Mikheil Saakashvili met the certified teachers at newly opened school in Tadzrisi
First of all I would like to congratulate you on the opening of a new school. I know that several weeks had passed since the studies begun here. I recall year 2008, when the issue of our statehood was under a question mark and larger part of our territories were occupied then our enemy had occupied until now. We had gathered and this request was very strong for me that time as well - not to stop the construction of schools and educational process. To continue what we had promised you - invest very important amounts in our educational system. This of course was made intentionally.
Your village looks like many other Georgian villages, with still huge economic hardship, partially with no roads and with many unresolved social problems. One thing is that we must get used to what we already have - for example this is a standard and we have to continue living like this; and second is to give a chance to the children living here to achieve something in their lives, to overcome poverty, for them never to have a problem of feeding their own families, adjust to modern live and reach success. The situation is very specific, but at the same time it needs generalization.
In August 2008 Georgia carried out a hot phase of a war for independence. We were attacked and after this big war happened the process of gaining independence for Georgia went more rapidly and more irreversibly.
Our enemy received absolutely opposite results. They started the war to win it and as a result after this was we got a country standing on the way to independence and this way is absolutely irreversible. We have got more rapid processes as a result. They had occupied a very essential and indivisible part of our country - more than one third of our Black Sea region - but Russia terminated every possible way for the independence of these regions, by recognizing them as independent states.
In reality, it tries the reanimation of Soviet Union on these occupied territories, but at the same time it had finally lost the chance of Soviet Union's reanimation. Accordingly, it had finally lost a chance to return Georgia back to the interior of Empire. Georgia will strengthen its independence and of course could manage to return its territories. This process is irreversible and it is our mission. The rest of the world supports us in this.
Independence consists of many elements and the major foundation of our independence is education. It is rather important for our children what you do here than simply share whatever the manuals teach them. We are creating new Georgian statehood, the identity of Georgian statehood, which never existed before. So, coming from it all our education system, which is in the process of construction in regards of prospects is ten times more important in respect of politics than activities carried out by some high officials, any political party, Parliament or the President.
We are creating education system that defines and gives birth a totally new mentality here in Georgia.
What does firming of our independence mean?
We are firming our independence by abolishing corruption once and for all, because in this specific case it is connected to Russia and the space of empire.
Even today, many people do not understand how one can be at certain position and not be corrupted. We know that corruption no longer exists on the streets, but it has to be somewhere. How is it possible that Saakashvili and his wasteful team waste these positions?
First of all you cannot ask any single policeman, any single prosecutor, any single head of administration to be honest. Who will help you in making money? Exactly by help of this policeman, prosecutor or head of administration.
Fish smells from the very beginning and all these tales about a corruption existing somewhere are based exactly on mentality that our country didn't belong to us. So if you stole money to someone and in this case it was political bureau you would go there bringing brandy, you would rub the funds and if you were able to steal something, it would not create a problem for you. If you would share it with someone - you were considered to be a good fellow, but in case if you would use it all - still you would be a good fellow, the main thing was that you stole that money from them. This psychology was substituted by contemporary playing rules.
When we are speaking about getting over corruption, it is not enough if people do not take bribes only - important thing is that cadres must be selected based on the principles of selection and competition. So to say - not the relatives and friends have to be appointed on various positions, but dignified people have to be appointed. Selection should be based on the competition that would be transparent for everyone.
All tenders should be electronic. This school was built through a tender.
People often ask how tenders are won or lost? It is very simple - everyone have computers, at least in this school. If someone would offer us better price for the same conditions - they will win the tender. It is not necessary to go to different offices in Tbilisi - this is second basic of fighting with corruption.
We have managed to defeat criminal in Georgia. I often say that my mission is to have crime-free Georgia. We have 5 times less crime-rate in Georgia that in Russia and 30 percent less than in Germany. By the way now there are more cases in foreign counties, when Georgians commit crimes. Why? Because criminals have no place in Georgia and unfortunately we have done their export.
We had managed to clean the country from criminal and corruption and now we try to construct ecologically clean country despite the fact that we are in extreme hardship.
No one tortures prisoners any longer. Most probably you remember that the only place in country where electricity existed was police building. They were torturing people with electric devices and the prisoners used to write anything they wanted. Later they would make them pay money and liberate them from prisons.
