The RA law stipulates that public schools shall provide secular education. However, the subject “History of the Armenian Church” is included in the list of compulsory subjects in the national curriculum in public and private schools, and is taught in grades 5-11.
State officials responsible for the education sector in the Republic of Armenia state that the subject “History of Armenian Church” does not contradict the law and does not carry out religious propaganda.
The former RA Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan had even gone so far as to attach the label of “foreign funded entities” to those who raise the issue. “We worked with their experts during the report preparation stage. I am sorry for that but I must say that the idea was generated in the mind of Armenian citizens, organizations that imagine themselves to be part of our society, who have Armenian roots but who are funded within the framework of “fashionable” Western tendencies”, the Minister had stated addressing the report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
In fact, the criteria approved by the RA Ministry of Education and Science come to prove that the subject “History of the Armenian Church” does not have a secular nature. In particular, the high school program of the subject designed for the teachers as teaching guide contradicts the assurances made by the education officials.
For instance, page 30 of the aforementioned curriculum says that the student who graduates from high school should be able to participate in national and religious ceremonies, explain their meaning and significance.
Thus, one cannot help wondering how and why an Islam, Yazidism follower or an atheist high school student should participate in the religious ceremonies of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Moreover, on page 31 of the same program, it is required that the student realize the importance of the Bible in his or her life. How and why should a non-Christian student imagine the role of the Bible in his or her life?
There are many other pieces of evidence in the aforementioned program that show that the subject “History of the Armenian Church” is not secular in nature and contradicts the requirement of the law of the Republic of Armenia.
However, as we can observe, the RA Ministry of Education and Science does not care about that. Moreover, a new program is being developed according to which religious propaganda in schools should be strengthened. Fifty public schools of Armenia currently teach the subject “History of the Armenian Church / Christian Upbringing” to 2-4th graders as a pilot program of the RA Ministry of Education and Science.
It is likely that very soon we will see this subject in all the schools and atheist children or those belonging to other religious groups will have to participate in the classes.
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