Political appointment of public school principals is an unlawful and inadmissible practice - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Political appointment of public school principals is an unlawful and inadmissible practice

16 October, 2023

The Ministry of Education and Science has begun the process of selection of public school principals, which, in the opinion of TI Georgia, aims to select school principals based on political loyalty and possibly to use them for electoral purposes.

The Ministry has nominated only a single candidate to the school boards of the absolute majority of more than 900 public schools across Georgia for the position of the principal, excluding a number of applicants from elections. This creates a clearly non-competitive environment and deprives the school boards of a free choice.

Representatives of TI Georgia have talked with several former principals and those applicants for the principal’s position who were not nominated at any of the schools. All of them believe that the process is politicized and that the decisive factor at the time of nomination was precisely their or their family members’ political views.

Students and teachers of public schools in the municipalities of Ozurgeti and Chkhorotsku have  protested against this decision, assessing it as politically motivated.  

In a study published in 2022 which analyzed documents provided by a whistleblower, TI Georgia wrote about instances of discrimination of public school principals on political grounds. It is likely that the ruling party, together with the State Security Service, compiled political dossiers on them and conducted personnel policies on their basis. Specifically, from the fall of 2020 to August 2021, the Ministry of Education and Science refused to appoint the principals of at least 112 public schools as acting principals after the termination of their terms; 95 of the principals figured in the documents provided by the whistleblower: the State Security Service gave a negative assessment to 89 dismissed principals, the ruling party – to 80 principals, and the Education Resource Centers – to 29 principals. These data showed that the assessments of the State Security Service and the ruling party were decisive for the dismissal of principals, which is an unlawful and absolutely unacceptable practice.

The current process of nomination of candidates for the positions of school principals that is taking place in a non-competitive environment raises legitimate doubts that the goal of the authorities is to appoint school principals who are loyal to the ruling party, so that they can easily use the administrative resources in the 2024 parliamentary elections. At the time of nomination of the candidates for principals’ positions, the decisive factor should be their competence and qualifications, not their goodwill towards the ruling party.