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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Compulsory Military Education Blues

Compulsory military education strengthens our defense!

The Georgian educational system sure does look different when you are an expecting parent. That $180 dollar a month salary that teachers make (nearly ½ the national average working wage) looks a hell of a lot more like what it really is – a downright travesty. That’s 45$ a week to teach our children reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. Or 9$ a day to keep a classroom of children motivated and focused, which in Georgia is akin to herding cats.

Before President Misha’s education reform, teachers made even less, so they are supposed to be grateful for the increase in pay. But back in December, teachers hit the streets to protest against the government’s decision to whack the “13th month” bonus, a Soviet-era policy to reward teachers an extra month’s measly pay for their hard work throughout the year.

“Gee,” you ask yourself, “is an underpaid, disgruntled teacher more or less likely to transfer their contempt of the system and situation into the classroom?” You don’t see the president, members of parliament and the education ministry sending their kids to public schools for a reason.

Despite the obvious shortcomings of the public educational system, I feel that if other children have survived the starkly bleak, often unheated classrooms and antiquated methodology, and gone on to higher education in the west, then mine can too. At least that’s what I thought until I read about Saakashvili’s great idea to add military-patriotic training into the curriculum. The president wants school children to defend the country against the Russian air force.

In a meeting with teachers and pupils in Batumi earlier this month the president said, “It is necessary in order to help the children to at least understand many things about their country; and also as we have already seen, everything can happen, and Georgia and Georgians should be able to defend at least their village, their town or their district.” (

Misha’s been on this defend our country bender for a while. Back in November he announced his vision of setting up cadet schools to train kids in the art of warfare at the ripe, pubescent age of 14. In December he stated every home should “become a fortress of resistance.”

So a couple days ago, at the behest of Misha, the education ministry announced it is introducing new curriculum for civil defense and safety classes in general schools, which is part of the second installment of education reform. While the package includes indispensable lessons in road safety and first aid, children also get to learn about the history of the Georgian army and its armaments.

Isn’t this a bit over the top? Here we are ten years into the 21st century and some people are still living in the 13th. Queen Tamara died 800 years ago and Georgia hasn’t been able to defend itself since – not from foreign invaders or from itself. War destroyed the nation in the 1990s and two summers ago the Georgian army lost Abkhazia and South Ossetia for good in 5 days. They would have lost Tbilisi and the rest of the country too if not for the generosity of Russia.

I think it’s safe to say Georgia hasn’t had much luck with guns and stuff. Children cultivated in the evils of warfare are not going to save the country from the next Russian invasion. Might be time to nurture a new strategy, like preventive war.

Let children play army and kill invisible Russians all they want after school, but don’t force my daughter to learn about all the weapons Georgia has bought from the US, Israel, etcetera, etcetera, when the tools she is really going to need for the future are those that help her read, write and avoid pissing off a teacher that gets paid less than a garbage man.

(images lifted off,


オテモヤン said...


paul rimple said...

Yes, you have a point there.

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