Public Defender’s Statement on Managing Educational Process in General Education Institutions during Pandemic
On January 29, 2021, the Public Defender of Georgia issued a statement on educational process, thus responding, inter alia, to the decision of the Interagency Coordination Council of January 22, 2021. The statement indicated the shortcomings and challenges identified in the educational process in the context of the pandemic, as well as the measures to be taken in this direction. According to the Public Defender, to date, the measures taken by the State to manage the educational process in general education institutions are not sufficiently consistent and fail to provide the necessary conditions for the virus prevention.
- The Ministry has not presented a unified action plan for the effective management of the educational process in schools, rapid response to the deficiencies identified or planning of relevant measures on the basis of the needs identified. According to the general recommendations adopted by the agency, schools should develop their own emergency action plan in the context of the pandemic, which is not sufficient for the existence of a unified vision or approach.
- No complete information is provided on the sanitary-hygienic or infrastructural problems of general education institutions of Georgia. According to the statement of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia of February 7, 2021, toilets in about 800 schools have been completely renovated and the rehabilitation of more than 100 public schools has started. However, this cannot be considered enough, as according to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, at the beginning of the 2019/2020 academic year, there were a total of 2,313 general education institutions (schools) in Georgia, including 2,086 public and 227 private.
- Given the limited resources of schools, the monitoring of social distancing and flow management is challenging in large schools. There may also be risks associated with the fact that students of I-IV grades are not required to wear a mask, which is one of the most effective preventive measures against the spread of the virus.
Therefore, it is important for the State to have a unified policy document, action plan and comprehensive information on the needs of each general education institution in the country and to plan the educational process accordingly. At the same time, both financial and human resources should be allocated for schools in order to enable them to effectively implement preventive measures under the conditions of enhanced monitoring by the responsible agencies.