Georgian Civics Teacher Sells Flowers to Provide Students with Internet

Lado (Vladimer) Apkhazava, a civics teacher from Chibati village in remote western Georgia, is selling potted flowers during the pandemic to provide his less privileged students with internet connection.

“Parents are in a difficult situation; they don't have the opportunity to provide their children with 19 GEL unlimited internet for even a month... They are faced with a choice - either to purchase internet packages so that their children can attend online classes, or to buy food. Some choose food. This also stems from the fact that many families have several children. Many kids have given up on online lessons altogether. This amount (19 GEL) is intended for one month of unlimited internet, which is a necessary asset for the majority of students to be able to continue their education,” Lado said.

Lado lives in Guria, in the village of Chibati, where there is low quality internet. For many students, 19 GEL is to large a sum, so they opted for a low-cost internet package, though it soon ran out.

After schools in Georgia switched to online education on March 30, Lado, like many other teachers, found the virtual classroom almost empty. He decided to halt the learning process for a week and raise resources to provide students with internet access, with the help of Black Sea University, Caucasus University and other associations.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Lado provided internet access for 482 students over a four-month period. He is proud that the students did not miss a single class. Now he continues his philanthropic quest with his new idea to sell potted flowers.

"I don't know where this idea came from, but I have already connected 72 students to the internet thanks to selling potted flowers. Of course, 19 GEL is not the real price of a pot, but when a person knows that this amount will be spent on educating children, they buy it," said Lado.

Apkhazava noted that after the story of potted flowers was spread on social media, citizens who wished to help, including people living abroad, transferred money to students. He urged teachers of other municipalities to find ways to help the families who cannot afford Internet access.

Apkhazava was able to raise money to help 512 students. He also bought mobile phones for those who did not have them.

“Whatever money we had left, we went to the store and bought products for orphans,” said Apkhazava.

Lado is the winner of Georgia's first National Teacher Prize and one of the 10 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize. He is now renowned locally and abroad for applying various innovative methods to his teaching process.

03 December 2020 17:30