by George Chanturia, Local Correspondent from Georgia.
With the 2020 on the horizon, it is difficult to anticipate what the New Year brings to us. Obviously, looking at the latest international politics (e.g. US-Iran relations) as well as the scale of the global warming (e.g. Australia Bushfires), it is not easy to expect anything good. Especially, if your geopolitical context is as interesting as with the case of Georgia (if you do not remember the location as well as neighboring countries of Georgia – please have a look at the map). The situation becomes even more exciting if we consider the fact that it is an election year both in Georgia as well as in the USA, which is considered to be the major ally for us. However, for the sake of this blog, let’s put aside all the outside factors and discuss internal affairs of Georgia that are interesting for the CSOs in 2020 during the election year.
After 7+ years of the Georgian Dream governance, it is difficult to point out any socio-economic or political topic that gives some kind of optimism to us. Let’s look at some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
N1. No Poverty. According to the study conducted by UNICEF, poverty rate has increased in the last years. This is also very much linked to hunger (Goal N2. Zero Hunger) and increased inequalities (Goal N10. Reduced Inequalities). The numbers are especially alarming with children. Unfortunately, still thousands of children drop out from school every year. Many go to seasonal work in Tea Plantations in Turkey. Only in 2018-2019 school year, 12,049 dropped out of school before graduation.
Goal N3. Good Health and Well-being. Well, I am not even discuss this topic. The situation is literally catastrophic where healthcare system is strongly linked with poverty with its ineffective public system and totally commercialized healthcare market (this is totally unprecedented all around the world).
Goal N4. Quality Education. Much can be said about education quality in Georgia. But just to give you an idea, from the international perspective, according to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) Georgian students rank at the bottom in every category – reading (Geo. 380; average OECD – 487), mathematics (Geo. 398; OECD Average – 489) and science (most of all) (Geo. 383; OECD Average – 489).
Goal N8. Decent Work and Economic Growth. Much can be said about economic growth and the challenges we are facing. As for decent work, I would only say that in the years 2011 – 2019, 393 workers died and 1097 injured due to inadequate labor security. And only in 2018 – 59 died and 199 – injured.
Goal N16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. The case of Doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili (for more details please see my previous article – (Bitter)Sweet November) and his detention by the de-facto authorities in Georgia’s Tskhinvali region proves how difficult the situation is and that the frozen conflicts can erupt in any moment. The same can be said about the institutions and their strength – the Judicial System, especially the Supreme Court is controlled, comprised of unqualified and suspicious people who have ties with the government (again, more details can be seen in the previous article).
To sum up, all is not well on the Georgian front. And the way I see it, these and some other issues such as growing nationalism or media control should be the topics important for the CSOs in 2020.
This article was produced by George Chanturia, the Project’s local correspondent and EaP Civil Society Fellow from Georgia in the framework of the EU-funded ‘Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility – Regional Actions’ Project. Its contents are the sole responsibility of George Chanturia and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the Project
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