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On 20 November, on World Children’s Day, the EU Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, the Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Armenia Lusine Araqelyan and the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Janna Andreasyan participated in the #TakeAction Ideathon at Vanadzor Technology Centre, which was organised with the support of the European Union. The aim of the event was to raise awareness of local communities on human rights protection by engaging children in addressing the issues in the field. The event offered 150 children aged 13-17 from Shirak, Lori and Tavush marzes a platform to learn more about their rights and responsibilities, as well as collaborate on developing creative ideas to enhance the lives of their communities. Children developed 30 projects; three projects won the contest, one per marz.

The EU Ambassador welcomed all the participants: “The EU attaches great importance to the protection of human rights. As a teacher in my first profession, I would like to highlight that it is important for a teacher to continue learning and accepting criticism positively. Students also have the right to make their voice heard. The purpose of today’s event is to teach how to present an idea and make it available”.

The winning projects will be brought to life with the financial support of the European Union. They will promote equal rights in the marzes through community engagement. Coaches from human rights NGOs and educational institutions guided the children in the process of putting together a comprehensive project. The jury was comprised of representatives of regional administrations, NGOs and youth projects.  As a result of the implementation of the winning projects, Azatan community of Shirak marz will have an inclusive playground to ensure equal opportunities of entertainment for all children. The football field of school N23 in Vanadzor city, Lori marz, will be renovated, wheelchair ramps will be installed in the school. Veterans’ Park in Azatamut community of Tavush marz will be renovated as well.

On 28 September, the official opening of European Heritage Days 2019 took place at Amberd fortress, Aragatsotn marz, organised by the EU Delegation to Armenia jointly with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport of the Republic of Armenia. The theme of this year was “Arts and Entertainment”. The EU Ambassador to Armenia, Andrea Wiktorin, and the RA Minister of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport, Arayik Harutyunyan, opened the event and held a press briefing with journalists.

Ambassador Wiktorin spoke of the importance of cultural heritage: “We are happy to visit here again and see the wonderful Amberd fortress. This fortress is one of the jewels of your country. The EU attaches great importance to cultural heritage, as we think it is one of the ways which can unite us. For years, the EU Delegation to Armenia has supported the implementation of European Heritage Days in Armenia and I am extremely grateful for our cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport”.

Minister Harutyunyan was excited to launch European Heritage Days: “Amberd is one of our most important historical and cultural sites. I am glad that a number of events will be organised in different places in Armenia for European Heritage Days. It is a great opportunity to present the present and the past of Armenia’s cultural heritage. As for our general cooperation, we are implementing a number of projects with the EU to marry culture with entrepreneurship, in which we have had some success”.

European Heritage Days this year has featured various cultural events, concerts, video shows, marches, literature and music events, educational, and interactive programmes. These events have involved more than 100 Armenian cultural organisations.

European Heritage Days are held annually in the 50 European countries which joined the European Cultural Convention (1954). The idea appeared in France, in 1984, under the motto “Monuments’ Open Doors”. The “European Heritage Days” programme was officially established by the Council of Europe in 1991, and the European Commission joined the programme in 1999. This initiative started under the motto “Europe: A Common Heritage”. Annually, more than 70,000 cultural events are held throughout Europe to increase public awareness about European heritage, to emphasise its uniqueness and diversity, and the importance of its preservation.

Amberd is a former fortress built in the 10th century. It is located in Aragatsotn marz, on the north-eastern slope of Mount Aragats. There are ruins of cyclopean masonry and fish-like obelisks at Amberd and the surrounding area. As a result of excavations, various metal items, weapons, jewellery, ceramics, coins, and other materials of high cultural value have been found; these are key to studying and understanding the economy, military and cultural life of medieval Armenia. Vahramashen church, which was built under the sponsorship of the Prince and Sparapet (Commander) Vahram Pahlavouni in 1026, is located near Amberd.

 

The European Union Delegation to Armenia invited journalists on 19 February to a press briefing in the frames of a three-day training session organised from 17 to 19 February for staff members of Armenian universities. The briefing took place at the Sargis and Mary Izmirlyan Library at Yerevan State University.
This three-day training seminar, run by three EU experts, involved 30 representatives from 12 different universities in Yerevan, covering writing and learning outcomes; methods and processes for assessing students’ level of knowledge, skills and competencies; formal and informal exams; classroom participation; assignments; self-evaluation; peer evaluation; linking the European credit transfer and accumulation system (ECTS) to different modules.
The training sessions were organised within the framework of the EU twinning project called “Empowerment of Tertiary Level Education of the Republic of Armenia for European Higher Education Area Integration”, which was launched on 1 October 2014. The project’s overall objective is to strengthen cooperation on social development, especially in accordance with EU best practice reforms in training systems, quality assurance, and the higher education system. The initiative has a total budget of €1 million and will last for 24 months.
ARS_1894Borislav Dimitrov, International Aid/Cooperation officer at the EU Delegation, talked about the importance of sharing experience between native and international experts to bring about change in education: ‘Education and training are recognised as key drivers of growth and job creation to foster social equality and inclusion. This twinning project has an EU contribution of about €1 million. It is not a secret that the issue of matching skills to labour market demands is on the EU’s economic governance agenda and is a priority for many EU member states. In this context we are happy that the EU is in a position to help Armenia in its educational reforms. We are sharing experience, know-how and lessons learnt. The twinning instrument opens a sustainable approach for administrative reforms and approximation to the EU standards. This assistance complements Armenia’s involvement in 29 ongoing Tempus projects and 17 Erasmus Mundus projects, as well as the EU’s new education programme Erasmus Plus’.
The project is being implemented with cooperation from the Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia. Robert Sukiasyan, Head of Higher Education and Postgraduate Professional Education Department, introduced the involvement of their Ministry in these programmes: “Within the framework of the educational reform, Armenia is actively cooperating with the EU, including this twinning project. Its main goal is the ministry working together with EU experts to draft new legislation on higher education, as well as amendments to existing legislation. The other main topic is ensuring compliance with international quality standards. Another very important factor is also raising of professional skills of ministry employees, who will also undergo training in the near future’.
ARS_1945Karl Holm, Resident Twinning Advisor, spoke on the importance of the quality of education for compliance with the labour market: ‘Everybody is keen on education, which is why we are here. However, this love and passion needs good governance, solid legislation, better capacity, and quality. This is the main reason we are here. For this reason we are working very closely with beneficiaries, like the Ministry of Education and Science and the Armenian National Centre for Professional Education Quality Assurance Foundation (ANQA). This is the last day of the three-day training session for representatives of twelve different universities in Yerevan. We will continue these kinds of seminars – the project will train around 120 experts from Armenian higher education institutions. The essence of this project is that Armenian higher education should be linked to the European higher education area. This can lead to assistance and improvements on many issues, such as quality, legislation, mobility, and more. We are not saying that Armenia is not yet close to this, but we are here to emphasise some additional details to assist Armenia achieve greater higher education’.
The project includes Armenian higher education institutions and the national centre for quality higher education. Over 60 international experts from Finland, Germany and Estonia have been involved in the project and have come to Armenia to share their experiences in education. Indeed, at this seminar, the Vice-rector of Turku University (Finland) made a presentation to journalists about the Bologna process and Armenia’s involvement in it.
After the presentations and speeches, journalists, as well as seminar participants, had the opportunity to ask questions to programme representatives. It emerged that a major challenge for Armenian tertiary-level education system at this stage is to design a holistic system that is capable of preparing highly qualified specialists with transferable skills and the capacity to function in an ever-changing environment.