COAF Secures €10 Million Grant to Transform Education in Armenia’s Syunik Region

The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) has secured a landmark €10 million grant from the European Commission through European Investment Bank (EIB) Global to establish two SMART Centers in the Syunik Province.

The grant was formalized at the Global Gateway Forum in Brussels on 25 October by EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood, Olivér Várhelyi, and EIB Vice-President, Thomas Österos. The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan as well as COAF Global Executive Director Ara Barsam and Managing Director Liana Ghaltaghchyan. This partnership heralds a new era of educational excellence in Armenia’s southern Syunik Province, bringing world-class after-school education to the children of the region.

This groundbreaking initiative entails the construction of two innovative extracurricular education and teacher training centers in the cities of Kapan and Goris in the Syunik Province of Southern Armenia. These cutting-edge facilities will provide high-quality after-school education and comprehensive services to up to 6,000 children and young adults aged 3 to 18. Students can access a wide range of after-school programs, including foreign languages, entrepreneurship, arts, engineering, athletics. Students will also benefit from the support of social workers, education counselors, study trips, and workshops from international experts.

Following the model of COAF’s flagship SMART Center in Armenia’s northern Lori Province, inaugurated in 2018, this initiative marks a significant step towards enhancing education and development in rural areas. Over the course of its 5-year operation, the Lori SMART Center has served more than 4,000 students from 28 communities and stands as an integral part of a growing network of educational and development facilities, fostering new professional training and employment prospects for rural citizens.

The establishment of two SMART Centers in Syunik is closely aligned with the flagship initiative, “Investing in education, notably in the Syunik region,” as part of the European Union’s Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Partnership. This initiative is also a pivotal element of the Team Europe Initiative on Resilient Syunik, aimed at bolstering the socio-economic resilience of the Southern region of Armenia, which has been significantly impacted by the 2020 hostilities and the recent mass displacement of Karabakh Armenians.

EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood, Olivér Várhelyi, emphasized, “Today’s announcement is another proof of the EU’s commitment to Armenia’s reforms in education, to enhance its quality, modernization and relevance to economy and society. Education is a priority under the Economic and Investment Plan’s flagship for Armenia, and I am pleased to see that the construction of two non-formal education centers in the Syunik region will be a reality. This will ensure the quality of rural education and workforce development and prepare young people of Armenia, including vulnerable groups, to find appropriate jobs in a competitive job market. This is part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to education in Armenia, to which we committed recently a €32 million budget support for the implementation of the education strategy.”

President of the Republic of Armenia, Vahagn Khachaturyan, expressed his support, stating, “Today an important step was taken towards the realization of the two non-formal education centers to be constructed in the Syunik Region of Armenia and to be operated by the COAF. This can help to further strengthen the links between formal and non-formal education as the latter is an essential auxiliary to the former. Moreover, the construction of these SMART Centers in Syunik will contribute to a bigger goal of developing the southern regions of Armenia.”

EIB’s President, Werner Hoyer, added, “As the EU Bank, we are committed to support development of human capital, economic resilience and social cohesion in Armenia, in line with the EU priorities in the country. This Team Europe initiative is not only an investment in a better education and future of the Armenian children, but it will also contribute to reducing urban-rural divides and gender gaps in the country.”

COAF Global Executive Head, Ara Barsam, emphasized the significance of the initiative, stating, “This is a pivotal investment in Armenia’s future. COAF is swiftly working, upholding the highest standards of quality and innovation to ensure that all young Armenians receive the finest education and training possible.”

Liana Ghaltaghchyan, COAF Managing Director, stressed the importance of this endeavor for Armenia, emphasizing, “It is especially vital for Armenia to embark on the establishment of our SMART Centers in Syunik during this crucial period.”

This initiative reflects the collaborative commitment of the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, and the Children of Armenia Fund to advancing education, economic resilience, and social development in the Syunik Province, marking an important milestone in Armenia’s progress.

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