Once upon a time, very long time ago

Finland
Once upon a time, very long time ago
Education, Youth oriented
Intangible, Tangible
2019
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There was a remote village far away from all schools. but the inhabitants wanted to have a school and because they were very persistent they got their school. The name of this village was Jäkäläaho. This Jäkäläaho is such a village on the map, that the borders of three rural districts join to each other there: the eastern border of Kutsu village of Tohmajärvi, Kangasvaara of Kiihtelysvaara and the western border of Öllölä village ie. Ristivaara. There were schools in those villages but they were so far that the measure of distance “poronkusema” (reindeer piss) about seven and a half kilometres they use in Lapland was too short. So people in the village started to ruminate that there would be a good place for a school in their village.

Once upon a time. very long time ago there was a remote village far away from all schools. but the inhabitants wanted to have a school and because they were very persistent they got their school. The name of this village was Jäkäläaho. This Jäkäläaho is such a village on the map, that the borders of three rural districts join to each other there: the eastern border of Kutsu village of Tohmajärvi, Kangasvaara of Kiihtelysvaara and the western border of Öllölä village ie. Ristivaara. There were schools in those villages but they were so far that the measure of distance “poronkusema” (reindeer piss) about seven and a half kilometres they use in Lapland was too short. So people in the village started to ruminate that there would be a good place for a school in their village. They held many meetings and every meeting brought the founding of the school nearer. They appealed to the authorities that decided on the school matters. Finally the hard-working lady of the house Sanni Pesonen set out to take care of the matter. If the distances to the schools were long, the distances to the centres of these rural districts were much longer. and public transports were almost non-existent. The situation is nowadays again the same, although even the millennium has changed. We see that development is developing. so Sanni had to direct the tips of her shoes towards the centres of the rural districts irrespective of the number of steps she had to take. The first destination was Kiihtelysvaara, the second Tohmajärvi and the third Tuupovaara. To Kiihtelysvaara she had to go via Tuupovaara. There wasn’t any shorter route. The local council meetings were the destinations she scheduled her journeys. In the meetings she told the members about the necessity of the school and after the council had made a positive decision she treated them to coffee. In two meetings the decisions were positive, but Tuupovaara decided that it didn’t want to be part of this common school. The nearest school is not too far, the little children can quite well walk there. From the border of Tohmajärvi district the distance along the road – after the road was built – was about six and a half kilometres to the nearest school, to Jäkäläaho three kilometres. The difference of the distances caused the also the parents of Ristivaara village in Tuupovaara district started to support Jäkäläaho school although the district didn’t want to participate in this common school. The matter started to go forward, the school board had been elected, school district was formed and so the school could start in the autumn 1949. Sanni went to Joensuu to meet the inspector of schools and the inspector appointed Tauno Seppälä to the post of the teacher. For the premises of the classroom was rented the spacious living room of the main building of Jäkäläaho farm. Also the teacher needed accommodation. For him part of the large living room was separated with a wall and Mr Seppälä got two rooms. Building of the teachers quarters was started but it was not finished yet when the pupils started their studies at school,. That is why two rooms on the other side of the house that the Pesonens had reserved for themselves had to be used as classrooms. Pupils were sitting where they found place and the teacher was standing amid them. The clatter of hammers was heard from the other side of the house. When that clatter of hammers finally stopped, the school could use the premises it had rented. The teacher occupied his new rooms and the living room was the classroom. But it was also the school kitchen. At the back of the room there was an oven to warm the room and beside it the kitchen range. Abridged school had only one teacher but the second employee was the cook who was at the same time the cleaner and janitor. She prepared the meals for the pupils, but took also the brush when the premises needed cleaning and took the spade when in winter the yard was full of snow. The woodshed was full of firewood and the cook had to carry them into the classroom, put them into the oven and the kitchen range and light the fire. The cook had also to fetch water from the spring about one hundred metres away – the distance could be somewhat longer – first along the field, then into the