According to the ombudsman, the Law on Education states that only 1-4 grade pupils receive free textbooks, whereas Article 38 of the Constitution states that “secondary education in state educational institutions is free”.
During the discussion entitled “Free or Partially Paid Secondary Education guaranteed by the Constitution?”held at Media Center on November 13, Avetik Mejlumyan, Public Policy Institute Research Coordinator, presented concrete figures on how much money are spent by parents to provide textbooks for children starting from the fifth grade.
“For example, there are 13 textbooks on the 5th grade, out of which 11 are paid, on the 6th grade there are 17 textbooks, 14 of which are paid, on the 7th grade there are 21 books, 18 of them with payment and so on. The number of textbooks increases with the average of about 2 textbooks, of which 17-18 are paid. Approximately, it comprises 7 to 9,000 AMD per child per year.”
According to the expert, the amount of the payments for textbooks in Armenia is about $ 10 million a year.
The latter notes that one should pay attention to the quality of the textbooks, as the textbooks often do not provide quality even when there are two competitive commissions.
“The reasons are different: teachers often do not give feedback on the textbooks sent to school, as they are not motivated; that job is not paid. In addition, the previous experience shows that their opinions are usually ignored by the authoring teams.”
Hermine Antonyan, Teacher at “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” educational center, says that the current textbooks are not satisfactory to the learners or the teachers, so it is not important whether the textbooks are paid or free. She advises to focus on the quality of teaching methods with the materials, which is the basis of quality education.
“I would like the Ombudsman to apply to the Constitutional Court for not having textbooks free or not. We have deeper problems in the system. Do the textbooks motivate students to read or study independently? The other issue concerns teachers' training and salaries. That is, there is no motivation for a teacher to develop.”
Derenik Malkhasyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
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