This is exactly what we had changed. We had decreased criminal, abolished corruption, attitude towards state institutions had significantly changed by doing it all we are getting rid of empire space.
It is true that it was corruption at universities, but you could possibly ask why we are speaking about schools? Maybe people were obliged to collect money and sure it was not good, but this is completely different question.
All fundaments are built at schools. The bases for our freedom and independence are built at schools exactly. What do you think Soviet school represented? The idea was as follows - it had to be a castle, a fortress where it was impossible to enter and we had to study the books by hard. I was raised in such a school and you as well.
The education system that we had during the centuries was underlining our exceptional character. They were pointing at us - you are Armenian, you are Azeri, you are Abkhaz, you are Ossetian, you are Catholic and you are Orthodox. You are Vereli and you are Varketileli.
Personally me, when I moved from one school to another the very first question I was asked was - why have you moved from one district to another? Who are people that you know? What is your mentality?
Now we are creating school, in which we must underline our unity. This is why we are starting extensive studies of Georgian language and 30 percent of subject will be taught in Georgian language. We are introducing English language, because we are part of globalized world and this is why 70 percent of entrants choose English language for the exam in foreign language. Last year the equal number of people wanted to pass English and Russian languages - 40% - 40%. Now only 10% passes Russian language. Russian language is not mandatory from first grade not because we have adverse attitude towards this language.
If Russia becomes a communication language tomorrow and if for every Chinese, Norwegians and Americans have to study Russian in order to achieve success - we will also study Russian by all means. It is not so at this moment and unfortunately Russian language no more possesses the positions it had attained earlier.
This is why we have to transfer on a language that will give us a chance to achieve success. Our aim is to make all those processes that had started in our country especially after 2008 - irreversible. The teachers' role in all these processes is absolutely decisive.
I know that teachers have much less income than they should have.
I know that practically you had made a miracle in 90ies, when everything had collapsed and you were able to maintain standards in extremely heavy conditions conditions.
You were teaching not because someone was paying to you for this, but just because you couldn't do any other way - because it was the main idea of your life and existence. It is true that we have many priorities in our country, but there is no bigger priority than this for the state. We need our children to be more educated than children in neighboring countries, more successful and open-minded. Only you are able to make this miracle, together with the Mother Nature - Georgians are very talented people.
This is why we had introduced these additional stimuli in order to raise the level of learning at schools and on the other hand to give you more stimuli for passing this exam. Not like it was before, when an exam was subject of threatening: if you will not pass an exam, we will kick you out of school".
Certificates are real stimuli, because if you pass an exam you will have more income, higher position and more appreciation within the country. Everything modern is based on the principles of competition. More than 180 of our schoolchildren participated in an Olympiad this year. Olympiads were abolished several years ago. This is a huge success, because we see that our children are adopted to the market economy and they wish to compete with one another.
In my childhood, especially in 90ies mainly the girls used to study well, because if a boy studied well he was in a role of a raven. In general good education was considered as a bad tone. Now in modern youngsters good education has a high value. Many factors supported this direction. After mandatures appeared at schools criminal rate decreased by 80% there and it is very important.
Many people oppose this in political spectrum and sure it is a very difficult process to implement new elements, but you know well that we now have discipline and order. 12th grade schoolchildren returned to schools. There were talks about not having studies in 12th grade, but you see - they are back. They used to say that the major thing is to develop skills in a free way, but skills and knowledge do not compromise one another. They also had a request - "we don't want knowledge, we want skills".
Skills must be based on the knowledge; freedom must be based on the information. Informed person is freer and at the same time has much more sense of responsibility. This is a fundamental conception that we are implementing now in the education system.
Now about the stimuli in regards of incomes. Mid income for the teachers today at schools is 380 GEL in case of getting a certificate, but it is the very first step - it is easier than anything else and 75 GEL is added to it. A teacher who has English language and IT skills has additional 125 GEL income. I want to tell you that it is a hypotetive thing - 900 persons went to pass this exam and as I was informed absolute majority passed this exam on a very first try.
Your village very much looks like other Georgian villages. Right now the request is minimal - in the internet using the help of dictionary try to find anything and make a presentation in Power Point program. Finally, it all would give us 580 GEL salaries at schools.
