Tag Archives: education

On 25 September the official contract signing ceremony for winning grants under the small grants scheme of the “STRONG CSOs for a Stronger Armenia” project took place. 17 winning projects received funding, exceeding €900,000 (projects could receive up to €60,000). These projects will be implemented by 46 civil society organisation (CSO) partnerships based in Yerevan and other Armenian marzes. The implementation of these projects will not only bring about positive change, but also strengthen civil society in Armenia by building a strong CSO network across the country. This network will provide CSOs with the opportunity to work in consortia, share experiences, learn from each other, and develop their skills and capacities.

DSC_0898Sub-granted projects will begin from 1 October 2017 and last 12 months. Projects cover the following sectors: youth, social services, justice, and human rights, entrepreneurship, and education. The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, together with the President of Podlaska Regional Development Foundation and “STRONG CSOs for a Stronger Armenia” Grants Manager, Andrzej Parafiniuk, spoke to attendees of the ceremony.

DSC_0523Ambassador Świtalski highlighted in his opening speech that a crossroads had been crossed: ‘Congratulation to all of our civil society partners who have made it to this stage. Signing the contracts has brought you past the crossroads – over the past two years you have tested your patience, congratulations for surviving until now! We have now 17 excellent projects. We are naturally interested in the success of this project, as your success as pioneers will determine how often and how deep the concept of sub granting will go. So, today, while signing the contracts, understand your responsibility: there is no other option than success, it is an obligation!’

DSC_0459Parafiniuk echoed the importance of the project event: ‘This is a very important moment for the project. You have passed through hundreds of hours of training, coaching, seminars and conferences, as well as many other activities which we have proposed to you over the past two years. Now we have come to the most important part of the project – you have to practice what you have learned. Today we are signing contracts and you will start to implement your projects in a few days. Success is in our common interest, so I am sure we will cooperate well during the projects’ implementation’.

The “STRONG Civil Society Organisations for Stronger Armenia” project is aimed at increasing the capacities of CSOs in Armenia to be independent development actors, more competent, more responsive to citizens’ needs, and to proactively support the country’s development through practical, project-based approaches. The project is being implemented by a consortium of the Podlaska Regional Development Foundation and DAS.AM. It was launched on 1 October 2015 and the implementation period is 3 years. Target groups of the project include CSOs across Armenia (not just Yerevan) and their client groups, the private sector, state institutions, and different segments of society. The project is co-funded by the European Union.

Public school and education indicators are now being monitored in Armenia through the Dasaran educational programme using the“E-Stat Diagnostic Tool on Public Education” (eSDT). The development of this analytical tool has been funded by the European Union.

15195986_1167483156638945_366994590041786164_oThe Dasaran programme, over the past 7 years,has aimed to bring positive changes in the educational sector in Armenia. It has had many achievements and was recognised as one of the best 5 innovative enterprises in the final round of Accelerate 2030,a joint international initiative organised by UNDP and Impact Hub in September. One of the project’s most recent steps has been to develop an analytical tool with voluntary support of experts from Harvard University in the USA.

eSDT provides real-time statistical data and comprehensive analysis on the efficiency of school management, enrolment, and student performance. It uses a variety of indicators, including student, parent and teacher distribution by region, age and gender, student performance data (grade average), absence rates, student emigration and transfer rates, comparative analysis of teachers’ workload, teacher/student ratios, and annual respective shift projection. The data gathered identify gaps and challenges in the school education system and offers ideas for solutions.
This new tool was presented by Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia and Levon Mkrtchyan, the Armenian Minister of Education and Science.

15122994_1167493419971252_4357850255779348587_oAmbassador Świtalski noted Dasaran’s contributions to improving education in Armenia: ‘It’s a small project, but for EU it is an important one. Through this project we want to show our continuous commitment to two important areas for Armenia’a future – education and youth. We would like to help Armenia to develop educational models, as the country is facing many challenges as economic and fiscal pressures, which make it difficult to implement ambitions plans. However, we believe in Armenia and the EU will continue to provide support to the educational sector as we have done in the past’.

15123446_1167482716638989_5047164507784176361_oMkrtchyan welcomed European support: ‘This is a unique project. Our cooperation with the EU is concrete, clear, and we are always able to measure the results. I would like to thank the people involved for their hard work on policy development. I hope our cooperation will continue’.

