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Free textbooks for the benefits of students or garnering voters?

FREE TEXTBOOKS FOR THE BENEFIT OR GARNERING VOTERS? OF STUDENTS On April 8, 2013 then Minister of Education Giorgi Margvelashvili,who is now running for president, announced his plan to make school textbooks free for all public school students. HOW DID MARGVELASHVILI ARRIVE AT HIS PLAN? On February 25, 2011 then Minister of Education Dimitri Shashkin paved the way for Margvelashvili's interpretation by creating Article 10 of Decree 30/n, which states: In the case of "special Publishers are required to pro- public needs" the Ministry vide a digital format of each has joint-ownership of the textbook that would allow the textbooks. Ministry to print the textbooks. The Ministry, namely Minister Shaskin, clarified to publishers verbally that it only intended to use Article 10 on "special public needs" only if publishers increased prices by artificially creating a textbook shortage. In response to Shashkin's Decree, publishers printed a large surplus of textbooks to reduce APPROVED the cost and meet demand. Publishers felt there was little risk because, according to their contract with the Ministry, approved textbooks could be used for 5 consecutive years. On April 8, 2013 then Minister of Education Margvelashvili enacted Article 10, not based on Shashkin's agreement with the publishers that it would be used only in the case of artificially created textbook shortages, but based on families ability to afford textbooks based on the minimum living wage. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? According to the Ministry, they carried out pricing research However, the Governance publishers which own printing houses disagree and negotiations on printing and state that the textbooks with all Ministry did not printing houses contact them. in Georgia. WHAT IS NOTEWORTHY, IS: Tender The company chosen to print the textbooks was No tender was JumpStart Georgia's request for the pricing research was ignored by announced. registered just 9 days before the announce- the Ministry. ment. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT PUBLISHERS AND AUTHORS? PROFIT BEFORE 2013 FROM 2013 PER BOOK 20-25% OF THE }. AUTHOR MARKET PRICE 2 GEL 10% OF THE 0.15 GEL PRINTING COST 30-40% OF THE MARKET PRICE 3.45 GEL PUBLISHER WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF MARGVELASHVILI'S DECISION? Several of the publishers now face bankruptcy due to increased approval fees and stricter approval rules required by Shashkin's Decree and reduced income caused by Margvelashvili's decision. The publishers that don't face bankruptcy no longer want to publish textbooks under these conditions. 8samauɔammaɔan nbJ6ɔ8y It is unclear how the Ministry will sustain the supply of textbooks in the future, specifically how it will update textbook content given that publishers cannot afford to work under these conditions. What this does show is that Margvelashvili changed the textbook policy at the expense of the long-term sustainability of textbooks and the financial well-being of the authors and publishers. It is unclear if his well-publicized textbook policy was simply short-sighted or a political stunt while still Minister to garner votes ultimately for his presidential candidacy. WHAT DOES THE MINISTRY HAVE TO SAY? JumpStart Georgia requested Margvelashvili's Ministry administration to respond to a list of questions whose answers would shed light on the textbook policy, its implementation, and sustainability. According to the Ministry, the only person able to answer any questions related to textbooks was Margvelashvili himself. OfumpStarte Neither Margvelashvili, his secretary, nor the Ministry chose to respond to JumpStart Georgia's questions. ANYTHING ELSE? palig bo8yoMm Some public school students are "Free" textbook means tem- Private school students, not given all textbooks they need. porary ownership. Parents will some of whom are not For example, a 4th grader from have to pay if the book is from wealthy families, 143th public school had to buy 3 damaged. have to buy their own books, which cost the textbooks. family 22 GEL. Source: • "How to Deprive the Books from the Author and Publisher", Publishing House "Intelecti" • Interview with Publishing House "Diogene" (Tamar Lebanidze, Zaza Shengelia), May 2013 • Interview with Publishing House "Intelecti" (Zviad Kvaratskhelia, Gvantsa Jobava), May 2013 • Phone call with PR manager of the Ministry of Education, Tiko Peikrishvili and Assistant of the Minister, Ketevan Chikhradze, May-June 2013 • Decree Ne30/N of the Minister of Education and Science of Georgia • Statement from the Public Registry • Netgazeti, Liberali, Tabula, Business Courier. JumpStartCe

Free textbooks for the benefits of students or garnering voters?

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On April 8, 2013, then Minister of Education, Giorgi Margvelashvili, who is now running for president, announced his plan to make school textbooks free for all public school students. As a result of ...

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