Local Community Saves the Village School

Nadezhda Lebedeva, a teacher from the village Rudnia Teleshovskaya, was able to save the only school. The school with only 32 pupils was planned to be closed as ‘unpromising’, but thanks to local activists, it has been revived and become an example for the whole region.

Nadezhda Lebedeva, a graduate of the 2016 Leadership in Local Communities program implemented by Pact and the Office for European Expertize and Communications. Nadezhda is a teacher at the only secondary school in the village Rudnia Teleshevskaya, Gomel region, where 560 people live. The locals understood: if the school were closed, then the village would eventually disappear. It was Nadezhda who initiated a plan to save the school:

– I suggested to the principal to make the school visible, so that everybody would know us, – tells Nadezhda. – Having received the principal’s consent, I started to search for proper ways.

Nadezhda decided to find out information about various initiatives in Belarus and came to Center for Environmental Solutions NGO that supervises the school projects on the use of resources and energy. Nadezhda joined the project and inspired everyone around her – in math lessons pupils solve the problems of saving light, the primary classes study the environment, the school kitchen has a memo how to economically cook food and wash dishes.

After getting into the Leadership in Local Communities program, Nadezhda realized that without the involvement of villagers, all her initiatives will not receive support further. The local community was formed far from immediately. Initially, the villagers were skeptical of the initiatives that came from the school, but after the appearance of the first results, they offered new ideas and brought their neighbors.

Today the core of activists has 25 people. They are not only teachers and pupils, but also just active locals, regardless of age and interests. The school that has been dying, now produces and implements new ideas: book crossing and movies on Saturdays open for everybody.

Finally, Nadezhda and her community are working on a project of an organic garden. In the place of the vacant lot near the school the entire village planted a garden of fruit trees. Some apples, pears and apricots are planned to be given to pupils, and other fruit will be sold and the proceeds to modernize the school building.

– I do want the locals to live comfortably – clean water, clean air, good roads in order to have more children and young people stay in the village, – the leader of the local community shares her emotions and adds: – We are already sure that our school will not be closed.