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The EU has supported education sector reforms in Armenia for the past 14 years, taking a particularly strong focus on vocational education and training (VET). On 17 May 2016, the EU organised an Open Day event at Armavir State College to show teachers, school managers and education policy makers from the Ministry of Education and Science how students benefit from learning technical trades and skills.
Armavir State College was the first VET college visited by the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski since his arrival in Armenia. He expressed his satisfaction to have returned: ‘I am very proud that the EU Delegation is working together with the Armenian government and local authorities to help to develop education. For more than 10 years, we have supported VET institutions, spending millions of euros to improve management and teachers’ qualifications and, most importantly, to renovate and re-equip colleges. We have supported 17 colleges in Armenia, including Armavir State College. I can hear everywhere words of gratitude to the EU; indeed, more than 4,500 students have benefited from our support. Of course, the big question remains as to whether students can find good jobs after graduation. I hear some optimistic answers; however, in many educational establishments, I hear that many graduates have to go abroad, mainly to Russia. The statistics say that only 27% of state college graduates can find jobs. This is too few’.
ARS_9989Arthur Yeghiazaryan, Director of Armavir State College, thanked the EU for its support and highlighted that they had never dreamed about the quality of the renovation of the college. On behalf of the Ministry of Education, Ashot Arshakyan, Head of the VET department, stressed the importance of the EU’s continued support: ‘During the last year, many VET reforms have been implemented. We have received support both from the government and international organisations. Since 2009, the EU has been the main donor for these reforms. The first part of this support has been the renovation of colleges and new equipment; the second has been training courses, qualifications, new programmes and approaches’.
The EU has a long-term commitment to improving education and training programmes in Armenia, which reflects the EU’s commitment to supporting youth in Armenia and the importance attached to developing small and medium-sized enterprises to boost Armenia’s economy. In the near future, the EU will launch a new budget support initiative in Armenia; the “Better Qualifications for Better Jobs” programme will invest an additional €15 million in new education and employment opportunities for young Armenians. The aim of the new reform initiative is to assist Armenia to improve its job opportunities for young people, particularly in the agricultural sector.

In the framework of an EU funded project a seminar-discussion “Leadership in the context of improvement and coordination of decision making process in VET sphere development” took place on 15 April 2015. During the seminar the international expert Yannis Sofianopoulos made a presentation of the results of the research “Possibilities and challenges of introduction of dual system in VET sphere in Armenia”. The expert underlined in his speech the ARS_9580importance of the dual system in Armenia. “A dual system VET is a very old system, but it is also very young, because one of the advantages of the system is its continuous innovations. We have a task to examine and investigate how the dual system which is widely spread in European countries and all over the world could be implemented in Armenia. Our efforts here are to try mixing two sides of our job: the first is what applies in several countries and the second side is to see what applies in Armenia, and then understand how we can incorporate the two into a system that would work for VET in Armenia”.
Head of Vocational Education and Training Division of the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science, Sasoun Hambardzumyan thanked the EU for the continuous support in the VET system in Armenia. “During the last years the European Union has provided support to vocational education and training in Armenia. Many colleges have been modernised in terms of infrastructure and equipment. The dual system is a very important topic for this sphere and we are looking forward to fruitful discussions with local and international experts”.
The project is financed by the European Union and implemented by IBF International Consulting.