What do Georgians think of Georgia? – the latest results from the NDI
Inflation, unemployment, the judicial system, rising crime and a weak economy are the main issues that concern Georgian citizens, the latest study conducted by the US National Democratic Institute (NDI) indicates.
The following summarizes the most important and significant research discoveries.
“The country isn’t developing”
The NDI survey shows that 68 per cent of the population does not feel the country is developing or progressing.
Most – 38% of the group mentioned above – say the country is going in the wrong direction, with 30% of this group saying the country is at a standstill. Only 29 per cent say that the state is effectively governed.
Respondents say the the biggest problems hampering development are the judicial system, corruption, crime, unemployment, poverty and price increases.
However, respondents tended to look positively at freedom of speech, accessible healthcare, accession to NATO and the European Union, as well as media independence and education.
The country’s six main problems – unemployment remains first
Unemployment is still the main problem that is of concern to the majority of the country (51%).
Around 63% of respondents said they were unemployed.
Of the top six problems noted by respondents, five issues were economic:
1. Jobs – 51%
2. Poverty – 38%
3. Price increases / inflation – 37%
4. Territorial integrity – 27%
5. Pensions – 25%
6. Salaries – 18%
These six issues have practically remained unchanged since 2009, with only the positions changing occasionally.
The territorial integrity of the country is the only non-economic issue that falls into the top six.
The lowest priority issues were the situation in prisons, minority rights and media independence.
The country’s foreign course
The number of supporters of Georgia’s accession to the EU and NATO has grown.
Most of the population (83%) supports the country’s accession to the European Union, while only nine per cent say accession to the EU is unacceptable.
Slightly fewer citizens (78%) were in favour of the country joining NATO, with 13% against it.
The number of supporters in favour of accession to the EU and NATO has greatly increased compared to a study done in January 2018, when 72% of respondents supported EU accession and 64% supported NATO.
The strongest support for NATO aspirations is in Tbilisi (89%), and least of all in minority communities (58%). However, this indicator has also grown since last year when it stood at 36%.
Top local problems
The aforementioned are common problems identified across the country.
But this time, the NDI looked into what problems citizens of Georgia have in their cities, villages and districts.
The five major problems that concern the residents of cities and villages of Georgia are as follows:
1. Bad roads – 35%
2. Environmental pollution – 22%
3. High utility payments – 22%
4. Poor water supply – 18%
5. Faulty sewage – 14%
What are Tbilisi residents concerned about?
As for Tbilisi, the situation is different. The top five concerns Tbilisi residents have are:
1. Environmental pollution – 48%
2. High utility payments – 38%
3. Disorderly road movement and traffic – 32%
4. Bad public transport – 28%
5. Parking – 22%
Protecting the environment
The NDI spoke to respondents separately about the environment. This year, the survey shows that the Georgian population is significantly more concerned about the environment, unlike former years. This was particularly true in Tbilisi.
The population is most worried about air pollution (57%), food security (44%) and the presence of toxic substances in food products (40%).
Rise in crime
Ten years ago there was less crime in Georgia, say 43 per cent of those questioned by the NDI.
Around 32% said the situation has not changed, while 18% say crime has gone down in recent years.
Respondents believe that the most common kind of crime in Georgia is drug-related crime (25%).
Drugs were followed by theft (21%), traffic violations (20%), murder (14%), domestic violence (5%), juvenile crime (4%) and sexual harassment (1%).
Despite the fact that respondents complained about a worsening criminal situation, the majority (67%) say the police functions well as an institution, while 21% say the police are not effective.
Only 47% of Georgians say the education system in the country is satisfactory and that the government is doing well with ensuring education to all.
Moreover, the answers given by residents of rural areas and the capital turned out to be radically different.
Only 33% of Tbilisi residents believe that the education system is of high quality. Most Tbilisi residents (57%) believe that the citizens of Georgia are not provided with a quality education.
Residents of the regions say otherwise – the majority (58%) believe that you can get a quality education in Georgia. Only 21% of rural residents say they are not satisfied with the quality of education in the country.
The majority of respondents across the country assess the professionalism of school teachers positively (42%) or moderately (43%). Only 48% of parents approve of the schools their children go to.
At the same time, 73% of respondents believe that in order to attend a university, it is necessary to prepare with a private tutor.
Respondents say private schools have certain advantages over public ones in the following ways: safety, infrastructure, quality of education, extracurricular activities, chances of getting into a good university and preparing for a professional career.
How to get a good job
Around 37% of respondents say that good communication skills are necessary to get a good job, followed by professionalism (23%).
According to 9 per cent of respondents, a foreign education is necessary for successful employment.
Knowledge of foreign languages
This topic may be of interest to those who believe that English has finally replaced Russian in Georgia – it hasn’t.
Nearly 66% of respondents said that they know Russian well or moderately, while only 22% said they could speak English well or moderately well.
The survey also showed that interest in the Turkish language is growing in Georgia. Nearly 10% of respondents said they know Turkish.
Over 54 per cent of respondents said they use the internet every day, while 9 per cent do so once a week.
A third of the population of Georgia (29%) never uses the internet.
The NDI survey was conducted from 6-20 December and involved 2, 205 interviews in different parts of Georgia (except for the breakaway territories). NDI surveys are supported by UK Aid.
The survey was implemented by the Caucasus Research Resource Centres – Georgia, and has an error margin of approximately 2.1%.