Minister of Education and Science reports progress in projected activities, problems and plans for 2018
During today’s working meeting with the President of the Republic of Armenia, Minister of Education and Science Levon Mkrtchyan reported progress in the implementation of presidential assignments, presented the steps taken to provide high-quality general and higher education and implement innovative projects. Reference was made to the Ministry’s priority tasks in 2018
Minister Mkrtchyan advised that the draft law “On approving Armenia’s State Education Development Program till 2030” was elaborated and approved by the Government of the Republic of Armenia in 2017. The bill is supposed to shape the country’s future educational system.
With reference to innovative educational programs, including the Araratian Baccalaureate program, implemented in parallel with the project of excellence centers, Levon Mkrtchyan advised that it has already gained international recognition.
The Minister pointed out that the United Kingdom national agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills (NARIC) has approved the Araratian Baccalaureate as an educational program equivalent to international best school programs and incorporated it in the United Kingdom’s unified university admission system.
Minister Mkrtchyan reported pursuant to the President’s instruction, the system of excellence centers is being introduced in high schools: over 20 schools in Marzes and Artsakh have been included in the Araratian Baccalaureate’s Apprenticeship Program; several teachers have been trained under this program.
At the same time, the attestation component of the Teacher Program has been developed, which aims to identify qualified teachers, improve the system of awarding qualifications, facilitating thereby the admission of new qualified staff to schools.
With reference to another presidential assignment to strengthen cooperation between the public and private sectors in the field of education, the Minister of Education and Science said new programs are being introduced in this field. In particular, he noted that the TUMO network has been expanded, and now has branches outside Yerevan - in Dilijan, Gyumri, Stepanakert - giving some 14 thousand children the opportunity to develop their art and IT skills permanently and free of charge.
Under another project, the Robotics Development Program is being implemented jointly with the Union of IT Enterprises. As of January 2018, there were 225 beneficiary groups involving nearly 5,000 children.
In collaboration with Avangard Club organization, the Digital Planetarium has been launched to annually serve up to 120,000 students from 7th to 11th grades of provincial schools with a view to promoting the teaching of natural sciences and contributing to the preservation and development of Armenia’s traditional school of astronomy.
According to the Minister, pilot programs of financial and entrepreneurial education have been introduced in schools, under which more than 1400 teachers from 1260 schools have been trained; around 65 000 pupils are involved in the pilot projects.
Levon Mkrtchyan also presented the efforts aimed at improving the effectiveness of foreign language teaching in order to improve the quality of education.
The Minister advised that as spotlighted by the President of the Republic of Armenia, the construction of a Chinese language school is underway in Yerevan. Built with the Chinese government’s investment of 83.4 million yuan (about USD 11 million), the school is due to be commissioned on September 1, 2018 on Monday.
According to the Minister, the concept of Russian language teaching in secondary schools has been developed. Russian language teachers’ training is provided jointly with Russia’s Rossotrudnichestvo agency. Targeted programs are being implemented to improve the teaching of Russian language in general schools.
Supported by the Government of the United Kingdom, English language learning clubs have been set up in six communities of Armenia, involving about 400 attendees; about 200 teachers have been trained so far. Specialized French language teaching is provided in 10 schools.
The Education and Science Minister informed that in the framework of the education internationalization campaign, the Federal Council for Education and Culture of Germany has decided that from 2018 on, the secondary education certificate will serve as a basis for continuing education in German universities.
The Minister reported on the process of social assistance programs, noting that all schoolchildren in 1-12 grades of 49 schools from 39 borderline communities and from vulnerable households have received free textbooks at the expense of State budget funds.
In the period under review, 1046 university students from border communities were provided compensation at 30-60% of tuition fees, amounting to nearly 154 million drams. 2667 students from vulnerable families received 50-100% tuition compensation from the State, which amounted to some 655 million drams.
Tavush Marz joined the Sustainable School Food program in 2017; in 2018, the program will be introduced in Shirak Marz. About 90,000 pupils in elementary grades are getting free food, co-funded by the World Food Program and the State budget.
Mindful of the importance of universal inclusive education, the aim of which is to provide quality education opportunities for all children in secondary schools, Minister Levon Mkrtchyan reported that inclusive education is currently administered in all schools of Syunik, Lori and Tavush Marzes; Armavir Marz will join the program during this year.
Levon Mkrtchyan next reported on the activities carried out in compliance with the President’s instruction to shift the focus on the labor market, noting that around 40 labor-market-oriented academic subjects have been introduced in primary and vocational educational institutions in the provinces. In addition, the German dual education system experience has been introduced in cooperation with the German International Cooperation Agency.
The Minister informed that as established in line with the President’s instruction, the higher education system reform expert group has completed the drafting of the RA law “On Higher Education.” The bill is now in the National Assembly.
Among the programs to be implemented in 2018, the Minister of Education and Science mentioned the State financing mechanisms of HEIs and the revision of scholarship and benefit granting principles, the establishment of university-research institute-employer scientific-educational clusters and network universities in the field of natural sciences and engineering, the introduction of a unified information management system, HEI classification, increase of accountability and other activities.