The 2009 Law of the Republic of Armenia on General Education defines the concept of “distance education” as a form of implementing an education programme, within which direct and indirect student-teacher interaction is maintained mainly through information technologies and telecommunications (Article 3, point 6.1).
The mechanisms, cases and mandates of various organisations for distance education are defined in the 2020 Order on the Organisation of Distance Education in General Educational Institutions. This document stipulates that relevant educational and teaching materials shall use "information and communication technology” tools.
The term “distance learning” is used at the 2008 Law of the Republic of Armenia on Primary Vocational (Handicraft) and Secondary Vocational Education with the following description: ““distance learning” shall mean co-ordinated way of instruction, when the process of direct and indirect instruction between a student or attendee and a lecturer is conducted mainly through information technologies and means of communication” (Article 3).
The 2004 Law of the Republic of Armenia on Higher and Postgraduate Professional Education describes "distance learning” as a “systematic form of instruction, when the direct and indirect instruction process between the learner and the lecturer is conducted mainly by means of information technologies and telecommunication” (Article 3, point 10).
The term “EdTech” is not used in laws, strategies and programmes related to education.
Constitution and laws: Article 38 of the 1995 Constitution stipulates that everyone shall have the right to education. The programmes and duration of compulsory education shall be prescribed by law. Secondary education within state educational institutions shall be free of charge.
The 2009 Law of the Republic of Armenia on General Education specifies that distance education can be used for basic educational programmes in the manner prescribed by the authorized public administration body for education, in exceptional cases and for a certain period of time (Article 3, point 6.1).
The 2020 Order of the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport on the Organisation of Distance Education in General Educational Institutions defines the cases and conditions when the education can be organized remotely.
Making amendments and suppliments to new or existing legal acts related to the field of general education are carried out in parallel with the process of introducing a new general education standard (which is in process), as well as subject standards and exemplary programs.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2014-2025 Strategic Programme for Prospective Development of the Republic of Armenia defines general education as a priority direction. It aims to ensure step-by-step implementation of effective, modern forms and methods of education quality control and knowledge assessment (including electronic) within a unified system.
The Government Programme of the Republic of Armenia for 2021-2026 emphasizes creation of an environment for inclusive education, the modernisation of the content of education and educational programmes, the modernisation and rearmament of necessary infrastructures, including the wide use of modern information technologies in the training and management systems.
The 2nd objective of the The 2021-2026 Action Plan of the Government of The Republic of Armenia (within responsibilities of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport) is extensively using modern information and communication technologies in management systems of teaching and education.
The 2022 Law on approving The State Program for Education Development till 2030 sets the current issues, targets and ways to meet them. The continuous modernization of digital technologies makes the expansion of the use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT) in the educational process, equipping public schools with modern computer equipment and quality internet connection, increasing the ICT component in education programs, developing the ability to use the existing tools and create new ones imperative.
Digital competency frameworks: Students and teachers’ digital competencies are defined by three legal acts: the 2010 Decision of the Government of the Republic of Armenia on the Approval of the State Standard of General Education; the 2020 Order of the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports on the Approval of the Standard and Model Programme for Teacher Training and the 2022 Order of the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Armenia on the Approval of the Occupational Profile for Teachers.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: Until the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of distance education was not defined in the Law on General Education. As a result of COVID-19 in May 2020, the procedure for organizing distance education was approved by the 2020 “Order on the Organisation of Distance Education in General Educational Institutions”, which defines relevant provisions on the mechanisms for organizing distance education. ICT competences have been added to teachers' professional standards after the COVID-19 pandemic. According to this order, the need for ICT use in the educational process and especially for the expansion and advancement of distance/online education was further emphasized back in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic put the use of modern ICT and e-platforms on the front burner.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2001 Energy Law No. ZR-148 aims to eliminate discrimination of customers or any licensee. No strategies, plans or programmes to ensure access to electricity in schools in Armenia have been found.
Computers and devices: The 2014-2025 Strategic Programme for Prospective Development of the Republic of Armenia aims to improve the quality of general education and ensure the mission of high school, as well as replenish technical infrastructure and teaching and learning materials of schools (especially high school) and introduce modern technologies (laboratory equipment, computer equipment, quality textbooks and teaching manuals, electronic educational resources, etc.), which entails a significant increase in annual public expenditure per pupil.
The Government Programme of the Republic of Armenia for 2021-2026 (Point 4.3 Education) aims to build, capitally renovate or renovate at least 300 schools by the year 2026, making sure they are completely equipped with necessary items and equipment. It also aims at creating modern science and engineering laboratories in each of 1400 schools by 2026, significantly improving the quality of education. According to this plan, all 1400 general educational institutions should be equipped with modern ICT laboratories by 2026.
The 2022 Law on approving the State Program for Education Development till 2030 supports the continuously modernization of educational institutions’ premises, the creation of a stimulating, attractive, safe and secure physical environment equipped with multifunctional digital technologies, compliant with new teaching techniques, safety and accessibility standards. It also aims to provide continuously update of educational institutions’ facilities, computer equipment, provision of quality access to the Internet, creation of modern research infrastructures, on-site and digital laboratories and libraries, individual and team workspaces equipped in an innovative style.