In May 2016 the EU Delegation to Armenia launched the first Euroclub in Armenia. The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Świtalski, promised that Euroclubs would be opened in all Armenian marzes by the end of the year. This is now a reality.
On 22 November 2016 the last Euroclub in Armenia was established. The concept of Euroclubs started more than 25 years ago in Portugal, and spread to other EU member states and beyond. Euroclubs now exist across the EU and have been established in Eastern Partnership countries.
The idea behind the clubs is very simple; it is about offering a possibility for young people to gain access to information and to conduct conversations about Europe and European values and opportunities.

333333The main goals of Euroclubs in Armenia have been be to inform and educate young people about the EU and EU-Armenia issues, offer assistance in establishing long-term partnerships with European youth NGOs, apply for and obtain EU resources, and support Armenian youth’s aspirations to strengthen relations with the EU. The Delegation of the European Union in Armenia decided to launch this project to involve youth from all Armenian marzes and create equal opportunities. The very first Euroclub in Armenia was launched in Goris (Syunik marz); the second was in Yeghegnadzor (Vayots dzor marz). The third was recently established in the capital, Yerevan. Autumn 2016 then became a month for launching Euroclubs as, by end of October, Euroclubs had been set up in Dilijan (Tavush marz) and Armavir (Armavir marz). In November, even more were established in Gavar (Gegharkunik), Gyumri (Shirak marz), Vanadzor (Lori marz), Abovyan (Kotayk marz), Artashat (Ararat marz) and Ashtarak (Aragatsotn marz). All Euroclubs were established and are run with the assistance of a local partner organisation.
222222At the opening of the clubs, representatives from the EU, including the Ambassador himself, welcomed the club members and answered to their questions on the EU and EU-Armenia relations. Ambassador Świtalski highlighted that the existence of more Euroclubs was a symbol of the strong European identity of young Armenians: ‘Young Armenians want to stay in touch, have contact and engage in dialogue and cooperation with young people in other European countries; I don’t just mean the European Union. We believe that, through Euroclubs, Armenian youth, in particular those in the regions, will get additional possibilities to learn more about EU projects in Armenia and establish links with these projects. At these opening ceremonies I have spoken to participants who praise the youth activism behind these clubs’.

What are the key actions of the Erasmus+ programme? When are the calls for the application being announced? How can you find tips on how to apply? When are the deadlines?
A series of Erasmus+ information meetings were organised in Yerevan on 4, 8 and 11 November 2016 as part of a wider Erasmus+ information campaign in Armenia. The aim of these information days is to cover various key actions of the Erasmus+ programme. The events were organised by the National Erasmus+ Office in Armenia, together with Armenian universities. Erasmus+ is an EU programme supporting actions in education, training, youth and sport from 2014-2020.
These events provide an excellent opportunity for all stakeholders to listen and share their experience, support each other, and discuss and try to find common solutions to problems that hinder mobility. On the first day of the event the topic of limited mobility was covered, one of the biggest obstacles to the internationalisation of universities. On 4 November, a presentation on key action 1, International Credit Mobility and Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degrees, was held for the general public at the Armenian State University of Economics.

14915427_1148783361842258_1560300254729326499_nThe Deputy Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Gregory Tsouris, attended the event and spoke about the EU’s priorities: ‘I am very happy to see the high level of interest in this event and the hunger for practical and important information. Education, training, youth and sport are key strategic drivers to overcome socio-economic crises affecting EU countries. Erasmus+ brings together 7-EU-funded programmes and gives opportunites to students, teachers, staff and volunteers to spend time abroad. The EU and Armenia are also working together to improve education in Armenia through different projects’.

Armenian Minister of Education and Science Levon Mkrtchyan thanked hisEuropean colleagues for the European Union’s support to educational projects in Armenia: ‘The higher education system is developing very quickly. The current trend is moving towards a credit system. There is still a lotto do to establish an educational credit system in our country. Our priority is to ensure internal student mobility between universities in Armenia. If we want to have international educational quality, especially atthe Master’s and Bachelor’s level, we have to combine university databases and create such a platform for university cooperation so that students can move freely acrossArmenia’s scientific and educational institutions andbetterenrich their knowledge’.

