“Ayb is the first communtiy school in Armenia”
Mary Mamikonian:

“Ayb is the first communtiy school in Armenia”

When people hear “Ayb”, they mostly think of either the school or Araratian Baccalaureate. But the foundation has many other projects. What talked about it all with foundation’s Deputy Director Mary Mamikonian.

When people hear “Ayb”, they mostly think of either the school or Araratian Baccalaureate. But the Foundation has many other projects. What is Ayb Educational Foundation in its entirety?

All projects of Ayb Foundation have one goal - to improve the educational sector of Armenia and create an atmosphere in which children will develop, be competitive in changing reality and easily respond to the new challenges. Besides Ayb School and Araratian Baccalaureate, our major projects include: international and all-Armenian contests (Kangaroo - Math for All, Meghu - Armenian Language for All, Russian Bear - Linguistics for All, All-Armenian Tournament of Young Chemists, the national stage of the World Robot Olympiad), the initiative of the school’s alumni - Khan Academy Armenia, FabLabs, AYB Labs, Dilijan Central School, etc..

Indeed, Ayb School is closely connected with us. We always introduce the school to our benefactors and partners as one of our largest projects and the most apparent outcome. That project was the first one; it already lives its own life. The Foundation focuses more on creating and developing new projects.

You have a large community of donors. It is interesting to know on what projects the raised funds are spent?

This year, the main goal of fundraising team is the scholarship fund replenishment. 70% of Ayb high school students receive scholarships as reimbursement of the tuition fees. These are children of families, where parents have difficulties to pay for their child’s education. This is a serious responsibility for us - our actions directly influence children’s future.

The statutory goals of Ayb Foundation are another important direction. The raised resources enable us to create new projects aimed to develop the educational sector in Armenia. In this case, Ayb’s major donors help us greatly. Our donors support our initiatives, as they trust us and believe in our mission. By the way, any person can make a contribution and become our donor at donate.ayb.am.

We talked about scholarships. Many people think that these finds are allocated for children from financially secure families.

The funds are allocated only for children whose parents cannot cover the tuition fee partially or fully because of the family’s financial situation. Any child from Armenia and Artsakh, admitted to Ayb high school, can get scholarship – reimbursement of the tuition fee

The tuition fee at the school includes the costs of learning, food, and transportation. The tuition fee is reimbursed fully or partially, depending on the family’s financial capacity.

When considering the requests for financial support, you come across many different situations. There are cases, when the family is in critical financial situation but at the same time the child has an outstanding performance and has the chance to get out of that environment and realize his/her potential. For example, the family lives in a far village, one of the parents is unable to work, the other parent works in the village, and there are several children in the family. A child from such  family has managed to get admitted to Ayb High School. Of course, these families should be supported. Our donors give the chance of the better future.

In 2006, 8 founders of Ayb set a goal to bring Armenia to a new level with the help of education. After 12 years it is interesting to know how close the foundation is to that goal now.

Huge work has been done with the support of our founders and donors who have shaped and developed a powerful community around this idea over the years. The community includes donors, alumni, parents, teachers, students, and all like-minded people who represent Ayb everywhere.

We have over 259 alumni who are creative, inquisitive, active, initiating business and social projects in Armenia and for Armenia. In any case, the first 12 years are still the beginning, as we face big challenges in the sector of education every day. All over the world, this is one of the sectors that requires continuous development and changes dynamically.

There is a public education sector in Armenia where most children study, and there are private educational initiatives that exist separately from the public education. Is it possible to use the positive experience of Ayb Foundation in public sector?

Ayb School is not a private school. Ayb is a community school and in Armenia this format was first established at Ayb. The school belongs to the community; there is no specific owner whose interests are protected here. At the same time, there is no state participation. This is an alternative format, and it is very important for parents to have a choice - to choose public school, community school, or private one. “Ayb” Foundation’s projects’ influence is considerable. We have educational contests for entire Armenia and Artsakh. The goal of the contests is to stir the children’s interest for education, and why not - to show that learning can be a pleasure.

AYB Laboratories are also impressive. We opened AYB Labs not only at Ayb School, but also at other public schools, with the same format. We create an environment, where a child can apply his/her knowledge, make experiments, and see the real depth of his/her knowledge. It is very important that teacher and student test something together, consulting and helping each other. It is teamwork of a different level and a completely unique way of learning.

We have created an internationally-qualified product for all high schools in Armenia - Araratian Baccalaureate (AB). For about four years, we worked with Cambridge and UCL within the framework of the grant agreement signed with the Ministry of Education and Science. In fact, we plan to implement this program at all public schools. Currently, we are discussing implementation of AB with the Ministry of Education and Science because there is a new team and it is necessary to understand their vision regarding future development of the program.

In the framework of AB our goal is to spread the best experience and improve high school education. AB provides innovative approach to learning processes, lesson plans, textbooks and trainings for teachers and headmasters. The experience of the world’s best education systems was taken as a benchmark.

What was your motivation for leaving the banking sector and starting to work in a completely different sector?  

When you work in a commercial sector, at some moment you realize that your outcomes are numerical. At some point, you just say: “And what is behind the figures?” Behind figures you see a smiling customer and human relations. In my life also, the moment matured, and I decided to work in a sector where human relations are priority. I realized that my aim is to build better and more productive human relations around our society and myself, based on charitable deeds, positive emotions, support, and mutually beneficial relationships. Then I realized that it is mainly derived from the bases - the family, the education. The educational sector of Armenia is at the stage of establishment and I would like to be part of development process.