The Georgian school in the village Tagiloni was closed recently. (DFWatch.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Abkhazia’s breakaway authorities are planning to close seven Georgian schools in Gali, according to locals, who fear that such a decision, if taken, will cause the district to be depopulated.

The school closures are being considered as part of an ‘optimization’ plan for the public schools in Abkhazia. Officially, no decision has been made yet, but in light of the closure of Tagiloni school at the end of last year, locals fear the worst.

“This means that Gali villages will face depopulation,” a school teacher in the area told DFWatch.

In addition, there is a plan to replace the school directors with Abkhazians.

Gali is breakaway Abkhazia’s southernmost district. It is populated predominantly by ethnic Georgians.

“This year, the principal of Barghebi school has already been replaced by an [ethnic] Abkhaz. Some other school principals are expected to be replaced this year as well,” another teacher said.

Nona Shonia, head of Gali Educational Resource Center, told DFWatch that she has heard about the planned school closures, but she hopes that it will not eventually be carried out.

“It is really about optimization of the schools, but the final decision is not yet taken. Anyway, changes are not expected until the end of this academic year. The emphasis is on replacing Georgian directors with Abkhaz ones,” Shonia said.

One Georgian school was closed in the village of Tagiloni in Gali district last year. Currently, there are 10 Georgian schools functioning in the Gali district. There are a total of 30 schools in the region, with 4,315 students.