I recently saw statistics and in Russia, where people have ten times more income than us income per capita is rather low; it concerns the changes on fuel market.
The salary of 25 percent of best-certified teachers will be 1000 GEL. It is calculated by points and hopefully we will all together refine examination system in order to have fair system. 1000 GEL salary will be a salary of those teachers who will pass all above-mentioned steps. Mentor teacher's salary is 160 GEL, of course I wish this number to increase. If I am not mistaken the edition to high-mountainous regions is 1000 GEL.
Now we are issuing manuals where for example math will be in two languages - Armenian and Georgian, Azerbaijani and Georgian, Ossetian and Georgian. In case of bilingual studies the teacher would get 200 GEL addition.
Now we have only 60-70 teachers like that. Why? Because they are remaining as islands, we have such neighboring villages here, where all subjects are thought in other language and Georgian language teacher teaches only Georgian language.
It happens in those conditions, when for example in Javakheti we have such high economic activeness - the construction of stations, highway, railway is in process; highest standard roads were constructed, we are building winter ski resort as well... The knowledge of Georgian language is necessary for the success. This is why those teachers, who will be able to use bilingual teaching method would receive 200 GEL addition.
I have also heard some complains about state financing only very small part of humanitarian fields. I honor all professions, but those who want us to finance their studies at master's degree - they would have to go to regions and teach these children Georgian language. These youngsters would get 500 GEL salary and their studies for master's degree will be financed by the state. If we want to get master's degree in classical philology, we will finance you - but before that go and teach Georgian language to ethnic Armenians, ethnic Azerbaijanis, ethnic Russians for one year. They will have 500 GEL salary and will be provided with lodging and would have those stimuli that I have spoke about above.
We will distribute 60 thousand notebooks this year. This notebooks will be manufactured in Georgia, this is first enterprise with such high technologies. Same production in our region was used in Russia and now we will have it in Georgia. Made in Georgia - this is inscription made on those notebooks. 3 000 teachers of elementary classes will be given these notebooks for free.
You see what a great school is built here, but we still have heavy conditions in certain schools. By 2013 there will be no school left in Georgia, where there will be bad conditions.
By the way we had opened French lyceum in Tbilisi, where studies cost several thousand USD per year. Only elite families take their children to those schools. I want to tell you that this school in Tadzrisi is very much alike that school. This is our pride. Studies in Tadzrisi are free. That school is located in the center of Tbilisi and only children from rich families study there. Children from the families that are in hardship study here, but studies for them are free.
I mean exactly this whey I speak about having better schools in future than it is in the centers of Tbilisi or Amsterdam, or in any regions of Copenhagen. We do not have salaries like them, but as you see salaries are also growing, but we will have similar schools.
In several months we will have a new school in Nokalakevi, also we are constructing a very nice school in Akhalkalaki that will get in exploitation from next year. I can say without exaggeration that it is a very big issue that will count centuries.
We are also opening a new school in Vaziani, also in village Melaani - Kakheti region. Also schools will open in Mukhura, Puti, Akhuti, Guria - Khajalia and Chibati, Jakhunderi - Svaneti region - all these places are practically unreachable places and despite the fact that high school buildings are opened in mountainous regions - teachers will get addition to their salaries.
This is what we all try to do. Many things drove attention, for example why we think it is priority to study technical subjects. Maybe people would say that we also need history, mother tongue and literature, and all other subjects... But first of all the education system must make people adjusted to contemporary market requirements. We do not need to have unemployed specialists. We need graduates that will find jobs in the modern world.
During last several years (we had several months fall down in 2008) more people return to Georgia than leaving the country. It doesn't mean that people are not leaving the country - they are still, but more people return. It means that young generation stopped leaving the country. If young generation would strengthen in their own country, we need more jobs available for them; we need cadre with good qualification. We had already started the construction of several big hydroelectric stations and in nearest future we are intending to start the construction of 10-15 plants. We need 30 thousand specialists, who will work in hydro energy. Where should we bring these people from? Those people must come, who know physics, math, chemistry - people from technical fields. So everything done in order to give people a chance to find their own way in life.
