Nowadays, we like to talk a lot about children’s rights. There are many TV shows, discussions, articles, opinions and materials dedicated to that topic. They condemn each other a lot. Search on the Internet. Now you will say, is it good or bad? It’s good, because discussions, even if we don’t agree with them, make us stronger. We look at the topic from different angles, we understand that in the 21st century there cannot and should not be closed topics, secret solutions, violation of rights. It’s bad because, like any material, it becomes a subject of speculation, self-promotion, once again throwing mud at each other, politicizing.
I am writing now as an organizer of education. I am interested in the child’s right to education.
The Law of the Republic of Armenia on Education is a matter of legislation in the field of education, the provision and protection of the right to education of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, enshrined in the Constitution.
The other subsection of the same article obliges the creation of legal guarantees and mechanisms for the operation and development of the education system.
It seems that everything has been said and regulated by law, but in reality, we face problems in our daily work that are not solved, or the solution is unacceptable from the point of view of realizing the child’s right to education. The problems arising in pedagogy are connected with the organization of the child’s, the learner’s education, therefore, all problems are interesting, and the solutions should be pedagogical. It is these problems that help to form the pedagogical skills of the educator, the organizer of educational affairs, force him to think and find solutions.
I consider avoiding pedagogical problems to be anti-pedagogical.
Laws defining and controlling education, normative documents, regulations should serve the person – the learner, the teacher – the citizen of the Republic of Armenia, for whom they have been created and developed, and not the other way around. We often witness the opposite. The laws should be made easier to read, accessible to the citizen. There should be active links, the new version of the law should be displayed in the search results. I have talked about it several times, I will not talk about it here. Actually, we don’t want to help people to read the laws, we don’t want them to know how to use the law. It is a serious culture, and we need to form mechanisms to set the process in motion.
We want to make the law a weapon against man, to remember the law when it is necessary to put into effect against man. Why don’t we want to make public discussions, to draft laws openly and in public, to develop mechanisms for people’s involvement?
Now I want to talk about the distance learning program implemented in the Mkhitar Sebasatatsi Educational Complex. By the way, distance learning is defined by the law and order. “The educational program uses face to face, distance, online, home school learning forms, giving the learner the opportunity to choose the form that suits the conditions at the moment.” In the educational complex, this program was introduced, developed and tested at the request of the client of education, parent-student. The educational complex, as an institution implementing an author educational program, could not fail to consider the legal questions of parents, work out and develop this version of the organization of education defined and required by law. In particular, without breaking away from our reality, we know that abroad we have children of diplomats, guest specialists with different term contracts, families who have gone to work abroad, and also families with other multi-faceted problems. These are facts that we cannot ignore. Organizing the education of these children is a pedagogical problem. It has been more than seven years that distance learning has been carried out in the educational complex. We have developed procedures and documents. In different years, we have had 20-35 students. We have also teachers enrolled in the distance learning program, whose blogs contain relevant packages of teaching materials for distant learners.
This year, the students of the educational complex found themselves in a situation that required pedagogical solutions and flexible approaches. We once again faced the problem that the documents regulating the activities of public education are not flexible and are not aimed at the person, the individual. We present the situation.
- For the first time, we dealt with the necessity of remotely organizing the final exam of distance learners in the high school of the educational complex. At the end of the academic year, distance learners in the 9th and 12th grades came to Yerevan for the final exams and participated in the exams according to the procedure set by the Ministry. In particular, in May-June 2022, 9th grade distance learners from Germany and Russia came to Armenia to participate in the exam, like every year. Davit Khachatryan and Mane Hovhannisyan could not come from China because of the pandemic. What should the students have done who were in an emergency situation for reasons beyond their control? They consistently applied for the protection of their rights to choose the form of education guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, the inalienable right to education, determined by the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Public Education (Article 20, Clause 1.2), and the charter of the educational complex. . What should the school, the head of the school, the pedagogical council have done as the people responsible for that right? Either they had to exempt students from exams, as it was done due to the pandemic by the Minister of Education, Culture and Sports of the Republic of Armenia dated 18.05.2020 or they should have organized the exams remotely, in the order determined by the charter of the educational complex, by submitting a proposal for solving the problem to the authorized state body, developing and testing an organization that will be useful for others, especially taking into account the fact that covid is reactivating. There is no shortage of emergency, war, and epidemic situations around the world. From the point of view of law, the inalienable right to education of students who are citizens of Armenia, the provision of the principles of state policy declared by the Law on Public Education (Article 5) require provisions for all possible cases. From an educational perspective, if we do not encourage young people to try to protect their own rights, how can “learners contribute to the development of a society based on the idea of democracy, freedom, decency, social justice and the rule of law” (State Standard for Public Education, point 8.4), how can a graduate of basic education meet the requirement presented to him? “Present the fundamental rights and freedoms of the child, human and citizen, explain the role of the individual and the state in respecting and protecting them” (State standard of public education, point 10.38). And from the development point of view, the “State Program for the Development of Education of the Republic of Armenia until 2030″, the vision of which ” is based on the transformation strategy of Armenia until 2050, and especially the first mega-goal: “widespread, inclusive, innovative and accessible development of knowledge, culture, consciousness, skills” and through appropriation to have a civilized, creative, proactive, capable and competitive citizen, for whom the realization of rights is as important as the fulfillment of duties, who considers himself primarily responsible for his own well-being and health”, anticipates that “worldwide Armenians will have expanded opportunities to receive Armenian education including by means of distance learning (clause 82.21)”.
- In our letter 22-04-150 (April 29, 2022), we informed the Ministry of Education Science Culture and Sports that 9th grade students Mane Hovhannisyan and Davit Khachatryan would not be able to come to Armenia in the coming months due to reasons beyond their control. In order to ensure the constitutional right to education of the citizen of the Republic of Armenia, we requested to organize the final examinations remotely online. There has been no refusal from the ministry, there has been no other response to that letter.
- The exams of the 9th graders were organized in accordance with the requirements of the order. The centralized exams on the subjects “Armenian language” and “Mathematics” were organized by the exam commissions established by the Yerevan Municipality in the exam center approved by the Assessment and Testing Center, in the “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” educational complex, with the tests provided by the Assessment and Testing Center. Mane Hovhannisyan and Davit Khachatryan’s examinations were organized online on the Microsoft Teams platform with recordings of all the examinations. The results of the examinations were sent to the relevant official address on the day of the examination, in accordance with the procedure established by the Assessment and Testing Center. With letters 22-06-248, 22-07-272, the results of the publicly held examinations were presented to the Ministry of Education Science Culture and Sports. We were confident that the authorized body would not only confirm, but also our example would help to ensure that the inalienable right to education is realized throughout the republic, without exception, as in external examinations.
We think that such problems are pedagogical. They help to have an innovative and constantly developing pedagogy. There is a problem and there is a solution, there are no unsolvable problems. In pedagogy, problems are solved in favor of the learner.
In the 21st century, in this ever-accelerating pace of life when we all have in our hands a smart phone connected to the Internet. In this era of Internet and online connections, education cannot fall behind like a turtle. It cannot but go for new solutions and serve the new person. Today’s education is not for the man of the 20th century. There is a modern student with his own requirements, and a life that brings forward other requirements and problems. We have to take this into account, learn and become flexible.
Translator: Yura Ganjalyan