Armenian citizens are preparing to head to the polls on June 20 in an early parliamentary election. A record number of political forces are taking part in this highly contested election. Taking into consideration the post-war situation, the polarization of society, the tense campaign period and the large number of undecided voters, EVN Report has translated and compiled certain thematic sections of the programs [foreign relations, defense and security, the economy, education and healthcare] of seven of those political forces in order of their position on the ballot. They include: the Armenian National Congress, Civil Contract Party, I’m Honored Alliance, Bright Armenia Party, Prosperous Armenia Party, Citizen’s Decision Party and Armenia Alliance.
Here we present the party and alliance programs on education.
Science and Education
Science, education and healthcare must keep pace with the demands of technological advancements. It is necessary to create a closer institutional connection between science and education. The combination of research and teaching should be encouraged as a tool for improving the applicability of scientific results and the quality of education.
Current state of funding for science, education, and healthcare is simply unacceptable for a nation that considers itself civilized (11% of the GDP is allocated to education, science gets 0.24% of GDP and health 1.7%). Funding of science, development of new technologies, as well as areas specific to Armenia should be prioritized.
The problem cannot be solved without a radical change in the education system, the main goal of which should be the formation of a large and high-quality human capital, as well as the introduction of modern educational programs. In this regard, the implementation of programs aimed at professional development of teachers and lecturers are of key importance.
From the perspective of educational, cultural and technological development, the digitalization of the Armenian language is of strategic importance, which includes expanding the opportunities and capacities for the use of the Armenian language with the help of modern digital technologies. As a country with a small population, Armenia cannot rely on market processes when it comes to this issue, instead the Armenian language needs state support.
Encourage cooperation amongst research organizations, higher education institutions and high-tech enterprises and the creation of effective associations. A High Technology Council will be set up to coordinate the needs of high-tech enterprises, scientific organizations, education institutions and the armed forces.
Replace universities that have a narrow specialization with universities with multiple specializations, which will foster a competitive environment in the field of higher education and science.
Encourage the integration of international educational and scientific systems to bring our science and education in line with international standards.
Funding allocated to science should comprise at least 1% of GDP, with an annual growth rate of 0.2%. Set a minimum threshold for funding of higher education (at least 1% of GDP), science (at least 1% of GDP, with an annual growth rate of 0.2% and gradually reaching 3%), primary, secondary education (3% of GDP).
State support needs to be allocated for the development of information and other high technologies. Introduce advanced technology equipment and software applications, teamwork, business and customer resource management (CRM) methods in general education and gradually shift from passive to active learning which will ensure the creativity and innovativeness of new generations.
Expand the funding and functions of the Language Committee, which will be tasked with the development of hardware and software products required for the use of Armenian language emphasizing the importance of creating a competitive digital environment and the development of language technologies.
Scientific, educational and cultural policies should be based on supporting creative initiatives, encouraging the creation of identities, and promoting cultural diversity and intercultural communication.
Funds from the state budget should be allocated for the implementation of an individual card certification system for student education financing with the notion that students should be financed, and not the schools. The development of science and higher education is crucial. The development of basic sciences and high technologies is an effective and competitive basis for building a science-based product economy and for overcoming modern challenges.
The state should harmonize policies of science, education and culture management taking into account that these spheres are interconnected by the following formula: "Science generates new knowledge, transmits it to generations through education, and acquired knowledge preserves culture."
The most important mission of science and education is the philosophy of "accumulating, managing, transferring" or "receiving, developing, transmitting" knowledge. It is at the core of the citizen-state relationship and the basic life philosophy of the state, when everyone has the opportunity to express themselves freely and take responsibility for what they have "received, developed and transmitted."
We will continue to increase the professional training of teachers. Teachers will be able to increase their salaries by up to 50% through voluntary certification. As a result, by introducing professional standards for educators, we will ensure a continuous mechanism of promoting teachers and increasing their salaries, while ensuring a proper mechanism of professional development. We will introduce similar incentives at other levels of education.
We will completely change and introduce new textbooks and educational material according to new standards. One of the main goals of general education will be to master the different methods of education management, the content of subjects, as well as through education in the teaching process and capacity building. As a result, a child graduating from school will have relevant knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.
