Public Defender’s Statement on Lessons of "Homeland Studies"
The lessons of "Homeland Studies" contain discriminatory views and can be seen as a manifestation of religious indoctrination and proselytism.
On December 16, 2020, the Public Defender’s Office was informed about the "Homeland Studies" lessons organized by the Patriarchate and the “Chokhosanta (Folk Dress) Society”, which, according to reports, have been held in Rustavi and Tbilisi for 4-5 years. Due to the pandemic, the lessons are currently held online. According to the reports, a lot of students and parents from different regions of Georgia attend the lessons. The subject is led by its author, Lekso Gelashvili, the founder of "Studio Gutani". According to the information provided by him to the media, school teachers are involved in organizing lessons and mobilizing students.
It is important to note that the Law on General Education defined religious neutrality and non-discrimination as one of the main principles of public school. It aims to create a learning environment based on the principle of secularism and equality for all students. In addition, according to the Code on the Rights of the Child adopted in 2019, the aim of both formal and non-formal education shall be to develop respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms.
After analyzing several recordings of the publicly available lessons, it became clear that the lessons were of a confessional nature, built on the Orthodox religion. In addition, the participation of public school teachers in organizing similar lessons of religious content and mobilizing students can be seen as a manifestation of indoctrination and proselytism.
It is disturbing that the content of the lessons is loaded with discriminatory views. They spread stereotypical views on gender, national origin, etc. Minors are particularly vulnerable to similar information. These teachings may give them preconceived notions about, for example, the gender role of women and, as a result, create a misconception about the principles of gender equality. Given the number of attendees, the lessons actually contribute to the formation of discriminatory thinking in this generation.
The Public Defender’s Office will study the issue of possible involvement of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia, as well as public schools in the organization of "Homeland Studies" lessons and will develop relevant recommendations and proposals. It will also assess the amendment made to the National Curriculum in 2019, which gives schools the freedom to offer students any subject, as well as the risks posed by these changes in terms of ensuring religious neutrality and a non-discriminatory learning environment in schools.
 See: <https://www.facebook.com/tvgutani> <https://bit.ly/3nvaLtD> <https://bit.ly/38uMy0z>
 See: <https://bit.ly/2KBwT7r> < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1sxDBpIDeE > <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hR9w6lb4kw0 > < http://gutani.ge/გუდამაყარი-1-გაკვეთილი-ქა/ > <https://bit.ly/2Km4UJ6> <https://bit.ly/3gX1EzH0 >