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Ombudsman says bill on early and pre-school education lacks ‘vital’ parts

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, March 17
The Ombudsman, Ucha Nanuashvili, has released a statement claiming that on February 3 he addressed the Speaker of Parliament with a proposal to make amendments to the bill on early and pre-school upbringing and education.

The amendments were prepared by the Public Defender’s Office on the basis of the results of monitoring carried out in pre-school institutions, as well s the analysis of international legal standards and surveys amongst the public.

Parliament approved the bill in the first reading, but as Nanuashvili says they did not take into consideration the Public Defender’s most important recommendations.

The Ombudsman says his monitoring of pre-school institutions in 2014 identified a number of systemic flaws. Problems were found in the proper development of a training system for early and preschool education teachers, the introduction of unified standards in pre-school education and compulsory teaching methodology at the normative level, close cooperation with local self-governments in implementation of retraining of personnel of pre-school institutions, the formation of educational groups and the creation of children's needs-based training infrastructure. The monitoring also showed that 70 percent of the staff of pre-school establishments exert psychological pressure on children, while physical punishment is acceptable for 40 percent of staff.

Nanushvili says the bill does not envisage the following ‘vital’ directions:

- A national system of training and re-training of teachers of pre-school education; the bill does not define the agencies responsible for the preparation and professional training of teachers.

- A system of monitoring standards; the bill obliges a number of Ministries to develop national standards and technical regulations and submit them to the Government for approval, though the document does not oblige the Ministries to monitor their spheres.

- In a situation wherein the violation of sanitary-hygienic and food organizational rules in the early and pre-school facilities is rather a problematic issue and carries increased public interest, the bill does not include a special provision for ensuring targeted control of the rules, Ombudsman says.

According to the bill, the law shall come into effect in September 2017. The current legislation does not provide for effective mechanisms for regulating early pre-school education before the bill takes effect. In addition, there is increased public interest in the issues that must be regulated by the bill. At the same time, by the technical assistance from UNICEF, it is planned to complete working on documents of technical regulations and relevant standards for activating the law by September 2016, which gives the hope for reasonable expectation that the law may take effect this year. Specifically, according to the Public Defender, the bill on early and pre-school upbringing and education should take effect in September 2016, instead of September 2017.

The Public Defender called on the Government and Parliament to consider the aforementioned recommendations during consideration of the bill in the second reading, which will make it possible to introduce a unified system of pre-school establishments and will promote unimpeded realization of child's right to education and decent development.

The recommendations provided by Nanuashvili are of the utmost importance and cover all the problems found in early and pre-school education.

Providing a quality education from young ages has been shown to be vital in a child's overall development.