We will continue to build and renovate preschools, kindergartens and elementary schools. We will have at least 300 newly built or fundamentally renovated schools by 2026. As a result, we will strive to increase the number of 3-5 year-old children in preschool institutions to up to a minimum of 85%.
By 2026, we will create contemporary engineering and natural science laboratories in all 1400 schools of Armenia. As a result, students throughout the country will have the opportunity to receive education in a modern, well-equipped environment, as well as strengthen their theoretical knowledge with practical skills.
Starting September 2021, we will be able to ensure universal inclusion of education throughout the country. The inclusion process in preschool institutions will be finalized by 2023. We will also promote the inclusion process in other educational levels. As a result, high-quality education will be accessible to all groups; giving priority to rural, border areas, socially vulnerable groups, especially in the field of vocational education, students with special needs, and ethnic minority communities. We will also encourage continuing education.
We will create an effective and open management system for all levels of education based on performance and final results. Starting from 2023, we will switch to KPI. As a result, we will have more targeted funding and productive work, hence improving the quality of education, as well as strengthening the fact-based management system.
By 2026, we will digitize services provided by educational institutions reducing administrative activities and corruption risks. Receiving diplomas, certificates, entrance exams, as well as educational processes will be digitized. As a result, all the beneficiaries of educational institutions including students, teachers, parents, school children, lecturers will be able to participate in educational processes online.
We will develop tools for electronic teaching. As a result, we will ensure the continuity and accessibility of education in all levels of education. We will make education accessible to border areas regardless of the availability of relevant teachers.
Through legislative mechanisms, we will give an opportunity to colleges to set up managerial systems/councils together with private companies, and train relevant staff based on needs. As a result, we will contribute to the training of qualified staff which will meet the needs of the labor market and will reduce unemployment.
We will introduce a complete system of a correct ratio of education and state financed education, and admission distribution in the field of vocational education based on the demands of the labor market and the perspectives of new professions. As a result, the state will be able to give priority to professions which have a high demand, as well as to professions which are of a strategic importance. We will develop a program of specialization in regional languages in universities through various events, including state-funded ones.
We will develop and introduce specialization in regional languages and media literacy in schools and universities. As a result, we will have professionals with a knowledge of regional languages who are able to obtain and analyze information specific to neighboring countries; elevate media literacy across the country.
It was not possible to transform the education system into a hub that would prepare patriotic, conscious citizens of the 21st century, at the same time, train high-quality and competitive professionals. Armenia-centered educational reforms relevant to the challenges of our statehood are urgent.
The Vision for the Future of Education
Education is a person's fundamental right.
1. The state must provide universally and equally accessible, inclusive, quality education. The goal of education should be the personal and professional development of a person, and promote a national and universal value system based on patriotism, on the ideas of mutual understanding, tolerance and cooperation
2. Education is a public value for which the state is responsible. Society shares the responsibility for the development and implementation of education policy, which presupposes an inclusive public process. Civil society, teachers and lecturers, the private sector, the community, the family, young people and children - all play a role in exercising the right to quality education. The role of the state is crucial in defining regulatory principles and norms.
3. The main goal of education development is to design a system which will enable each citizen to receive quality education in accordance with their needs, intellectual abilities and aspirations in all stages of life which will satisfy the needs of the economy and society, and fully serve national interests.
Future Strategy of Education
The following strategies will be applied in order to achieve the main goal of education development:
Need-based planning, educational programs, education management and methodology, as well as possible ways of instruction will be diversified.
The flexibility of educational programs will be ensured and the opportunities to meet the needs of students, their families, the community and economy. Courses within the compulsory curricula of schools as well as individual education plans and modules will be expanded.
Opportunities for remote education will be expanded, a mechanism for recognizing the results of non-formal education will be introduced. A bridge will be created to connect non-formal and formal methods of education which will provide students to obtain knowledge according to their capabilities to achieve their desired results. Modern methods of organizing training will be introduced, creating an opportunity to use extracurricular resources, cultural centers, etc.
