Narek Stepanyan’s Speech during the “Child’s Rights in the Eyes of Children” Conference

The UN has defined guidelines for the right to education of children. According to the UN, a child’s education should aim at,

  1. the development of the child’s personality, talent, and mental and physical ability, in its full capacity,
  2. the upbringing of the respect toward human rights and fundamental freedoms and the principles outlined by the United Nations Charter,
  3. the upbringing of the respect toward the child’s parents, the cultural originality, the language and principles, the national values of the country of residence, the civilization of origin and other civilizations,
  4. the preparation of the child’s responsible life in a free society, in mutual understanding, in peace, in tolerance, in legal equality between men and women, and in a spirit of friendship between all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups, and also the native people,
  5. the upbringing of respect toward the surrounding nature.

According to the 4th section, our upbringing needs to raise us as a tolerant person in society. A person who is against sexual, national and religious discrimination, but how much do we tolerate a person who is of a different religion or nationality? They raise us with “ethical” standards, which are created by society. Many do not accept people who are not of their religion, people who do not believe in god, and they laugh at people whose skin color is different from theirs. In this environment, it is impossible to be raised as a tolerant person. I see only one solution to this issue. That is, educate a tolerant generation, without affecting an individual’s development. We should allow a child to discover the world through their way.

The next problem relates to gender based discrimination. We live in the 21st century. It seems that there is no discrimination between a boy and a girl; nevertheless, such kind of  discrimination still exits in rural communities. In society, it is accepted to regard a boy as dominant and a girl as recessive; however, there is no law that verifies this.

This is an “unwritten law” which is created by society. It seems that only girls become victims of this discrimination, whereas boys also can become victims of stereotypes.

The elevation of the quality of education is a major aspect of the development of Armenia. In many communities of Armenia, the quality of education is very low. Let us note a few of the reasons:

  1. Schools are not equipped with technologies or libraries do not have interesting books for teenagers. There are also rural communities where there is no separate library. They are attached to schools and are quite meager. For example, there are two libraries operating in Garni, whereas in the rural communities of Goght and Hatsavan, which are next to Garni, there is not even a single library. The presence of a library does not solve the problem. The books of the library need to correspond to the educational program. They need to include both new and old literature. It is also important that books are old and new. Us children are compelled toward newly published books. Those are more comprehensible, and they are motivating thanks to the colorful design. 
  2. Culture is also not rooted in us. Children are not actively participating in cultural life because there is no interest, there is insufficient love toward culture. All events are very alike։ the same songs, same poetry, etc…
  3. The information overload in school textbooks also hinders the development of education. We study seven different subjects every day, and every teacher requires us to learn their subject. So what? Are we a mechanical machine, whose only job is to learn? In my opinion, classes need to be done in an interesting format. For this, we need sufficient financial means, but properly fulfilling this is challenging for our developing country. Theoretical studies must be executed in practice as well to achieve favorable results. We showcased the problem from the viewpoint of a student. If we observe this from the viewpoint of a teacher, we will understand that there is a fixed program, from which there must be no deviation.
  4. The organization of school life is also important. For example, by the initiative of the student council, a meeting with different university students was organized a few days ago. They shared their experience and gave advice. That meeting inspired the students, and it provided a positive impact; thus, such meetings need to be organized frequently, not only with university students but also with different professionals. That will help students in choosing a career, and it will also create love toward education.