new plan calls for schools to be joined.
When classes begin in September, there'll be
fewer elementary schools, but better conditions
for pupil, according to a plan to improve the
education system in Armenia.
Some 37 schools will be consolidated, closing
some schools that are in chronic disrepair and/or
Yerevan's Sundukyan School No. 26, for example,
hasn't been repaired in more than 50 years officials
say. It will be closed, and its students sent
to School No. 124.
The decision to consolidate schools provoked
a protest demonstration from staff of several
schools, but authorities say the merge is a suitable
Onik Vatyan, head of the Education Department
of the Yerevan municipality, says it would be
irresponsible to continue classes in such poor
"Even if the parents agree that their children
study in those damp classrooms that are swarming
with insects," Vatyan says. "We can
not neglect this."
Further, in some large schools, enrollment has
decreased, leaving buildings that are only partially
used. The head of the department of general education
of the Ministry of Education and Science, Norayr
Ghukasyan says it is extravagant to have two schools
meant for 1,000 pupils where only 100 attend.
says some teachers will be dismissed.
"The government allocates several millions
on communal expenditures of the schools that are
less loaded than they are meant to be," says
father of two students, Henrik Alaverdyan. "This
is a waste the bigger part of which goes into
the pocket of the headmaster. This is the case
when we have inherited many schools from the Soviet
times, when every district has more then 10 schools
that can be used more rationally."
The shift will no doubt create some inconvenience
(School 124, for example, is not near to the homes
of children who've attended No. 26), but officials
say the consolidation will reduce expenses and
provide funds to increase teacher salaries. The
number of teachers, however, will be decreased.
By some international standards, one teacher
is sufficient for every 20 elementary pupils.
In Armenia, however, the current ratio is one
According to Department of Education representative
Sasha Kubanyan, some teachers are teaching only
one class, earning only 3,000 drams (about $5)
a month merely as a means of keeping their seniority.
"It is obvious that getting such a miserable
salary, a teacher will not make an effort to teach
his students," Kubanyan says. Such conditions
encourage some teachers to turn to taking bribes,
Ultimately, the optimizing program will dismiss
excess teachers, while increasing salaries for
the necessary ones. At present, the average teacher
salary is 13,000 drams (about $22). It is hoped
that, by 2006, salaries will increase by more
than double, to 55,000 drams (about $96).
schools that have been mostly empty will
be consolidated with others.
"It is difficult to say how many teachers
will be dismissed as the process has just started,"
syas Nurijan Manukyan, head of the supervising
department at the Ministry of Education and Science.
"We can say for sure that the headmasters,
heads of the teaching/curriculum departments and
stewards of the joining schools will be dismissed.
But in regard to the number of the teachers that
are to be dismissed we cannot say anything definite."
Teachers older than 60 will be dismissed or retired,
concurrent with an increase in pupil to teacher
density and an increase in class load.
"Today teachers older than 70 that can hardly
go up the stairs to work in the school,"
Kubanyan says. "How can they possibly keep
the students in a mood to study or organize excursions?"
In total, there are 1,392 schools in Armenia.
Fifty-three are boarding schools, 35 art schools
and 1304 for general education. The total number
of teachers is 55,000 and there are 530,000 students.