The diversification of the education system will also reflect the organizational and legal forms of educational institutions. Several educational institutions have already been restructured into foundations. The expansion of opportunities for joint establishment of educational institutions and participation of social partners in the management system will be promoted.
In order to effectively respond to the needs, feedback and social dialogue mechanisms will be strengthened. Public opinion polls will be conducted regularly, platforms for public discussions will be created, participatory mechanisms in decision-making processes will be improved.
Partnership between the private sector and civil society will be strengthened.
Realization of some functions, provision of educational support services will be transferred to professional organizations that enjoy public trust. State support will be provided to programs initiated by international and local organizations in accordance with the principles of education development priorities, which will be included in the package of education development programs.
To ensure efficiency in the implementation of these programs, their transparency and accountability will be mandatory and strict control and monitoring will be implemented involving state and non-governmental organizations. Improvement and full implementation of knowledge assessment and quality assurance systems will continue.
Armenia’s education system should:
● Educate truly dignified citizens of Armenia.
● Give opportunity to every citizen to receive an affordable, quality education in accordance with requirements of the modern labor market.
● Ensure that every citizen can fully express themselves and succeed in the global professional market.
● Enable citizens to be able to quickly and effectively retrain for a new profession, and adapt to the changing realities of the modern world.
● Become a leading and exemplary country in the region. In 10 years, two Armenian universities will be included in the list of the world’s best 1000 universities.
In the field of public/general education:
● It is necessary to put an end to the chaotic, reckless, untested education that is inconsistent with national thinking, as well as blindly imported reforms that serve narrow interest groups.
● Instill patriotism and high civic self-awareness in students, including one's own responsibilities and rights, such as full understanding of democratic values a clear understanding of the mechanisms of democracy. Moreover, it is necessary to realize that patriotism and civil self-consciousness cannot be separated from each other.
● Students should be given sufficient knowledge in order to choose a future profession. Ensure that their choice of profession be made consciously and purposefully.
● Ensure the development of students’ personal interests through extracurricular clubs and events, inter-school events, etc.
● Reforms must be directed for students on the one hand and on the other, teachers in the field of vocational education.
● The state must guarantee that every student who wants to study and work receives the education they want, regardless of their financial situation in primary and secondary vocational education.
● The state must ensure linkages between students and potential employers, to foster an environment where students can have informed knowledge about their chosen profession; to ensure certain guarantees for employability.
● The vocational education system needs to be constantly and methodically developed, through the intensive use of modern digital technology, in order to not fall behind the global trends.
In the field of higher education:
The Alliance notes that Armenia’s higher education system is gravely ill and suffers from a number of “diseases” such as:
- “superficial” education: When students pay hefty tuition fees and in the process do not acquire knowledge or attend university to not learn;
- absence of the creation of new knowledge, isolation from the achievements of modern science;
- corruption, including undeserving academic titles, or attending university in order to avoid compulsory military service, etc.
The Alliance is convinced that in order to make Armenia into a leading scientific-educational country the issues listed above should be immediately resolved. There is a need for surgical interventions.
● Universities need to transform and no longer transfer outdated knowledge but should be places that create new knowledge.
● University funding mechanisms need to be reviewed so that university administrations do not feel compelled to keep students who are not interested in studying solely for the tuition income. Financing of science needs to be increased and universities need to become generators of scientific output similar to countries with developed scientific-educational systems.
● The effective cooperation of specialists is essential in countries with serious scientific and economic success. That is why it is very important to establish interdisciplinary connections in universities.
● Students should be able to choose electives outside of their faculties based on their interests. There is an urgent need to develop Armenian Studies courses at all educational levels.
1. Implementation of an education system based on universal and national values at all levels of the educational process.
2. Implementation of an action plan for discovery, development and effective usage of the scientific potential.
3. Continuous increased financing for education and science.
4. Make employment in education and science more attractive, increase the social role of teachers, lecturers, and scientific-educational workers.
5. Implementation of cultural policy and tactics aimed at increasing the level of cultural maturity at both the individual and collective level; continuously struggling against manifestations of a lawless culture.
