Lithuanian social activist Valdas Bartkevicius specified that after the Sunday events on May 23, the Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonytė again took up the Belarusian issue. After all, a talented future musician needed help.
Eleventh grader Arseniy Leonov, along with his mother Natalia and father Vitaly, arrived in Vilnius in February 2021. The boy’s parents are actors from Grodno, who were rescued by “Our House” together with the public association “Dapamoga” as one of a group of ten stage masters from under the rink of repression and given the opportunity to immerse themselves in their beloved profession. Many of the troupe arrived with their families. The children have been placed in schools, but the issue with the final year pupil did not stop there, as he is due to take his exams.
While studying at a Lithuanian school, Arseniy had to take an exam in the Lithuanian language and literature, which he would not have had time to learn before the end of the school year. Therefore, the boy’s parents raised the issue that their son could receive a certificate without passing the final exam. “There is too little time to study the language, and the talented young man is already a student at the Warsaw Conservatory, as he has won several international competitions,” said Valdas Bartkevicius. – There is no time, because next year there will be no enrolment in the required speciality, which means he will have to wait two years”.
Arseniy was determined to return home for his diploma, but then his majority could come in prison, because every day the regime puts more and more Belarusians behind bars. The issue of him receiving a certificate was raised at a meeting with the head of the Lithuanian parliamentary human rights committee, Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius.
– Kęstutis Vilkauskas, a member of the Seimas, was also consulted. He advised contacting the Ministry of Education. But I decided to write directly to the Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonytė, contact with whom was established back in August 2020 during actions in support of Belarusians. When she heard that Arseniy had come to Lithuania as part of the ICCI “Our House” programme, she put the issue under control and promised to find a way to get Arseniy a certificate without passing the Lithuanian language exam.
The family mentor was contacted by the government and told that the issue could be resolved based on legal grounds and exceptions, according to which Arseniy Leonov could not take the exams. For several weeks there were conversations with the school administration, the graduate’s parents. As a result, on his 17th birthday he was given the opportunity to finish school without having to take a test and to study for his chosen qualification this year.
– The director of the school, apparently, was not aware of all the nuances. This case can be called a precedent – now other eleventh graders, whose families are fleeing from repression in Lithuania, will be able to graduate from local schools without panic about final exams, and the administration of educational institutions will know how to act in such cases, Valdas Bartkevicius concluded.
The team of ICCI “Our House” and the public association “Dapamoga” thank the government of Lithuania for the support of the Belarusians, which is expressed not only in words, but also in very important actions. Thanks to the solidarity of a huge number of people, the dream of a talented child will come true. And we believe that cooperation and help from adults will help all Belarusian children forced to hide in Lithuania from the security forces to return home.