How Georgia will hold its first exams in the Covid-19 era
Georgian students and their parents have patiently waited several months for a decision by the authorities about how entrance examinations will be held in Georgia in the summer of 2020 (if they will be held at all).
The authorities have finally shared the protocol they have developed, which came as a disappointment to many. However, there are very few safe alternatives to the option the government has proposed.
Government-proposed conditions for taking the exam
Less than a month is left before the start of the Unified National Exams in Georgia, which will begin on July 6.
Students will not be permitted to enter the exam hall without wearing a medical mask and having their temperature taken. A slight fever does not necessarily mean disqualification, as those with a temperature of up to 37.5 degrees will be allowed to take the exam in a separate room. Epidemiologists are considering the fact that students might have a slight fever due to stress.
The authorities have announced that free PCR tests for coronavirus will be arranged for students who feel suspicious symptoms a few days before the exam. A doctor will be on duty at each examination center. Desks will be separated from each other by a safe distance and fenced in with transparent shields. Georgian epidemiologists consider the use of air conditioners unacceptable.
The lack of air conditioners are considered the main challenge, which is unsurprising, as Georgia often sees temperatures upwards of 40 C in early July. In addition, students are required to keep their masks on throughout the exam. Some students and parents have posted emotional outcries on social networks, comparing this requirement to torture. In total, 55,000 applicants are registered to take the exam Georgia. They will be divided into much smaller groups than usual, so the exams will take more time and will be spread out until almost the end of July.
Until recently, Georgia was not even sure that the exams would take place. The school year ends on June 15, and the Ministry of Education still has not answered the question about whether students will go to school in the summer.
The official number of COVID-19 cases reported in Georgia is 822 (as of June 10). Recently, doctors have been saying that the infection seems to be receding in the country.
How has coronavirus changed the system of education in Georgia?
Georgian schools switched to distance learning as soon as the first cases of coronavirus in the country were reported in early March. Several online learning platforms were quickly created, and in addition, lessons were broadcast daily on public television. For many school children in Tbilisi, this new system did not prevent them from taking courses in all required subjects, and some high school students liked it even more than before.
But online education was not available to all students. Data collected by JAMnews shows that as many as 20 percent of high school students in Georgia do not have access to a computer or gadgets. This means that more than 105,000 children and adolescents were not given equal footing compared with their more affluent peers, and their right to education was infringed upon. Among these children there are students in 12th grade who were set to graduate, but simply did not have the opportunity to properly prepare for the national exams.