SIBILYAKOVO, Russia (Reuters) – Uminur Kuchukova, 61, could have retired years ago, but she continues to teach at this dying Russian village’s once bustling school for the sake of its last pupil, a 9-year-old boy. When she leaves next year, the school will close.
Like thousands of villages dotted across Russia, the remote Siberian village of Sibilyakovo emptied after the closure of its state-run collective farm following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet planned economy. Jobs dried up and people left in droves.
In its heyday in the 1970s, Sibilyakovo’s primary school had four classes, each of around 18 children, and a population of 550. Kuchukova has taught at the school for 42 years.
Nowadays her house looks out onto abandoned homes on all sides. The village’s population has shrunk to 39 and Ravil Izhmukhametov is the school’s only pupil.
Kuchukova has bought a home in the town of Tara about 50 km (30 miles) away. She plans to retire there with her husband at the end of…
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