Minister Calls for Major Structural Changes in Education System

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s education and science minister Levon Mkrtchian said that in the last 10 years the education system was trying to maintain its standards from the Soviet era and has partly managed to do so–but not without serious losses.

Mkrtchian cited the reduction in the number of students enrolled in intermediate and higher education institutions–but more higher education facilities are being built. There were 14 universities in Armenia during the Soviets era for approximately 50,000-60,000 students. Whereas the current statistics show that the number of students attending those schools was reduced by half–and the number of schools increased. There are 16 state-run universities with 7 branches and many private universities.

The same situation is observed in the science sector. The number of scientific research institutions is more than 120–but only a very small number of scientific employees remained.

The minister believes that the problem can be solved through structural changes in the system. "This situation forces us to improve the quality of Armenia’s education–which we are capable of accomplishing because of the World Bank new education loan," he said.

The same situation is observed in the public education sector. There is a small number of students–but a large number of teachers.

Mkrtchian thinks that it is necessary to clarify the teachers’ salaries and work conditions–as well as to work an system to finance the education sector–according to which the schools will be in charge of managing the money allocated by the government. This method will create bilateral obligations between the government and the schools.

As Mkrtchian said–it is necessary to find a right model–be it a European or Iranian–and apply it in Armenia. "We should choose the model which is closest to our mentality–maintaining our national educational values–only in this case it is possible to provide fair competition in the education system and solve the problem of quality.

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