On 9 September 2020, Nino Lomjaria, Public Defender of Georgia, presented a special report on the results of the monitoring carried out in preschool educational institutions. The report was prepared with the support of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) within the framework of a project - Strengthening the Capacity of the Center for the Rights of the Child - and reflects the results of the monitoring of the rights situation of children in preschool institutions of Georgia.
The Department of the Rights of the Child of the Public Defender's Office monitored 143 kindergartens in Tbilisi and other cities, towns and villages, including mountainous regions of Georgia, to examine the situation in public preschool institutions and compliance with national and international standards of protection of the rights of the child.
"The monitoring made it clear that the situation had improved after the monitoring conducted by the Public Defender's Office in 2014, mainly in terms of healthy and balanced food, as well as special nutritional needs. However, despite the efforts of the state and municipalities, a number of issues remain in kindergartens unresolved, which require more efforts from the relevant structures," said the Public Defender.
"Children cam study and develop in a safe and stimulating environment, which requires adequate hygiene conditions, infrastructure, nutrition and protection from violence. Despite the adoption of national standards in 2017, the monitoring of preschools showed that many of them do not have the necessary safe internal or external infrastructure, water, sanitation or hygiene conditions, which are necessary to ensure the well-being and development of children. "These issues are even more problematic in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and they could serve as additional barriers to access to pre-school education," said Amy Clancy, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Georgia.
The challenges identified as a result of the monitoring are mainly related to the infrastructure of preschool institutions, educational items and arrangement of yards; the lack of qualified staff and overcrowding remain problematic as well.
The findings of the study were presented by Maia Gedevanishvili, Head of the Department of the Rights of the Child of the Public Defender's Office, and Lika Gvinjilia, member of the monitoring group.
According to the report, the following trends have been identified:
- Children's needs are limited due to insufficient space, especially in kindergartens located in non-standard buildings;
- Kindergartens are not fully adapted to the needs of children with disabilities and can not ensure their full involvement;
- In the vast majority of kindergartens, yards are not arranged in accordance with the needs and safety of children;
- Insufficient fortunate, which is especially acute in relation to bedrooms, classrooms and dining rooms;
- Kindergartens are rarely supplied with toys appropriate to the age and number of children;
- Bathrooms are not arranged according to the needs of children and especially according to the needs of children with disabilities; the space and furniture do not correspond to the number of children. In addition, bathrooms in some kindergartens are not supplied with hot water;
- Most teachers have not been trained in child abuse issues, which hampers detection of and timely response to violence;
- 34% of inspected kindergartens have children with disabilities, but only 14.2% of them have a position of a special teacher;
- Geographical accessibility is also a problem; children are transported to nearby kindergartens only in 75% of the villages.
The Public Defender hopes that the recommendations developed as a result of this monitoring will be taken into account by the relevant agencies, which will significantly improve the rights situation of children in preschool institutions.
Source: Office of the Public Defender, Georgia