In Armenia hundreds of children do not go to school for different reasons but no government programs are implemented to find out why the children of some families are deprived of basic education and how many families are facing this issue.
According to a recent UNICEF report, 18 million children or 2 in 5 children in 10 countries of the world do not go to school. These countries include Liberia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Nigeria etc.
Although Armenia is not among these 10 countries, our country also has children who do not attend school.
The head of communication programs of UNICEF Zara Sargsyan states that there is not a clear picture in Armenia.
“Unfortunately, there is not a mechanism in Armenia to monitor, check and see how many kids are left out of school and for what reasons. This concerns not only children from poor families of children with disabilities who have no opportunity to attend school but also cases when a child has not been enrolled to go to school,” Zara Sargsyan told Lragir.am.
In 2014 UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Science implemented a pilot project in Lori region which helped find out that 228 children in this region do not go to school. The biggest group includes children between 6 and 8 who have not been admitted to first grade. Another 16 children aged 9 to 16 have not been admitted and do not go to school.
This pilot project helped discover that some children do not get education due to several complex and partly overlapping factors, such as disability, parent’s or cultural attitudes, language problems, migration, extreme poverty or unfavorable family circumstances.
There are cases when children go to school for several years but leave school before they become 16 or before they finish 9th
grade. Some children interrupt school due to family reasons or migrations. In some families school age children have to start working to help their families.
Zara Sargsyan says as part of that project a MoU was signed between the authorized agencies of Lori marz to make sure that the representatives of different sectors direct children of these families to the school system. However, unfortunately this pilot project did not continue.
“This issue should be put forth to not only the Ministry of Education but also different ministries, there is a need for sectoral cooperation to resolve this issue. We know about these problems, why children do not go to school. However, since we have not studied the situation, we cannot state for sure what other issues families and children encounter. The monitoring in the public administration system under in Armenia, based on it we may tell what school attendance is or how many children have a disability in Armenia. In other words, these many children are registered, a certain percent of these children do not go to school because they have encountered problems. However, we have no statistics as to how many children have not enrolled in the education system. This is the problem. Nothing is being done to reveal these children,” the UNICEF officer said.