An Elite, But Unrecognized, High School Fights For Belarusian Language
Published 21 February 2013
The Belarusian Humanities Lyceum was established in 1990 with the goal of promoting Belarusian language and culture. It gained a prestigious reputation in the 1990s, but it has suffered under the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has worked to marginalize the Belarusian language. It was closed down in 2003 and today operates without official recognition, receiving financial support from the Polish government. It is the only school in the country to offer an education entirely in the Belarusian language. Photos by Alessandro Vincenzi (19 PHOTOS)
Ivan, 15, helps to clean a classroom at the Belarusian Humanities Lyceum. He plans to go abroad for university, probably to Poland.
Lyceum students at an English class. Some 60 students attend the school, and a dozen teachers work here.
A teacher delivers a lecture in Belarusian literature.
The school’s former principal, Uladzimir Kolas, was forced out in 2003 and replaced with a Russian-speaking head, prompting students and teachers to protest, which led to the school's closure.
The Belarusian Humanities Lyceum is located in a house on the outskirts of Minsk. After its closure in 2003, it re-opened without official recognition, first in private apartments, and briefly in a Catholic church.
Second-year students wait for their train early in the morning.
Students on their way to school. Some spend two hours traveling to school by bus and train.
Yulia and Yulia, who are 14 and 15 years old, wait between classes.
Teachers of Russian and Belarusian literature speak between classes. Some teachers did not want to reveal their identities for fear of repercussions.
Ania, 14, studies for a music performance. Ania chose to attend the lyceum, and hopes to study art or languages abroad.
Mikita, 14, hopes to study mathematics in Poland after he graduates.
Domenica, 15, heads home after a day of classes.
A characteristic street in the Minsk city center
A typical Minsk apartment block
Stefan, 17, entered the lyceum after opting to leave the national school system. He plans to study psychology in Poland.
Yulia, 14, would like to go to Italy or Poland after she graduates.
Students have helped to decorate this classroom.
First-year students play in the school's garden.