Building a New Future for Students and Teachers in Rural Armenia

Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) – Yerevan Office
1 Northern Avenue, Suite 24,
0001, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia
Contact: Inessa Grigoryan
Tel: (+374 10) 50.20.76; 53.34.12
Fax: (+374 10) 50.20.76
E-mail: [email protected]

Building a New Future for Students and Teachers in Rural Armenia

September 16, 2011, Yerevan, Armenia – Over the past six years, a
variety of educational projects have had a dramatic impact on learning
in the communities in the Baghramian Region of Armavir Marz of Armenia.
The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) launched its Comprehensive Rural
Development Program there in 2004; improving the quality of general
education and broadening its scope was and remains among its priorities.
As a result, schools are now equipped with safe and bright classrooms,
students and educators have access to up-to-date educational tools and
technologies, and the educational experience has been enhanced by
after-school and recreational programs, as well as by summer camps.

COAF’s holistic approach goes beyond just the classroom or the school
building: with its programs in Karakert, Lernagog, Miasnikian, Dalarik,
Argina, Shenik, Aragatsavan and Baghramian it works to bring
intellectual, creative, social and civic enrichment opportunities to the
entire community. In addition to introducing new technologies and
training for rural teachers, it strives to enhance communication among
children, their teachers and their parents. According to Serob
Khachatryan, COAF Executive Director, “Through our Education Program, we
are facilitating the evolution of village schools into child-centered
centers of excellence, contributing to the professional orientation of
students and giving them new horizons for self-expression.”

Upgraded infrastructure has been vital to improving the quality of
education in these rural communities. For too long, the children were
deprived of the most basic conditions for a healthy school environment.
According to Hayser Kirakosyan, a History teacher at Dalarik School,
“The newly renovated and refurbished school gifted to us by COAF is like
a miracle, and I am absolutely convinced that our children now will
strive for higher results and will attain tangible achievements.”

In cooperation with Step by Step Benevolent Foundation, COAF is offering
the Teachers’ Training Program, which aids local educators in upgrading
their background knowledge and enriching their classes. Its training
sessions, workshops, class observations, group discussions and joint
lesson planning have brought new insights and new enthusiasm even to
experienced teachers. Gayane Gabrielyan, Vice Principal of Lernagog
School, thought she knew everything a teacher needed to know, but that
was before she was introduced to more innovative elements and
interactive methods of teaching. “Having participated in COAF’s
education program activities, I realize that I still have much to
learn,” Mrs. Gabrielyan now concludes.

Her supervisor shares that opinion. “In the past, I thought that chalk
and the blackboard were the best tools for teaching students. Through
COAF’s programs I came to appreciate the important role new technologies
play in the development of the young,” comments Koryun Makaryan,
Lernagog School Principal.

Another COAF initiative is the Small Grants for Rural Teachers project,
which is designed to foster close collaboration in education and
networking within and between the villages. At least two educators must
collaborate on each proposal; the result has been a variety of
innovative projects exploring new subjects and taking creative
approaches that incorporate new teaching tools and methodologies. New
models for learning are being created, and they will be shared with
other schools.

COAF and local educators are committed to providing this generation of
young Armenians with opportunities for self-discovery and development.
After-school activities expose students to learning in a more informal
environment. According to Nara Martirosyan, COAF Education Program
Manager, “It is gratifying to observe how the children living in
socially insecure conditions who previously attended crumbling rural
schools reveal their talents by being engaged in Student Councils, Photo
and Video Clubs, English Language classes, Youth Clubs in Agriculture
and Basketball. This way we are preparing students to be the scholars,
artists, citizens and leaders of tomorrow.”

COAF’s educational efforts don’t end with the academic year. It has
introduced Summer Camps to Armenia. Each camp is organized locally, but
its curriculum is always rich in education, entertainment and athletic
activities, along with interactive games and visits by popular artists
and athletes. Nine-year-old Harutyun Tovmasyan and fourteen-year-old
Vahram Avagyan have fond memories of Karakert camp this summer. Both
made new friends; Harutyun enjoyed the drawing class at the camp and
learned how to play basketball. They look forward to the next year’s
Summer Camp with great enthusiasm.

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About COAF

The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) is a non-profit organization,
founded in 2000 in New York that works to secure a brighter future for
the children in Armenia’s impoverished rural villages through improved
education, health care, community life and economic conditions. With the
introduction of a unique clustering approach in 2004, COAF currently
implements a Comprehensive Rural Development Program in ten villages in
the Baghramian Region of Armavir Marz and two villages in Aragatsotn
Marz. Over the past six years, more than 22,000 rural residents
including 5,000 children from the communities of Argina, Arteni,
Baghramian, Dalarik, Hushakert, Lernagog, Karakert, Miasnikian, Shenik
and Yervandashat have benefited from COAF’s continuous development
projects and the improved schools, kindergartens, health clinics, sport
complexes, community centers, capacity building trainings and workshops,
and business opportunities that have resulted.

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