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Volnyansk boarding school: official inadequacy or a new pedagogic method?

October 21, 2013, 11:00 2993 Author: Spartak Korotkevich, translated by Elena Guda reporter-ua.com A scandal with the management of the boarding school for orphans and children deprived of parental care at the center was the reason for the close attention of the authorities to this educational facility

One of the main issues raised at the session of Volnyansk regional state administration held on Friday was the status of statute activities and ensuring adequate conditions for life and upbringing of children in the Volnyansk specialized boarding school of Zaporozhye Regional Council. The reason for the close attention of the authorities to this educational facility became the scandal with the management of the boarding school for orphans and children deprived of parental care at the center.

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A working group composed of Svetlana Abdurakhmanova, First Deputy Regional Council Head, Oleg Ivashchenko, a Regional Council Deputy, and a member of Permanent Commission on the Issues of Health Protection, maternity and childhood, together with representatives of the Section of Property Actions and Labour Relations from the Management on the Issues of Joint Property of the territorial communities of the Regional Council Executive Committee, conducted an inspection of the Volnyansk boarding school in the first decade of September in pursuance of the order of Zaporozhye Regional Council Head.

The picture that appeared before the commission’s eyes would provoke indignation even of a hardened cynic. As follows from the inspection act, toilet pans in the W.C. rooms in the school building did not have lids; there were no traces or fragments of toilet paper or soap - sanitary means usual for majority of children nowadays. As for the room itself, it appeared locked and the search for the key was no success. The mechanic had to literally break out the door of the room the access to which should always be free by default. Inside, the commission members saw a broken bidet and shower cabins which were out of order; at the same time in the basement, where 193 children of the boarding school were to take shower, there were some pipes and one of them had a hose on its end: evidently performing the sprayer function. However, based on the commission conclusion for the inspection moment the taps were in inoperable condition and water supply was not possible.

Not less “attractive” was the picture observed in the dormitory building: mattresses and bed linen reminded rags, according to the commission members. A lot of beds lacked blanket covers and bedspreads which were supposedly taken away as punishment for disobedience. The representatives of the Regional Council were also shocked by the conditions of the eating establishment. According to Oleg Ivashchenko, during the inspection the kitchen staff was preparing lunch for the children but the menu was absent. During weighing the cooked meat it turned out that its weight together with the pot made less than 4,5 kilograms while the invoice said that the purchased amount was almost twice as large. It is not difficult to see that a meat portion for a child that day was a bit more than 20 gram, together with the plate weight. At this background, varmints running around in the rooms (including the Director’s office), flies in the kitchen and cockroaches extinct in most places but preserving their population in this insanitariness oasis were not duly surprising to anyone. It seems incredible that children who need correction of their mental and physical abilities have to live in such practically Spartan conditions.

From the official reply of Eugeniy Lakhno, the Director of Volnyansk boarding school, to the informational request of a journalist from “Reporter UA”, “in average, the money amount for food is 46 hryvnas (5,76 US dollars) per child per day, as of 1.08.2013. Also, as of 1.08.2013, the children in the facility are 100% provided with bed linen, clothes, footwear, personal hygiene means, furniture corresponding to the age specifics of the children”. From this, a reasonable question emerges: where is all this abundance? It’s a fact that not every average family is able to spend 46 hryvnas a day for food for the dear child. Certain clarity was brought to the situation by the inspection in the storerooms, showing new mattresses, bed linen, cleansers and detergents; some of them are hidden in hiding places. But the most intriguing findings were in the personnel room: cereals, sugar and other foodstuffs, the origins of which could not be explained by anyone, were kept together with personal belongings of the local representatives of one of the most human professions in the world. We should also note that the average salaries of the teachers in the boarding school are 4,053 UAH (507 US dollars) a month, of the educators – 3364 UAH (420 US dollars) a month, of the servicing personnel – 1883 UAH (235 US dollars) a month, according to the information obtained by a journalist from the Director of the facility.

We wouldn’t like to be in a hurry with conclusions; the degree of the school personnel connection with the possible theft of products if it is confirmed will be identified by bodies more competent in this issue. Nevertheless, participants of previous inspections – Oleg Ivashchenko, Head of Volnyansk central hospital, and Natalia Sinitsyna, Volnyansk Chief sanitary doctor - assure that earlier they also used to see food products of unknown origin among personal belongings of the boarding school staff; even delicatessen happened to be among them sometimes. These facts were communicated to the former management of Volnyansk Home Affairs Department many times; but at the moment no elements of offence were identified because the school staff ensured them that all the products they purchased on their own for their personal use.

Unfortunately, the boarding school director was away from his office on the day of the inspection. As the commission was informed by the facility director’s secretary, Eugeniy Lakhno has taken a day leave due to some family circumstances; though the secretary was not able to show neither the director’s application no any corresponding order. Instead, the following people had to speak to the committee: Valentina Pavlitskaya, Deputy Director, who strangely enough didn’t have any information either about the number of the personnel at work for that day or about their overall number; Tatyana Goncharova, the household manager and Svetlana Lukach, a nurse, neither of whom was able to provide any reasonable explanations in part of the detected violations.

While commenting the situation, Vladimir Cherlenyukh, the Regional Administration Head, said the following: “What is happening in the Volnyansk boarding school at present is immoral at minimum. We have already forwarded all the information we have to the prosecution bodies, regional police department and regional sanitary service. In my opinion, Eugeniy Lyakhno fails to meet the position requirements and must not work in any children’s facility in future. Such people do not have any moral right to work with children. I propose to address the management of the Regional Council on behalf of the board members with the proposal to create a working group which will review all the existing staff for their compliance with the performance standards. I am sure that the boarding school has good teachers who really care about the children but are unable to do anything in the current situation.”

In order not to violate principles of the objective information representation, last weekend a “Reporter UA” journalist directly met boarding school children whose interests were defended by the region and district management. All the children with striking unanimity claimed that there had never been any violations in the school, the food was good and they were provided with everything they needed.

«It is a pity that reviews about our school are so bad because we like it” – said a boy who introduced himself as Dima. He was supported by about ten of his contemporaries. Unfortunately Natalia Krasnonosenko who came right to the heat of the dispute refused to comment the situation motivating her refusal by the fact she was given no authority to give any explanations from the boarding school Director. And it is not a wonder: both the staff and the children in the facility are dependent; one can’t expect any other attitude toward the issue from them. Time will show whether they will change their opinions, and at present a court proceeding is opened by the public prosecutor’s office in part of the detected violations.

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