Twelve-year-old Dato’s dream is to become a traditional Georgian dancer. “Acharuli is my favorite [dance],” he said, as he lifted his arms and chin, and looked out at an imaginary audience. “It is difficult, but I practice every day.”
In 1960, the Georgian poet Ioseb Noneshvili lauded teachers as role models and pillars of society who were endowed with the “light of knowledge.” But his patriotic vision collapsed with the Soviet Union: in today’s Georgia, becoming a teacher is no longer every “child’s wish.” This shift in attitude has potentially profound economic ramifications for the aspiring European Union member.
When Rusudan, a 47-year-old woman from Georgia’s western city of Zugdidi, decided to move her son from a public school to a private school seven years ago, it was not a light-hearted decision. Like many of her generation, she favors public education. Yet, despite nearly a decade of reforms, public schools in Georgia are falling short.
The strong showing of Euro-skeptic parties in May’s European Parliament elections raises questions about how easily Georgia can move from its recently signed EU Association Agreement toward its long-held goal of full-fledged EU membership.