July 31, 2013 - 18:22 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Earlier this month, the European Union provided the final installment of €5 million in support to vocational education and training (VET) in Armenia, as well as a fixed installment of €2 million to support childcare reforms under the EU food security program.
Both financial tranches are part of corresponding budget support operations, which were agreed respectively in 2009 and 2010.
The overall EU assistance to VET in Armenia amounts to €15 million. The key results of the program are enhanced governance of VET reforms, development of employment strategies, as well as improved conditions and efficiency of VET delivery, leading to improved active employment measures.
The program has encouraged cooperation of authorities for a more modern vision regarding VET institutions with updated procedures, curricula and a National Training Fund on a pilot basis.
Moreover, 12 VET colleges, mostly in regions, were modernised with enhanced infrastructure, equipment, training of staff, improved planning and budgeting. The impact is tangible – new students and teachers have joined the system, thanks to improving finances and increasing confidence in the future management.
Meanwhile, the food security program has focused on child protection and has contributed to a reduction of the number of children in institutions and a decrease in the number of special education institutions. While in 2007 there were around 12,000 institutionalised children, their number decreased drastically to 4,500 as of 2012. The number of special education institutions was decreased from 45 to 23.
The support has also led to unified leadership on child protection through the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and an Action Plan to ensure social protection of children at special educational schools for children with special needs. The role of the National Commission for Child Protection as a coordinating body with substantial advisory and monitoring powers was strengthened through a revised charter. In addition, the professional staff of three specialised orphanages was trained on modern methodology of work with disabled children.