On 8 November, the Armenian State Pedagogical University hosted a session on key action img_03052, capacity building in higher education (the former Tempus programme). The event was open to key administrators, managers and academic staff members of Armenian higher education institutions, as well as representatives of labour market and public organisations.Additional information on the Erasmus+ programme, particularly Jean Monnet actions(programme aimed at stimulating teaching, research and reflection in the field of European integration studies at the level of higher education institutions within and outside the European Community), was presented to the Armenian academic community at Yerevan State University on 11 November.

ars_6575These information days brought together managers, administrators, scholars, students and experts from higher education institutions, representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia, and the Delegation of EU to Armenia. In addition to hands-on, practical information on scholarships and grants available through Erasmus+, application tips were presented to participants with regard to the call for proposals launched in October 2016.
More Erasmus+information events will take place on 23 November in Gyumri and on 24 November in Vanadzor.

The concept of Euroclubs started more than 25 years ago in Portugal, and spread to other EU member states and beyond: Euroclubs now exist across the EU and have been established in Eastern Partnership countries.
The idea behind the clubs is very simple; it is about offering a possibility for young people to gain access to information and to conduct conversations about Europe and European values and opportunities. The main goals of Euroclubs in Armenian marzes have been be to inform and educate young people about the EU and EU-Armenia issues, offer assistance in establishing long-term partnerships with European youth NGOs, apply for and obtain EU resources, and support Armenian youth’s aspirations to strengthen relations with the EU.
The Delegation of the European Union in Armenia decided to launch this project to involve youth from all Armenian marzes and create equal opportunities. The very first Euroclub in Armenia was launched in Goris (Syunik marz) and the second in Yeghegnadzor (Vayots dzor marz). Now it is Yerevan’s turn.
14702404_1134237206630207_6348905847760770808_nOn 18 October 2016 the opening ceremony of the Yerevan Euroclub took place. The Head of the EU Delegation, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, spoke to participants during the opening ceremony, praising the youth activism behind the clubs: ‘I’m very glad that young people in Armenia are interested in this idea and initiative. The fact that more Euroclubs are being launched in Armenia has symbolic significance – it shows that the European identity of young Armenians is very strong. Young Armenians want to stay in touch, have contact and engage in dialogue and cooperation with young people in other European countries; I don’t just mean the European Union. That said, we believe that, through Euroclubs, Armenian youth, in particular those in the regions, will get additional possibilities to learn more about EU projects in Armenia and establish links with these projects’.
After the opening ceremony, Ambassador Świtalski met over 30 members of the Euroclub in Yerevan. He chaired a discussion, during which they asked many questions and talked about the future of the Yerevan Euroclub.

For the past two years, the European Union has supported Armenia in improving its higher education to make it more compatible with higher education in Europe. The closing conference of the Empowerment of Tertiary-level Education twinning project took place on 1 July 2016 and was attended by Armenian educational experts and governmental representatives, as well as representatives from the international community.
Project results include that the Armenian legislation on higher education and the national qualifications framework have been reviewed. Moreover, the capacity of the Armenian tertiary education system to implement the Bologna reforms has been raised and Armenian higher education institutions have been supported to streamline their educational programmes in line with Bologna principles and to ensure compatibility with labour market requirements. During the project, 43 experts from Finland and Germany conducted missions in Armenia to review national legislation on higher education, to provide training, and to exchange experience with their Armenian counterparts.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, attended the event and highlighted educational links between Armenia and the EU: ‘Education is very important for the EU; Armenia can count on our support and cooperation to bring the Armenian educational system closer to the European system, and closer to the requirements of the 21st century. I think that education is a field where the integral link between Armenia and the European family is so strong and visible. Armenia is a nation of rich culture and education; for generations Armenia has considered this a very important asset. Armenia is a country of book lovers, a country where books have almost a religious value. When you look at the assets Armenia has to boost its development, to create a modern, prosperous society, education is one of the answers that instinctively comes to mind. Investment in education is paramount’.
The Armenian Minister of Education and Science, Levon Mktrchyan, said that the work carried out during the project would influence educational initiatives: ‘When we speak about the entry of European civilisation and values into our country, we can, first of all, refer to education and science. This twinning project’s symbolic format had a big effect on perspectives in these areas. It is no coincidence that the two selected partner countries can be proud of their educational format, Finland and Germany. For me, the Finnish model of education is of a very high standard, with smooth transitions between different educational levels and a proportionate system. When we started the reform process for basic education, the Finnish model was a principal reference point. Therefore, the advisory presence of the best Finnish experience was very important for us. Our German partners transferred their powerful and rich educational tradition, the structure of which is more familiar to us, as well as strict criteria of quality and discipline, especially in higher education’.
More than 200 teaching and administrative staff, as well as students from Armenian higher education institutions and specialists from Armenian National Centre for Professional Education Quality Assurance (ANQA) participated in 25 training sessions. The sessions covered topics such as the design of learning outcomes, student assessment and grading, credit transfer and accumulation, accreditation, and quality assurance. Selected specialists from the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia and ANQA also participated in two study visits to Germany, Finland and Estonia.
The project was financed by the European Union with a budget of €1 million and a duration of 24 months. It was implemented by the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia, the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre, and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Around 60 experts from Finland, Germany and Estonia contributed to the implementation of the project. Armenian higher education institutions and ANQA were also highly involved in the project.

