Armenia’s Public Schools: Some 500 Teacher Vacancies, Mostly in Villages
There are at least 477 teacher vacancies in Armenia, a country touted as having 100% literacy and where on September 1, the first day of school, the country celebrated “Knowledge Day”.
This data doesn’t come from the Ministry of Education and Science, which says it has no exact teacher vacancy numbers, but from the country’s ten provincial administrations and various municipalities contacted by Hetq after the ministry failed to provide any numbers.
We say, “at least 477 teacher vacancies” because the education departments of Ararat and Armavir provinces and the Yerevan Municipality refused to provide their vacancy numbers.
The Ararat Provincial Administration referred Hetq to the Ministry of Education’s website, while the Armavir Provincial Administration said it had no listed vacancies. The Yerevan Municipality’s listing of teacher openings isn’t functioning.
Thus, the 477 number relates to the remaining eight provinces.
When a permanent teaching position opens at a public school in Armenia, the principal must post it in the official organ “Education” (Krtutyun) which then has to send it to the ministry for posting on its website.
Lori has the largest number of teacher vacancies, 220. Tavoush has 67, Syunik – 62, Gegharkounik – 50, Aragatzotn – 34, Kotayk – 29, Shirak – 9, Vayots Dzor - 6.
What all this means is that teachers in some schools must assume a greater workload. A history teacher might have to also fill in for the missing English instructor, and a math instructor might be asked to teach biology.
85% of the 477 teacher vacancies are in rural schools. Most qualified applicants are not interested in moving to some remote village to work. Take the example of Shirak’s Tzaghkout High School. A job opening for a Russian language teacher has been announced 25 times, but no one has applied. The position is now filled by someone with a psychology degree.
In Shirak’s Getashen High School, a person with a physics degree is teaching math. The school hasn’t been able to hire a mathematics teacher even after posting a vacancy announcement sixteen times since 2013.
A directive issued by the Minister of Education and Science in 2013 regarding qualifying exams for hiring teachers, says it’s not permissible for someone to teach a certain subject if they aren’t accredited in the subject, even if there is no winner for a certain vacancy.
Schools in remote mountainous communities and border villages can hire part-time qualified teachers to teach a subject if the vacancy isn’t filled by the qualifying competition. They can also hire individuals on the verge of acquiring accreditation or qualifying colleges and universities.
We asked the provincial administration to provide us with data as to how many vacancies were being filled by those not accredited in the subject to be taught.
The data we received from the Lori, Shirak and Syunik administrations reveals that, for the most part, vacancies are being filled with teachers accredited in a related subject, and in a few cases, with teachers who have no connection at all to the subject. For example, history teachers teaching biology, or mathematics.