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MATEFL Hosts Panel Discussion with Education Leaders

2 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — On April 27, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (MATEFL) program students had the opportunity to meet with leaders in the field of education in Armenia: Azat Soultanov, director of CIS Armenia International School; Nara Magtaghyan, managing director of Teach for Armenia Program; and Aram Pakhchanian, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Ayb Educational Foundation and adjunct lecturer at AUA. 

The students attending the panel discussion had the chance to address their concerns and insights about leadership and management in education. The event was organized within the scope of the course Leadership and Management in Language Teaching.

First, the speakers discussed their leadership experience, focusing on the topic of bringing change through education. Then they each touched upon the mission and vision of their respective organizations; the role of innovation in education; equitable access to education in Armenia; and related topics.

Speaking of leadership and management in schools, Pakhchanian remarked, “You should have a careful balance between control and freedom, and it all depends on the situation. Instead of checking everything and being a critical thinker in doing so, you should probably develop proper intuition to focus on what is wrong. Even as a leader, you can make mistakes, but beware of mistakes that lead to mismanagement.”

The discussion also touched upon changes in the system of education in Armenia, particularly the change from summative to formative assessments in schools. Students and experts engaged in a lively discussion, bringing up arguments and counterarguments on that change. “I agree that some teachers are reluctant toward this change because formative assessment involves more work. However, a supportive wave could take on with just one inspiring teacher embracing the change. If we start with the most important stakeholder in education, that is the student, we can realize changes easier. When we start asking our children the right questions — not what grade they got but what they learned and how they felt in school — the changes will not be painful for teachers either,” remarked Magtaghyan. Soultanov added, “You have to plan for change in advance. If formative assessment is to be implemented, discussion about that has to start a year in advance.” In conclusion, the attendees agreed that building a culture of continuous improvement in education along with sharing success stories can help overcome resistance to change.

Reflecting on the discussion, Anna Poghosyan (MATEFL ‘24) said, “The experience was informative, inspiring, and interactive. I got to learn about major educational projects and organizations in Armenia, their histories, and missions. Above all, it was highly inspiring to consult with successful leaders in the field and connect with their visions.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.