Georgia Closes Gülen-Affiliated School in Rustavi

The National Center for Education Quality Enhancement (NCEQE), an agency at the Georgian Ministry of Education, overseeing conformity of educational institutions with standards set by the Georgian legislation, moved to revoke authorization for Shota Rustaveli School-Lyceum in the city of Rustavi, operated by the Chaglar Educational Institutions, a Gülen-affiliated network in Georgia.

At its online meeting on May 15, the NCEQE authorization council decided not to renew the school “authorization,” a certificate required for any institution to carry out educational activities in Georgia, citing the problems related to the curriculum, school infrastructure and other issues.

Commenting on the decision of the NCEQE authorization council, the School-Lyceum stated that a team of lawyers will defend the school rights and use “all legal levers” for duly resumption of authorization.

Turkish authorities have long been openly expressing concerns over the operation of Gülen-affiliated schools in Georgia. Ankara accuses U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen and his followers of a 2016 failed coup.

Georgian civil society outfits and the Public Defender have often pointed at the Turkish government exerting influence on Georgia’s decision to close down the schools operated by Gülen-linked Chaglar Educational Institutions.

Rustavi School-Lyceum is the third Gülen-affiliated educational institution to have been shut by the Georgian Ministry of Education. In August 2017, the NCEQE authorization council decided to close down the Private Demirel College in Tbilisi. According to the public registry, a 100% share of Shota Rustaveli School-Lyceum is owned by the Private Demirel College.

Earlier in February 2017, Batumi-based Refaiddin Şahin Friendship School was closed down after the compliance monitoring revealed “significant problems [in the school] with respect to student enrollment.”

Noteworthy, that in May 2017, Georgia detained Mustafa Emre Çabuk, one of the managers of the Private Demirel College. He was charged with alleged links to Fethullah Gülen-associated  FETÖ – an organization designated as terrorist by Turkish authorities. Çabuk, who was released from jail in February 2018, kept denying charges throughout his detention, saying that he was “a political prisoner.”

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