Hrazdan’s Kindergartens: Fewer Children Attend in Winter Due to Lack of Heating
Kindergartens in Hrazdan, the administrative center of Armenia’s Kotayk Province, located 45 kilometers northeast of the capital Yerevan, shut down in January and February due to subpar heating.
There are 12 municipal kindergartens in Hrazdan, with an official enrollment of 1,503 children.
Hrazdan Mayor Aram Danielyan says two of the kindergartens, #12 and #13, have been completely renovated, and the other ten - partially renovated. # 12, #13, and #16 kindergartens have local heating systems, while the remaining nine kindergartens are heated with wood stoves and electric heaters.
In those nine kindergartens, all winter activities are concentrated in the same area: children play, eat, and sleep in the same room, which is heated. The corridors are very cold, and the Soviet-era windows let the wind in. As a result, most of the parents do not take their children to the kindergarten.
All Hrazdan kindergartens require a monthly tuition of 4,400 drams. The children of families living near the renovated kindergartens enjoy relatively favorable conditions, while others must make do or move to the renovated ones.
Mayor Danielyan told Hetq that they calculated the repair works of 10 kindergartens to cost around 50-60 million AMD for each. They are now trying to find a loan or a renovation program, since the municipality is unable to cover such expenses.
To cover the cost per one child attending kindergarten and for building maintenance, the municipality allocates 20,000-22,000 drams per month. Danielyan claims that it’s quite a big expenditure. The official number of children attending kindergartens in Hrazdan is 1,503.
#13 Kindergarten: Officially “Totally Renovated” but In Reality “Partially Renovated”
#13 kindergarten of Hrazdan has been open since 1980. The municipality listed it among the fully renovated ones, but when we visited we saw that it was only partly renovated. Kindergarten Director Anahit Sukiasyan said that in 2016 the roof was changed, and the rooms cleaned up. The bathrooms with broken tiles still need to be renovated. There were also wide-open cracks in the walls, which should not be the case if fully renovated.
The director is satisfied with kindergarten’s old equipment, saying she doesn’t want to replace it, since the quality is better.
Kitchen furniture is also old. Make-shift electric hot plates have been used for decades to prepare meals.
The kindergarten has no playground. The director says they need to improve the yard’s furnishings and get some toys.
Kindergarten #13 is designed for around 280 children, but there are only 185 children in attendance now, according to the municipality's data. The director blames migration. As a result, they have now only nine groups of children, while they used to have eleven.
#15 Kindergarten Conditions
The Hrazdan Municipality told Hetq that #15 kindergarten is partially renovated. That’s an understatement. The installation of a hot water boiler and replaced sinks were the only evidence of anything renovated. The bathrooms were still under repair, and everything else was old and worn out.
This kindergarten has been open since 1982. Director Anahit Melkonyan says it was a good kindergarten, but it has gone downhill over time. She says the school administration isn’t to blame.
This kindergarten is among those nine where children spend their time together in one room in winter. The hallways are so cold that the kids dare not walk around.
One of the parents, wishing to stay anonymous, mentioned that they sometimes collected money for the firewood before, but the situation has improved this year.
There are now five groups in the kindergarten - a decrease in numbers resulting from migration. "They migrate a lot. This kindergarten used to have 400 children attending it, and now it’s only around 110-120 children,” the director adds.
The number of children has dropped so much that a part of the kindergarten building has been allocated by the city authorities to the State Committee of the Real Estate Cadastre.
Melkonyan hopes that one day their kindergarten will also be renovated. She says the mayor promised to renovate 1-2 kindergartens per year.
Photos and video: Saro Baghdasaryan