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October 18
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Inadequately heated debate over the opening of 11 foreign-language primary schools has once more taken place in the Armenian Parliament.

The opponents expressed their concern that the opening of foreign-language schools in Armenia may affect “Armenian students’ national morale” and “pose a threat” to the level of teaching of the Armenian language in the country. However, they proved unable to present any convincing arguments, concerning the work of 1,400 Armenian-language schools in the country.

Armenian Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan, who re-submitted the draft amendments to the RA Law on Education – no amendments being proposed to the RA Law on Language – stressed the main aim of the document is to harmonize the international education experience with the real state affairs in Armenia, raise the education level and diversify education. “Our aim is to accomplish the tasks with minimal risks,” the Minister said. The work on the bill is ongoing, and acceptable amendments may be made. Ashotyan stressed that the opening of foreign-language schools in Armenia will not affect the quality of Armenian-language education. “A third of subjects will be taught in Armenian,” the Minister said. The main aim of opening foreign-language schools is simultaneous school education in Armenian and foreign languages for students to have a good knowledge of both Armenia and foreign languages. “Just one example, Armenia ranks last as to the knowledge of foreign languages among people aged 16 to 35 in the South Caucasus,” Ashotyan said. The first foreign-language school is to be opened in Armenia in 2012-2013. The schools will not be licensed, but operating under mutual recognition agreements.

Minister Ashotyan thanked all the opponents. He said constructive debate helped improve the document.

NEWS.am reminds readers that the bill provides for the opening of 11 foreign-language schools in Armenia. Two private schools are to be opened in Dilijan and Jermuk, with the annual tuition fee to reach U.S. $20,000. In these schools the seventh-graders will switch over to foreign-language education. The rest nine schools are to be opened under interstate agreements, with ninth- graders to switch over to foreign-language education.

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