Schoolchildren of Dzoragyugh set out to learn crafts and develop their entrepreneurship skills

The school of Dzoragyugh village in Armenia’s Lori region is preparing for the opening of a home economics classroom, refurbished and equipped with the support of UNICEF and Teach For Armenia.

Lusine Gharibyan
Ազջիկը քանդակագործություն է սովորում։
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Armenakyan
07 July 2021

The sharp smell of the paint has taken over the Dzoragyugh school. The renovation of the long-abandoned classroom on the first floor is almost complete. It is Saturday, but Sirak Gabrielyan and his friends have been at the school since morning, busy with painting.

“Our old home economics room is in a really bad state, unfit for classes. We had to just read and discuss the textbook in our regular classroom, but now we have a sewing machine and other types of equipment, and the woodworking tools are on the way. Home ec lessons are going to get so interesting!” said Sirak, now a 7th grade student.

Լոռու մարզի Ձորագյուղ համայնքի ֆիզիկայի ուսուցիչ Սլավիկ Ալավերդյանն ու աշակերտները ներկում են իրենց նոր՝ տեխնոլոգիական սենյակի պատերն ու հատակը:
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Armenakyan

Dzoragyugh is struggling with skill development and motivation among young people, and with employment in general. According to physics teacher Slavik Alaverdyan, he had noticed the problem two years ago, after arriving in the village through Teach For Armenia’s educational program. After many conversations with colleagues, Slavik finally decided that the Dzoragyugh school needed a home economics classroom even more than a physics or chemistry lab. Crafts, he believes, will have a greater impact on the community.

UNICEF Armenia/2021/Armenakyan

“The descriptions for each type of activity in home ec textbooks have a picture of either a boy or a girl, telling students who is supposed to be doing what. Boys are expected to do woodworking, and sewing and cooking are meant to be for girls. I realized I had to change the programme to introduce gender equality. In rural communities particularly, stereotypes still hold strong and hinder children’s self-expression and development of the whole community. Our new home ec room will have both woodworking tools and a sewing machine, plus an iron and embroidery tools, and both girls and boys will be using all of them,”

explained Slavik.
Ֆիզիկայի ուսուցիչ Սլավիկ Ալավերդյանը
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Armenakyan

Slavik’s initiative for ‘skilled and entrepreneurial citizenry’ is one of the eight community programmes that UNICEF and Teach For Armenia support jointly to promote gender equality through teaching and learning.

“Children spend twenty percent of their waking life in direct, exclusive and authoritative contact with teachers. In light of this, it goes without saying what an important role teachers and the quality of education play in children’s life. Education must be as free from stereotypes as possible to enable both boys and girls to pursue their dreams,”

noted Nvard Manasyan, UNICEF Gender Equality Officer.
Մարիամն աշխատում է փայտամշակման գործիքներով։
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Armenakyan

“Here we will learn crafts, use the sewing machine, make things from wood. I will definitely try woodworking, because it is so similar to sculpting. It also has nothing to do with gender, to me,”

said Mariam Hovakimyan, 12.

Mariam has yet to choose her future occupation, but she believes acquiring new skills will be helpful in that regard.

Anna, 14, on the other hand, has already made up her mind on what she wants to do next. She plans to continue her education in one of the collages in Dilijan. According to Anna, many of her classmates and fellow villagers have no intention to get higher education, which makes craft skills a vital alternative for them. Anna herself plans to have a very busy summer and make most of her time in Dzoragyugh before leaving for Dilijan - she too will try her hand at woodworking.

“I love that kind of work. I used to keep rabbits, so I would make bowls and other things from wood for them. My grandpa would help me with tips, but I made everything myself,” said Anna.

Աշխատանքն ավարտելուց հետո տղաներն ու աղջիկները փորձարկում են փայտամշակման գործիքները:
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Armenakyan

Lilit Ghukasyan is waiting for her son Roland, 10, is painting the floor in the new home economics room. Roland is very fond of crafts and working with his hands in general, she said, explaining his enthusiasm. Lilit has taught Roland to sew, weave, and bake, and now he is looking forward to woodworking lessons.

“Since early childhood, Roland liked to help me out around the house, and I’ve let him do the work he likes. Roland loves cooking and can make a pizza or salads. All his dishes come out right, every time. He embroiders too. One evening he saw me knitting and asked if he could try, and I let him. He loves all kinds of crafts,”

said Lilit.

When the second layer of the paint is laid, Slavik decides to demonstrate the woodworking tools. Each pupil takes a piece of wood and makes an engraving to the best of their abilities. A name appears on one piece of wood, a cross forms on another. Roland carves a girl in a ball gown.

Ռոլանդը պարահանդեսային շորով աղջիկ է փորագրում։
UNICEF Armenia/2021/Armenakyan

“Our program will go on after the classroom is ready for use. We plan to hold workshops and teach the kids how to package and promote their wares, and in the future, increase sales. I hope some of the pupils will join forces and establish a startup, develop their community in that way,”

said Slavik.

Soon, once Slavik and his students complete the renovation and purchase the missing tools, they will set about their very first project – assembling the furniture for their new home economics classroom.


The partnership is supported through UNICEF National Committee of Switzerland.