UNICEF establishes two preschool services in Shirak marz with the financial support of the European Union
Children in Haykasar and Nahapetavan settlements will benefit from early learning services.
Yerevan, 15 May 2023 – On the International Day of Families, Representatives of RA Ministries of Education, Science, Culture and Sports (MoESCS), and of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure, Shirak regional authorities, Representatives of European Union, UNICEF Representative in Armenia and the newly appointed UNICEF National Ambassador visited Artik consolidated community to officially open 2 alternative preschools. 13 children in Nahapetavan and 11 children in Haykasar are already benefiting from these centers and many more will benefit in the future.
The centers were created through a partnership between UNICEF and local municipalities, with funding from the European Union and in coordination with the Ministry of Education. The facilities were renovated and refurbished, and equipped with new educational materials, toys, books, and games. Solar panels were also installed to reduce heating and maintenance costs. UNICEF partnered with the Step-by-Step Foundation to provide teacher training and new methodologies for working with young children, especially in mixed age groups.
Welcoming the guests, UNICEF Representative in Armenia, Christine Weigand emphasized that parenting is the most important and the hardest job in the world. “Parents need support to succeed, they need to have access to different services, including early learning opportunities for their children. With the establishment of alternative preschool services in rural communities, we hope to support parents, and to provide children with a safe space to learn critical skills they will need for the rest of their lives”, she added.
RA Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports Araksya Svajyan congratulated the community members and colleagues. "This event proves that UNICEF supports us in implementing the programs that are of strategic importance along with the policy of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Armenia. We have around 200 settlements where there is no pre-school institution, and we are implementing various programs to fill that gap. The model of an alternative institution is the best solution for some communities, thanks to which, for example, in Haykasar, all children will go to school with the necessary preparation for school and learning at school will be more effective," noted Mrs Svajyan.
During the opening ceremonies, UNICEF's newly appointed National Ambassador Sergey Smbatyan was also present and stated, "As a father of two, I know firsthand how early learning can benefit children by teaching them how to interact with others, share, take turns, communicate, and become independent. As UNICEF Ambassador, I will use my voice, platforms, and networks to advocate for children's rights and support the development of every girl and boy in Armenia.
Overall, with EU support UNICEF established 13 similar centers in 2022, and in addition to these two, 10 similar centers will be opened by the end of 2023 in small settlements of Syunik, Gegharkunik, Lori, Tavush and Shirak marzes. More than 670 children in remote communities will have access to early learning services. “Investing in quality pre-primary education spares education systems the additional efforts and resources needed to address poor learning achievements, over enrolment in early grades, and low retention and completion rates. Equitable access to quality pre-primary education can, and should be achieved in Armenia, and the European Union is here to support the Government to achieve this milestone, summed up Bruno Montariol, International Aid/Cooperation Officer, EU Delegation to Armenia.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.