Reference : V-P-AM-E-00433
Date : 19/12/2019
Country/Region : ARMENIA
Caption : Vayots Dzor, Khndzorut village. Satenik dreams of becoming an English interpreter and traveling to the United States. But her school has no English teacher.
Photographer : BALAYAN, Areg
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : ICRC website, article, 13.05.2020
Armenia: Limited access to education – the unseen consequence of conflict
This story is about the coexistence of hope and despair, dreams and reality, children and the conflict. And who better to tell it than the children themselves?
Here's Satenik, one of the kids who surrounds us as we arrive at Khndzorut, an Armenian village situated on the border with Azerbaijan. Her first question is if we speak English. Learning that we do, she looks at us with delight and then shares her dream of becoming an English interpreter and traveling to the United States.
But, her school has no English teacher.
Being cut off from the humdrum of a busy life, the tiny border village of Khndzorut does not have much to offer, and the school epitomizes that. While the school routine of around a hundred children may look anything but unconventional, its conditions are striking.
The poor condition of Khndzorut school adds to the vulnerability of living along the border, which needless to say, has a tremendous impact on children. In a large concert hall, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has walled in windows for heightened safety. It is a temporary refuge in case of shooting or shelling. The cracks in the walls intersect with posters about danger of landmines and how to stay safe. It's been 27 years since the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict erupted and the border schools in both Armenia and Azerbaijan feel the need to keep their children secure.
"There is nothing interesting to do here," says Anna, a 15-year-old student. "We cling to our phones all day long." There are no extracurricular activities, no clubs or playgrounds. An abandoned football field that blends into the landscape now serves as a grazing area for cows and horses.
Idleness is visible aplenty in Khndzorut, and it becomes particularly salient as the lack of choices emerge. If you are a boy, you either become a shepherd or a contractual serviceman. Hrayr Ohanyan is a teacher of informatics and sometimes takes sheep to the mountains. If it coincides with his teaching days, Hrayr skips classes. During summer, children occasionally join their fathers in this routine.
For the little girls in this village, there are just two paths to choose from – either a teacher or a homemaker after getting married. Whatever they do, having one job is not enough to sustain a living.
Beyond all this feeling of isolation and restriction, love also blooms in the air of Khndzorut. While the daily struggles of the grown-ups might bring dismay, the dreams of their children radiate optimism. In the middle of both these extremes lies the reality. And the reality is that life in this border village is dictated by conflict related risks and consequences, thus putting basic facilities like education on the backburner.
The ICRC has been present in communities located on both sides along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, helping the affected populations mitigate the consequences of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Our activities have addressed some of the primary concerns of people living in these areas, such as security, access to farmland and water, emergency health care as well as issues of economic, social and psychological well-being. In 2019, we embarked on a process of enhancing meaningful and permanent access to education for children living in villages on both sides of the border. It is critical that children receive quality and competitive educational services despite the insecurity and volatility of their situation.
Original material : digital
Resolution : 5760x3840
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour