In 2019, 482 undergraduate students and 64 master students from Gali enrolled in Georgian universities.
The Georgian Government introduced a quota system in 2016 that allocates one percent of places in universities to students from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another breakaway.
The government also opened a Georgian-language learning center in Samegrelo, close to the closing points from Abkhazia. It offers a year-long intensive language course for high school graduates to prepare for the Georgian national exams.
Centers have also opened in three main cities of Georgia: Zugdidi, Batumi and Tbilisi.
Regardless, the move to a Russian curriculum has been particularly difficult for children who want to study at Georgian universities.
“All my children managed to pass the Georgian national exams [to study at Georgian universities] but it was hard for them, compared to those who graduated from Georgian schools,” Manana says.
Georgian is still taught at some Gali schools as a foreign language. Pupils report having an hour or two of Georgian a week.
“When we had our Georgian lesson, the teacher was trying to give us as much information as possible, but it was not successful as the time provided for teaching Georgian was limited,” recalls Elene, 18, who graduated Saberio’s secondary school this year and passed Georgia’s national exams.
*Respondents names were changed to protect their identities.
*"Chai Khana" is not publishing the author's name out of security concerns.
*Textbook, "History of Abkhazia by E. K. Kuakuaskir; Chapter 10, pgs. 218-223 ("Fler-1" Publishing House, Krasnodar, Russia 2010)