By providing educational opportunity to ambitious young Armenians, professional development opportunity to educators, and rehabilitation and resource development to schools and vocational training institutions, FAR contributes to making decent education more equitable and accessible to all in Armenia. This has the potential to be life-changing and transformative on both the individual and collective level.
Education Program Highlighted Beneficiary
Ani Avalyan always wanted to go to college in Yerevan. A native of the Berd Region, an impoverished and rural area near Azerbaijan, Ani also wanted to make a difference in her home community as an educator.
In 2016, with help from the Mardigian Scholarship Program, FAR enabled her to fulfill her dreams when she began her studies in psychology at Armenia State Pedagogical University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 2020 and, upon graduation, immediately headed back to her village of Artsvaberd where she now works at the local secondary school as a teacher for grades 1 to 8. She works closely with children with learning difficulties and language disabilities.
Ani said that she has never thought of permanently leaving her village. “My family and my fiancé are here. I always wanted to be back home and I used to get upset when our lecturer would ask the students who among us wanted to be back home. I would be the only one out of 58 students to say, ‘yes, I do.’”
When Ani applied for FAR’s Mardigian Scholarship she never thought that she would be selected as it is highly competitive. “I was so happy and surprised to receive the scholarship. I did well at the university because I was driven to be a professional teacher and because my benefactors believed in me. I am so grateful to them,” she said with a smile. Ani also hopes to establish a psychology club for the high school students at her school, along with some other hobby groups.
In addition to Ani’s scholarship, FAR has also provided support to Ani’s father, Karo. He has been able to grow his small blacksmithing business with help from the “Start Your Business” project, an initiative of the Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program, which helped him to purchase essential tools and equipment.
Comprised of 15 different types of awards, FAR’s Scholarship Program helps aspiring students from low-income families to be able to afford higher education. Throughout their studies, FAR also offers support and mentoring to these students, while also fostering their awareness of community service through volunteer excursions and other activities. During the COVID-19 pandemic and the Artsakh War, students volunteered to organize assistance for soldiers on the frontlines.
During 2020, FAR adjusted its scholarship application procedures to make the process as virtual as possible in order to reduce in-person visits to the FAR office.
Once again, there were 500 students enrolled in FAR’s 15 different scholarship programs during the 2020-21 academic year. More than 250 students applied for the scholarships of whom 144 were selected as first-time recipients. Sixty students were also assisted by the Gulamerian Vocational Training Program, which helps to support older orphans with their university studies or vocational training.
In addition, as an emergency measure, FAR’s Scholarship Program covered the tuition of 83 students who were already enrolled at nine different universities and whose families were unable to continue to pay their children’s tuition due to the financial impacts caused by COVID-19.
FAR also launched The Annette Choolfaian Scholarship during 2020, in honor of late Board of Directors member Annette Choolfaian, who was a public health visionary. The scholarship supports six aspiring nurses and other healthcare professionals each year by covering their tuitions and providing them with living stipends.
A new scholarship program in honor of the novelist and translator Zabel Yesayan also launched in 2020. Two students admitted to Yerevan State University’s Department of Armenian Language and Literature were awarded the scholarship.
Despite the building restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of FAR’s projects dealing with school rehabilitation and infrastructure improvement were able to progress during 2020.
The gymnasium of the Artsavaberd School in the Tavush Region was completely renovated. Ten school auditoriums were either renovated and furnished, including the Zabel Yesayan Auditorium at Yerevan State University. At the Kayan Hovhannes Hintliyan School, also in Tavush, FAR refurbished their heating system, installed new windows, and repaired the school’s minibus.
In addition, 25 children from low-income households were given financial support, as did 13 new graduates who served in the Artsakh War.
The State Art College in Dilijan was transformed from a decrepit Soviet-era building into a revitalized learning center during 2020, offering educational opportunity to 250 students, ages 7-17. In addition, 35 instruments were provided to the school.
Improvements at the Parakar Special School for Children with Disabilities, which serves nearly 200 students, many of whom have disabilities, were completed and the school now boasts a fully renovated vocational training center, physical therapy center, and gymnasium. The education building was also fully renovated and new classrooms added, including science laboratories and an IT classroom. While the second wave of the COVID-19 epidemic forced schools to close during September, Parakar was able to adapt its vocational training program to an online modality, whenever possible.
Professional development trainings on how to more effectively work with students with disabilities were also held for Parakar teachers, using a remote modality.
A very unique project, Parakar aims to help those with disabilities to become more self-sufficient and independent, which will contribute to a shift in Armenian society that views people with disabilities as active contributors and assets. In an effort to help out with the war effort and the fight against the spread of COVID-19, Anna Kolozyan, a sewing teacher at Parakar, mobilized her students to make bandages for wounded soldiers on the frontlines, as well as surgical gowns for medical staff, and thousands of single-use masks.
Seventy students at the Octet Music School in Gyumri received tuition coverage for the first semester of the 2020-21 academic year.
In addition, 2020 was the first year the school started classes in cello, of which the school previously only had one that was accessible. FAR was able to secure a shipment of seven cellos for the school’s new program.
FAR’s support in the purchase of a kiln and other supplies and materials also enabled the local Friends of Warm Hearth, or the Jermik Ankyun Organization, to expand its art therapy program. With a group home that houses 30 adult orphans with special needs, Friends of Warm Hearth now offers pottery classes to its residents, which are also income-generation opportunities.
Launched in 2020, Together for Healthy Generations aims to improve education infrastructure and create more educational opportunity/access to basic education for children along the border in the Berd and Ijevan regions of Armenia’s Tavush Province.
Through the project, first graders were given better access to education. The sanitation and hygiene facilities for six elementary and/or high schools were also renovated. Humanitarian aid was also provided to 295 needy families (1,321 people in total) who had been those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; the majority of these families were displaced from Artsakh. And more than 300 first year students in Berd received school supplies.
The Yervant Terzian Armenian National Science and Education Fund (ANSEF) continued to offer opportunity to scientists and other researchers to pursue their work in their home country, thus bolstering the scientific knowledge base that is such a part of Armenia’s heritage. ANSEF also contributes to advancement through scientific and technological research, and thus ultimately to innovation. During 2020, research grants were awarded to 24 groups. While 12 groups experienced delays in planned science trips, conferences, etc., due to the pandemic, many were able to still attend them online.
By the Numbers
students were supported by FAR’s 15 different scholarships during the 2020-21 academic year.
students were assisted by the Gulamerian Vocational Training Program, which supports older orphans.
additional student tuitions were covered by FAR’s Scholarship Program to assist those whose families were unable to continue to pay due to the financial impact of COVID-19.
schools were partially renovated, refurbished, or supported as part of FAR’s School Rehabilitation Project and Together for Healthy Generations.
research groups supported by ANSEF grants.
publication sponsored about the famous Armenians of Yerevan State University.
Avedis & Arsho Baghsarian Fund
Constantinople Armenian Relief Society(C.A.R.S.)
Dennis & Linda Tarzian
Diane Piranian Charitable Fund
Dr. Aram V. Chobanian Family Foundation
Harold & Josephine Gulamerian Foundation
James & Marta Batmasian Family Foundation
Jerair Nishanian Foudation
Levon & Selma Margosian Fund
NY Friends of Gavar/Parakar Special Schools
SJS Charitable Trust
The Tovmas Fund