Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) continues studying the alleged case of discrimination of Muslim student of Mokhe public school in Adigeni municipality.
According to the recent information known to TDI, on the basis of investigation led by the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry of Education and Science, it was concluded that the fact of discrimination on religious grounds and the violation of the rights of the 12th grade student, Teona Beridze, have not taken place.
As the Ministry's head of Public Relations told TDI on 27 February, the Ministry's Internal Audit Department visited the school on 17 to 19 January, questioned students and teachers and based on the analysis of the reporting, the alleged case of discrimination was not confirmed. According to them, it was revealed that nobody had requested Beridze to take off her headscarf.
The Ministry's statement contradicts statements made by others inquired by TDI, including the teacher who was the only witness of the conversation between the school principal and Beridze.
On 22 December 2016, 18-year-old final year student Teona Beridze was told that that she would not be enrolled in the school unless she stopped wearing a hijab. According to Beridze, she was with teacher Natela Narimanishvili when the school principal Natia Rekhviashvili made this demand and asked the student to comply with. As Beridze said, Rekhviashvili claimed this was because school regulations ban wearing a headscarf.
According to the teacher, Natela Narimanishvili, the school principal asked her to tell Beridze not to wear her headscarf, and if Beridze refused to bring her to Rekhviashvili's office. She was present in the office during the 22 December 2016 incident and confirmed that it took place as Beridze described, including Rekhviashvili's claim that the headscarf is not allowed to wear at school. TDI has requested Mokhe school regulations and they do not mention any ban on the hijab or any other kind of headscarf.
TDI has requested a copy of the Ministry's report on 21 February and has not received it yet. As soon as the document is available, we will make a proper assessment.
TDI is following the case from the beginning. On December 27, TDI has officially applied to the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia with the request to study the fact of potential discrimination towards the 12th grade student at Mokhe public school and to respond adequately.
In its first assessment, TDI pointed to the alleged violation of the Law of Georgia on General Education and the Code of Ethics for School Principals by acting principal of the public school in Mokhe village of Adigeni municipality.
TDIs’ representatives covered the issue for Forum 18’s article, published on 27 February. The article also covers comprehensively other developments in Mokhe: the matter of a disputed building and the police violence against Muslims. The text is available at: http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2260