Scholarships Given to Bright Pupils at Okrokhana School

Okrokhana, a small village on the outskirts of Tbilisi, though very close to the capital city, represents quite a leap between the urban and the rural, with residents living much as they do in a typical Georgian village- which includes the regular appearance of cows and chickens walking the lanes and many houses in a dilapidated condition. The pupils of the local school (Public School #28) face a number of challenges with regards the condition of their building, despite having a team of motivated and oft-trained teachers engaged in the daily teaching process, doing their best with what they have. With the Ministry of Education budget stretched to capacity and beyond, these days it often comes down to parents, generous donor individuals or organizations to make a real difference to schools and the lives of pupils in Georgia. Okrokhana school is lucky enough to count itself the beneficiary of one such generous initiative.

David Bejuashvili, founder of the non-profit organization ‘New Life’, established in 2014, has launched a scholarship for three Georgian schools, offering 100 GEL per academic month to the three most successful students of each school. The Okrokhana School counts itself among the lucky chosen few.

On February 12, Bejuashvili met this year’s winning pupils to personally congratulate them on their success.

GEORGIA TODAY attended the ceremony and spoke to him and to the Principal of the school, Giuli Kharkheli.

“Even though we have a wonderful team of well-qualified and experienced teachers, who do their utmost to ensure our pupils receive a high quality of education, the location and general social conditions of the community of Okrokhana raise a number of issues,” Kharkheli told us. “There is the social stereotype that if a school is not located in the city center, it will be unable to provide the right education. There are only 135 pupils at our school this year, and unfortunately the living conditions of the majority of them are far from satisfactory”.

Kharkheli emphasized the importance of the wonderful initiative of scholarships to motivate children and encourage them to dedicate themselves to their studies.

“There is lack of such projects in Georgia,” she said. “That’s why when the opportunity was offered me to do it at our school, I could barely believe it was real. It represents an incredible opportunity for our students”.

Further good fortune came recently when members of the Tbilisi and ex-pat community, headed by GEORGIA TODAY’s Katie Ruth Davies, donated books and equipment to set up a small library in the school, something which before that moment the local children had only dreamed of.

“We are extremely grateful to everyone who donated to our library, and to Mr Bejuashvili for choosing to help our school pupils,” she said, adding that along with motivation, the New Life scholarship is an incredibly important financial source allowing access to a number of extra-curricular activities, such as dance or singing classes, for those children whose families are otherwise unable to afford them.

The Okrokhana principal stated that the process of choosing the beneficiaries was totally transparent and unbiased and that the scholarship will be given to different students each academic year.

At the meeting with the students, David Bejuashvili congratulated the recipients of the financial aid and awarded them with certificates and bouquets.

As to why he had chosen the Okrokhana school to feature among his beneficiaries, Bejuashvili said that he had recently moved to Okrokhana with his family and wanted to do something to help the local community.

He also announced two further initiatives in the pipeline, seeing financial support being given to children from the most socially vulnerable families and providing pupils with the equipment needed for their own dedicated “study corners”.

At the end of the meeting, Bejuashvili asked the pupils to pass on that feeling of gratitude got when receiving a reward.

“It is equally important to be thankful for a gift and to value the effort of others made to support you. Such thinking makes us kinder people and encourages us to help others in turn”, he said.

By Ketevan Kvaratskheliya

14 February 2019 19:41