The Commission on Ethics of High-ranking Officials and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Office in Yerevan organised a conference on “National and International Efforts for Applied Ethics” on 26 January 2016. Representatives from Armenian universities and civil society organisations took part in the event and several of them had also been part of ethics education in Armenia and abroad. Ambassador Piotr Antoni Świtalski, Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, welcomed participants by stressing that corruption is a serious obstacle to development and that the EU will continue to support Armenia fight corruption: ‘The role of education is very important in the fight against corruption, because from the psychology and sociology disciplines we learn that in educated societies the level of corruption is low. For Armenia, corruption is one of the biggest dangers and I will never be tired of talking about this subject, because I want to see results stem from these talks and events. Of course, improvements are being made, but there is still much to do. According the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Armenia ranks 96th out of 176 countries. However, at the same time, Georgia is in 50th place. Your neighbour has made a clear breakthrough’. Mrs. Siranush Sahakyan, the Head of the Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials, , shared a number of important ethics education events that will be organised over the next months and also discussed the capacity-building activities that are integrated in the commission’s overall strategy.

The presentation of the EU-funded “Discover Europe” educational project took place on 5 June 2015. “Discover Europe” is an educational game, with the help of which Armenian kids have an opportunity to learn more about the European Union Member States, and European culture and history. The game was developed by the “Dasaran.am” educational platform. The game has been online on Dasaran.am since 15 May, and about 95 thousand unique users have played it since then. Four of those users managed to win the game and were invited to the presentation ceremony, where surprises were waiting for them.
11351376_854886951231902_6727736079302240504_nThe Head of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Hoa-Binh Adjemian, stated that he had not seen any project like Dasaran.am in other countries around the world, where all students were united in one platform: ‘It is great to see these students – we don’t have these kinds of opportunities often in our work at the Delegation. I am very happy to see students who are interested in the world, Europe, and their rights. The EU is proud to have an opportunity to support the Dasaran project. I hope all of you will continue using this platform to learn more about Europe, because the future of Armenia belongs to you’.
Suren Aloyan, President of Dasaran.am, after thanking the EU Delegation for its support, introduced the aims of the game: ‘Dasaran.am has great experience in creating educational games – this is our 43rd. We know that, with the help of games’ learning processes, education can be more attractive and fun’.
After the opening speeches, guests and children enjoyed a game preview, talked through the results, and attended the awards ceremony. When all the gifts had been presented, there was a group photo of all of participants.
To play the game, follow the link: http://www.dasaran.am/games/eugame

