We write to you as simple, hard-working, taxpaying, active, and finally, Georgian youth of Azerbaijani descent. We know how busy you are, so we want to make this address short and precise.
We decided to write this letter after researching the problems that many Azerbaijani-speaking villagers face in Georgia. As we walked through these villages we saw many problems, but we would like to focus on the root of these problems – education. We believe that many of these problems have already been mentioned to you by the officers responsible for integrating Azerbaijanis into Georgian community, especially those who are themselves from these villages.
But in case they haven’t, we hope that after reading this address, you can instruct them how to solve these problems.
Dear Minister, as we have already mentioned, education is the main problem. As we visited the villages, we realized that the teachers working at the majority of the village schools were quite old, very conservative, stuck in the Soviet ideology and teaching style, and had not taken part in any courses to build new skills. In these dire circumstances, it is obvious that you cannot raise smart, opinionated, and creative youth, ready for Georgian society, or Georgian higher education institutions.
Dear Minister, we would like to inform you of the great political, social, and public costs of these terrible conditions :
1. The teaching staff do not speak Georgian and provide instruction exclusively in Azerbaijani. This widens the gap between these students and Georgian political, social, and public life. Lack of knowledge about Georgia and its language means that young people retain very close links to Azerbaijan, at the expense of laying down roots in Georgia. The fact that in some schools there are portraits and flags of neighboring states only serves to exacerbate this issue.
2. There is also the issue of local elections and the role of most of these teachers in the electoral process. Often they use their influence in the village to manipulate the results of the elections. You can imagine the damage to democratic processes. Isn’t the evidence of election fraud taking place at these schools during elections enough?
3. Poor educational provisions also lead some young members of these villages to turn to religious extremism. Dear Minister, you should know that it is a teacher’s responsibility to share and spread the values of education, self-awareness, and world knowledge. However, what we have instead are teachers who are very conservative, and reject global values.
4. Dear Minister, even during the Soviet Union when people didn’t speak much Russian, they were at least informed by those who spoke Russian and were educated (and often these were the teachers) of what was happening in the world politically and culturally. However, today’s teachers, who do not even speak Georgian, no longer serve this function. Isn’t it proof enough that local residents are unable even to recognize any of the candidates during the elections?
5. Dear Minister, how can young men and women gain an understanding of universal values under such conditions? How can they become Georgian citizens? How can they become honest employees? How can they become individuals, citizens with an opinion? How can they establish transparent non-governmental organizations? And finally, how can they integrate? Their yearning for Karabakh rather than occupied Tskhinvali or Abkhazia is proof enough of their non-integration.
Dear Minister, surely in time, these obsolete cadres of teachers will disappear and these schools will either be closed or replaced by Georgian ones.
But dear Minister, we would like this happen now, before the situation becomes even worse. We would like to see our people become integrated now.
Dear Minister, education in Georgian should have been introduced when Georgia gained its independence. Unfortunately, to this day, not a single political party in Georgia has shown any interest in addressing this problem. Each party has left it for another to deal with. As a result, we, some 300,000 Georgian citizens, are faced with this stark reality – unable to speak Georgian, we feel like aliens in our home country.
Dear Minister! As members of those communities, having lived through that education experience, instead of asking, we are
that the education in those schools is switched to Georgian (with a request to also hold daily hour-long classes in Azerbaijani), in order that our people can learn Georgian so that they do not face discrimination when they take university entrance exams.
Dear Minister! Perhaps our views and thoughts will not be accepted by the majority. But compare this situation to that of a sick person in a coma, with doctors trying to do their best to bring that person back to life. We are using our right to free speech and writing this address to ask for help.
We hope that our voices as citizens will reach you and will not go unanswered!
Opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Meydan TV is ready to publish the views of the opposite side.