Vladimer teaches in a very poor region of Georgia where economic pressures are high. The parents of many students have had to move to foreign countries for work, financially supporting their families from far away. As a result, many of Vladimer’s pupils miss breakfast in the morning, and sometimes the school has to call an ambulance in the case of starving children. Many students subsequently give up their studies and move to Turkey in search of jobs.
There are also problems of child labour in the region, which Vladimer has made it his mission to oppose. Initially, he did not get much public support, and even received some official opposition: however, through persistence, and with the involvement of different TV journalists, Vladimer has made the issue of current importance – which led to his winning the Georgian National Teacher Prize last year.
Vladimer’s contribution to his school and community does not stop there. His early losses and obstacles have given him a drive to help others, and he has widened school events to be accessible to all pupils, not just the outstanding ones. He has fundraised from private enterprises and companies, as well as applying for many different grants to fund supplementary manuals, educational resources, and summer camp places for pupils from socially vulnerable families. Currently, he has also given a home to eight teenage boys who had to leave their parents’ homes due to domestic violence.
He has also made huge efforts to ensure that his school is more open to student participation – starting a programme called “Democratic Revolution” that aims to transform the running of the school into a series of processes similar to those of a real state. Communication between schoolchildren and teachers has been improved, and the pupils have taken a more active role. The programme has also expanded to 14 other schools, meaning Vladimer travels both locally to other regions and internationally to offer consultations.
If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, Vladimer would help schools in other regions of Georgia which cannot afford to purchase modern technology or foreign language books. He is even prepared to personally deliver educational resources to schools. Funds could also be used to better prepare poorer students to apply for state grants for further education. Additionally, in Vladimer’s region there are no schools with a cafeteria, which ultimately affects students’ learning. With proper funding, this issue could be solved. Finally, Vladimer would equip 26 schools within his region for greenhouse farming.