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The problems of Tsopi village’s school

29 December 2009 No Comment

The village of Tsopi is situated just a few kilometers from the Armenian border and even though it is situated in Georgia, most of its population are ethnic Azeris and Armenians. No one knows the history of this village, but elderly inhabitants say that it is already a hundred years that these two groups have lived together without any problem. In fact, most don’t know Georgian and communicate with each other in Azerbaijani or Armenian.

Most of them have also graduated from the same and only school in Tsopi which has been operating for over 50 years. However, as a result and with no assistance, the school is desperately in need of capital repairs. There isn’t even any glass in the corridor’s windows, the walls are wrecked and the wooden floors are rotten. Gunel Orucova, a 7th form student, says that pupils’ feet often fall through the floor because of the putrid wood.

There is no running water and the doors of all the classrooms have many holes, but few are used because of their condition. The school’s director, Latifa Ibadova, says the Georgian Ministry of Education promise to repair whole school in 2011. There is electricity in the village, but no gas and wood is used for heating. This winter the school received money from the government to buy two lorries of wood and gasoline.

Another problem of pupils is that of textbooks. From this year pupils must buy books in the Georgian language. Previously, textbooks had been provided free of charge, but now cost 6-15 Lari even though many residents of Tsopi cannot speak Georgian. This prevents them from later finding work. Yet, despite these difficulties, the pupils of school are on good terms with each other. Armenians know the Azerbaijani language and Azeris know Armenian.

Vasili Petrosyan, 12, is 7th form student and has three Azeri friends. They visit each other’s home and also play together. Gunel Orucova has four Armenian friends and says that they sometimes do their homework together and go for a walk to forest. Nevertheless, the lack of understanding the Georgian language is a big problem in this village although pupils try to learn. Vasili Petrosyan knows two languages- Azerbaijani and Armenian — well, but now wants to learn Georgian too.

The Tsopi village school has 80 pupils and there are two sections — Armenian and Azerbaijani — for 64 Azeri pupils and 16 Armenians. Teachers are both Armenian and Azeri although the director, Ibadova, says that a dwindling attendance means they haven’t enough vouchers to solve the school’s problems. Their budget is not even enough for the salaries of 23 teachers which is why they receive additional assistance from the Ministry of Education.

Another reason for budgetary problem is simply because of a lack of young families in the village. Most young people eventually leave.

Khanim Javadova

This post was originally published by Transitions Online.

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