Research on Education of IDP Children in Georgia

On 29 March the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) held a presentation in Tbilisi of the research report “Not Displaced, Out-of-Place – Education of IDP children in Georgia”. The research project examines the academic performance of children in so-called Abkhaz public IDP schools in comparison with children in local schools. The research was conducted in the 13 remaining Abkhaz public schools for IDPs that were established in the early 1990s, in the newly established Tserovani School for children displaced from South Ossetia, and in local schools.

The main finding from the research shows that IDP children are disadvantaged in the education system. It has, however, more to do with their economic situation than their IDP status. Pupils from Abkhaz public schools do relatively well in some science subjects, but worse in others. A consequence is that the amount of pupils from Abkhaz public schools that enter higher education is lower than the amount of pupils from local schools.

For different reasons it has long been the case that many pupils use private tutors to be better prepared for the national entry exams (NEE). Private tutors are considered the primary factor that determines success in the NEEs. As IDP families are generally poorer than non-IDP families, they are less able to afford private tutors, leaving the pupils less well-prepared for the NEE. Moreover, research shows that performance is strongly related to conditions in the schools and at home. For many pupils in Abkhaz public school, neither the schools nor the homes provide an environment conducive to studying. The report shows that Abkhaz public schools are in worse state than local schools, and in some cases even dangerous.

As a positive finding, the research shows that IDPs are discriminated against to a lesser extent today than a couple of years ago. It differs between the regions, though: the situation is best in Tbilisi, whilst in other places discrimination against IDP children is significant. As a result, parents move their children from local schools to Abkhaz public schools. It raises the questions whether Abkhaz public schools should be closed down in order to avoid a segregated system, or if they should remain as a way of ensuring that IDP children get to go to school in an environment free of discrimination.

The audience agreed that the most preferable solution is to improve the standard in the Abkhaz public schools, thus also attracting non-IDPs. As a summarizing remark, the audience also called for the Georgian government to step up and spend more money on education. According to statistics from UNESCO, Georgia is one of the former Soviet countries that spends smallest part of the budget on education. In 2007 Georgia spent 2.7 percent of the GDP on education, in comparison to for example 6.6 percent in Kyrgyzstan and 5.3 percent in Ukraine.

Read more about education of IDP children on NRC Georgia‘s website. You will also find several articles on education in Georgia here on the blog site.

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