The launch ceremony of the “Strengthening integrity and combating corruption in higher education in Armenia” project took place on 27 May 2015. The budget of the project is €400,000, provided by the EU under the EU – Council of Europe’s partnership cooperation framework in Eastern Partnership countries for 2015-2017.
The project is aimed at strengthening and combating corruption in higher education institutions by supporting the effective implementation of the Anti-corruption Action Plan 2015-2018 of the Republic of Armenia. The project’s objective is to support the development of prevention and integrity mechanisms for practicing professionals and to increase good governance in the field of higher education in the country.
ARS_0783After the aims of the project were presented, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Traian Hristea, had his welcome speech. ‘The launch of this project comes right after the European Higher Education Area Ministerial conference, which took place in Yerevan two weeks ago, and also after the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga. The summit has confirmed the EU’s commitment to supporting Armenia in many areas; education is one of them. This project supports the efficiency of education in the country, and I hope it will bring a brighter future to future generations. Reducing corruption, not only in higher education but also in many other spheres in the country, is a difficult and long journey; let me reassure you that the EU will stand side by side and will always offer support’.
ARS_0798The Armenian government has declared its intention to combat corruption. A new anti-corruption strategy was developed in 2014, concentrating on public health, education, and the police. Higher education has been singled out in this project, as corruption risks are generally more substantial in this part of the education system. The project will focus on a systematic approach and will cover 26 state-owned higher education institutions. The Armenian Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Karine Harutyunyan, talked about Armenia’s position in corruption reports, mentioning that education was reported to accumulate a lot of corruption but that there had been positive changes in recent years.
It is anticipated that the project will increase the awareness of corruption risks, and will develop guidelines and recommendations, including legislative changes and code of ethics for enhancing integrity among major higher education stakeholders.

The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) Ministerial Conference and Fourth Bologna Policy Forum took place on 14-15 May 2015 in Yerevan, Armenia. About 500 participants from 47 countries and international organisations, including 20 education ministers, arrived in Armenia to attend the event. Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, also came to Armenia to take part in the conference and join in the Europe Day celebrations.
During the opening ceremony of the conference, Commissioner Navracsics thanked Armenia for hosting the conference, as well as Iceland and Latvia for their chairmanship: ‘The very core of our societies has suffered serious blows this year: freedom of speech and academic thought have been under attack in Europe and beyond. From the shocking attacks in Paris and Copenhagen to the devastating killings of students in Kenya we have all been reminded that to maintain and nurture democratic values and academic freedom we have to work together and engage in constant dialogue. Universities have a vital role to play.
ARS_2785
They provide an environment and prospective that enable citizens to think freely and critically, and they nurture open, tolerant societies. Higher education institutions played an irreplaceable role in rebuilding societies in Europe after 1989. Today, higher education and academic values remain crucial for the safekeeping of democratic freedoms. We must acknowledge these values and share commitments we will make here in Yerevan’.
The Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, also spoke: ‘Positive and progressive trends have been registered in our higher education institutions with regard to both the application of European quality standards and student mobility. The Armenian culture of education, which originated in ancient times, is an integral part of our country’s ancient history and has made global contributions. To build upon our educational traditions today we need accessible and adequate tools for contact and communication throughout the whole European Higher Education Area. In that context, the Bologna process-driven reforms have significantly supported the founding of a student-orientated system and efforts that provide today’s generation with the opportunity to be well equipped and competitive to respond to current challenges. Although we have not yet overcome all the obstacles, the accomplishments we have already registered and our will to achieve global goals signals a more active stage of dialogue. The important decisions you are going to make in Yerevan will have a positive impact on millions of European students and education beneficiaries, thus paving the way for new progress, economic development and stability’.
ARS_3040
After the opening remarks of the chairmen and the Armenian Minister of Education and Science, participants started their discussions, one result of which was the Republic of Belarus becoming a member of the EHEA.
The conference concluded with a communiqué for Yerevan. For the first time in a EHEA ministerial communiqué, the right to student mobility and education in conflict areas was affirmed, a crucial principle in the context of European education policy.
ARS_3109The Armenian Prime Minister closed proceedings, stating that Armenia highly evaluated the participation of such an audience and delegations in Yerevan: ‘The Bologna process is a result of a successful cooperation. It has had a crucial role in the creation of the EHEA model, as well as enabled countries with different cultural and education traditions to create learning environments in line with European standards’.
A press conference attended by all participating ministers was held after the conference. Mārīte Seile, Latvian Minister of Education and Science, commented that the Bologna process was very important for Europe’s competitiveness: ‘The conference was a very clear message that higher education is not only about knowledge and skills, but also values and attitudes’. ARS_3312
The Armenian Minister of Education and Science, Armen Ashotyan, announced that the next conference would be hosted by France in 2018.