Wednesday, 26 September

Artsakh Border Community School in Need: New Ping-Pong Tables Aren’t the Answer

Today, across Armenia and Artsakh, pupils are returning to school after the summer vacation.

The same holds true for the community of Aknaberd in Artsakh’s northern Martakert District.

But unlike the schools in the capital Stepanakert, students in Aknaberd will be returning to a school in need of serious and immediate repair.

Before the Karabakh War, Aknaberd (formerly Oumoudlu) was an Azeri village. The school building now being used by the 111 Armenian pupils was built in 1974.

Many of Aknaberd’s current residents hail from communities in Shahoumyan now under Azerbaijani military control.

School principal Narineh Osipyan supervises a staff of 26 teachers and 10 technical workers.

Osipyan boasts that no one is leaving Aknaberd and that there’s someone working in almost every household.

While the school principal paints the community as on the way up, the school faces a number of problems.

Many of the classroom walls are derelict and must be reinforced with wooden beams. Nevertheless, the school hasn’t been classified as a dangerous structure by the local authorities.

Principal Osipyan says that a team came to investigate and took photos of the walls. The government later confessed that it didn’t have the funds to fix the problem.

Osipyan still hopes that the Artsakh prime minister will make good on his promise to completely overhaul the building in 2015.

But the government is assisting in other ways, she says. The government allocates 20,000 AMD (Around US$50) to each pupil entering first grade. This year, that number is nine.

The government has also outfitted the school with new tables and chairs.

Businessman Hayk Khachatryan, an area native now, has funded the opening of a computer classroom in the school.

The Yerkrapah Union (an organization of former Armenian war volunteers) has donated school bags to all the pupils.

This year, the All Armenian Fund has donated the school recreation room with ping-pong tables and other equipment.

But gym teacher Aleksei Khachatryan has to keep it all locked away in another room because the gym is in such poor shape.

The windows in the rec room have no glass; they’re just wooden frames.

When I visited the school, I was surprised to see a plaque over the gym door extolling the assistance provided by the All Armenian Fund.

By the way, the school has no central heating system. Come winter, wood will once again be burned to keep the pupils and staff from freezing. That’s going to be hard given that the windows in the hallways have no glass and are covered in plastic sheeting. When I toured the school, the sheeting had been ripped in many windows.

But what good are school bags and ping-pong tables if basic conditions at the school are such that it’s a difficult environment in which to learn.

To get a drink of water or go to the bathroom, pupils have to go outside, quite away from the school.

The school is named after Shahen Meghryan, who fought in the Artsakh War and served as the former Shahoumyan District Leader.

I was somewhat disheartened to see that the school’s memorial to Meghryan and other Artsakh heroes doesn’t greet pupils and visitors at the main entrance, but is tucked away on the second floor.

There, you’ll see a small bust of Meghryan adorned with plastic flowers. Wouldn’t it be more fitting to have Meghryan’s photo and at least a short biography of the man, extolling his many contributions to Artsakh and Armenians in general, right at the main entrance?

On the first day of school the pupils at Aknaberd were reminded of the bravery of Meghryn and others who fought in the war.

In the case of Aknaberd, a flourishing community just a stone’s throw away from the border with Azerbaijan, this school isn’t merely a center of learning but an important institution to keep residents anchored to the land.

These are people who cling to the hope of one day returning to their native villages now across the border in Shahoumyan now under Azerbaijani control.

It is said that the homeland starts at the border. As such, Aknaberd should be at the top of the list in terms of government care and attention.

Home page

Comments (4)
1. Ara Manoogian11:16 - 2 September, 2014
This condition is the direct result of corruption in the Artsakh Government. They have failed to collect taxes from oligarchs (many government officials are oligarchs) and budgetary leaks. One example of budgetary leaks would be the approximate $600,000 that the government allocated for an Hayastan All-Armenian Fund (HAAF) project in Stepanagert. This HAAF project totaled $1 million and was for the benefit of approximately 80 elderly person, many of whom are the parents of government officials. The facility was renovated in 1999 by funds of Louise Manoogian Simone and when the recent renovation was done, the facility was not in deplorable condition as HAAF was claiming (details can be found at: Bottom line is that the Artsakh government is corrupt and people from Artsakh and the Diaspora needs to address the root of the problem rather than open their coffers and fill the artificially created shortages, which only perpetuates corruption.
2. Robert Davidian15:07 - 2 September, 2014
So, it is a con game. Heads of government/criminals/thieves/oligarchs collect taxes from everyone EXCEPT THEMSELVES. This, along with their other forms of corruption theft, add to 750 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR stolen from the Armenian government and the good Armenian people. THEN, they appoint themselves as HEADS OF THE BOARD of the Armenian Fund to control THAT money, too! THENNNN, they BEG the diaspora to REPLACE the government money they STOLE! Stealing money is not a crime to them; it's a sport! The heads of Armenia's kleptocracy have stolen from Armenian citizens and diaspora for 23 years! Any school (or road or hospital or social services) project is the clear responsibility of the government (not Armenian Fund).At every turn, when talking with any Armenian government official, all diasporans and Armenian citizens must DEMAND the government collects TAXES from everyone - and prove it transparently! Otherwise we become willing victims of their con game!
3. Վարազ Սյունի (Ամստերդամ)19:23 - 2 September, 2014
Համաձայն եմ նախորդ կոմենտների հետ: Այսօր Հայաստանում (և Արցախում) բավականին պետական պաշտոնյաներ փողի հմուտ որսորդներ են դարձել՝ հատկապես դրսից եկած փողերի հանդեպ: Հայաստանում պաշտոնապե՛ս բնակչութան 35%-ը աղքատ է,բայց Երևանում ավելի շատ ջիպ կա,քան, օրինակ,Ամստերդամում: Այս ինչ՞ «առեղծված» է: ՊԱՏՃԱՌԸ՝ Հայաստանում քաղաքականության ու բիզնեսի միավորումը. ԼՈՒԾՈՒՄԸ՝ անմիջապե՛ս վերացնել ՀՀ կուսակցությունների մասին օրենքի խայտառակ 5(1) հոդվածը և ՀՀ-ում էլ թույլատրել տեղական ԱՆԿԱԽ կուսակցությունների ստեղծումը:
4. Xunsap'ha03:21 - 3 September, 2014
A very big THANK YOU to Ara Manoogian and Robert Davidian for calling the spade a spade. Truth must out and it always does sooner or later. Enough is enough. Corrupt rulers destroying the country and then crying poor mouth endlessly for money and aid. Diaspora needs to wake up to these scammers who only care for their own pockets and use the people as human shields for their insatiable greed. The parallels between the Azeri and Armenian leaderships are uncanny. Both of them victimize the simple people, trample all over them; one does it the azeri way, openly, not giving a damn about who says what about their corrupt deeds; the other does it the armenian way, sneakily, covertly, ever conscious of their own false image. No wonder even the so-called religious leaders of these countries are utterly corrupt. When one reads the details surrounding the last days of the Pakraduni (Bagradouni) Armenian Kingdom which culminated in the fall of Ani in 1045, the exact same picture of corruption, of sneaky and underhanded dealings is clearly visible. Armenian leaders have done immense harm to the nation down through history, and this unbroken tradition keeps going on.
Leave a comment
Thank you for your comment. Your comment must be confirmed by the administration.

Latest news

All news