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Survival in two former Soviet republics;News;News amp; Opinion

In Georgia, public expenditure on education fell from 6.1 per cent of gross domestic product in 1990 to 1.3 per cent in 1997.

The GDP itself fell by a third between 1989 and 1998. With a school-age population of 1.4 million in 1998, Georgia's 7-to-15-year-olds enrolled at school had fallen by 15 per cent from 95.2 per cent in 1989 to 80.7 per cent in 1996.

In the same period kindergarten children halved from 43 per cent to 20.4 per cent.

In Armenia, the level of public expenditure on education fell from 7.5 per cent in 1991 to 1.7 per cent of the GDP in 1997.

This massive loss of resources, heating, books and teachers has been reflected in the enrolment figures, particularly for the numbers of children who are attending kindergarten, which were consequently halved, from 65.2 per cent in 1989 to 32.4 per cent seven years later in 1996.

One explanation for the drop is that unemployed parents are also more likely to keep their children at home. The proportion of children in primary or basic education between seven and 14 has fallen from 95.5 per cent in 1989 to 82.9 per cent in 1997.

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