Сhallenges of the current education system and the experience of independent schools
Discussion date and time
July 16, 2021
6:00 p.m. Yerevan time (GMT+4)
5:00 p.m. Moscow time (GMT+3)
3:00 p.m. London time (BST)
10:00 a.m. New York time (EDT)
Education is an essential social value that affects the whole society. Reevaluation of education takes place in the whole world. One of the leaders of this change globally, Finland, has already taken out certain school-specific elements from its education system, like grades, subjects, homework, etc. However, we in Armenia go to the same outdated school as during Soviet times and pretend that everything is all right.
We need to start by defining our problems to be able to bring solutions to them.
Main issues of the tertiary education system in Armenia:
- During its years of independence, education has never been on the political agenda. If it does not become a part of the political agenda, it remains abstract and cannot be improved. Being a part of the political agenda means being on the government’s priority list, constantly being discussed and amended. Serious matters in education do not make news, do not get attention or proper discussion/analysis.
- One of the main reasons for not having progress in education is seeing it as a secondary field. The approach and the attitude of people towards education are low; the belief that one can achieve success through education is broken.
- The main responsible for these results are the governments who continuously wasted the education pool left from Soviet times and did not invest in the coming generation education pool.Education has a supreme value for humans. Humans are not clean biological types, like animals; without education, humans are no longer bearers of culture in the broad sense of the word. Therefore, without a proper educational system, we will have the worst reproduction of our type with each coming generation. This brings to an incompetent society with people that are not capable of competing on the global level. And such societies have been destined to disappear.
- Armenia does not have an educational system, and everything is based on individuals. During the past 30 years, numerous changes have taken place in the dynamics of the educational system, but they never get reflected in the education administration.
- The uncertainty that comes from the unsystematic approach to education is the biggest problem at the moment.
- The National Center for Education Development was established, which is supposed to deal with those issues, including conducting various researches. But the main issue of that center is that it is positioned as subordinate to the Ministry of Education. And such positioning presents a threat of forged or untrue information concealing the actual problems.
- Parents, both of high social standing and low, impact their children’s desire and determination to study and achieve success through education. Lower social status families pass on their negative feeling about education that it did not serve any good. And those of higher social standing create a bubble and an atmosphere of protection for their children to believe that they do not need education; their parents will do everything for them.
- Artificial, unreasonable raises of teacher salaries will bring random people to education who are there for the salary. Consistency is the key everywhere. If there are reforms, they must be consistent in their application and result analysis. Otherwise, there will be no progress.
Possible solutions to the problems:
- Putting education on the political agenda assumes involving specialists from the education field and artists, economists, etc., since it is critical to trust the field in the hands of various types of mentalities. This way, we might have more creative solutions.
- We need to show young people’s success examples, going from having nothing to creating something worthy of more than the limited monetary value with the help of education. Many such examples should be brought out and displayed.
- Schools must be much more autonomous. School principals should have sovereign liabilities and the corresponding responsibility and ability to govern.
- Experimental and investigative approaches should be present at schools: the constant search for improvement, better methodology. Private schools do this because they have to do this – they compete against the free schooling system. This approach must be applied in public schools.
- Schools cannot be governed on a situational principle. They must have conceptual strategies.
- We need to recognize the reality: we cannot have entirely new teaching staff; that is impossible. It might be a program of another 50 years to breed that number of new candidates. We need to learn to work with what we have, the teachers we have by training them, arming them with new methodologies, motivating them, providing new purposes, changing their attitude toward themselves and their work. That is, namely, the educational reform that we are talking about.
- The reality and the educational reforms should match and should supply each others’ needs. Otherwise, the gap will get even more profound.
- Among the most urgent and affordable researches that we need to do is statistical research. Instead of looking at the grades overall, we should stress comparing the progress between big and small communities. In short, check all the pieces of education based on factual content, which will enable us to make accurate decisions. We need a consistent, strategic research center in our education to explore the actual problems and provide possible fact-based solutions to them.
- Instead of increasing motivation, we need to, first of all, not break the children’s innate sense of curiosity to learning. In Armenia, the balance is shifted a lot towards forced learning and punishment for making mistakes in learning, which demotivates and breaks the courage to learn. On the other hand, all children want to be grown-ups, and they should have the role model of a grown-up who learns, reads, makes mistakes, corrects them, improves on their own experience.
- Schools must be a safe place where a child has the opportunity to make mistakes without repercussions.
- Through physical education, we can breed willpower in children, encouraging them to strive, get over the weakness or fear, and overcome the frustration. However, physical education in Armenia is left behind everything and all.
- The education of grown-ups is essential for two significant reasons. First, this way, they serve a role model for their children. Children see grown-ups not only working and talking about money, but they see parents who study, so they take it as a rule. And secondly, studying grown-ups understand their children better and thus we have a more balanced society.
- A country cannot import educational reform; it needs to build it considering the specificities of the country, the people and their cultural peculiarities. Besides, any cooperation assumes mutually beneficial relations. Therefore, even with a few good schools, we need to create that ambition and strive for the better. It is easier to learn from mistakes rather than from success.
- Teacher attestation has one positive side – as a result, those who pass it will get higher salaries. This will also motivate those who start off their careers as teachers to aim for higher-paid jobs. On the other hand, the attestation system creates other, bigger scale problems: not necessarily all those who pass the attestation perform well as teachers in the classroom. So, what’s the index of a good teacher – we need to start from there.