Armenian Ministry of Science and Education has proposed to remove the legal ban and allow restoration of state funded Soviet-era style foreign language schools.
Minister of Science and Education Armen Ashotian has said “the reopening of such schools is a necessity now, because currently the knowledge of a foreign language is neither a whim nor a fashion, but rather a precondition for today’s reality.”
Armenia banned the operation of foreign language schools at the cost of the Armenian budget back in 1993. At that point the country had a legacy of Russian language schools, which were better funded, better taken care of and generally provided higher quality education than Armenian schools. Armenian parents were doing everything possible to make sure their kids went to Russian language schools, as Russian was the official state language of the Soviet Union and knowledge of the language was a shortcut to success in Communist bureaucracy. Banning Russian schools at that point saved the Armenian language schools and Armenian education.
In recent years Russian authorities have been speaking about their desire to promote Russian language and Russian education in the ex-Soviet space. Armenian authorities are often too fast to accommodate the desires of the ‘big Russian borther”. If that’s the case, I can easily see this proposal becoming a law soon.
Being a parent of a school-age child, I know very well, that the existing public schools are poorly funded, understaffed, low on resources. They always lack enough Armenian language textbooks, the methodology is lackluster.
Reopening Russian and English language schools will mean further weakening of the existing Armenian language public schools, as the scarce resources of the state will have to be dedicated to producing foreign language textbooks, developing special methodologies. While the Soviet Union could afford to invest resources into maintaining Russian language schools in Armenia, Russian being the official state language, I don’t see how the poor Armenian state, which is barely managing the existing Armenian language schools, will cope.
The more I think of it – this is a disaster in the making for the Armenian education system. I hope time proves I’m wrong.