YEREVAN — Syrian-Armenian students of Armenian universities held a congress entitled “Displacement, Education, Commitment” on December 3. The congress was organized by the Center for Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues NGO with the support of the Office of the UNHCR in Armenia and under the patronage of the RA Ministry of Diaspora.
Among the participants of the event were RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Armenia Christoph Bierwirth, Rector of Mkhitar Heratsi Yerevan State Medical University Mikayel Narimanyan, member of the AGBU Central Board Vasken Yacoubian, President of the Center for Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues NGO Lena Haladjian and students of different universities.
Greeting the participants of the congress, RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan expressed gratitude to the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for their active support to reimbursing the tuition of Syrian-Armenian students having moved to Armenia as a result of the civil war in Syria.
“Of course, we wouldn’t want to hold this congress and would have liked to invite students from the Armenian community of Syria to the Homeland for training and to gain more knowledge,” the minister mentioned, adding: “Unfortunately, today, we are witnessing the decline in the number of Armenians in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine. As the Homeland of all Armenians, Armenia is prepared to receive all Armenians of the Diaspora. It’s very important to connect young Diaspora Armenians to the homeland. We have to do everything possible to make sure young Armenian students of Armenia’s universities and intermediate vocational institutions see and build their future in the Homeland.”
The minister addressed the Syrian-Armenian students participating in the congress and stressed once again the fact that the 21st century is the century of knowledge, innovations and ideas, adding that it’s more than important for them to study hard and become competitive professionals.
The minister also urged the Syrian-Armenian students to work more closely with the student councils of their respective universities and collaborate with the student councils and the Center for Coordination of Syrian-Armenians’ Issues NGO.
Minister Hranush Hakobyan added that the Syrian-Armenians are law-abiding and hard-working citizens who have been making their contributions to Armenia’s advancement for the past four years since they settled in the country.
Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Armenia Christoph Bierwirth attached great importance to the privileges and extra opportunities for Syrian-Armenians to receive their education in Armenia and mentioned that the Office of the UNHCR is willing to support the activities of Syrian-Armenians’ student councils at their universities.
The representative of the Office in Armenia stressed the fact that receiving an education is a long-term investment and added that the tuition reimbursements are provided to different people in different amounts, depending on how much the particular person or family needs the reimbursement. Christoph Bierwirth also attached importance to the need to provide students with jobs and organize training courses for them.
Acting director of the Armenian Representation of the AGBU Hovik Yordekyan mentioned that the collaboration between the government and pan-Armenian organizations for the solutions to key issues concerning Syrian-Armenian students has become one of the best manifestations of the Armenia-Diaspora partnership for the past three consecutive years. Mr. Yordekyan added that the AGBU has great experience in providing scholarships and will continue the scholarship program, especially for Syrian-Armenian students.
Rector of Yerevan State Medical University Mikayel Narimanyan mentioned with satisfaction that most of the students of YSMU are Syrian-Armenians who study pharmacology, general medicine and dentistry.
The event included speeches by leading expert of the Department of Foreign Relations and Diaspora at the RA Ministry of Education and Science Amalya Kocharyan; cardiologist at Nairi Medical Center George Barseghian, Head of the Division for Foreign Students of the Department of International Relations at Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction Tatevik Hakobyan, Dean of the Faculty of Teaching for Foreigners at Yerevan State Medical University Anna Sargsyan, representative of the Training Division for Foreign Citizens at the State Engineering University of Armenia Liana Hovhannisyan, as well as Deputy Director of Yerevan State Baseline Medical College Donara Hakobyan and others.
Among other speakers were Syrian-Armenian students Lara Yeramian (Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction), Vrouyr Bilemjian (Yerevan State Medical University), Harout Donoian (Armenian State University of Economics) and Alexan Kalayji (Yerevan State University), who shared their views on educational issues.
The Syrian-Armenian students of Armenian universities and intermediate vocational institutions officially received tuition reimbursements for the 2014-15 Academic Year during the congress.
Issues related to Syrian-Armenian students and the ways of solving those issues were discussed during the congress.