This programme also emphasizes full running of Education Management Information System, as well as addresses the issue of ICT laboratories and computers in schools highlighting the need to equip schools with laboratory and computer facilities. For equipping educational institutions with laboratories, a relevant programme was implemented only for high schools (grades 10 to 12). In 2019-2020, public high schools were equipped with natural science laboratories. All schools of the Tavush region have also received laboratory equipment within the framework of the EU grant for Educational Innovation to test new standards of general education. Creating laboratory infrastructure in all schools remains a priority as it can be a good prerequisite for improving the quality and efficiency of science education.
Internet connectivity: The 2014-2025 Strategic Programme for Prospective Development of the Republic of Armenia aims to provide broadband Internet connectivity in schools.
The Government Programme of the Republic of Armenia for 2021-2026 (Point 2.3. High Technologies, subpoint ‘’Telecommunication”) envisages the provision of broadband (optical fiber) connection and access to public digital services in at least 80% of urban and rural areas by 2026.
The 2023 State Budget’s Programme on “Introduction of ICT in Education” (it is also included in 2023-2025 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework) includes incentives for improving Internet connection speed in all general educational institutions. In case of fiber optic Internet connection, the connection speed should be no less than 50 mb/s (in 2021, the required speed was 20 mb/s), and for wireless connection, the speed should reach at least 16 mb/s (twice as high as it was in 2021).
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The Government Programme of the Republic of Armenia for 2021-2026 (Point 4.3 Education) aims at introducing new textbooks and educational resources and updating the existing ones in line with the new standards, raising the level of media literacy, and developing the teaching of foreign languages, in particular Russian, English, French, as well as local languages. It also aims at developing e-learning tools, making education accessible in border areas regardless o1f the availability of relevant specialists; combining the development of e-learning tools with the development of the secondment system for high-quality teachers.
The 2022 Law on approving the State Program for Education Development till 2030 aims to ensure universal coverage of universally accessible and affordable educational institutions and educational programmes, in particular introducing distance education services, open digital resources, and online courses at all levels of education, including rural and border communities;
According to the 2020 Order of the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport on the Organisation of Distance Education in General Educational Institutions, to ensure the continuity of education within basic general educational programmes, distance learning can be organised, in particular for children living in diasporas, as well as for children of families living in diasporas and wishing to return to Armenia to be included in general education in the republic.
Distance education technologies are used to implement educational, laboratory, practical classes, formative and interim assessment, which do not exclude direct student-teacher communication.
The organizer of distance education programmes (an educational institution or DLC) provides students and teachers with necessary educational materials (curriculum, student’s individual learning plan, tests, etc.). If necessary, the educational institution can provide information publications, dictionaries, data base links, websites, information systems and network resources approved by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports (hereafter: MoESCS).
When distance education is introduced in case of emergency and force majeure situations (adverse weather conditions, spread of acute infectious diseases, natural disasters, etc.), or in case of the impossibility of on-site training, the educational institution can also provide teachers and students with available technical means for temporary use.
When students interact with teachers through the Internet, in particular, through learning management systems, the educational institution or Distance Learning Centre create an individual page for each student. When there is no Internet access, the institution or centre should provide for other forms of student-teacher interaction (e.g., mobile or fixed telephone communication).
According to this order, education is considered as distance education if not less than 90% of students master 70% of the curriculum through ICT. Students who are excluded from the distance education process master course content through face-to-face individual classes.
Authorized agencies under regional governments promote the development of teaching materials for distance learning and publish them, making them available to all educational institutions. Educational institutions can also develop their own educational materials.
In order to be allowed to organise the educational process through distance learning educational institutions should provide (on their own or with the support of authorized bodies) for: educational materials for distance learning courses; (electronic) document management system to facilitate educational process management; teachers trained for distance education; special forms of students' knowledge assessment (including electronic); the opportunity to use personal devices or technical means available in the institution for not less than 90% of students and teachers to ensure the study of all subjects and courses provided by distance education.
The following teaching aids are used to ensure distance education: specialized textbooks supplemented by multimedia; e-learning guidance materials; e-textbooks and training materials; e-learning training manuals; virtual computer labs; testing and assessment materials; educational videos and presentations; and recordings of lessons.
Students are taught science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), foreign languages, as well as critical, analytical, innovative, independent and creative thinking.
In 2019-2020, the Decision of the Government of the Republic of Armenia on the Approval of the State Standard of General Education was revised and new requirements for students were formulated to approve, test and gradually introduce a new state educational standard for general education. It supports the improvement of educational standards and programmes, in particular modernization of educational programmes to meet the needs of the digital age, internationally accepted competence-based standards, with particular emphasis on STEM, “green” education, acquisition of foreign languages, as well as development critical, analytical, innovative, independent and creative thinking.
