Defenders of Mari School to Hold a Protest Meeting

Activists for the preservation of the Vasinko comprehensive school in the Perm Krai (Russia) are planning to carry out a protest action on 1 December.

The protest meeting is planned at 12 o’clock in the district center, the settlement of Suksun, on Victory Square. At this public event, the organizers intend to “protest against the illegal closure of the Vasinko comprehensive school and the Ivankovo kindergarten “Silver Bell””.

According to a notification about the event, 50 people are estimated to participate.

As we have stated before, the situation regarding the school remains difficult. The krai and district authorities are trying their best to have the old building closed, and to turn the comprehensive school into a primary school.

In late October, the district administration of the Suksun Region of the Perm Krai was ordered by court to repair the Vasinko school and to prepare to give it a license.

On 23 November, an unplanned meeting of the teacher’s council was held, without the involvement of parents. After this, a parent-teacher meeting was held, which was only attended by 11 people and had no legal status.

At the teacher’s council and the parent-teacher meetings, presumably in response to the court decision, was attended by the head of the district’s department of education, Grigoriy Vlasov, and the head of the legal department of the district administration, Alexandr Melentyev.

The authorities are offering to, with 1 January 2011, move classes 5 through 9 to the boarding school in the village of Syzganka. Some of the teachers and parents opposed this; the authorities’ representatives stated that they were prepared to let the school keep its old status to the end of the school year, but only with an obligatory move to Syzganka at the beginning of the following school year. The teacher’s council agreed with this condition.

Under pressure from the regional authorities, the director of the school has been blocking the staffing of the school council, as he has a lot of authority. The teaching staff cannot elect their own representatives to the council, even though the parents have already long elected their own people.

The activists fighting to preserve the school assert that the school’s current status will only last till 31 December.

The school’s defenders want this status to be preserved beyond this point as well. They believe that the educational process for all the school’s children must take place in the old building for the rest of the school year. Parents demand that the district authorities urgently draw up an estimate for the general renovation of the school and for it to be brought into an adequate condition over the summer holidays. The authorities maintain that the school must be renovated in accordance with the original plans.

It is strange that the regional authorities cannot find the money for a general renovation of the school, when 2.5 rubles were found on the spot for the overhaul of the road between the villages of Tebenyaki and Syzganka, more than a million rubles for a bus, 1.9 million rubles for emergency repairs of the Syzganka boarding school where it is planned to send the Vasinko school’s students. 300,000 rubles were found to remodel the Ivankovo kindergarten into an elementary school. In general, everything has been done to accommodate the closure of the old building and to keep the elementary school while transferring the higher classes to neighboring Russian-language schools.

It is also astonishing that the design estimates for the new building for the kindergarten and the elementary school are still being checked, i.e. that the liquidation of the only Mari school was initialized and supported by the krai’s authorities.

Both the krai’s and the region’s authorities are showing complete disregard for the opinions of the citizens of the three local Mari villages and general citizens’ meetings’ (one of which had 250 participants) decision to preserve the school. Local Maris are also confident that the closure of the school will mean an existential threat to their children’s national identity and could lead to the complete disappearance of Maris from the Perm Krai.

According to some of the school’s protectors, the regional authorities are carrying out anti-Mari policies, the activities of the authorities can be considered to be hidden discrimination of the Mari ethnic minority.

Members of the European Parliament expressed their protest against the closure of Mari schools in the Perm Krai >>

Discrimination of Mari ethnic minority in Perm krai (Russia) >>

The Only Mari School in the Perm Krai Is Being Closed. Residents Are Outraged >>

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