During a speech at the National Assembly on October 22, Prosperous Armenia MP Gevorg Petrosyan, referred to the liquidation of boarding schools stating that the authorities made this decision without informing the public and the Parliament
“At least from a moral point of view they ought to tell people what lies ahead of the children in the event of liquidation, how their care and upbringing will be arranged,” Petrosyan said.
Fact Investigation Platform has checked whether Gevorg Petrosyan’s claims are true.
Liquidation of boarding schools
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs made a proposal to liquidate boarding houses in August this year. It is proposed to shut down two boarding houses in Gyumri, boarding houses in Byureghavan and Dilijan.
The draft law on closing down boarding shcools was already published on the Ministry’s website in June this year. The draft law was posted for discussion on the unified website for publication of draft legal acts’ drafts E-draft.am on August 13. In addition, an official announcement was published on the Ministry’s website on August 22.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs view on the closure of boarding shcools is that most children attending these institutions can live in a biological family with some support. This implies both short and long-term financial and social support.
Gevorg Petrosyan also notes that before making such a decision the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs should have spoken at the National Assembly. Zaruhi Batoyan, however, had spoken about the liquidation of boarding institutions during a question and answer session in the National Assembly on October 3. In response to Arman Abovyan’s question, she noted that children attending these institutions will continue to receive the support they received at boarding schools. Actions will also be taken to improve the living conditions of families.
Batoyan made a Facebook post yesterday noting that Gevorg Petrosyan was not present at the question and answer session and is likely to make such comments.
Therefore, Gevorg Petrosyan’s claim that the Government made the decision to close down boarding schools without informing the public is untrue.
The future of children
Gevorg Petrosyan also expressed concern that the fate of children attending boarding schools is unknown. “Does anyone know what is planned? None of the dozens of deputies sitting here is aware of the fate of those children…. I have this opinion because no alternative has been proposed.”
Alternatives to boarding schools, however, have been presented both in the draft law and by Batoyan. Thus, the majority of boarding school children will move to their biological families, and the funds directed to the institutions will go to support those families.
The Minister also noted that children of families in need of urgent help will stay in temporary crisis centers to be set up.
Gevorg Petrosyan’s claim that there are bilateral orphans in boarding schools is also wrong. According to the Ministry’s assessment, most children have the opportunity to return to a biological family.
One of the programs in the scope of liquidation of childcare facilities is the institute of “Foster Families.” It is these families that will take care of those children who don’t have the opportunity to return to a biological family.
This system differs from adoption in that the family does not replace the biological family. “Foster parents” are remunerated, and their obligations terminate after the child becomes an adult.
Thus, Gevorg Petrosyan’s statements that the project will be implemented without informing the public and the Parliament, and the fate of children at boarding schools is unknown, are untrue.