6. Implementation of state policy aimed at the development of national and universal art and culture.
Development of a national concept and a long-term strategy for all educational levels which will ensure continuity in the sector based on national values, in line with modern educational trends, regardless of which political force is in power.
- Development of legal frameworks for reforms and changes planned in all spheres of education.
- Provide universal access to all levels of education, including students with special educational needs, with necessary accommodations.
- Reduction of the state's participation in the management of educational institutions, guaranteeing a higher level of independence in the management of educational and scientific activities and the management of resources.
- Diversification of sources of funding for educational institutions, provision of instructions that guarantee the efficient use of funding.
- Continuous training of human resources, promotion of development, consistent evaluation, introduction of tiered remuneration structures according to qualification.
- Introduction of effective structures; dialogue between education and economy, development of social partnerships.
- Ensure compliance of education content with modern requirements, access to modern information and telecommunication technologies and promotion of its usage in the educational process; continus digitization of educational materials.
- Ensure close cooperation education and business; tax benefits to enterprises investing in research and innovation initiatives of higher education institutions.
- Introduction of round-the-clock monitoring and quality assessment structures at all levels of education;
- Ensure the complementarity of non-formal, formal education and former qualifications/knowledge/skills.
- Introduction of mechanisms for sharing materials and human resources at all levels of education, aimed at increasing cost-effectiveness in education.
- Expansion of access to pre-school education without any discrimination in the Republic of Armenia, with an emphasis on the availability of such educational servies in the regions and border villages as a to contribute to proportionate territorial development and rural conservation.
- Strengthening democratic educational content based on Armenian national identity in pre-schools as a precondition for building competitive human capital in the 21st century.
- Review of policies and mechanisms of training of pre-school pedagogical and support staff in line with modern trends.
- Provision of differentiated and inclusive pre-school services according to the duration, content and special needs of the students.
- Decentralization of management and financing of general education institutions; encouraging investments through the municipality.
- Ensure quality education by utilizing human capital and material resources in small communities.
- Review management approaches to general education institutions by clarifying functions of the Board of Trustees and reviewing procedures for selection of principals for directors.
- Testing and review of newly adopted standards of general education with the participation of teachers; develop curricula of general education based on national democratic, scientific-based values and technological developments in line with the trends of the 21st century.
- Testing of the newly adopted standards of general education and assessment procedures in order to introduce appropriate assessment mechanisms in the country.
- Providing an enabling environment for the effective implementation of general education and ensuring equal, non-discriminatory access, regardless of family income level, student's abilities, gender, place of residence and other factors.
- Integration of military education in high schools through compulsory summer camps.
- Development and implementation of pedagogical staff training and qualification.
Primary and Vocational Education
- Enhancing the importance of primary and vocational education; identifying labor market demands, providing technical equipment and modernization.
- Enhancing the quality of primary and secondary vocational education, including accreditation processes of relevant institutions.
- Interconnection of primary and secondary vocational education with general education with the aim of providing professional qualification and opportunity for employment.
- Conducting professional training for teachers in primary and secondary vocational education institutions.
Overcoming the legal-administrative crises in the field of higher education with the adoption of the new law on “Higher Education and Science."
- Based on the existing cooperation between the vocational institutions and universities, create a list of professions considered a priority by the state, which will reflect the demands of the job market.
- Enhance the quality of higher education by involving professionals familiar with global trends and best practices. Involve diasporan professionals.
- Higher education should be based on academic knowledge and the requirements of the labor market promoting the development of applied sciences, and meeting the demands of the labor market.
- Ensuring full autonomy of higher education institutions and academic freedom in the selection process, management, organization of educational-research process and accountability in quality of education and research/development.
- Ensuring ethics in higher education and research through a real fight against plagiarism, excluding the possibility of graduating from university without knowledge.
- Review of higher education funding structures by annual indicators, specializations and research required by the state, as well as basic needs for university development.
- Ensuring international visibility through improving the quality of education and through international research publications.
- Providing favorable preconditions for diversifying the financial flows of universities, reducing the dependence on student tuitions (to prevent under-achieving students from passing to prevent impacting the university’s budget). This can be achieved by increasing the number of international students, the volume of research, and the inflow of funding from international programs.
