11 school age children have been deprived of the right to education


Photo by Hasmik Hovhannisyan

In schools of Vardenis region in Gegharkunik marz there is a tradition of money collection, which is not done in a transparent way. This was declared on 5 May at the presentation-discussion of the report “Protection of children's right to education in Gavar and Vardenis regions of Gegharkunik marz” by Vardenis Area Development Foundation (ADF) of the World Vision Armenia.

Liana Haroutyunyan, social worker at Vardenis ADF pointed out that monitoring was conducted in four schools of the region. The survey questionnaires were answered by 40 students, 40 teachers, 4 school director and 20 teachers. The results demonstrated that collection of money is taking place in a not transparent manner, which means that parents do not know on what particular things the money they give are spent.

The survey organizers are convinced that a transparent accounting system should be established and that providing free textbooks to children from low-income families should be legally regulated. Fund-raising skills should be developed in schools that schools can receive funding from other than parents sources.

Hayk Moudoyan, director of School No.1 of Saroukhan village admits that he is ready to implement the recommendations, but points out that the government does bind them by demanding 20 per cent of tax on profit, if parents contribute to the school needs. This means that parents collect money and have to pay a profit tax from the collected money, if it is done on the legal ground. As a result, the schools prefer not to register the money transfers to avoid additional expenses.

Avetik Iskhanyan, president of Helsinki Committee of Armenia mentioned that collection of money should be absolutely prohibited at school. As there are no legal barriers for this kind of phenomena, at least the principle of privacy should be kept, that nobody knows who are the socially unprotected children, who do not participate in money collection, because in this case there is a pressure on children, they often are mocked by their schoolmates.

Another research, implemented by Gavar community in Gegharkunik marz and Toumanyan, Stepanavan and Tashir communities of Lori marz, related to the issue of partial or absolute exclusion of children from obligatory education. It was presented by members of “The field of initiatives and actions” NGO.

The research was conducted in 14 schools of the two marzes, where 11 children who did not attend school were identified. The researchers believe that this number is much higher at the marz level.

Norayr Hovhannisyan, head of the Department on Family, Women's and Children's Rights at the marz administration mentioned that no child in their marz is deprived from the right to education. He said so, but in their marz 6 children, who did not attend school, were discovered.

The representatives of NGOs of this marz raised a question, how the marz administration can declare that no child is deprived from the right to education when there are facts contradicting this statement.

“According to our data, there are no such children. If you have other facts, present them to the marz administration,” said Mr Hovhannisyan.

We should note that the results of the monitoring are presented to the marz administration. They state that the three main reasons for children not to attend school are: social insecurity, participation in seasonal farm work and special needs for education.

“The field of initiatives and actions” NGO and Gavar Regional Development Program of World Vision International employees expressed their hope that the presented problems would find solution. They noted that the survey results were sent not only to the marz administration but also to relevant state bodies.

“All the elements of the chain: schools, parents, teachers, state control bodies and NGOs, should cooperate on these issues to achieve positive results,” proposed Arman Danielyan, president of Civil Society Institute.

Monitoring was conducted within the framework of  Grassroots Voices for Human Rights Mobilization in Armeia” project. The project is implemented by Helsinki Committee of Armenia and Civil Society Institute NGOs.

Author Կարինե Իոնեսյան