CIS Armenia:
Education

CIS Armenia:

Children at the center of the educational process

Last September, the CIS Armenia school opened its doors in the center of Yerevan. It is notable not only for its comprehensive curriculum based on the British model (developed by the University of Cambridge and recognized by universities all over the world) but also for its modern approach to education. Here, everything is done to ensure students are happy whilst studying and are supported to discover their real talents. We talked about the changes in education all over the world with the director of CIS Armenia Mr. Runar Salimullin.

Text : Areg Davtyan  /  Photos : CIS Armenia

 


Mr. Runar, it is understood that education is changing all over the world. What exactly is being changed and why is it so important?

Many things have rapidly changed during the past few years of our lives, in all areas and in the educational system in particular. The industrial age is turning to information and globalization, with significant changes in the economy. Many researches around the world say that the model of education should be reflective of these changes. Kids study today and they will be using their knowledge in five, eight or ten years. The problem is, we have no idea what the world is going to be like then. So, a good school should be focused on preparing the student for the future. To do that, we have to predict what will be the most valuable and useful skills to have in the future.


Are there any examples of these kinds of changes in the world?

Just imagine that twenty to thirty years ago, we had books as a primary source of information. Now we can’t imagine our lives without modern gadgets and the internet. With new technologies, new paradigms arise. In my opinion, an interesting example is Finland, a country that is regarded as having one of the most innovative educational systems in the world. Recently they decided to radically change the whole system, focusing more on creativity and their overall approach to education. Now, they have no homework, no conventional classes and subjects. The education is cross-curricular and project-based. They learn languages, history or anything based on this topic. Even the children are free to decide by themselves what they want to learn.


By the time graduation comes around, many children don’t know what they are best at. This is a problem for schools.

Exactly. I believe that one of the most important roles of a modern school is to “unpack the talent of a student”. Every child has a talent deep inside and modern schools help them to recognize their talents and learn how to use them. It’s not about the marks and learning things by heart or anything like that. Children should become creative and independent learners with critical thinking and self-evaluative skills.

What makes CIS Armenia special?

I think first of all, our values. Curriculum, afterschool programs, meals – everything. We believe that we can create a modern school which will provide and meet the demand for excellent education.
Secondly, we are a non-governmental, independent and transparent organization. Our founders are private businessmen and school has nothing to do with government, corporations and politics. We have our own sponsors and partners – they are our parents and children.
We also invest in our staff. We have a diverse community here: English native speakers from the UK, Canada and other countries working together with Armenian colleagues as part of a team. We try to find and train people who share the same vision of modern education.
Overall, here at CIS Armenia, we are creating an excellent educational environment. Perfect conditions for the growth of future leaders.


CIS has a unique interior for an Armenian school. Does the environment play an important role in the children’s education?

The educational environment is really important. We designed our interior with practicality in mind. Bright and beautiful colors create a great mood. In a child friendly environment, it is much easier to motivate children to study. It’s just another tool to foster self-development rather than pushing hard. That’s what we have to do to ensure a generation of motivated young professionals.

You opened your doors last September. Can you share your initial results?

We are now at the beginning of the path, but it seems we are going in the right direction. At the moment, we have 3 classes here and feedback from them and their parents is quite positive. One thing that really makes me feel glad is that all of the kids are happy and motivated to come here. There was even an amusing story one of the parents told me. This family had a visa appointment at the embassy. In the morning the father told his child this and the child said: “Oh no! I can’t! I have English class at my school!”

What about the curriculum? How was it developed?

We pay close attention to the school curriculum. It should be academically strong, well-recognized, flexible, and of course, fit our values and expectations. It should allow students and parents to be flexible and comfortable. It should meet the interests of national identity.
In school, we have an integrated curriculum. A strong international curriculum whilst simultaneously delivering the national curriculum. We are licensed to deliver both curriculums.
Regarding an international curriculum, we selected the Cambridge curriculum, based on the UK national curriculum and delivered by the Cambridge International Examination all around the world. IGCSE and A-Level qualifications offered by this curriculum are globally recognized. On the other hand, we also follow the Armenian national curriculum, so students have the opportunity to study abroad or at an Armenian university.

You started from kindergarten and primary school grades this year. I think many people will be interested in middle school and high school. Will you have senior classes?

Yes of course we will. However, we also want to develop steadily. There are two main reasons why it is important to follow an international education system from kindergarten. Firstly, it is much easier for younger children to adapt to the international system. The other thing is motivation. Children are natural learners, they want to play, learn and explore the world. It’s really important for the child to have a good mentor near them and to not lose motivation and love for knowledge. A fact about language learning: many scientific researches say that from the ages of three to six, children can learn any language and they will never forget it. Even if they don’t have any practice, it will be very easy for them to remember it years later.


What do you think is the most important skill for the younger generation to learn today?

It is hard to identify just one skill. Many researchers say that in the future we need open minded people with creative and critical thinking, who respect human values. They need to be able to collaborate with others and use their knowledge in practice. We set these as markers in our path to becoming a modern school for the future generation.

 

PARENT’S FEEDBACK

Tatevik Khurshudyan
Parent of Year 5 student

CIS Armenia is the school where my child is given the opportunity to discover herself. I feel safe as a parent, knowing that she gets a proper education. The teachers care and are very supportive. My daughter had almost no knowledge of the Armenian language, she now reads and writes, which is amazing! I am happy there is such a school in Yerevan because families who come from abroad need it the most.

Suzanna Khachatryan
Advisor to the Vice President of the NA Of the RA parent of Year 5 student

The best gift any parent can give his or her child is a good foundation for their future education, delivered within a safe environment. CIS Armenia is a good example of such an environment. The staff here are extremely supportive and they encourage our children to be self-starters and to use their initiative. Due to all of the aforementioned features, my son has become more confident and very self-reliant. Hence, I highly recommend this school to any parent who wants the best education for his or her child.

Alin Vardanian
Parent of Year 3 student

We have chosen this school for a variety of reasons. First, it is an international school but still maintains its ties to the Armenian language, culture and traditions. Children are able to receive international education whilst also learning their native language – a very valuable combination for me. Secondly, we chose this school as it offers the Armenian national curriculum in addition to its international curriculum. This sets the school apart from other international schools in Armenia, making it very attractive to me. I love the way that all subjects are taught effectively and engagingly in both Armenian and English.

Hayk Adamyan
Director of Cisco Armenia parent of Year 1 student

I wanted my child to study with the International Curriculum and also in an international environment. I wanted him to receive the most modern education available in Armenia. So, this School, in my strong opinion, includes all of the mentioned criteria.
There were some worries, of course, but if you don’t try then you will never know. So, we tried and I think it turned out to be very successful for us. My child lives in this school! I mean, he spends the main part of his day there and he is very happy to come back the following day. This is not very common amongst children, they usually do not like going to school. But we are happy not to have this problem with our child. He just loves his school!

Tatev Gevorgyan
Parent of year 1

I have only positive things to say when speaking of CIS Armenia. Fully conforming to international standards, the school is run by creative, talented, educated and proficient educational staff. Additionally, the administrative staff is always kind, attentive and receptive to new ideas. Our children are provided with wonderfully nutritious cuisine on secure and safe premises. All of this is very significant to me as a parent but, the best reward is the smile on my child’s face when returning home from school. I wish success for CIS Armenia and hope more families will join us to experience this amazing school!