WIKILEAKS. THE EDUCATION SPHERE IS ONE OF THE MOST CORRUPT

yerkir.am
11:21 - 06.09.2011

Levon Lazarian's appointment was no surprise, neither was the fact
that ARF got the post. The education sphere is one of the most
corrupt ones in Armenia, and the Dashnaks had publicly expressed
their dissatisfaction with the OY number two and former minister
Sergo Yeritsyan numerous times. An ARF representative told us the day
before Lazarian's appointment that they would not tolerate Yeritsyan
as Minister of Education, even after he had left Orinats Yerkir in
a bid to retain his ministerial portfolio. Levon Lazarian (41),
personable and extremely bright, is a prominent, up-and-coming leader
within the ARF. In the mid-90s he led the ARF, which was essentially
banned at that time under former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan's
administration. From 1996 to 1998 he was a member of the Central
Committee of Hay Dat (the Armenian Cause). After President Kocharyan
come to power in 1998, Lazarian held various governmental posts:
Minister of Education and Science (1998-1999), Adviser to the Prime
Minister (1999-2000), Deputy Foreign Minister (2000-2001), Minister
of Education and Science (2001-2003). In May 2003 he was elected into
the Parliament from the proportional list of the ARF Dashnaktsutyun
and led the Party faction. Lazarian headed the National Assembly's
multi-party Armenia-U.S. Friendship Group until his appointment as
Minister of Education and speaks good English. Lazarian is a graduate
of Yerevan State University and holds a PhD in History. He is married
with one child.

On June 5, Ambassador, DCM and CAO met with newly appointed Minister
of Education Levon Lazarian, who took up his post when the party
of Parliament Speaker Baghdassarian left the ruling coalition in
early May.

Lazarian made a strong first impression, with a firm command of the
challenges of reforming the Armenian primary and secondary education
sectors. He also displayed a well-studied and detailed command of
USG education assistance programs. The education sector is one of
Armenia's most corrupt and resistant to change, a fact that Lazarian's
predecessor was unable (or unwilling) to address. Lazarian should
be a strong partner for reform in the relatively brief period before
elections in 2007. End Summary. Minister Lazarian minced no words
in expressing his displeasure with the slow and sloppy progress of
the World Bank Track II Education Program. He detailed the program's
woes: multiple missed deadlines, improper bidding, and small divided
tenders that were of interest only to small local companies, rather
than one large tender that would be of interest to international
organizations with greater experience in IT education projects. He
specifically mentioned that the recent USD $1.2 million tender was,
"to put it mildly," not properly competed. This parallels what Post had
heard from two separate international NGOs that originally bid on the
project, only to later pull out due to bidding irregularities. Minister
Lazarian stated that although he is "stuck" with these results, he
recently notified World Bank of his concerns and vows to personally
oversee the fall 2006 follow-on bid.