6th Armenia-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Conference continues

On September 18, the 6th Armenia-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Conference kicked off under the title “Mutual Trust, Unity and Responsibility”. The panel session entitled “The Armenian Language and School as a Guarantee of the Armenian Identity” (under the heading “Issues on Preservation of the Armenian Identity”) was held as part of the conference.

The session was moderated by RA Minister of Education and Science Levon Mkrtchyan.

RA Deputy Minister of Education and Science Davit Sahakyan delivered a speech entitled “The System of Education in the Republic of Armenia and the Perspectives of Development”. He noted that the system of education in Armenia must be reformed in such a way that Armenia has competitive citizens and added that the formation of a system of national education is one of the major objectives of Armenia.

Afterwards, Chairman of the Central Body of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Middle East, President of Haigazian University of Beirut Paul Haytostian (Lebanon) delivered a speech entitled “The School and the Armenian Identity Meeting the Requirement of the Future”.

Haytostian noted that Armenian schools in the Diaspora are at risk and that to lose the language means to lose the identity. “We need to think about how the Armenians of the future must be. Preserving the Armenian identity and providing Armenian children with an Armenian upbringing is an act of self-sacrifice in the Diaspora. We Armenians need to set the objective to bring up a generation of competitive Armenians,” he emphasized.

Director of the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Razmik Panossian (Portugal) delivered a speech entitled “Diaspora-Centered Upbringing and the Need for Educational Approaches”. He touched upon the preservation of Western Armenian in the Diaspora and expressed the certainty that there is a need to prepare specialists of the Western Armenian language in the Diaspora.

Haytostian’s speech was followed by a speech by Chairman of the Central Committee of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society Lebanon Chapter Meguerditch Meguerditchian. Presenting Hamazkayin’s activities for preservation of the Armenian identity, Meguerditchian noted that it is necessary to focus on the specifics of the Armenian identity. He stressed the fact that it is necessary to increase the number of teacher training courses and similar programs organized by the Ministry of Diaspora in Armenia.

Chairman of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Canada Regional Committee Mher Karakashian delivered a speech entitled “Armenian Upbringing on the Threshold of the 21st Century: The Key Objective of Preservation of the Armenian Identity in the Diaspora and the Challenges of the Education Sector in the Diaspora”. Karakashian touched upon the problems with maintenance of Armenian schools in the Diaspora and emphasized that all Armenians need to work hard in order to find solutions to the problems with maintenance of Armenian schools in the Diaspora.

Founding President of the AGBU Armenian Virtual University Yervant Zorian (USA) talked about the Internet and the Armenian identity and noted that new technologies have led to a change in teaching methods in schools as well.

“Implementation of virtual educational programs is not a priority for Armenian schools within Armenian communities. The main emphasis needs to be placed on the communities in which there are no Armenian schools. Over time, the Armenian communities of the Diaspora will become weak, if we don’t give them impulses, and we can give those impulses through new technologies,” Zorian said.

Executive Director of the Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE) Karen Vardanyan (Armenia) presented the “Armat” (Root) engineering laboratories as a prospective tool for preservation of the Armenian identity in the Diaspora and the development of communities in Armenia.

“We can furnish Armenian schools of the Diaspora with “Armat” laboratories. As for the communities, it would be nice, if our activities and products were presented in the countries where those communities are established,” Karen Vardanyan said.

Patriarchal Vicar of the St. Hakobyants Congregation of Jerusalem, Rev. Fr. Archimandrite Avedis Iprajian talked about three major factors for preservation of the Armenian identity in the Diaspora, that is, the native land, the Armenian language and the Armenian Apostolic Church.

At the end of the session, Professor of the University of Sorbonne, linguist Hilda Galfaian-Panosian made a proposal for the unification of the two ramifications of the Armenian language (Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian).

The Minister of Education and Science suggested that the participants submit their comments and suggestions in writing and noted that another session would be convened, if necessary.

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