Teachers join protesting students in Yerevan, go on one-day strike
Student protests continue in Yerevan.
Students of the Armenian Philological Faculty of Yerevan State University have been on strike since November 6.
They are protesting the adoption of a new bill on higher education and science. According to the provisions of the new ministerial project, the study of the Armenian language, literature and history of Armenia will be optional for students of non-humanitarian faculties.
Now they are being joined by teachers, too, who have declared a one-day strike.
From the very beginning of the student rally, they have supported the protest, but they did not officially declare a strike.
On November 6, in response to the student protest, the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports issued a statement, noting that: “even after the adoption of the bill, the scientific council of any university will have the right to independently decide whether these subjects should be taught at all faculties.”
But this did not defuse the situation, protests continue.
Why have teachers joined in the fray?
The teachers of the philological and historical faculties of Yerevan State University decided to declare a one-day warning strike. The decision to join the student movement in solidarity was made at a joint meeting.
“The teachers of the two faculties support this strike, the purpose of which is to preserve the provision on compulsory study of the subjects Armenian language and History of Armenia in the bill on higher education,” says Yuri Avetisyan, head of the Armenian language department of YSU.
Teachers state that they intend to discuss the issue with the participation of all interested parties, including Minister of Education Arayik Harutyunyan.
“We expect that the Ministry of Education or the authorised body will soon organize a discussion in which all interested and competent parties will participate,” Yuri Avetisyan said.
One more protest
In parallel, the protest of the youth wing of the Dashnaktsutyun party continues. It began on November 7.
Since then, a sit-down strike has been held in front of the building of the Ministry of Education with the demand to have a “government [meeting] without Arayik Harutyunyan”.
Young people are demanding that the Minister of Education resign as soon as possible. Arayik Harutyunyan from the very beginning announced that he did not intend to leave until he considered his activities ineffective.
What does the prime minister say?
On November 8, the Armenian Prime Minister met with protesters and supported the education minister.
At a meeting with the Armenian diaspora in France on November 12, Nikol Pashinyan touched on educational reforms.
Nikol Pashinyan explained the government’s approach in this matter. According to him, one of the main tasks of his government is to overcome poverty, and this is what the new reforms are designed for:
“We got a historic chance to resolve the issue of poverty as quickly as possible. Now in the country there are absolute guarantees that a professional in the field of information technology can find a well-paid job. There are 3-4 thousand vacant jobs in this area, and it will be so tomorrow, the next day, the next year, two … there will always be these 4 thousand potential jobs.
“We want to change the educational system from one that releases a generation of people talking toasts at the table into a system that will train engineers. And we need engineers. They will have the opportunity to get a well-paid job right away … And we want to solve this important issue in our industry, military industry, and technology, because it will solve not only the issue of overcoming poverty, but also the issue of improving the country’s security level.”