Education, Health, and Social Welfare
In the first years of independence, Armenia made uneven progress in establishing systems to meet its national requirements in social services. Education, held in particular esteem in Armenian culture, changed fastest of the social services, while health and welfare services attempted to maintain the basic state-planned structure of the Soviet era.
A literacy rate of 100 percent was reported as early as 1960. In the communist era, Armenian education followed the standard Soviet model of complete state control (from Moscow) of curricula and teaching methods and close integration of education activities with other aspects of society, such as politics, culture, and the economy. As in the Soviet period, primary and secondary school education in Armenia is free, and completion of secondary school is compulsory. In the early 1990s, Armenia made substantial changes to the centralized and regimented Soviet system. Because at least 98 percent of students in higher education were Armenian, curricula began to emphasize Armenian history and culture. Armenian became the dominant language of instruction, and many schools that had taught in Russian closed by the end of 1991. Russian was still widely taught, however, as a second language.
In the 1990-91 school year, the estimated 1,307 primary and secondary schools were attended by 608,800 students. Another seventy specialized secondary institutions had 45,900 students, and 68,400 students were enrolled in a total of ten postsecondary institutions that included universities. In addition, 35 percent of eligible children attended preschools. In the 1988-89 school year, 301 students per 10,000 population were in specialized secondary or higher education, a figure slightly lower than the Soviet average. In 1989 some 58 percent of Armenians over age fifteen had completed their secondary education, and 14 percent had a higher education. In 1992 Armenia's largest institution of higher learning, Erevan State University, had eighteen departments, including ones for social sciences, sciences, and law. Its faculty numbered about 1,300 teachers and its student population about 10,000 students. The Erevan Architecture and Civil Engineering Institute was founded in 1989. Eight other institutions of higher learning, all located in Erevan, teach agriculture, fine arts and theater, economics, music, applied science and technology, medicine, pedagogy and foreign languages, and veterinary medicine.
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