On May 11, 2017, at the regular session of the RA Government the issue of city schools optimization was discussed. On August 24, at the Government session, decisions were made on the reorganization of 13 schools (in fact, termination of their activities). Three of the schools are located in Yerevan, three in Gyumri, others in Artik, Berd, Vayk, Yeghegnadzor and other.
The need for school optimization was substantiated by problems with schools load and education quality. It is anticipated that schools with up to 300 pupils will be closed or united in the near future, and later, urban schools with up to 450 students will be united as well.
Optimization implies the reduction of administrative, economic and pedagogical staff of schools, which will have serious social consequences. The issue of reduction fairness will become even actual.
In case of moving to a new school, it is important the social adaptation of both teachers and pupils. An additional financial burden on families can lead to the deployment of a new school away from the place of residence.
Another problem is the possible impact of optimization on the quality of education. Increasing the classroom density may initially create difficulties for teachers and, conversely, have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the educational process.
In September 2017, at the start of the new academic year, considerable dissatisfaction among the re-organized pedagogical staff has taken place. Teachers are worried about their job placement and “staff optimization.” They did not have clear criteria for personnel changes. Several alerts were raised in press that senior teachers are urged to submit self-dismissals.
In order to explore these and other possible issues, IPP has envisaged participatory monitoring of school optimization process in Armenia.
Monitoring tasks are:
- Consider the new situation in the optimized schools according to a number of criteria (financial efficiency, justification and reasonableness of personnel decisions, teacher training and methodological upgrading, teachers’, social adaptation of pupils and parents, organization of education and quality, etc.).
- Develop recommendations based on monitoring results to improve the optimization process.
- Implementation of an advocacy campaign involving decision makers and policymakers, stakeholders and other beneficiaries.