- Establish a system of public accountability with a vision of developing state universities. Annual open meetings with academics and the relevant professional committee of the National Assembly; resolving the issue of universities’ dependence on the ministry.
- Redistribution of educational institutions in regions based on the country’s development strategy and development priorities.
No student with knowledge and high academic performance should be deprived of receiving a higher education because of tuition fees. The youth is our future. The state has a task of providing the young generation modern and high-quality education, and the right to become a competitive professional and have a job with high salary.
All shortcomings of the post-Soviet educational system are typical of Armenia’s educational system and without systematic changes it is not possible to succeed. Armenia is not ready for new scientific methodological approaches. Therefore, our program briefly presents the challenges and principles to ensure an educated generation.
We will adopt the following principles in the process of providing quality education:
● Guarantee the inclusion and equal opportunities for everyone in the education system;
● The development of education and science is the main driving force for the development of society and the state;
● Ensure that the teacher's salary is not below the average national salary;
● Create institutions with new, rich methodological tools in compliance with modern educational approaches;
● Equip the educational system with the leading Armenian-language material;
● Ensure the continuous development of academic staff at pedagogical universities, strengthening their methodology, and restore the training institute;
● Create a healthy and competitive working environment, and in turn ensure the professional competitiveness of educators;
● Ensure the depoliticization of educational institutions;
● Guarantee the transparent management of budgets and expenditures of educational institutions;
● Establishing a pedagogical-methodological scientific institute by conducting state-sponsored risk assessment.
We will adopt the following principles in the process of providing quality general education:
The state will:
● Ensure the continuous development of professional staff;
● Ensure a decent life for academic staff, with better working conditions;
● Ensure the continuous self-development of parent communities by creating parenting clubs, courses and support groups;
● Ensure a transparent working system of general education structures, distribution of funds and toolkit management;
● Follow new scientific methods when creating general education programs, and consider the needs of teachers, parents, and students when developing children’s creativity;
● Provide alternative educational material (both in print and digital formats);
● Ensure the strict supervision of a child’s educational process and ensure no child is left behind for social, physical or other reasons;
● Secure all necessary conditions for inclusive education; ensure the use of all possible resources for the continuous support of pedagogical staff and their self-development;
● Follow the interests and rights of children and their parents, and l create a healthy environment for children's self-expression and education;
● Ensure the development of critical thinking;
● Ensure the exclusion of emotional or physical violence, harassment or bullying in schools.
When speaking about public education reforms, we understand work that needs to be done in three directions and the management of education based on the “golden triangle” - Child-Parent-Teacher cooperation; the creation and development of a participatory culture.
The state creates an environment where a child is protected from:
The risk of being deprived of quality education for material or other reasons;
Any discrimination: Be it health related, social, national, religious, and so on;
Being in an environment where their mental and physical health is endangered.
Create an environment where a child has։
- The right to receive quality education that meets the requirements and modern standards of the world, sufficient skills to live a prosperous life, opportunities to develop personal qualities;
- A favorable environment for self-expression and creativity;
- Free access to food in grades 1-4 (all children should be provided with free food in the future);
- The right to attend free extracurricular clubs according to their abilities and preferences; to develop skills in the spheres of sports and culture;
- Access to state funding for education, regardless of the status (public or private) of the school.
Create an environment where the parent is protected from:
- money collection at schools;
- Having to provide their child with additional, private lessons;
- Doing homework on behalf of their child or doing it with them;
- Political or any other kind of pressure.
Create an environment where the parent has the:
- Right and opportunity to participate in education management;
- Right to expect quality education from the state; a healthy environment for personal development of their child;
- Right and possibility to leave the child at school until 6 p.m.;
- Right and opportunity to choose a school for the child according to their own preferences with the help of state funding, regardless of the school’s status;
- Right to receive education and support from special institutions.
Create an environment where the teacher is protected from:
- The pressure and dictation of the ruling leadership;
- Political, religious or other pressures.
Create an environment where the teacher has:
- Social guranatess and rights to receive a decent salary;
- Paid academic leave every seven years;
- Freedom to choose teaching approaches/methods appropriate to the needs of children;
- The right to directly participate in school management;
- A harmonious work environment with all necessary conditions.
