Armenia: Education and practical skills
Armenian education faces a number of problems: extremely low wages of teachers, the desolate state of rural schools, and a lack of attractive tools lead to low motivation of teachers and a poor quality of instruction. Existing education on current social issues, such as migration and human rights, is of low quality due to the obsolete education system and teaching methods.
People in Need Armenia has collaborated with schools and universities across the country. One of the activities has been teaching through documentary films, using the methodology of One World in Schools.
The post-Soviet mentality typical for most of the population of Armenia, and the unavailability of verified and interesting sources of information, leads to the fact that the general public maintains low awareness of societal issues such as human rights, human trafficking and environmental protection. That is why People in Need, in addition to our cooperation with schools, also focuses on the education of the general public and media professionals.
Education through documentary films
As part of a project aimed at preventing illegal migration and trafficking, People in Need worked intensively with secondary school and university students in 2009 to 2011, organizing dozens of discussions and seminars to disseminate information on the dangers of illegal migration. In 2012, PIN started working with teachers in Armenia, introducing the One World in Schools methodology based on documentary films. It draws on the experience of the One World in Schools programme, run by People in Need in the Czech Republic since 2001.
The One World in Schools methodology combines documentary films, other audio-visual aids and follow up activities and helps teachers to teach more effectively about complex social topics, such as human rights, democracy values, and conflict mediation or prevention.
To date, the methodology is used in 164 schools by 200 teachers trained in teaching through documentary films. The methodology was recommended by the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science and in 2014 it was spread among all Armenian social science teachers, based on cooperation between People in Need and the National Institute of Education. The methodology was incorporated into the teachers’ professional development plan.
The area of education also includes strengthening of general public awareness of topics such as human rights, migration and human trafficking. Information is disseminated to people through media campaigns, which resulted in dozens of articles and TV reports on the issues of migration from 2009 to 2014.
In 2012-2013, People in Need also supported initiatives in remote regions in Armenia (and also Azerbaijan and Georgia). Five teams organized ten small scale documentary film festivals in their communities. The festivals screened documentaries on crucial issues (conflict transformation, human rights) for the audience of more than 3000 people. All screenings were followed up by a debate that enabled the local communities to open dialogue on these crucial issues, some of which had been taboo before. Since 2014, four of these festivals in Armenia continue screening films without People in Need’s support. Moreover, extensive videotheque of documentary films in Armenian is available for everybody who wishes to organize a single screening and is mostly used by university teachers or activists.
Prevention of child trafficking in Armenia
The project focused on prevention of child trafficking by increasing awareness, building capacities of individuals and institutions and direct aid to vulnerable groups of the population.
The main project activities were working with primary school teachers and with children. Child trafficking awareness training and discussions were organised for both of these groups. We held a summer school for 25 future teachers who were to become experts in the issue of child trafficking and were be able to continue in training other teachers, but mainly children too.
As part of the awareness campaign, a series of performances took place on the topic of child trafficking, promoting a helpline service amongst other things. Our partner organisation focused on distributing information amongst blind and partially-sighted children and among deaf children, their families and educators.
Apart from schools, we also worked alongside state administration workers responsible for protection of the rights of children: we trained over 150 Yerevan city authority employees, employment agency and labour inspectorate officials and also police officers. We shared in establishing identification criteria for potential child victims of human trafficking, subsequently schooling members of the police force and state prosecution office representatives.