RA Minister of Education and Science announced a year ago, “The main goal of the education system of Armenia is to ensure the continuation of the Armenian character.” This public official responsible for the development of science in the republic was applauded, but not criticized. In his speech addressed to the teachers and principals, Levon Mkrtchyan instructed to take measures so that the number of high school students dreaming of becoming military officers increases. During the year following this statement, the Defense Minister in his turn complained about the “gaps” in teaching the initial military training subject at schools, and the necessity to fill those gaps.
Against the backdrop of military propaganda in education institutions since the beginning of last year, the draft document “RA Government Decree on Approval of the Strategy of Students’ Military and Patriotic Education” was published in the website of draft legal acts on March 28. The draft document authored by the Ministry of Education and Science is supposed to fill those “gaps”.
However, the draft decree is more reminiscent of a school composition with marked pathos. It contains terms that do not have any legal definition.
The aforementioned statement and instruction of the Minister of Education and Science is currently envisaged to be fixed by a Government Decree. The strategy introduced against the backdrop of unprecedented militarization of the education system is aimed at “contributing to the increase of attraction of young people towards military profession, recognition of national values, recognition of moral, universal and national systems of values and relevant proper behavior.”
Based on the draft decree, the schools shall be attached to certain military units. The Police and the church shall also participate in “military and patriotic” education.
The Ministry of Education and Science has even provided separate provisions on the challenges facing the military and patriotic education. Among others, the following internal challenges are mentioned by the ministry, “presence of citizens not willing to defend the homeland”, “the tendency to communicate with other cultural values”, “sexual perversion”, and other similar vicious phenomena”. Another challenge mentioned there is “slow development of economy”. However, the ministry has considered it worth mentioning that the reason for slow development are the aforementioned factors, namely, wars, blockade, “lack of discipline and upbringing”, “foreign cultural values”.
Going beyond the propaganda in schools
It is also mentioned in the draft decree published by the Ministry of Education and Science that TV programs, films are broadcast that contribute to the decline of image of the military leader and formation of a negative public attitude. The ministry seems to be concerned about the alternative coverage of the activities of the RA army. The agency has proposed a solution to this “problem”.
In addition to propaganda in education institutions by the Ministry of Defense, the Police and the Church, the Ministry of Education and Science also proposes frequent broadcast of TV programs and films on the history of Armenia, lives and activities of famous commanders and national heroes in order to foster “military and patriotic” education.
Parallels between pathos and legal formulations
A number of terms are used in the draft government decree that cannot have a legal value since the Ministry of Education and Science has not submitted any draft decree that would define what, for instance, “person’s moral quality” is, or what is meant by the phrase “display of proper behavior based on the recognition of national values”. Taking into consideration the fact that weeks ago teachers of Shirak Marz were being rewarded for instilling “willingness to die for the homeland” in pupils, maybe willingness to die is understood as an example of display of proper behavior”.
What does the ministry label as “sexual perversion”, or who is to decide the level of viciousness of “other vicious phenomena”? Which are the “foreign cultural values” the ministry intends to protect students from with the help of its strategy, and at what point do they contradict the universal values which shall be ensured by the RA Law on Public Education? These are questions that may have pathetic answers typical of the modern educational system, unconstitutional justifications which may never have legal justifications.
“Union of Informed Citizens”