Places where children can spend their free time

By By Malika Rakhmanova
Brosse Street Journal
Tuesday, September 12 2006

Chess class
Chess class
     The housewife was wearing a beige raincoat and sitting in the afternoon on a bench in a Tbilisi park. The weather was spring-like and sunny. She was reading a book, while her two children were taking a singing lesson. 

     Naira Pakeliani put her two daughters in the singing class and art literature lessons at the Republican Schoolchildren's Palace of Georgia in Tbilisi. She said that before choosing the children's palace, she looked for children's activities throughout the city, but they all are expensive for her family. 

     There are many places in Tbilisi where children can spend their free time after school. According to the Department of Statistics 20 children's after-school institutions function in the city and 42,274 children attend them. 

     For example, Basti Buba Studio offers a special approach to children. According to Katuna Sulaya, art manager at Basti Bubu, about 250 children from ages 3 to 10 visit the studio. Children have a dancing class and singing class, and they also participate in the TV programs Basti Buba Show on Mze TV and Babilina on Public Television. The lessons are conducted twice a week. One hour is devoted to singing class and two hours are usually spent in dancing class. 

     The studio also has a psychologist who works with every child once a week. Sulaya said teachers use methods, which can reveal a child's talents. She said dancing and singing helps to get rid of a child's inferiority complex or stop one from developing. 

     The price for one month at Basti Buba studio is 50 lari (about $28). "While we are a commercial organization, children who are not well-provided for visit our studio," Sulaya said. "In some cases we make a discount and parents pay about 10-15 lari (about $5-8) or sometimes we let them come free of charge," she said. 

     Another place where children can develop their talents is the Ballet Studio of Maka Makharadze. Nino Babukhadia, the studio's manager, said about 150 children from ages 5 to 11 attend ballet dancing, drawing class and history of music and ballet. The lessons are conducted for three hours three times a week. Children are accepted irrespective of figure or body construction. These lessons cost 80 lari per month ($44). 

     "But we have 25 girls who can't pay, and they attend our studio free of charge. It is Maka's principle that if a child wants to dance, we accept him or her. We try to not refuse them," said Babukhadia. 

     Since the official minimum level for monthly wages in Georgia is 20 lari ($11), not every child can have such opportunities. 

     Nino Kanadashvili is a Russian language teacher. Her son attends basketball practice at the Schoolchildren's Palace three times a week. Kanadashvili said the lessons are free of charge. 

     "I think I couldn't manage to pay if there would be a charge. That would set me back a bit," she said 

     The Schoolchildren's Palace is one of those centers. Financed by the government, there are 667 different activities for children. According to director Georgi Shalamberidze, "all of them are free of charge and every child can come and study here." Children have classes in singing, dancing, sports, foreign languages, astronomy, physics, chemistry, etc. About 7,000 children attend the palace regularly. 

     "I like this place. The teachers are very qualified and my child likes to attend the lessons here," said Lia Vekua, a parent waiting for her son outside while he was learning Russian language and literature.
Branches of the Schoolchildren's Palace also function in Vake, Chugureti, Saburtalo, Gldani, Nadzaladevi, Isani, Samgori, Krtsanidze and Didube districts in the city. 

     Two Centers of Young Technicians is also financed by the government and free of charge for every child, according to center director David Ugulava. Children have an opportunity to go learn auto, airplane and computer construction or take foreign languages or computer lessons, all free of charge. 

     There are many places financed by government and free of charge for every child, according to Tengiz Gudadze, acting head of the Resource Center in the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia. 

     "Unfortunately we don't have exact information about the quantity and diversity of programs. The education reforms haven't reached these programs. The reforms now concern universities and schools. Maybe after this, the reform of these programs will come," said Gudadze.

Copyright © 2004, Brosse Street Journal.