The Shahin Friendship School Facing Closure - Political Influence?
08 February, 2017
The Shahin Friendship School Facing Closure - Political Influence?
As the whole nation celebrated the visa liberalization nod from Brussels on February 3, a rather peculiar, conveniently-timed nay slipped under most people’s radar.
The R. Shahin Friendship School in Batumi, among the most in-demand schools in the whole country, was denied authorization (meaning suspension if the decision is enforced) by the General Educational Authorization Council of Georgia of the National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement.

The decision is being questioned and protested by most parents and school authorities, and allegations are ripe that it was politically motivated.

Fingers are pointed at Turkey, as President Erdogan’s government, which barely survived a coup attempt, is increasing political pressure on the countries where his arch-rival, Fethullah Gulen, still maintains a foothold. Georgia is an eligible candidate as such a country, as it hosts several educational facilities with alleged links to Gulen’s Hizmet movement and their educational network called Çaglar.

The Shahin Friendship School is undoubtedly perceived as one such facility by Turkish leadership, well demonstrated by the outright hostile statement by the Turkish consul in Batumi, two days after the attempted coup, calling for the Georgian government to close down facilities “belonging to Gulen’s educational network”, where, as he claimed, children are being raised as terrorists.

The Turkish Embassy’s diplomatic attempt to defuse the situation by claiming that it was a journalistic misunderstanding did little to alleviate the apparent confusion, as the journalist in question released the original version of the recording. Shortly after, Prime Minister Kvirikashvili paid Ankara and the Turkish President an official visit, with general consensus among experts and opinion-makers alike that “revision” of Gulen-linked facilities would be a major talking point between the two sides.

With Georgia being a sovereign country, an incident of perceived foreign pressure (albeit nothing new) is an alarming development, especially considering that as recently as September 2015, the very same National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement found no fault on their monitoring mission to the Shahin Friendship School and had no qualms about granting it authorization, a status which, as GEORGIA TODAY has come to know from third sources, is now subject to dispute due to its “inherent illegality and lack of necessary documentation.”

However, far more pressing is another question – Is the Shahin Friendship School, as the Turkish government seems to think, a breeding ground for terrorism, or, for that matter, “a tool for Turkization” (ano
ther allegation hurled at the school by those trying to justify its suspension)?

If the overwhelming majority of parents and school officials are to be believed, it is neither. The teaching program in the school is in full compliance with Georgia’s national education program, while 95 percent of the school’s pupils are Georgian, and Turkish isn’t even a mandatory language, while Western languages such as English, German and French are taught at higher intensity.

“My children go that school and my wife is a certified teacher,” one parent told GEORGIA TODAY. “She teaches TOEFL courses there; it’s one of the very few schools in Georgia that offers such advanced teaching. For eight years, we haven’t heard a single complaint registered by a parent. Unlike most schools, private or public, this one actually guarantees both safety and a good education, and closing it down is going to bring only harm.”

And that raising terrorists issue? Well, so far, there are none. Oh, wait – The private Demirel College, also linked to the Çaglar network and which experienced authorization struggles of its own last summer, has, among others, one notable alumni: Georgia’s biggest export to NBA and world basketball in general – Zaza Pachulia. So far, he hasn’t exhibited any large-scale violent behavior (that is, apart from on the court where he frequently scares the living hell out of his opponents) or any signs of being “Turkicized”. Go figure.

Education, Culture and Sports Minister of Adjara, Inga Shamilishvili has already said that the students of Shahin School will be transferred to other educational institutions.

“We will wait for the final decision of the General Educational Authorization Council of Georgia and after this will discuss the issue with the Education Ministry of Georgia,” he said.

Georgia’s Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili, also commented on the issue, saying the decision of the National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement should be well-grounded before action is taken.

“Developments in our neighboring country should not affect Georgian educational institutions,” Nanuashvili added.

While NGO Tolerance and Diversity Institute has its eyes and ears on the case, the protesting parents wait for the final verdict. The school administration has already voiced its intention to take the case to court if the decision remains enforced. They have also issued an open letter (See page 8).

As for Georgia’s Ministry of Education, at present it seems far too occupied tackling the challenges posed by fairytale heroes to comment on the above controversial decisions.

