LISBON — In 2019, the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (henceforth CGF) developed a strategy specifically for Armenian schools and educational programs in Lebanon, with a special focus on the effective teaching and transmission of the Western Armenian language (read the full strategy in English and Armenian here). It is in this context that CGF has developed three programs that address the main challenges facing Armenian education today: the schools, the teachers, and the language itself.
Armenian School Grant Program
The first program concerns the establishment of a special School Grant Program for Armenian schools in Lebanon. CGF believes that the initiative to meet the need for reform and to bring essential changes to improve schools should come from within the school and should be based on the school’s needs and its development perspectives. School administrations and staff, including teachers, are best placed to identify their needs and work together towards developing a project wherein these needs can be met, and reforms can be envisioned and implemented. CGF realizes that reform efforts often falter because schools lack effective action plans and the financial resources to implement them. Thus, with this grant program, CGF offers schools that strive to meet the challenges of renewal and the challenges of updating their pedagogy or learning-related services the financial means to implement specific activities meant to improve the school in general and the teaching of Western Armenian in particular.
The School Grant Program gives schools the possibility to develop a comprehensive educational project that addresses any aspect of professional practice within the school or any pressing issues in education. This new grant would allow selected schools to implement innovative teaching practices and to pilot new approaches that reflect the latest educational thinking.
In-Service Teacher Development Program
The second program concerns a university level In-Service Teacher Development Program, specifically for teachers who use Western Armenian as a language of instruction in Armenian schools in Lebanon today. The existing practice through which Western Armenian is taught today in Lebanon (as well as elsewhere in the Diaspora) faces complex and multifaceted challenges, and addressing these is equally complex. For CGF, addressing such problems – be it specifically in Lebanon or more generally elsewhere – goes beyond merely sending funds to schools; rather, it requires dealing with the inherent causes of the problems. CGF hopes to take part in helping meet some of these challenges by investing in the schools and the teachers, having the effective transmission of the Western Armenian language as a priority. The Foundation seeks to contribute to efforts that will lead to pedagogic reform in order to enhance the emergence of a new Western Armenian speaking generation that can internalize the language and create in it, thus making the language a medium of creative living in the 21st century.
To ensure the effective transmission of Western Armenian to new generations, it is imperative to have instructors who can resourcefully teach using the language. As the most important element in any educational program, teachers are the ones who are mainly responsible for the implementation of the educational process and thus teacher performance is the most crucial input in the field of education. As such, CGF would like to provide continuous education for teachers in Lebanon who use Western Armenian as a language of instruction, so they can continuously grow and acquire new skills to effectively instruct in and transmit the Western Armenian language. CGF would thus like to fund the creation of an “In-Service Teacher Development Program”, in collaboration with a local Lebanese university (or universities), which would help to foster a culture of innovative language teaching. The ultimate aim of this dynamic program is to make the acquisition of the Western Armenian language and culture active, interesting, and relevant to contemporary life again, through well-trained teachers.
Armenian Content Course
The third program concerns the creation of a Western Armenian Content Course within the framework of the In-Service Teacher Development Program. This Course would be an integral part of the teacher development program and would be delivered entirely in Western Armenian. The Armenian Content Course seeks to provide further support to the teachers involved in the teacher development program in relation to the Western Armenian language. CGF will collaborate with local and international professionals in the field to develop the Course in a way that will develop the participants’ linguistic, cultural, analytic, and critical thinking skills in the Western Armenian language, contributing to their professional development in and with Armenian.
To read more about the CGF “In-Service Teacher Development Program”, please consult the following document in English.