Չորեքշաբթի, 24. 04. 2024

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Fourteenth Anniversary of TCA Sponsor a Teacher Program Celebrated

By Aghvan Asoyan

This year marks the 14th anniversary of the founding of the Sponsor a Teacher Program of the Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) in Armenia and Karabagh.

During the last 14 years, the project has raised more than $604,000 and reached out to 5,104 teachers and school workers in Armenia and Karabagh. Throughout this period, Maro Bedrosian, treasurer of the TCA Board of Directors of USA and Canada, has headed the project. Letters of thanks to sponsors and donors have been mailed providing the names of the teachers they have sponsored, visits to schools have been documented and photographed, and articles have been written in various newspapers, including Azg in Yerevan; Abaka in Montreal, Canada; the Armenian Observer and Nor Or in California; and the Armenian Mirror-Spectator in Boston, covering the delegations’ visits to the schools. Once a year, the names of all donors are published in the above newspapers.

The Sponsor a Teacher Program began when the difficult economic situation of teachers working in Armenia’s schools after the collapse of the Soviet Union was brought to the attention of the TCA. The latter placed this issue on its agenda at its annual convention in California. It was reported that the teachers working in Tekeyan schools were struggling financially and thus were often forced to emigrate. The convention collectively adopted a motion to launch Sponsor a Teacher in Armenia to initially reach out to the three schools named after Vahan Tekeyan. At that time, teachers in the schools of Armenia were among the most poorly paid professionals in the country. In 2000, a teacher’s annual salary was $120 and now, since the involvement of the Tekeyan Cultural Association, the government has increased their salaries so that they make anywhere from $200 to $250 a month. The TCA Board of Directors raises funds and delivers them to the teachers through special yearly visits.

Former TCA Executive Secretary Kevork Marashlian in an interview with the newspaper Azg said: “When we started this program, the economic situation of teachers in Armenia was quite dire. And now it already has been 14 years that this philanthropic endeavor has been organized for the teachers and entire staff of the schools named after Vahan Tekeyan in Armenia and Artsakh.”

The project is administered in Armenia by Gayane Muradian, a member of the TCA of Armenia, who distributes the funds.

The principal of the school in Garpi village, Arsen Ohanyan, said, “This philanthropic action is a bit of aid for the teacher in these difficult conditions. What is important is to be appreciated. This did not just get us used to receiving aid, but also obliged us to participate ourselves in the philanthropic work.”

While seeing Marashlian off, the staff of the school, in a custom special to the villagers, gave Marashlian a present of gata, a special pastry from the tonir (oven).

The next stop was Gumri. There the guests again were received with open arms, this time at Senior School Number 2. Everybody was happy, but as they themselves stated, the cause for their happiness was not money. History teacher Emma Aleksanyan said, “We are not happy because of the money, but because this culture has already turned into a beautiful tradition. Generally the teacher is always happy in his work since when you enter the classroom, you forget about salary and receive great energy.”

The most experienced teacher of the school, Assistant Principal for Instruction Hamik Davtyan, said the assistance always encourages the teachers.

The principal of the school, Hovhannes Petrosyan, noted, “If we look at it from the individual point of view, the assistance appears trivial, but in a global sense, today a small issue was solved for around 80 families.”

And finally the station was Stepanavan. The story of the school was extremely moving. When Assistant Principal for Instruction Hasmik Ghazaryan related the story of the creation of the school, she could not suppress her tears. She said, “I remember when after the earthquake classes were held in huts, where nothing existed. We worked without salaries. While now I am happy when I see this school in good order.”

And what do such philanthropic efforts mean for the teacher? “The pedagogue feels that his work is being appreciated—it is not as much financial aid as moral.”

However, in all three schools, the teachers argued that they had never received such aid from the state, and they would have liked similar efforts to be organized on the state level.

The Sponsor a Teacher Programå has increased the prestige of the Vahan Tekeyan schools. Four of the schools are in Armenia. In Yerevan, the school is located in the Malatya-Sebastia district and comprises 600 students with laboratories for chemistry, physics and biology. In Gumri, the school has 800 students. Owing to community involvement, the school is equipped with a year-round heating system in addition to a computer classroom and clubs catering to the student’s preferences. The Stepanavan school has 250 students. Through the intervention of the TCA Armenia, the school was included in the government’s plan and received a new annex in 2010. The Garpi school has 722 students. The entire school has been refurbished, including the Cultural Hall, with new chairs donated by Serop and

Maro Bedrosians of Texas. The school in Karabagh is in Berdzor (Lachin Corridor). The school is located on the city’s heights, with 280 students.

The distribution of aid to the schools in Yerevan and Berdzor will take place shortly.

www.azg.am

 

 

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