Writing on the Wall for Children’s Rights in Armenia

BY ARMENUHI SAHAKYAN

children-gyumriPerformances, drawings, humor and songs gave students in Gyumri a chance to illustrate critical issues harming their rights during a recent event held by student councils.

Different attitudes of teachers towards students, bribery, poor school conditions, and lack of teaching materials were issues students raised, as well as the problems teachers themselves face, for instance, students’ absenteeism and low interest towards education.

It was also stressed that teachers’ salaries are among the lowest in Armenia, sometimes driving teachers to leave teaching and search for a job with better pay.

“We have a newspaper at school that allows us to express all our concerns. But it is still not enough. We want also some actions that will bring visible changes,” said Samvel Melkonyan, 16 and head of the Student Council at #37 school.

“School is a place where a student may face bribing and flattering for the first time. The school can bring up and educate a good or demoralized person to the society,” said Karen Davtyan, 16 from school #11.

Teachers, school principles and the head of the Shirak Marz Education Department were also present during the event. Though it is difficult for students to talk about critical issues in front of their school management both teams succeeded to highlight limitations that hinder their education. Students also shared their understanding of rights by quoting appropriate articles from the Constitution of Armenia and referring to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child injecting a real sense of seriousness into the performances.

“Each class has a council at our school. They bring all the concerns to the Student’s Council with which we have meetings every week. Behavior, cleanliness, student-teacher relationships are the main concerns,” said Hrayr Karapetyan, principle of school #11.

“It is time for action. Otherwise the next generation will inherit the same problems of the school,” she continued.

“Even though our school was not a winner, I am for this kind of initiative. It helps us to work in a team, to concentrate on existing problems, and to consolidate all knowledge gained during the course of Political Science,” said Jemma Gevorgyan, 15, from school #37.

“I liked the idea that three of the five jury members are children. Being a jury is a hard task. We study Political Science at school and it is a good chance for children to put their knowledge into practice,” said Karush Hoveyan, 16, from school #37.

“Through competitions we aim to activate the Students’ Councils and encourage them to be advocates for their rights. We want them to contribute more to the improvement of the education process through providing tangible support to the school management,” said Shaghik Maroukhian, World Vision Armenia Operations Manager

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