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Using the Life Skills Approach
The collapse of the Soviet system had major impacts on education in Armenia. Government annual expenditure per child decreased from $600 USD in 1992 to $36 USD in 1998. This had led to an overall decline in quality of education, accessibility and demand throughout the education system. Changes in the society influenced the system of education, bringing forth the need of gradual reform aimed at changes in structure, management and funding as well as curriculum of the schools.
To address some weaknesses in the existing curriculum and teaching methods, in 1998 the Ministry of Education and Science in collaboration with UNICEF and the International Institute of Global Education (IIGE) of the University of Toronto, Canada introduced Life Skills into the core curriculum.
The Nagano Olympic Fund supported the implementation of the project in 1998-1999. The funds were used to organise training for a Life Skills working group comprising teachers introduced to the Life Skills Curriculum in pilot schools. UNICEF, using Japanese contributions, equipped the working group and pilot schools.
On September 1, 1999, the "Life Skills" Pilot Project was launched in 16 schools throughout Armenia. These schools had been specially chosen, including equal numbers of schools from Yerevan and provinces. Selected teachers attended special training seminars covering the philosophy of the "Life Skills" Project, its goals, active methods of teaching, and developed lessons as well as their assessments.
It is worth mentioning that the implementation of this Project was prompted not only because of urgently needed educational reforms and changes, but especially due to its relevance to current social, political, economical and cultural realities and challenges. In context of the comprehensive education of schoolchildren in Armenia, implementation of the "Life Skills" Project is seen as a necessity nowadays.
In the framework of this Project, selected schools were provided with some materials and necessary supplies. This had its impact on the Project implementation process and the creation of a positive atmosphere in the schools.
At the end of 1999 the Life Skills Working Group carried out an interim evaluation of the project. Questionnaires were worked out for both teachers and pupils with the aim to investigate impact and effectiveness of the project. Some of the responses are mentioned below.
What type of difficulties were you facing at the first stage of project implementation / beginning of the school year?
What concrete achievements do you have?
As the most successful exercises in grades 1 and 5 the teachers have mentioned the following series: "Decision making," "How to achieve peace and sustain it," "Family conflicts," "Family is changing," "Emotion stream," "Who am I, where am I?" "Day regime," "Nature Treatment."
Were there any "surprises" using the Life Skills lessons?
What topics are you teaching using a life skills approach?
The "Life Skills" Project comprises the following main topics: An Individual and His/Her Relationships, Making Friends and Having Friends, Human Relationships, Home and Family, Community and Society, Healthy Lifestyle, Environmental Protection, Conflict Management, Sexual Education.
Some teachers are very excited with this interactive method and try to utilise it while teaching other subjects as well. Master teachers used interactive methodology and life skills during classes with primary grade students.
Which are the best qualities of a Life Skills teacher?
Teachers have given 10 following characteristics, which they consider important: Patience, objectivity/being unbiased, professionalism, intellectuality, creativeness, kindness, sincerity, benevolence, consistency, and responsibility.
Would you try to influence your colleagues to rethink old teaching methods?
In Yerevan Mkhitar Sebastazi school meetings / seminars were carried out for master teachers with the aim to hand over knowledge on Life Skills subject.
In Yerevan school #43 the big on meeting was held on 4 February, 2000, to increase an understanding of the Life Skills concept by the school staff and colleagues from nearby schools. The aim of the meeting was to present new methods and subjects which are being introduced in the school within the reforms in the Education System.
In Garni village school #2 broadcasting of Life Skills lessons were organised for village community with the aim to explain importance of the method.
The Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia received requests to introduce Life Skills subjects and interactive methodology from schools throughout the country.
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Last revised July 1, 2000
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