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Georgian Official Doggedly Stays On Message In Kafkaesque Exchange


Georgian Deputy Education MInister Koka Seperteladze adopted a bizarre approach to a recent interview on state television.

Georgian Deputy Education MInister Koka Seperteladze adopted a bizarre approach to a recent interview on state television.

Georgia's Education Ministry has been under pressure in recent days following the controversial firing of Maia Miminoshvili as the director of the country's Examination Center for teachers.

Miminoshvili's unceremonious dismissal on May 28 was seen by many as retribution for the fact that her son had participated in a political rally organized by the opposition Georgian Dream coalition, which has become a thorn in the side of President Mikheil Saakashvili's administration.

The ministry has denied these allegations. A terse statement on its website said that Miminoshvili's views on the direction of reforms were "fundamentally different" from the ministry's, even though she had previously been highly praised by Saakashvili, among others, for her groundbreaking educational reforms and efforts to improve teaching standards.

After dozens of Examination-Center employees said they had tendered their resignations on May 29 in support of their former boss, the Education Ministry sent out the deputy education minister, Koka Seperteladze, to limit the damage.

As the following video and transcript shows, it seems he had been given strict instructions to stay on message when he gave an interview to Georgian public television and former RFE/RL correspondent David Paichadze.

Despite various attempts by the persistent Paichadze to move the discussion along, an increasingly exasperated Seperteladze proved to be remarkably tenacious when it came to defending the establishment of a new "Teachers' House," which he repeatedly said would help "improve" teachers' qualifications.

Not surprisingly, this Kafkaesque video exchange has reportedly started to go viral in Georgia:

WATCH: Georgian public television interviews Deputy Education Minister Koka Seperteladze:


Koka Seperteladze: ...Our main goal is to make sure teachers can improve their qualifications. We want to take care of them and create a comfortable situation for them. That's why we created the Teachers' House where, for 24 hours, they can be trained so that they can pass their certificate exams. We don't want anyone to fail.

David Paichadze: So you don't want anyone to fail?

Seperteladze: Yes.

Paichadze: Did the Examinations Center and its former head want stricter exams?

Seperteladze: Yes, definitely.

Paichadze: Why?

Serperteladze: (No answer)

Paichadze: If, after passing these stricter criteria, we get better teachers, why should it be unacceptable to the state and the Education Ministry?

Seperteladze: Our goal is to make sure teachers can improve their qualifications. We want to create a comfortable situation for them. That's why we created the
Teachers' House where, for 24 hours, they can be trained so that they can pass their certificate exams.

Paichadze: Did the former head [of the Examination Center] want them to fail?

Seperteladze: (No answer)

Paichadze: This is a logical question to ask...

Seperteladze: We want our teachers to undergo retraining. Our goal is to make sure teachers can improve their qualifications. We want to create a comfortable situation for them. That's why we created the
Teachers' House where, for 24 hours, they can be trained so that they can pass their certificate exams and serve future generations.

Paichadze: What exactly do you mean by "comfort?" Are you talking about liberalizing the examination format and criteria?

Seperteladze: Our goal is to make sure teachers can improve their qualifications, and for this purpose we have created a Teachers' House where, for 24 hours, they can be trained so that they can pass their certificate exams and serve future generations.

Paichadze: How do you think you can persuade the public that we are now going to get better teachers as a result of this process and not just ones who are the same as before?

Seperteladze: Our goal is to make sure teachers can improve their qualifications, and for this purpose we have created a
Teachers' House where, for 24 hours, they can be trained so that they can pass their certificate exams and serve future generations...

Paichadze and the deputy education minister continued their exchange for another minute or so until the reporter asked Seperteladze if he knew how long it would take to replace the many menbers of the staff at the Examination Center who had resigned.

At this point, the deputy minister took off his microphone and curtly ended the interview.

A day later, on May 30, the ministry chose Khatia Dekanoidze, the rector of the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as Miminoshvili's successor.

Education Minister Dimitri Shashkin told reporters that Dekanoidze is "the best possible nomination for this post right now."

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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