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Distinguished Members Of The Board Of Trustees Of Dilijan Internatio

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  • Distinguished Members Of The Board Of Trustees Of Dilijan Internatio


    The news of the opening of Dilijan International School has evoked
    a wide response in Armenia. The idea of establishing a school that
    will meet world standards and thus become a benchmark for all other
    schools in Armenia could not leave indifferent anyone who is familiar
    with the current state of secondary education in Armenia. Indeed, the
    offer of ensuring high academic standards, stimulating intellectual
    curiosity, and cultivating independence made by Dilijan International
    School should be adopted by the whole educational system in Armenia.

    One of the ways to achieve this noble goal could be an introduction
    of an educational program that combines adherence to high academic
    standards with the ability to be adopted and translated in any
    language. An example of program that has this indisputable advantage
    is the International Baccalaureate (IB) program (

    Besides IB schools using English, French or Spanish as a language
    of instruction there are many others schools that has implemented
    IB program in the language of their respective country, such as the
    Tokyo Gakugei University International Secondary School in Japan and
    the Tianjin Experimental High School in China.

    However, one of the provisions of the Dilijan International School's
    current concept causes grave concern, namely that the language
    of instruction to be in English. Under the laws "On Language" and
    "On Education" Armenian is the language of instruction in secondary
    schools throughout Armenia, except for minorities, foreigners and
    refugees. therefore, this proposal in its current form contradicts
    the law. The attempt to resolve this unlawfulness lies at the heart
    of recent amendments to the above-mentioned laws introduced by the
    Government to the Parliament of the Republic of Armenia.

    The amendments have caused deep discontent in Armenia that has
    manifested itself in numerous statements made by scientific,
    civil, social and political organizations, as well as in articles,
    conferences, and demonstrations. The reason is that the legislative
    enforcement of Armenian language as the language of instruction
    is not accidental. Moreover, it is not unique, similar language
    policies exist in Greece and other countries. The reason behind
    this restriction is that mother tongue is the foundation of national
    identity and worldview. On the other hand, language is a comprehensive
    sign system, allowing the exchange of information in all spheres
    of human activity. This means that for the full development of the
    language it should be applied to serve the culture of its respective
    nation. Meanwhile, a school with other than Armenian instruction
    language will produce students with limited Armenian skills.

    A gradual but an irreversible process will begin in which parents
    in search of better education for their children will choose a
    foreign language school. Pupils receiving the superior education
    will be accepted in the best universities, therefore will occupy
    leading positions in the private and government sectors, forming an
    elite group with limited Armenian skills. That is what happened in
    Soviet Armenia, where Armenian in schools with Russian language of
    instruction was taught as a foreign language. Number of students in
    such schools had been growing rapidly: in 1937 there was only one
    such school established in Yerevan, whereas in 1980's 25 percent of
    the pupils in Yerevan attended Russian language only schools.

    The masses will follow the example of the elite group mentioned above.

    This endeavor will lower the standard of Armenian knowledge
    competency and its prestige in the entire population affecting all
    areas of communication and daily activities. The consequence of such
    a policy will call into questions the very necessity and ultimately,
    the existence of Armenian language and its people. This worry is not
    unfounded, but describes the outcome of numerous language shifts such
    as those that happened to Scottish and Irish languages replaced by
    English language. Recently, another language shift has been taking
    place in Lebanon where Arabic has been loosing ground to English
    and French.

    Moreover, if we consider the problem from the standpoint of providing
    equal access to quality education, then the need to support education
    in multiple languages will lead to fragmentation of already limited
    resources, waste of funds, inconsistencies and useless multiple
    repetition of efforts by the Ministry of Education. It is no accident,
    that the highest level of secondary education achievement in Finland
    (consistently Finland takes the first and the second place in the
    world) is that all students in Finland master all subjects in their
    native tongue.

    Therefore, the emphasis should be made on improving the educational
    system, including foreign language teaching, rather than to substitute
    such reforms at the expense of national language instruction. It is
    important to clearly delineate the difference between the concepts of
    learning a foreign language and foreign language based learning. The
    example of Finland, the Netherlands and other countries shows that
    it is quite possible to achieve widespread advanced foreign languages
    skills in native language instruction schools.

    However, the very concept of an elite boarding school could be
    very productive and will certainly contribute to the improvement
    of secondary education in Armenia, if the educational program will
    be adapted to use Armenian as the language of instruction. In this
    case Dilijan International School will become a model of the Armenian
    school and will attract Armenian children from around the world.

    Armenian children coming from different countries of the Diaspora
    not only would be able to raise language proficiency, but as
    representatives of different linguistic cultures enrich each other,
    thus creating a unique Armenian educational system phenomenon.

    Most sincerely,