their students, many still, under contracts, have to pay the kitchen staff. This redundancy of personnel, an ongoing problem at several levels, interferes with the efficiency of the educational system.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceGeorgia - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education