GEO

Children left without a kindergarten in the village of Taia

13 August, 2013

The village of Taia in Chkhorotsku Municipality lies in a highly mountainous zone. As well as the other problems caused by its inaccessible location, one of the most serious is the grave situation of its local, municipal kindergarten.

Due to lack of adequate space, the kindergarten serves only 15 kids, but 45 children of a pre-school age are living in the village and require schooling. Only the foundation has survived from the Taia kindergarten building, while the kindergarten is located on the ground floor of the former "Village Council" building, it requires a full renovation: walls are damaged, a floor is made of concrete, the ceiling and roof are out of order, rain water leaks into the rooms, windows cannot be opened and airing the room is impossible.

The kindergarten is short of many basic items such as chairs, desks, closets, toys. In cold weather it is heated by a firewood oven, but this only partly heats the room and because of the unhealthy, cold conditions many cases of various virus infections are recorded in the young students and the teachers. Were still is the unhygenic conditions of the kindergarten's kitchen, partitioned from the main room by a half-open wood planked wall. Due to lack of sufficient chairs and tables, during meal time children have to sit at the table to eat in turns.

There is no water supply to the kitchen or kindergarten. The lavatory is located in a yard also used by many employees of the village Gamgeoba. Sanitary-hygienic condition of the lavatory is extremely grave. Even a path leading to the lavatory is in an unusable condition. Internal roads are also in a bad condition, and therefore the kindergarten cannot open in cold and wet weather, which occurs frequently in this area.

According to village Trustee Poleri Morgoshia, the environment in the kindergarten is dangerous as for the children, as well as for the teachers. As part of the Rural Aid Program, this year 3,491 GEL are allocated for the kindergarten, but the administration still have not decided which specific works to perform with this money.

The Head of the "Union of Basic Education and Complex Sports School" of the Chkhorotsku Municipality Badri Keburia told the representative of Transparency International Georgia that the Municipality does not have any resources to renovate the kindergarten, and he says the situation in kindergartens in other villages is equally dire.

In July 2013, amendments and supplements were made to the Organic Law of Georgia on the "Local Self-Government", pursuant to which introducing a fee, tariff or some other payment for the basic educational and food services in the pre-school education institutions on the territory of a self-government unit shall be prohibited since September 1st (Organic Law of Georgia on the Local Self-Government, Article 462, Paragraph 1). The amendment enters into effect since 1 September 2013.

After implementing this change, the municipalities must fund the municipal kindergartens fully, from their own budgets. In view of scarce budgetary resources, increasing the funding of kindergartens is less likely. Accordingly, it is unclear how will the local self-government units accumulate these funds. Deputy Chair of the Faction "Georgian Dream - Republicans" of the Georgian Parliament Tinatin Khidasheli told the representative of Transparency International Georgia that "in case of due justification self-government units will receive equalizing transfers", which should be spent on filling the financial gap caused by cancellation of the kindergarten fees (paid by the parents).

According to the amendment made to the Law on the Local Self-Government, all kindergartens "must be supplied with a high-quality drinking water, as well as the hot water, heating and ventilation systems (Organic Law of Georgia on the Local Self-Government, Article 462, Paragraph 3, Sub-Paragraph 'd'). Hence, in view of existing situation we find it is crucial that the Government identifies resources for the stage-by-stage rehabilitation of municipal kindergartens in Georgia, as the pre-school education is a central foundation for a child's further development and education.

Notably, village Taia is not the only one where the basic kindergarten conditions are extremely grave. Kindergartens of other municipalities are coping with the similar situation. Further, a majority of municipal kindergartens lacks infrastructure allowing full access for the persons with disabilities.

Transparency International Georgia believes that the state should have a complex approach towards improving the situation in the kindergartens. Freeing parents from paying the so-called "increment" is important, but at the same time improving the infrastructure of kindergartens is also necessary.

Existing situation must be studied in-depth, and problems must be identified and classified in each kindergarten. It is important that the pre-school education is in full conformity with the primary-basic-secondary and higher education. The state should form such a system of pre-school education, which will make a child mentally and physically stronger in view of age-related specifics of a child's development, and will improve the functional abilities of a child's organism.

Author: TI Georgia