School’s out: Georgian children on studying from home. Photo story
During the pandemic, no establishment in Georgia stayed closed longer than schools and kindergartens.
It’s been nine months since high school students in big Georgian cities have been studying online.
Elementary school students attended school in September but already within a month they had been transferred to online schooling as well, as the number of people infected with coronavirus considerably increased.
We rarely hear stories about children, even though the pandemic has not been any easier on them. Children stay at home for months on end, can’t communicate with their friends face-to-face and still have to fully participate in classes. Each child goes through difficulties they face in this unusual time in their own way.
In this photo story children speak about the changes in their life, whether they skip classes, and what worries them most of all these days.
Photographer Tako Jibuti prepared a photo collage — the first photo shows an empty classroom of the child, while the next one shows the child at home.
Lea went to school this year. But she only spent one month at this desk. At school she especially enjoyed studying the alphabet. Her school teaches through drawing, and Lea really likes to draw.
“I like going to school because here everything starts and ends with drawing. Also, here I have my friends, Iki, Rene, Cecily. When I write or draw something, I show it to Tsinara (the teacher), show it to my friends and see what they did”, says Lea.
It’s difficult for Gabriel to sit in one place for long, he can only concentrate if he’s interested in something. Gabriel studies in the third grade and his mother says he attends online classes only partially, because he gets bored quickly and starts playing in his room.
“I like natural science and art most of all. I like drawing lessons because I’m doing something with my hands. That’s why I miss school, and also because during breaks we used to play catch up”.
Anna went to the fifth grade this year. She has online classes every day from nine to three. One of her favorite tasks she completed during online studying was drawing a self-portrait. From four photos expressing moods, Anna chose “Calm” and drew herself based on that photo.
“When I first learned Eli (Anna’s younger sister) had coronavirus, and Eli and mom needed to go to hospital, I was very sad. I thought it would be very difficult to live through this period because I’m not used to staying at home with one person.
I gradually got used to it and understood I feel good with dad. It became much easier to study because there weren’t so many people at home anymore, Eli wouldn’t make noise. We had fun, even baked a cake for my birthday. When mom and Eli came home, I was really glad they didn’t have to suffer in hospital anymore. Sometimes Eli bothers me but she also makes me laugh, sometimes she waves her hand or shows tongue to teachers, fools around in front of the screen”
Oto’s favorite class is handicraft. Oto studies in the sixth grade, at school he learned to sew and make different things from wood.
“I like handicraft lessons because they are more active, we compete with each other to finish first. We use a cutter, then polish the item and finally process it with sandpaper. Now we can’t make new items because we don’t have all the tools at home. I play with Tom (Oto’s cat) a lot, I like pets and wild animals, only if they don’t want to eat me”.
Elene studies in the ninth grade. She likes anime and did her civil education assignment in this style. The main difficulty of online studying for her are lost relationships.
“Face to face communication is a completely different feeling. When you’re at home, you’re alone. For me online lessons is the same as finding a course on the Internet and studying it independently. We have a small park at school where we used to go during the lunch break, 12th graders would play music, classmates discussed their lives, even though we weren’t very close.
I was really glad to attend school because of that, and now I’ve lost almost all connections. When you don’t see the counterpart’s face and gestures, it’s very difficult to understand how they perceived what you said, that’s why in the online group of our class it turned out many people irritate each other”.
Missing something is the saddest feeling for another Elene. She says, maybe she’ll never be able to satisfy this need because the entire world resists you. This time Elene misses her school.
“At my school you can fully spread your wings, here the attitude and love are completely different. I was never too lazy to get up at seven in the morning (even though in my district of Didi Digomi wind is so strong sometimes, it can just blow you away), get ready quickly and go to school. I think my love for nature and animals, my dream to become a violinist or a vet is my school’s merit.
I made this music stand myself.
We planned staging the “Narnia” play since the eighth grade but had to postpone it until the next year, and in the ninth grade same thing continued. Everything crumbled, we fell out of everything. We have this period in our lives when we discover ourselves as personalities. Put ourselves in various situations and realize where we feel better. Right now we don’t have this possibility and it’s a bit difficult. I think 2020 is lost for everybody — both kids and adults”.
Together with his team, Levan won a golden medal at the international competition for young natural scientists which this year was conducted online. They had to prepare for the competition in an unusually short period, only two weeks, as the competition was considered cancelled for a long time because of the pandemics. Levan studies in the eleventh grade.
“Most kids go to school and come back after classes. I go to school for the things that happen after classes. We have a physics contest at my school, I participate in various projects, we conduct scientific experiments, I attend an engineering club.
I’m doing this not to include it in my resume, I’m not particularly concerned about this. I’m doing this because I like it and it’s interesting — how can this not bring joy!”