And finally, the educational institution has to be protected from:
- Political or any other pressure;
- From official prejudice;
- Political and religious propaganda.
The educational institution should have:
- Autonomy, the right to choose its personal status and form of governance;
- Creative freedom in determining pedagogical direction and methods;
- State funding regardless of its status;
- Necessary state support to be an educational, cultural and community center in the villages;
- The right to train teachers with its own resources.
Primary and Secondary Vocational Education
Principles to adopt for quality primary and secondary vocational education:
The state has to:
- Ensure the continuous development of professional staff and quality of work;
- Secure a decent life for professional employees, with the best working conditions;
- Encourage exceptional achievement programs and develop investment policies;
- Ensure accountability and transparency to the public;
- Review and Improve educational content and standards;
- Reorganize and reform the institutional structures of the system;
- Guarantee active involvement in international networks, and forge new partnerships;
- Create and develop educational programs in accordance with the requirements of socio-economic development;
- Develop affordable programs available for people with special needs.
Principles for ensuring quality high education:
The state has to:
- Create a flexible and transparent management system of higher education institutions;
- Provide uninterrupted and quality work environment for higher education institutions;
- Equip higher education institutions with qualified staff;
- Ensures a highly-competitive environment for staff;
- Cooperate with independent bodies and support them in the creation and development of modern Armenian language literature;
- Ensure the continuous development of professional staff and the maintenance of quality work;
- Create curricula in line with the requirements of the labor market; secure a job for each graduate.
We believe that adult education is fundamental for the development of democracy, the well-being of a viable civil society, to spur progress, as well as for supporting critical thinking. It is necessary to consider and define a positive state commitment to ensure sustainable educational diversity for adults: From basic skills to language learning, from cultural and entertainment courses to vocational training, from family education to healthcare.
In the process of adult education, it is necessary to combine the advantages of formal and non-formal education systems: To provide new opportunities, pave the way for development and self-education, help adults, parents and children to communicate better, increase people's civic participation, creative and cultural activity.
Adult education is important in terms of universal well-being, filling the lack of education received at an early age, which can significantly enhance the involvement of citizens in public life and their decision-making skills. The state must define, stimulate and pursue the provision and development of lifelong learning mechanisms.
Education, science and culture will be among the key priorities of state policy, and vital support will be directed towards overcoming the value crisis in society and in forging an Armenian citizen;
Erudition will be at the center of educational reform, as a precondition for shaping high-quality human potential in the country. For this purpose, we will review the entire chain of management and control in education, as well as the state criteria for general education, and we will adopt an educational model focused on the development of Armenia;
We will provide high-quality education across the country, eliminate the optimization of schools in mountainous, highland and border communities. Accessibility to preschool education will be increased up to 90-95%;
In order to resolve the teacher shortage issue in rural communities and to improve the quality of school education, a system of social guarantees will be introduced for future teachers working in such communities;
We will develop and implement new standards for the next generation school textbooks and teaching material, including digital, technical and content-based ones, which would ensure the harmony between the structure and content of textbooks with the age and knowledge of students;
In the near future, final examinations in schools and unified entrance examinations to universities will be decentralized and digitized; digitalization would improve the quality of assessment, whereas decentralization of entrance exams will allow future students to take exams from their regions. We will also review the procedure and criteria for the formation of university management councils;
We will increase funding per student by 50% for specializations in natural science, technology, engineering, mathematics and Armenian studies. In general, all types of financial assistance to students will be thoroughly reviewed in order to improve the targeting of such assistance;
Benefits will be defined for highly qualified foreign specialists if they are hired by locally registered Armenian scientific and technical organizations. A contingency reserve fund will be set up to partially or fully fund the teaching and long-term scientific activities of leading foreign specialists in national scientific and higher education institutions;
We will adopt an effective model for scientific management and financing. Moreover, we will identify key areas of science, to serve the country's security and competitiveness issues, as well as the military industry;
In order to create an innovative system, comprehensive measures will be taken to arrange the promotion and funding of the process of turning scientific products into specific applied and consumer products, while ensuring its commercialization at all stages.