R. Shahin was the former Minister of Agriculture of Turkey, of Georgian ancestry.

By Vakhtang Maisaia

Source: Georgia Today
Print
Other Stories
Exceeded acoustic noise during night hours banned  in Georgia
The amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses have come into force from today,
Georgia to ban selling junk food at schools from September
Selling unhealthy food in school buffets will be prohibited from September.
Georgian restaurant opens in Japan
Recently, a Georgian wine bar-restaurant opened in Osaka, Japan.
Tiffany Terrace - One of the most beautiful and romantic places in Tbilisi
Searching for ideal place with breathtaking view on Old Tbilisi for spending good time?
15 Georgian scientists working in world’s leading laboratories and universities
In the European Council for Nuclear Research, in the laboratory of CERN, where thousands of scientists are trying to discover the secret of world’s creation, Georgian scientists have been working successfully for years already.
Famous Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili captured with Orlando Bloom in Paris
Khatia Buniatishvili, renowned Georgian pianist and Orlando Bloom, a world-famous actor and Miranda Kerr's ex-husband, have been captured together by paparazzi in Paris.
Mtkvari River surroundings to be arranged with greenery and floating terraces
Turning the Mtkvari River into a recreational zone is one part of Tbilisi's development strategy.
Tbilisi to turn into a Green City
Tbilisi City Hall has developed an action plan to improve ecological conditions in the city.
Around 100 electric vehicle charging stations to be set up in Georgia this year
By the end of 2017, up to 100 charging stations for the electric cars will be installed throughout Georgia.
Special places for dog walking will be arranged in Tbilisi
Special places for dog walking will be arranged in certain parks and squares in Tbilisi.
Georgian scientist examining latest methods of cancer treatment in the U.S.
A young Georgian scientist is working on the latest methods of cancer treatment in the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
   First private observatory to open in Bazaleti soon
The first private observatory is being constructed in Bazaleti, Georgia.
Tramway or over-ground metro to connect Tbilisi and Rustavi
Tbilisi and Rustavi may be interconnected by tramway or over-ground metro,
24-year-old Georgian researcher to lead blockchain technology research center in China
Tamar Menteshashvili is a researcher at the Jiao Tong University, in Shanghai, China.
Disaster that changed the life of Tbilisi - 2 years from June 13 flood
21 people dead and 2 still missing, dozens of animals drowned or killed by police as they roamed the city streets and more than 200 families’ properties damaged
Tram restoration project ready and will cost 130 million euros
'There will be the time when the tram project is highly required' - Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania has told InterPressNews agency.
‘Rustavi 2’ TV Director General resigns
‘Rustavi 2’ TV Director General Nika Gvaramia has left office. The TV Company has confirmed this information.
Georgian Airways Launches Tbilisi-London Flights
From now Tbilisi and London are linked with a new direct flight by Georgian Airways.
Georgian student gets $250 000 scholarship from University of Pennsylvania
Georgian student, Meri Kavtelishvili, who this year graduated from the Komarov School with Gold Medal, has been admitted by four leading universities
“Georgian Association of Social Workers” to present winning projects of CSOs for improved child and family services
The Georgian Association of Social Workers will hold a press-conference on June 2nd, 11:00 to present the winning projects of Georgian CSOs
Georgian student who paints with bacteria earns third place at Microbiology Art Contest
Georgian student of veterinary department, who is famous for creating artworks using bacteria
Patriarch to Georgian emigrants: “I urge you to stay where you are, but at the same time be in your homeland”
The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II addressed Georgian emigrants attending the Diaspora Forum taking place in Tbilisi,
May 17: Anti-Homophobia and Family Purity Day events take place simultaneously in Georgia
May 17th features two different events: one part of the society marks the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) in Georgia
76 years together – Adjarian couple and their 162 descendants
In the village of Garetke, in Adjara’s Merisi gorge, there live 94-year-old Zekie and 95-year-old Hasan Turmanidzes,
Bicycle Lanes to Be Laid in Tbilisi
Tbilisi will soon boast its own cycle paths and infrastructure, enabling riders to safely navigate the city in specifically modified areas.
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
21.08.2017
22.08.2017
USD
1
USD
2.3895
2.3910
EUR
1
EUR
2.8067
2.8099
GBP
1
GBP
3.0808
3.0818
RUB
100
RUB
4.0213
4.0530
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Other Stories
Last month nearly a million international travelers visited Georgia
Famous pop singer Rihanna who is a big fan of Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia,
Today Georgia marks the day of a highest significance in the country’s history.
So-called Night Wolves, Russian motorcycle club, has arrived at Vake Park.
In the frames of the media-program conducted by IREX and US Embassy to Georgia,
Ani Tsitsishvili is a 20-year-old student of Georgia’s Agricultural University veterinary department and she’s very fond of microbiology.
More and more Georgian alternative musical bands are emerging on the scene.
Wooden products are gaining popularity on Georgian market, including glasses, watches, bags, etc. A new item was added to that list recently – bows made of natural wood.
Georgian citizens will be able to enter the EU without a visa for short stays, under a new law passed by the Parliament on Thursday, - Official website of European Parliament reports.
The heavy fire has entirely destroyed the building of a trade centre Chidren’s World last night.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.3910
EUR
1
EUR
2.8099
GBP
1
GBP
3.0818
RUB
100
RUB
4.0530