Expiration of an Office Term as a Mechanism for Punishing School Principals

Politicization of general education and preschool institutions in Georgia is one of the major challenges related to an election process. ISFED has found that often public school principals and teachers are forced to engage in an election campaign and their fear of losing the job is used as means for putting pressure on them. The problem was especially evident during the 2018 presidential elections and the 2020 parliamentary elections. ISFED has found that in 2018, school principals were actively forced to campaign in favor of Salome Zourabichvili, the presidential candidate endorsed by the ruling party, and vote for her in the elections. As means of leverage, authorities used ad-hoc inspections in public schools. Such fact – an ad-hoc inspection at Zugdidi public school N6 between the first and the second round of the presidential election – eventually resulted in the death of the school principal. 1 

Pressure on employees of educational institutions was also visible during the 2020 elections. However, this time instead of politically charged inspections, expiration of office term was used as a mechanism of punishment against „undesirable“ principals. In 2020, during a pre-election period, the Ministry of Education and Science refused to extend employment contracts for several principals whose six-year office term had expired, while it allowed others to remain in the office as acting principals.2 The organization believes that such practice is inconsistent and it contains elements of abuse of administrative resources. The present report addresses this issue. The purpose of the report is to shed light on the practice of letting public school principals remain in their office as acting principals, following expiration of their term in 2020. The report also examines negative effects of postponement of principals’ certification exams and selection competition on election processes.