“Diaspora Summer School” Program


One of the major programs of the RA Ministry of Diaspora is the “Diaspora Summer School” Program, which has been carried out for several years now and has become one of the major guarantees for preservation of the Armenian identity. In the Soviet era when relations with Armenians of the Diaspora were coordinated by the State Committee on Relations with Diaspora Armenians, the training of Diaspora Armenian teachers had become a tradition. Diaspora Armenian teachers, particularly Armenian language teachers would visit Armenia and become familiar with the new methods of teaching in the country. This nice tradition was forgotten for a long time, and this created some kind of barrier between education in Armenia and education abroad. However, the establishment of the Ministry of Diaspora not only helped restore this tradition, but also helped make the Summer School Program multifunctional through the inclusion of the Accelerated Armenian Language Course, the Trainings for School Principals, Organizers and Teachers, the Courses for Young Diaspora Armenian Leaders, the Courses for Diaspora Armenian Journalists and the Courses for Activists of Armenian Communities. It should be noted that the Summer School Program has gone from being a program including five courses to a program with six courses, and the program has already sparked great interest among Armenians abroad. This is justified and substantiated since there are serious issues facing preservation of the Armenian identity in the Diapsora. The traditional Diaspora has lost many attributes, is facing the danger of assimilation, and interchanges with different cultures has sometimes been at the expense of the nation and the mother language.

So, the Summer School Program has become a necessity and an imperative. It is with pleasure that we mention that the Ministry of Diaspora pays special attention to this program and has done everything on the basis of conceptual principles, creating a system that has the features of Armenian education. First, let us attach importance to the Accelerated Armenian Language Course hosted for those with no knowledge of the language, as well as for those with low level and intermediate level of proficiency in Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian languages. No matter how much we mention that the Armenian Diaspora is the only milestone for preserving the Western Armenian language, today, Armenians in the Diaspora are the ones distorting the language. In particular, the modern-day Diaspora is losing knowledge of the Western Armenian language, and the grammar is being distorted. Therefore, the Ministry of Diaspora is doing something praiseworthy by preserving the Western Armenian language and contributing to its existence. Let us mention that the courses will be hosted by well-known linguists and educators of the Republic of Armenia and the Diaspora. The courses will also include theory and practice, providing learners with the opportunity to communicate in the native language in different settings and use modern technologies in learning the language. The three-week course is for all Diaspora Armenians, regardless of age.

The ministry attaches great importance to training for Diaspora Armenian teachers. It’s not secret that today, many conventional Armenian schools of the Diaspora are closing due to lack of students. Due to political issues and urban development in the Near East and several countries of Europe where the Diaspora was formed, Armenian districts are being destroyed, and Armenians are leaving the countries. Thus, Armenian schools are in a difficult situation. We can no longer take pride in the abundance of Armenian schools in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt. Students are also dropping out of the notable Central, Yesayan and other educational institutions in Turkey, and Armenian schools in Cyprus face serious issues. The teachers are aging, and very few devoted individuals teach at Armenian schools. Thus, the ministry makes a lot of effort to keep Armenian education viable and to make sure that Armenian children in the traditional Diaspora receive an Armenian education. This is also an issue for the modern-day Diaspora, which was formed by those who have mainly emigrated from Armenia. There are no Armenian schools, and the so-called national school is mainly in the form of Sunday schools, which obviously can’t ensure multifaceted education. However, there are opportunities, and community organizations make great efforts. The ministry assures that “the training for Diaspora Armenian teachers will be for the principals, teachers and organizers of Armenian seminaries, daily and one-day schools in the Diaspora. Preference will be given to practice, the exchange of experiences in the implementation of educational, extracurricular and disciplinary activities, as well as the development of joint programs with experts and teachers of schools in Armenia. The program will be carried out with the participation of lecturers from Yerevan State University and the Armenian State Pedagogical University after Khachatur Abovyan, as well as experienced educators of the republic. Issues on raising the role of Armenian schools of the Diaspora within the scope of development of the Armenia-Diaspora partnership and in the implementation of programs for preservation of the Armenian identity in communities will be discussed.”

The experience in the past years has shown that the training courses for the teachers are effective and have an impact. The courses help further strengthen bonds with Armenia and contribute to the preservation and multifaceted activities of Armenian schools in the Diaspora. The number of participants has grown throughout the years. Of course, there are still some difficulties with funding, but Diaspora Armenian organizations and the Armenian authorities are taking steps to make sure that all teachers afford to visit Armenia. It would be nice to see Armenian language teachers of schools in the United States and Latin America show active participation in these courses because the Armenian schools in this hemisphere also need to become familiar with the new principles of teaching the native language and need to learn how to introduce the latest methods in teaching.