DILIJAN, Armenia—The United World Colleges’ (UWC) first ever international school in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, UWC Dilijan, held its official opening in Armenia’s north-eastern resort town on Saturday.
The school, which now has 96 students (aged 16-17) and only 25 instructors, is planning to increase its number to involve more young people and specialists in the system.
At a news conference held before the opening event, the school’s founding partner, Ruben Vardanyan, thanked all the people who believed and assisted in the project. He expressed hope that UWC Dilijan will set a good model in the international education system, by helping shape new standards and values.
Armenian will not be taught as a foreign language at the school whose curriculum includes courses in mathematics and foreign languages, said John Puddefoot, the acting principal. But he expressed hope that they will manage to organize classes of Armenians in the near future. The school will also engage in scientific projects.
The idea to launch the school came into life thanks to assistance by donors from around 200 countries. The total cost of the development activities is $115 million as of now. An additional $30 million will be spent for the procurement of land lots, architectural-engineering activities and infra-structure development.
The curriculum, offered in the Armenian language, is based on the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program. Starting from 2017, the school will admit students aged 13-14.
The opening ceremony was attended by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakian, and other high-ranking officials.
I sincerely wish to see Azeri students attending Dilijan International School one day. I am sure that this day will come and want it to come as soon as possible, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said while opening UWC Dilijan on Saturday.
He said that today Armenia is known in the world not for its oil or gas but for its Matenadaran, high-tech achievements, and UWC Dilijan.
“This is why the future belongs to us and we must be confident,” Sarkisian said.
He welcomed the fact that the school has a good professional team of specialists from different countries. “This will open up new opportunities for us,” he said.
Sarkisian noted that the school advocates eternal values, like kindness and tolerance.
He thanked all those who have made this project possible, especially Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend.
UWC Dilijan College is a large-scale charitable initiative. Spending on construction of the school — procured solely from charitable donations — reached $115 million as of the opening day.
The second phase of the construction will cost about $75 million. Additional funds under the project (for acquisition of land, architectural and engineering work, development of infrastructures) are estimated at about $30 million for the entire period. The operational budget of the school for the coming 5 years amounts to $8 million per year on average.
The operational budget will be replenished from the endowment fund management and scholarship fund. By 2023 the College with its current 96 students from nearly 50 countries will operate at full capacity and the number of students will increased to 650 people. The teaching staff will exceed 60 people. The IB Diploma is taught at all UWC schools and colleges, including UWC Dilijan College. The lessons are delivered in English. There are 10 students from Armenia at UWC Dilijan College.
Talking to reporters, Ruben Vardanyan said the project is important not only to Armenia. He hopes the school will become an example of new world standards in the field of education. Vardanyan thanked everyone who believed in the success of the project.
The construction of the school is being supported by the government of Armenia and personally by President Serzh Sarkisian. UWC Dilijan was built according to the designs of a leading London architecture bureau, Tim Flynn Architects. The UWC Dilijan admission criteria are available on www.am.uwc.org.