Jan 17 / Aija Moon

1916: First School

Digaini 1927

For the first year of the German occupation during the First World War there were no schools in the country. Somehow, a teacher who spoke German and came from the city had obtained permission to teach Latvian language and writing. She opened a school about three kilometres from our house in a very old building with low ceilings. It had tiny windows and the ceilings and walls were black in smoke. It was one, large, long room with plain tables and benches. In this room crowded fifty children of all ages eight to eighteen. We were divided in groups, the older and the younger. Even the air was hard to breathe. If someone farted and did not admit it, they were checked by sniffing down their collar and then sent out to ventilate. Around this building were wild bushes on the hillside and at the bottom of the hill there were pits where gravel was dug to repair the roads. That is where we played traditional children’s games. The school did not last long. After Christmas, a school was opened in Birze district by a teacher named Janfelds for 50-60 students. Again, it was one large room, but it was light just like a real school.

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