Education 15:27 03/01/2022 Armenia

Matemik NGO seeks to raise a super-educated generation in the spirit of Monte

Author Lala Ter-Ghazaryan

Several times a week, dozens of Artsakh children wake up early in the morning, at 5:30am. At 6am they are already at their smartphone screens and computer monitors to enjoy the lessons offered in the framework of the Matemik NGO program. At this time, when everyone is asleep, the internet is relatively fast.

Children aged 12-16 from different settlements of Artsakh learn math, programming, physics, chemistry, biology, the Armenian language, foreign languages, Armenian and world history with the help of volunteer teachers.

The founder of the Matemik initiative is Tigran Arushanyan, an accountant and mathematician from Vanadzor, the third largest city of Armenia. He now teaches mathematics in the village of Amrakits, Lori Province, and before that he worked in the communities of Blagodatnoye and Katnarat, as well as in the border village of Vahan in Gegharkunik Province.

After the end of the Artsakh war in 2020, Tigran, like many others, constantly thought what to do.

"I realized how important education was and something had to be done in that sector. At first Matemik was just an initiative, we organized a summer school. I thought that the vacations should be used for the academic growth of children," Arushanyan told Panorama.am.

The idea was followed by the search for children and sponsors. Tigran's acquaintances, relatives and friends, as well as strangers donated money to the initiative after he made a post on Facebook.

The teacher drove to the villages near Vanadzor and Tashir searching children interested in mathematics and found 60 kids.

“It was very difficult. Villages, traditional families ... There were cases when I especially persuaded the girls' parents, asked them to trust me. Every day we took them to Vanadzor and returned home. We divided the children into two groups from Lori and Artsakh and started working,” he says.

At the beginning of the initiative, Tigran was also joined by a programming teacher; in the summer school the children studied mathematics, coding what they had learned. After finishing school, their reactions were unexpected: both children and parents wanted the program to continue.

"The kids were highly motivated. If had stopped the work, it would have been like showing a hungry person a delicious meal and then telling him, “You can go home”. These kids are hungry for knowledge and want to keep going. That's how the Matemik initiative turned into an NGO," Tigran says.

He starts cooperating with IT companies, telling them about the work done, what needs to be done and their goals. Even unemployed families express willingness to donate a certain amount of money to the NGO so that their children could continue learning. Positive feedback also comes from the schools of the children participating in the program: some of the children have made quite a lot of progress, another has changed incredibly ...

The VOLO company agrees to co-finance the autumn school, provide employees to run courses for Lori students, expresses its readiness to host them as interns in the future. The other part of the funds necessary for the school is provided by our compatriots.

Encouraged by the successes the Lori children have achieved in a few months, their motivation and results, the NGO launches the Matemik in Artsakh program, which is quickly joined by dozens of volunteer teachers from Armenia and other countries.

"When I had this program in mind, my goal was to broaden children’s academic knowledge. But during and as a result of the lessons, the ties between Artsakh children and professionals, and each other, were strengthened. When volunteer teachers talk about their students, they say, “My children”. Several teachers have handed over gifts for us to give them to Artsakh students. Many children write me letters about how happy and grateful they are to have met, for example, teacher Lusine ... " he says.

The number of people supporting the program is increasing. There were people who brought computers from Armenia to Artsakh and donated them to the children participating in the courses.

Members of the Artsakh government received Tigran Arushanyan with open arms, attached importance to the objectives of the program, and promised to assist him in every way possible. However, there was no response from the Armenian government agencies.

"I believe that the state should support the initiatives that provide tangible results. A group can be set up in the ministry to study the initiatives, assess their results and, if possible, to support them even with their statements. For example, the Armenian government should help the government of Artsakh to solve the internet issue. The children are cut off from the outside world because of the bad connection or its absence. If they solve the connection problem and provide fast internet, we will record much better results," Tigran said.

According to him, about 100 children in Artsakh are currently waiting for their turn to participate in the courses.

"One of the parents wrote me that she is amazed; her rascal son now sets his alarm for 5:30am every day to participate in a programming lesson. At that time of the day the internet is fast," the teacher says.

After working with the children from Lori and Artsakh, Tigran is convinced that we have a great generation, intelligent and patriotic children. Only schoolboys of villages still consider it shameful to learn. Tigran suggests attracting more charismatic, respected, successful and intelligent male teachers to the schools, as well as raising teachers' salaries to resolve the problem.

"In order to earn a living for my family, I do different things; I am engaged in trade and tourism ... But I feel that this is bad for the future of the homeland: 200 children learn less from me. The state can pay teachers 400,000 drams and demand that they leave their second job. Then you will see how the quality of education improves. But today I know teachers who devote more time to their livestock than to their students. But you can't blame these people," he says.

Tigran plans to make the Matemik initiative lasting, to develop and expand it by preparing interesting video lessons. This will require funding. After the holidays he will again apply to IT companies, present their plans and ask for cooperation. Most of the money is spent on fixing the computer problems, as well as rewarding the best-performing children and paying teachers' salaries.

"Our ultimate goal is to raise a super-educated generation in the spirit of Monte [Melkonian]. We need to combine patriotism and knowledge. No matter how patriotic a person may be, if he has no knowledge stock, he will tear his hair out due to despair. If a man has knowledge but is not mentally connected to his homeland, he will leave it one day. Matemik is about connecting education to the homeland. With the help of children, Matemik creates the driving force of tomorrow's homeland. I am sure that one day a rich man will tell me, ‘Gun it, I will provide the financial resources’,” the teacher says, in the meantime reminding that you can contribute to this educational initiative and be part of a big change.



Source Panorama.am
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