Yeraskhoun is a village in Armenia’s Armavir Province where the annual expenditures to pay the university tuition costs of local students has been creeping up yearly.
In fact, the village council has decided to pay up to 50% of such costs and it turns out that the major beneficiaries are the children of the Yeraskhoun mayor, and his relatives, and children of council members.
Yeraskhoun Mayor Armen Avetisyan (top photo) told Hetq that resources from the local budget have been allocated for higher education tuition for the past ten years.
Avetisyan claims that the municipality pays 50% of student tuition fees regardless of the financial status of the student/family.
When asked if it was correct for budgetary resources to be allocated for paying the tuition of children from well-off families, Avetisyan responded, “The decision states that regardless of socio-economic status, the municipality will pay the tuition for all students accepted at state higher institutions.”
Avetisyan couldn’t recollect if the list of recipients included children from less well-off families or those receiving state social support.
He said that the names of students aren’t reviewed individually and that the list is presented in full and approved by the municipal council.
Avetisyan didn’t conceal the fact that the list of tuition aid recipients includes his daughters and other relatives; for example, the children of his brother and sister.
In 2014, one of the mayor’s daughters received 240,000 in tuition assistance. In 2015, she received 200,000 AMD. His two daughters will receive money, as yet unspecified, for 2016.
The daughter of Avetis Avetisyan, the mayor’s brother and deputy principal of the local school, received 275,000 AMD in 2013.
The daughter of Margarit Avetisyan, the mayor’s sister, received 300,000 AMD in 2013 and 144,000 in 2014. Her two daughters received 120,000 AMD apiece in 2015.
The daughter of Deputy Mayor Jivan Zakaryan received 163,000 AMD in 2013. Zakaryan’s son received 200,000 AMD in 2015 and his daughter got 100,000.
According to a March 20, 2016 decision, the Yeraskhoun Municipal Council approved tuition assistance for thirteen students.
Two are the daughters of Mayor Avetisyan, two are the children of Deputy Mayor Jivan Zakaryan, one is the daughter of the mayor’s sister, and one is the son of council member Artour Arakelyan.
The others are children of local teachers and connected families.
Of interest is the fact that the council didn’t specify the amounts to be allocated for 50% tuition payment.
Mayor Avetisyan’s parting words were, “There are no economically protected families in the village. If they have a house in Yerevan, then they are well-off.”