Students and academic staff play a vital role in ensuring the quality of higher education and advocating for democratic reforms. The quality standards of the higher education system in Armenia have been continuously decreasing in recent years, creating an ever growing gap between the education and the labor market. Even though students in Armenia have proven to be a valuable and untapped resource, they remain excluded from participating in any debates on educational reforms and decision-making processes. Students are critical actors, who can bring a positive change in the higher education system, however, they are the least consulted and the most excluded from any public discourse.
With this in mind Armenian Progressive Youth NGO launches the “Actors of Change! Fostering Student Activism in Armenia” project which is a combination of different capacity building activities, events, campaigns, local actions and policy debates.
Through the project and cooperation with partners in V4 countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), we aim:
- To create an independent, alternative and safe student space, where great ideas are born and transformed into actions;
- To promote public demand for quality education among students by building their leadership capacities and mobilizing around the issues of education;
- to mobilize the education community against the deteriorating quality of education and to support informed youth participation;
- To create a community of like-minded people in Armenia and partner V4 countries, who will continue learning, sharing, struggling and achieving together in order to improve the higher education institutions in which they are involved.
“Actors of Change! Fostering Student Activism in Armenia” is a multi-layer is an educational project consisting of the following 5 activities.
<strong>Activity 1: Student Activism School </strong>
The Student Activism School intends to work with 30 students from Armenia. Participants will join the Student Activism School – a 5 month capacity enhancement and community building initiative. The School will be a safe space, where active students will meet twice a week and undergo a series of capacity building workshops provided by experts from Armenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Participants will freely and critically discuss existing problems of the higher education system in Armenia, acquire knowledge on key concepts related to quality education and democratic processes and develop concrete demands for quality in higher education.
<strong>Activity 2: Expert Talks</strong>
8 Expert Talks will be implemented in parallel with Student Activism School and will engage young experts and professionals, activists, students, and educators from V4 countries in a series of discussions with Armenian students. The Expert Talks will concentrate on giving the participants knowledge on key data, facts and research in the field of higher education in Armenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
<strong>Activity 3: Training for Teaching /Academic Staff </strong>
When we speak about learning and teaching in the 21st century, it is highly important to think beyond the brick-and-mortar walls of the traditional classroom. For this very reason, in order to ensure the success of the Teaching process, 20 teaching/academic staff will participate in a two-month long training program in order to develop their competences on non-formal education. They will also support the establishment of new academic programs based on the achievement of measurable learning outcomes, bringing them to the level of concepts and processes while taking into account individual specificity and learning needs.
<strong>Activity 4: Project Management Lab</strong>
30 participants will undergo a two-month training aimed at supporting good management practices and effective decision making throughout a project management cycle. The Lab will include the topics on Project Management Fundamentals, Agile Project Management and more. This interactive training will deliver a comprehensive knowledge of essential techniques for successful, results-oriented and cost-effective management of projects. The Lab will give students a strong foundation for organizing their own student-led campaigns in the future.
<strong>Activity 5: Student-led advocacy campaigns</strong>
In scopes of the Student-led advocacy campaigns young activists will jointly identify one or several problems of higher education in Armenia and will develop and execute a campaign supported by a network of youth NGOs. 4 student campaigns will receive funding. Thanks to the activity the students will learn and experience campaign tools first hand, as well as will practice student mobilization, movement building and advocacy.
The project is co-financed by the Governments of Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia through Visegrad Grants from International Visegrad Fund. The mission of the fund is to advance ideas for sustainable regional cooperation in Central Europe.