Within his three-day visit to Artsakh, RA Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotian had a meeting at the AtsakhStateUniversity, where the NKR and RA Ministers of Education and Science signed a cooperation memorandum for 2014-2020.
Touching upon the memorandum’s provisions, NKR Minister of Education and Science Slava Asrian noted that reforms are realized in the entire education system and being in a common education space and cooperating with each other, Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh are implementing them simultaneously. Generally, many educational establishments of our Republic were integrated into the educational system of Armenia yet in the beginning of the Karabakh Movement – initially, some of them were even included in Armenia’s systems. As an example, Mr. Asrian noted the Artsakh Pedagogical Institute, which had been an important focus of the liberation struggle, had been closed by force of circumstances and had become a branch of the Kirovakan Pedagogical Institute, later transforming into a StateUniversity. The university, vocational, secondary, and preschool education has always been in a horizontal relationship. After establishing official relations between the governments and ministries of both republics, the contacts became closer. The memorandum’s signing is caused by the fact that the term of the last agreement with the RA Ministry of Education and Science has expired and it needs to be renewed. The program included earlier provisions. The two ministries are implementing comprehensive works and the RA Ministry of Education and Science and its structures offer their support in all the spheres. The branches of the RA MES National Education Institute, AgrarianUniversity, Assessment and TestingCenter, operating in Artsakh, and all the other educational establishments are in horizontal relations with the corresponding structures. According to Mr. Asrian, the renewed program included also new provisions. In particular, steps will be taken to represent the educational system of Artsakh in the Bologna process, considering that Armenia will be the secretary-state of the Bologna Process till 2015. Mr. Asrian noted that success in this direction would mean that we had moved forward a step.
Innovation is also the establishment of the rating of the secondary and higher education institutions of Armenia – it is conducted on a pilot basis. In case of a positive result Artsakh will also join the process and the rating and accreditation of higher education institutions will be carried out in a single space and we’ll be involved in the relevant information networks in Armenia.
Slava Asrian noted another circumstance – the Artsakh Universities’ diplomas as documents of an unrecognized state create certain obstacles to graduates. To temporarily resolve the issue, it was decided to issue double degrees. In short, the program covers all spheres with all levels of education - material assistance, training of teachers and lecturers, students exchange, reciprocal links, visits and joint camps, scientific conferences, i.e. all the activities, which were carried out earlier, will be continued and further expanded.
The RA Minister of Education and Science also shared his considerations on the system’s development. According to him, the education sphere is the most complex and large in scope, therefore, is in the center of the public attention. Besides, it is aimed at creating modern education institutions. "We try to follow the path, which we believe is right, just sometimes the speed is not satisfactory for us. Sometimes, it seems that forces are leaving us, but, nevertheless, the reforms in the RA education system are irreversible and successive", said Armen Ashotian. The Minister justified the need for reforms as follows: education should be more qualitative, close links should be established between the universities and economies, salaries at the educational institutions should be raised, corruption risks should be reduced, our education should be represented in the European educational space and the society should be happy. Nevertheless, the most important goal he considers changing the mentalities of schoolchildren and students. "After years of work, I came to a simple conclusion: you can only teach someone who wants to study. And only he wants to study who believes that with his own mind and knowledge he can pave his way to feed his family and get a decent job. This is the model that we called an economy or a society based on knowledge", said the RA Minister of Education and Science. Among the numerous achievements, he noted the re-equipment of laboratory bases, the expansion of the process of diplomas recognition, and the students’ desire to study better. Mr. Ashotian evaluated the current development processes as positive and proposed to take the future with great optimism. As for the cooperation with the NKR, the Minister said, "It existed, exists, and will be further expanded". The Armenian educational system should just enter a new stage of development, for which all the prerequisites are available.
Armen Ashotian answered the questions of the audience.
On behalf of the academic staff and students, ArSU Rector Manush Minasian expressed her gratitude to the ministers for their interesting comments, constant support, and attention, ensuring that the provisions of the memorandum would be implemented by a successive job.