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Official News

Thursday, 7 February 2013

PM calls for comments on issues voiced at National Assembly



Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan - Dear colleagues, before proceeding to the agenda, I would like to take up some election-related issues raised yesterday at the National Assembly, including the concern that schools and teaching staff might be involved in the electoral process.

Mr. Ashotyan, you had the directive to keep the situation under strict control so that schools would not be involved in those processes. What is the situation today?

Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan - Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Our two main objectives are as follows: firstly, to ensure that educational institutions refrain from conducting any political activity and, secondly, provide for a regular teaching process.

These two main issues had been addressed in anticipation of the electoral campaign. Letters were sent to marz governors and mayor to tackle the above two problems. We got two documented alerts from Radio Liberty, one of which was associated with a school in Agarak town of Syunik marz and the other concerning a number of educational institutions in Masis region of Ararat marz.

The principal of the school in Agarak has received a severe reprimand. Also reprimand was the director of Masis Agricultural College, with letter sent to the governor of Ararat marz suggesting sanctioning the supervisors of those educational institutions under his control.

I would also like to add that in accordance with the Electoral Code, the Central Electoral Commission’s website lists the venues where the candidates can hold free meetings with the voters. The also list features schools, which makes that political meetings can actually be held in those institutions.

The Election Code provides presidential candidates with the possibility of enjoying comfortable halls during the campaign. I am asking mass media to inform us on any breaches to the law through documented materials, as well as to look into the possibility of excluding schools from the aforementioned list in order to rule out misunderstandings in future. As to the attendance of such meetings, the law stipulates that schoolchildren are supposed to attend them after classes.

There are plenty of online materials testifying that during non-school hours schoolchildren attend the meetings held not only by the president in office, but also by other candidates, which is not subject to regulation by the government and the authorities as it is the students’ and parents' legitimate right to express opinion.

Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan - Well, we once again declare that education officials will be strictly punished should they violate the principles enshrined in the laws and regulations related to the electoral campaign. The instances stated by Mr. Ashotyan evidence that we should be on the watch and those responsible for breaches will be punished regardless of their position and political affiliation. The offenders should know that they are intervening to offer a lip service to us, which we do not need at all. Mr. Ashotyan, you are supposed to be watchful and let school principals understand that the process is kept under your Ministry’s strict control.

Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan - Mr. Ashotyan, the entrance exams in 2012 were described by society as the best ones ever held in Armenia. I do believe that this year’s examinations would not be inferior to the ones of 2012.

There are concerns about the tests, because the databases are being updated, and in particular, as far as the language tests are concerned, that the tests are much more difficult than the previous year's tests, that the tests can be a problem for our young people to properly prepare for the exams: What are you going to undertake to address these concerns.

Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan - Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister: In fact, either the recently conducted sociological survey on the government’s annual performance contains a positive feedback on last year’s entrance exams.

We have not got any serious media alert and we should henceforth be consistent in this matter. Mr. Prime Minister, having your directive, we will do everything to keep our promise, namely that the tests will comply with the established academic program and no test will be deliberately complicated with ambiguous tasks.

Mr. Prime Minister, I ma asking for your written recommendation to the Ministry of Education and Science and the Testing and Evaluation Center to work together in order to draft a well harmonized educational program and examination sheets so that the government’s motto - easy admission and difficulty graduation – is enforced in practice.

Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan
– Well, let us set the task and inform the public.
 

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