Kutaisi, located over 200 km west of Tbilisi, is the centre of the western region of Imereti, and the third-most populous city in Georgia with almost 200,000 inhabitants.
Of Georgia’s displaced population, around 35,000 people settled in Imereti, with an estimated 4,000 internally displaced families living in Kutaisi.
Unstable economic conditions mean that many people remain unemployed and living in poverty.
Since 2002, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Kutaisi.
Working children in Georgia are subjected to the worst forms of child labour, including forced begging and sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of trafficking. Child labourers report working in difficult conditions and without breaks.
Trying to balance work and school has a negative impact on educational attainment, either resulting in under performance, children dropping out early, or depriving children from attending school altogether.
In addition, children are at risk of long-term health problems due to malnutrition, chemical exposure, and abuse.
Education disparity is a significant problem in Georgia. Of all schools, 80% are rural but teach less than one third of the country’s students, with many at risk of closure. Alternatively, urban schools experience significant overcrowding.
Despite improvements in the education system and its infrastructure, one in five children who are learning in rural schools, do so in very poor condition and lack adequate or safe heating.
The consequences of a poor educational background can be profound. They include worse prospects for future employment, restricted social development, and increased vulnerability to exploitation and abuse.