Education in the First Republic of Armenia

Education in the First Republic of Armenia

In the first half of 1920, the overall situation of the Republic of Armenia was at least satisfactory.

In 1918, after the departure of the Turks, the educational process in Armenia was razed or operated only occasionally. School buildings for varying time were provided to shelters and refugees as hostels. In some places, hunger and epidemics did not allow for systematic classes.

After the formation of the new Armenian government, one of the first things to do was to repair the destroyed school buildings. A million rubles was allocated for this task, which was a huge amount for that time. A ministry of art and public education was established with a single academic council.

The entirety of Armenia was divided into 11 educational districts, and each district had its own inspector. An educational program was developed and launched. Large sums were allocated from the parliament for education. And here is what has been achieved.

During 1918-1919, there were 133 elementary schools in Armenia with 383 teachers and 11,136 students. In 1919-1920, there were 456 elementary schools (not counting Zangezur and Lori) with 1047 teachers and 41,188 students.

According to the official information of the People’s Commissar of Education, in 1922-23, there were 547 primary schools in Armenia, including Zangezur and Lori, of which 467 were Armenian, 41 Turkish, 41 Russian, 23 Yezidi, and 4 Greek. There were 47,870 students in these schools, of which 42,590 were Armenians, and 1,274 teachers.

In other words, after three years of uproar, the then leaders of Soviet Armenia put the primary education in the same condition as in 1919-1920.

In 1918-1919, there were 6 secondary schools in Armenia with 177 teachers and 3,137 students. In 1919-1920, there were 20 secondary schools with 305 teachers and 5,162 students.

Educational activities were conducted in the state language, but the government also encouraged education for other nationalities. In 1919–20, there were 16 Tatar schools in the Kars district. Primary schools were also opened in Molokan and Yezidi villages.

On January 31, 1920, the first higher education institution, the first Armenian University in Alexandropol (now Gyumri), was established in Armenia. In the following year, it was moved to Yerevan. On the day of its opening, the University had 8 teachers and 200 students.

In Yerevan, Alexandropol, Karakilisa (now Vanadzor), and elsewhere in Armenia, educational processes, public universities, and vocational schools were established.

The government program also included the opening of a pedagogical, technical, cooperative, art critic, musical, military, geometric (land surveying), and pharmaceutical schools. An agricultural school was established in Alexandropol and another one in Nor Bayazet. Physical education was encouraged in Armenia, and the local boy scout organization became widespread.

I (Simon Vratsian), unfortunately, do not have the state budget of 1919-1920 on hand, but if I had the opportunity to publish the incomes and expenses of the Republic of Armenia for 1919-1920, it would be clear how important education was to the Armenian government. The educational process was set up on an absolutely non-partisan, state basis, and the doors of schools were widely opened for all teachers and educators regardless of their political views.

In 1920, the first exhibition of Armenian artists was held in Armenia. For the establishment of a state museum and the promotion of art, the Armenian government allocated a rather impressive sum and purchased paintings and statues. At the same time, a large sum was allocated for allowances for Armenian writers residing in Tiflis.

The government was also engaged in preparatory works for the opening of the state theater and conservatory. Large sums were also allocated for the publication of textbooks and other educational books.

In 1920, 3,220,000 rubles were provided for the publication of the works of Armenian authors. The same sum was also allocated to the translation of scientific books. A special department for the protection of antiquities was created under the guidance of experienced specialists with a budget of one million rubles.

The estimate for the repair of school buildings and the construction of new ones was 35,920, 400 rubles. The government was also going to introduce a law on compulsory general education and developed a program to create a network of public libraries.

For the state library, a number of private libraries were obtained or bought from abroad, among which the valuable library of 20 thousand books of Prince Arghutyan-Dolgorukiy – including a number of rare works – is worthy of attention.

An excerpt from the book “Wanderings” by the last Prime Minister of the First Republic of Armenia Simon Vratsian.

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