Monitoring Report on the Elections of the Public Schools’ Board of Trustees of June 20, 2022
In recent years, the ruling party has utilized the educational system, particularly public schools, because of their high electoral potential to manipulate elections. This is evidenced by the pressure exerted on the principal of the sixth public school in Zugdidi, Ia Kerdzaia, the situation resulting in her death, as well as a number of facts regarding the pressure exerted on public school teachers prior to the last election. Furthermore, apart from the tragic case of Ia Kerdzaia, according to documents released by the State Security Service, the authorities began dismissing politically unfavourable school principals from 2020.
Most likely, boards of trustees of public schools elected in 2022 will be tasked with selecting principals to overlook the schools for the next six years. Furthermore, most principals in public schools have completed their terms of office, and acting principals manage a significant number of schools. Accordingly, the Ministry of Education and Science has announced, without specifying a date, that qualifying examinations for school principals, a requirement for the selection of school principals, will be administered. However, the final decision on whom to assign the position of a principal is a prerogative of a board of trustees.
Bearing in mind the aforementioned circumstances, monitoring the election process of the self-governing bodies of public schools - the board of trustees is crucial. This body's responsibility is to appoint school principals through a transparent, independent procedure based on the standards of professionalism and integrity.
Based on the preceding information, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy monitored the board of trustees elections in 57 schools. The monitoring comprised the observation of ongoing activities, from the opening of voting stations to the distribution of the summary protocol and their conformity with the legislative framework created for the board of trustees election. The organization's observers were also briefed on the preparatory phase of the school board of trustees' prescribed election process, the voter information and candidate registration procedures.
This report details the findings and recommendations of the ISFED's election observation of the public school board of trustees on June 20, 2022. The report's assessments and facts are based on the information the fair election observers supplied regarding the public schools they observed.