Anto is 11 years old and he is fourth grade.
He has no smartphone or new Airmax shoes. He does not like a camera flash and he poses in a way that corresponds to a hero of this story. He’s the only child of that age in the village of Ocevija. His father does not work. Only sometimes, he gets a wage by working with rare blacksmiths. Defying the time of software and applications, serving the traditions of his ancestors, he puts horseshoes into the fire, turns the river to the mill and throws the iron into the cold water.
Mother Nedeljka is also registered in the employment bureau and she works on a contract, for 180 BAM in the school, where she maintains cleanliness and looks after the heating during the school year. It is very important for her that her son feels nice and warm while his teacher explains him tasks in mathematics, environment, music. Anto has a sister who will attend the first grade at fall. He is happy because he will no longer be the only student in the school, nor the school will be opened for just one student.
Almasa is a teacher.
She comes to school every day, sometimes from Sarajevo, through Vares, and sometimes from the direction of Olovo through Miznovic. She says that she has not missed a day yet, and that her golf 2 drives better than any kind of terrain vehicle. According to her, the mandatory equipment in the car is a shovel. She has given lectures to Anto since the second grade and she noted that it is a challenge to work like this, but that her student is very smart and talented. He is very good in math as well.
Muris is the director of the Primary School in Vares, which was attended by more than 600 pupils after the war, and now there are barely two hundred of them.
The teacher said that the Ministry is extening her contract every year and she does not know if that will happen next year, but she says that working with one child represents a special challenge, and it is sometimes much more difficult for him to study and learn than it would be in different circumstances. She added that children learn best when surrounded by their peers.
She has prepared Anto for various school recitals together with his religious teacher and says that their student has never shown any signs of insecurity, which would be expected considering the fact that he grows up alone and studies all by himself.
The nun said that this region is well known for many things, i.e. Fr. Matija Divkovic went traveling the world to spread literacy at the end of the 16th century, and everything can happen here, if only there were children. And there are no children, there is less and less of them, because it is easier to live in Sarajevo or Zenica, in Germany or Croatia.
They told us that the Ministry wanted to abolish this school and that an inspector came there to check what the school has to offer. After everything he went through to get there, he ordered that this school will remain untouched until there is a last pupil, and that is what happened. Anto stayed there, but he will also leave, and then his sister will stay as the only pupil in that school.