4km walk to school
Every day, they rise at dawn to make an arduous trip to school. Children in the remote villages of Hajiqadirli and Sarvan in Agsu district, central Azerbaijan, are used to walking 4 kilometers on foot every single day to fulfill their quest for education. In a video footage sent by Meydan TV readers, local residents recount how their children brave harsh weather conditions, stray dogs and unpaved roads to make it to school on time.
Parents are concerned that their children may get attacked by stray dogs or hit by a car. One resident said that his nephew had recently been hit by a car on his way to school and had yet to recover. The 4km walk lands children in a wood-heated classroom – overcrowded but underfunded. Resources are so scarce in this far-off village that pupils from four grades have to take classes in one room, regardless of different curricula.
Scant services, plentiful presidential portraits
There is no heating system, and without a secure roof, raindrops fall on class attendees. To minimize pupils’ presence in freezing rooms, teachers rush through classes and hold them all in one shift.
“What can they learn this way?” local resident Rahman Islamov wonders.
Schools lack water or telephone lines. Pupils never even heard the word “internet,” villagers say.
“Internet? Our kids only heard this word on TV,” another local said.
However, what these schools have in abundance are presidential portraits. They ubiquitously hang on the walls of the rooms – of both the current president and his father – as a stark reminder of the country’s autocratic history and political climate.
“We hope one day these children will have a much warmer room to study in,” a local resident said in the video.
“This is our village”
The school where the footage took place is only a microcosm of the overall situation in this district. It is not only children that suffer. Adults complain about scant job opportunities, despite a reportedly lucrative bridge construction project.
“There’s a bridge currently under construction, but residents were denied jobs in this construction project,” one respondent said. “We went there multiple times, and they keep saying that there are no jobs available. ‘We have our company that supplies us with workers.’”
“We will do it ourselves. We told them that this is our village but we don’t have jobs. We could work in the construction but instead we’re unemployed. However, they will not let us do it.”