One more thing that is necessary to be underlined. What is Georgia's priority compare to all other countries? Why is the education so important? I often bring an example of Singapore not because I like Singapore's political system - this system would never fit to our country, we have our own traditions. We never had such a cult of a leader - if not count periods of occupation. Our people are equal, arrogant and hate supremacy, because our society is free with their own souls. Our people have a chance to develop only in the conditions of freedom and independence. Singapore is a multiethnic country that was in a very hostile environment during decades, but it managed to create a new state unity. It doesn't mean there whether you are Chinese, Malaysian or Indian - everyone is considered as Singaporean. Georgia is exactly like this.
The problem of occupation is a very different thing, but Georgia will never have a problem of separatism, when we move forward and when the education system will create solid basis not only from the regards of ideology, but for economic success as well. And the other - what is Georgia's influence based during the centuries. It was based on educational and cultural advantages.
The extension of Georgia's power never happened by arms and weapons, however we went through wars, mainly these were defensive type of wars. Why is it that on the whole territory of Abkhazia there is Georgian culture and there are Georgian monuments? First of all because there was higher level of civilization and education, why does Georgia have such a high influence in Northern Caucasus?
Only because we were always very well organized and during the centuries we had civilized rules of living. Why had Georgia influence in whole Transcaucasia during the centuries? Why were Georgians the enlighteners? For example Antimoz Iverieli, who created huge cultural center in Romania and he is considered to be number one educator in the history of Romania. Or Peter Iberi who constructed Petritsoni monastery. It was not an ordinary Monastery it was an educational center.
It was a huge of Georgian influence on Mount Athos Monastery; because Georgia had huge influence on Mount Athos, because Georgia had an advantage of civilized country.
By my consideration, according to a myth about Medea, Jason did not come to Georgia to take Golden Fleece and was not an ordinary rubber either. He came to Georgia to take and implement our advantageous civilization. This is exactly our priority. This is why the more we will strengthen, it would be impossible to defeat our independence and more easily we will return our territories. Russian model has no perspectives and even their leaders acknowledge it. Listen to the speeches delivered by my Russian counterparts during these last several months. They openly say anything and it was like this in Georgia during Shevardnadze's period. Shevardnadze used to recognize that we had corruption and chaos in our country - he used to form thousands of commissions, but results were not visible.
Today there levers are military forces, their tanks, aircrafts and high price on fuel - they even recognize it. Our levers are our civilized development and our advantage.
Today we are hosting a delegation from Kazakhstan, they are here in order to study our tax reform, police reform; we hosted a delegation from Moldova MIA recently; they spent a week for sharing our reforms.
In Russia the policemen are called "genatsvale" (Georgian word meaning "my dear"), because they know they had copy-pasted Georgian police reform. (During the copy-pasting the main soul is lost, but it is a different issue). But in reality it is like this. Exactly the same processes are going on in Ukraine and they are speaking about it in Armenia as well. It means that we had returned our historic role of civilized advantage.
In order to have all of this irreversible, the fundament must be laid here, at school from the very childhood. All these institutes and all success would become irreversible, if we will have strong schools and strong teachers.
We have extremely talented people and this progress today carries irreversible character.
Watch carefully what the political debates are about today: we are offering something new to our society and we are implementing it, however part of our political opposition shouts that we do not need it all. We are planting corn and they are shouting - we don't want new corn, give us back our ancient Georgian corn... Which is ancient Georgian corn? Europeans and Americans introduced corn and they had brought it from Indians and later we planted it in Georgia. By the way we had an Abasha experiment that envisaged implementing hybrid corn in Abasha region... How uneducated those people are, who shout to return ancient Georgian corn and they are substituting it with American corn. But no one told them that this ancient corn was American from the very beginning.
Who will feed us if we will not cultivate our lands -? Everyone have their problems, because prices increased on food. This is why we have to cultivate our lands, we must poison what we have to in order it is needed for the cultivation - however prices on fuel increased as well. There is no other alternative. We must start feeding ourselves.
In reality today there is fight between progress and those people, who do not want any progress and even oppose this progress because of their self-motivation. It is not our caprice but it is an issue of saving the country and gaining final independence.
I want to thank you once again for everything you have done during these last several years. I want you to know that if we have to raise a monument to some profession or some separate figure - it will not be a monument of some President, some Minister or some other dignified person. It must be a monument of teacher, you are the ones who brought us up to here and will help us in gaining the victory in future as well, by your modest but appreciated hard work.
Once again I would like to thank you very much.