The Centre for Independent Education started its work in Georgia in 1991. In autumn of 1994 the Michael school for curative education was founded and started its work in 1995. Established as a semi-government school the initiative has continuously grown over the years hosting more than 90 children today. In addition to the Michael School, the Center for Independent Education includes a special education kindergarten, three Waldorf kindergarten groups, a carpentry shop, a bakery, and a small café for parents, as well as the psychological-educational diagnostic center, which offers individual therapy.
In Georgia there are about 200,000 people with special needs, 60% of them are children. About 20,000 people are handicapped with an intellectual disability. Overall, there are too few public institutions for the disabled in the country. There is however a state program for inclusive education, but the schools mostly take in children with mild disabilities. The children who have serious problems remain isolated. Michael School tries to counteract this problem with its threefold conception of the upbringing, education and social integration for children with intellectual and physical development problems.
The work of the initiative originally started out in an old school for defectology, which was destroyed by an earthquake soon after the Michael School took it over. With the support through the Friends of Waldorf Education and the cooperation with BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) it was then possible to build a new building. As a result, there is now a beautiful anthroposophic building in the middle of Tbilisi, which can be described as an oasis for people with disabilities. The completion and opening of the new building took place in summer 2006.
A change in the Ministry of Education in early 2006 meant that the status of a semi-public school was abolished. This regulation had direct negative economic consequences for the now privately run Michael School. Although the school receives the same subsidy per child as public facilities, which is sufficient for a class with 30-40 kids, it is not enough for a small special education class of 8-10 students. Since then, Michael School finds itself in a financially difficult situation and can only pay the teachers a minimum salary, currently about € 160 per month. This is not enough to live by compared to the average Georgian income of 267 Euro.
The teaching staff still continues its work with an unbroken spirit for a better future and proves to be a cohesive and strong team with irrevocable trust. It is very impressive for an outsider to see the positive spirit of the teachers and their inner strength with which they tackle the daily challenges. In order to continue the valuable work for people with disabilities in the future, the Michael School is grateful for every donation.