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Armenian educators head to university March 1

By Thomas Coghlan, News Assistant

February 22, 2005

Six Armenian educators will be coming to EWU in March to participate in a social science curriculum development program.

“It is a new program for Eastern, previously housed at George Mason University,” said Earl Gibbons, junior executive director of Educational Outreach.

EWU received the $63,900 grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) in collaboration with the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX).

The ECA, part of the State Department, is aimed at creating international education and training programs that help the U.S. and other countries promote a mutual understating of each, while presenting the historical, social and cultural aspects of America.

The IREX, founded in 1968, is an international nonprofit organization that specializes in education, independent media, Internet development and civil society programs. The grant that EWU received was part of their educational outreach program designed to contribute to other countries.

In May 2004, IREX won the 2004-2007 High School Social Science Development and Teacher Education Project for Armenia (HST). Their goal with this program is to provide professional development for educators and expose them to new ideas and programs that they can take home with them and apply to their school system.

The Armenian school system has suffered since the fall of the Soviet Union. Since Armenia has not been an independent country for a long time, they lack the infrastructure and experience to provide the level of education that they need.

The HST program is one of the ways in which they are trying to rebuild their education system.

Although this program is specifically designed for the social studies program, which includes areas like history, government, global issues and others, it will have a reverberating effect on other aspects of the Armenian education system.

The programs that these educators take back home will be piloted and adapted to fit the needs of their school system. These educators will then share what they have learned with other educators.

Gibbons and Gary Varella, the principal investigators who have been working in Armenia for a number of years, traveled Feb. 1 to Armenia to meet with the candidates and then select the six-member team.

They performed field assessments of the needs and priorities of the high schools then later gave a two-day workshop in Yerevan, Armenia, focusing on the results of what they discovered in their assessments. This initial meeting helps the American side of this program prepare the training program at EWU.

The Armenian educators will arrive at EWU March 1 to begin the program. They will participate in a 12-week workshop focusing on researching and creating a Handbook for Training High School Teachers.

The Armenians will also work on a new curriculum for their high school social studies program as well as beginning the preliminary training for the high school pilot representatives that will help other educators in Armenia benefit from the information learned at EWU.

At the conclusion of the 12-week program there will be another workshop in Yerevan and the final scheduling of the pilot-testing program will begin.

This program represents EWU’s devotion to cultural diversity here on campus, as well as a continued support for the international community. Each program that EWU hosts opens doors for future developments and will be sure to attract similar programs and grants.

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