tall clums of spruces and along the pat dow the slope. There was the spring that was sank into the wall. It had a stone casing and a wooden cover. The water was really clear and it hadn’t any tasta. So it was really good water. Water for washing could be fetched from another well which was much nearer behind the cowshed. Year after another went by in Jäkälä. Teachers changed and cooks changed, – not so often though – and naturally the pupils changed, too. At one point Tuupovaara district informed that they didn’t want to pay their share of expenses and the pupils of Tuupovaara started a strike. “I was logging timber in the forest with father” said Matti. Finally Tuupovaara district continued to pay its share, perhaps they waited that Matti and his father Eetu had finished the logging. “I’m happy that none of the pupils have become robbers.” opined Sanni. School supplies were brought to Jäkäläaho school. First of all a blackboard was borrowed from Kutsu school. Then a lorry brought a sewing machine, such a treadle type because there wasn’t electricity in Jäkäläaho, nor is it there nowadays. This happened during the first year when Tauno Seppälä was the teacher there. The lorry tried to drive to the yard but it started to sink into the mud. So all the people, the teacher, the cook and the pupils came to push the lorry and they succeeded to get it to the yard. Next term they noticed that we haven’t got any kind of musical instrument, a harmonium for instance, which the teacher could use to accompany songs. Now took Sanni the matter into her hands. She walked thirty kilometres to the centre of Tohmajärvi. She told the district officials that the school has not got a harmonium. The officials agreed that the school needed a harmonium, so the harmonium was ordered from the factory. Then they waited and waited but nothing happened. Finally Sanni contacted the factory. They answered that the order had been cancelled. Again Sanni started to tramp to Tohmajärvi to ask what was the matter. Why the factory had got the cancellation. Now also the district officials started to take this matter in earnest and they said to Sanni that she could order the harmonium. After a short while came a message from the district centre that there were two harmoniums for Jäkäläaho school. So it had happened because the school board and Sanni had sent an order to the factory. One of these harmoniums was brought to Jäkäläaho school. Tohmajärvi district council had made already in 1954 the decision to close down Jäkäläaho school but it had not been carried out. Then the number of pupils had started to diminish in Jäkäläaho school district. But Sanni had not been Sanni if she had yielded so easily, Sanni packed so much of her things so that she could manage when she left for Helsinki to meet the president of the republic Urho Kekkonen. On the train Sanni told to her fellow travellers where she was going. On the opposite seat was sitting a fine lady and she started to wonder: “You are going to meet the president – you?” and eyed Sanni from top to toe. “It may be that the dog’s fur is a bit shaggy but the heart can be pure gold nevertheless.” answered Sanni. The fine lady sat there snorting on the opposite seat and left finally to sit on the other end of the carriage. In Helsinki Sanni found her way to the Ministry of Education. She met there the minister and he said to Sanni “Come here to my study, from this window you can see when the president holds a review of the parade on the square. The day happened to be the fourth of June, the Flag day of the Defence forces and the year wad 1958. Sanni remained at the window to look out of the window. But it wasn’t so easy to stand there. A servant came there and started to brawl “You cannot be here. Go away!! “I said to her: The gentleman with the top hat who is there behind Kekkonen said that I can be here and here I am.” The gentleman with top hat was Minister of Education Kustaa Vilkuna. Then Sanni met President Kekkonen and told him her problem. The president statef that the school matters do not belong to his duties but he promised to carry the matter forward. Later he sent Sanni a hand written letter and told in that letter the same as he had told Sanni when they met and then added that when no-one had appealed from the decision that the district council had made, the decision is legally binding. Sanni sent the matter to the Ministry of Education but to no avail. So the abridged school of Jäkäläaho was closed down in spring 1959. The pupils of the school had come from three rural districts and so school transports started in the beginning of the next school year. The means of transport was the taxi. In the beginning children had to walk from home to the road where there was motor traffic. From the western side of Tuupovaare they had to walk three kilometres and then the taxi took them to Ristivaara school. In Tohmajärvi the nearest school was Kutsu and in Kiihtelysvaara Oskola Sanni’s journey to Helsinki caused at least that the districts saved school transport costs, so it was not an unnecessary journey. This is the end of the story.

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