The decision aims to enrich printed and electronic educational resources in the Armenian language, as well as in the languages of national minorities to meet the needs of Armenian Diaspora educational centres.
Students’ digital competencies are defined in this decision. Digital skills and competencies to be mastered by students are also defined in the decision. Students master the rules and skills of media literacy; comprehend the functioning and role of the media in a democratic society, learn to navigate information flows, find and disseminate information, critically analyse it, evaluate the impact of the media on their own and others' values, attitudes and actions. They are aware not only of the opportunities of using digital media but also of the risks associated with them, can evaluate and transform their behaviour in the digital world from the point of view of safety, responsibility and ethics. They acquire technical and creative skills to create media products, and are also able to effectively use media tools for exercising civil rights and participating in democratic processes.
Elementary education programme graduates should be able to: use simple digital devices, computer programmes, applications, assistive devices and equipment, while observing safety rules; and recognise the variety of sources and means of information.
Basic education programme graduates should be able to: present the possible impact of the achievements of science, the use of techniques and technologies on nature, man and society; use text and graphic editors, including assistive technologies, be able to process data using the necessary digital tools and programmes; know digital space safety rules, observe the ethics of online communication, be aware of and apply the rules of personal data privacy, and interpret each person’s right and necessity to have a personal space (physical and psychological); and create a digital space and demonstrate basic programming skills.
Secondary education programme graduates should be able to: develop effective solutions to problems by creating and applying algorithms of various complexity, logical reasoning and physical models; explain the scientific fundamentals of technological innovations, present technological achievements as a product of scientific thinking, realise the risks associated with them for nature and man; apply complex knowledge and necessary navigation skills considering technological developments and diversity of information; discuss ethical issues related to scientific and technical development and have a well-argued opinion about them; recognise and maintain academic integrity when using information sources; and creatively and responsibly use information and digital devices as modern work tools, and the Internet as a platform for learning, work and collaboration.
Finally, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) are represented by a variety of disciplines, and are an integrated field of study that focus on the acquisition and application of scientific and mathematical knowledge, as well as research, observation and analytical skills, problem-solving, logical, critical and creative thinking, communication and digital skills, including the use of assistive technologies. The Decision of the Government of the Republic of Armenia on the Approval of the State Standard of General Education also defines the expected learning outcomes, including technology-related ones, to be achieved upon completing each of the three levels of general education (elementary, basic and secondary). There is no mention of the integration of girls in the legislation, policies or programmes. Girls are involved in education eventually like boys.
Teachers’ digital competencies are defined in the Order of the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Armenia on the Approval of the Occupational Profile for Teachers (2022) and the Order of the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports on the Approval of the Standard and Model Programme for Teacher Training (2020).
In accordance with the amendments to the Law on General Education enforced in 2021, professional standards for teachers are defined by the MoESCS.
Teachers’ professional standards describe teachers' professional development and knowledge, activities, abilities and responsibility.
The teacher is expected to have the following competences in the field of ICT integration: be able to choose relevant teaching strategies allowing to use ICT; be able to implement distance and hybrid learning when necessary; be able to make the explanation of the lesson more comprehendible by using ICT; be able to carry out formative assessments with ICT tools.
The Standard and Model Programme for Teachers Training defines particular training modules. One of those is dedicated to the use of ICT in the educational process. After completing this module, the teacher will be able to: use the learning management system to enroll students, make assignments, take notes, upload and share files, create digital assignments and grading rubrics, organise simultaneous meetings, use the calendar; fill in the electronic class book; use the offline whiteboard tool; use the website of the MoESCS, the Armenian educational repository, the National Centre for Education Development and Innovation (NCEDI) blog, find necessary information, upload files, use the tools of online educational websites to organise the educational process, create digital online tasks, presentations, videos, edit and share them; collect and format texts using a text editor, create tables, search and replace texts, create automatic lists; and create presentations, design them, insert pictures and texts, create hyperlinks, animations, insert action buttons.
2.4.1. Data privacy
In Armenia, the right to personal data privacy is ensured by the 2015 Law on Personal Data Protection, which regulates the procedure and conditions for processing personal data by state administration or local self-government bodies, state or community institutions or organizations, legal or physical persons, and exercising state control over them. Articles 15 and 16 also define the rights and obligations of the subject of personal data and the processor of personal data.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The legislative framework to prevent and regulate online abuse and cyberattacks is not developed yet. No special laws and regulations have been approved by the State yet.
According to the 2009 Law on General Education, the MoESCS is responsible for the introduction and development of educational technologies in education. To ensure the implementation and continuous development of ICT in general education, in 2004, the Armenian Government founded a non-profit National Centre for Educational Technologies (NCET) under the MoESCS.
NCET’s objectives include: equipping educational institutions implementing general education programmes with modern computer facilities; introducing a universal computer network to link educational institutions implementing general education programmes; providing educational institutions with Internet connection; creating computer training centres in educational institutions; coordinating all programmes in the field of educational ICT implemented in Armenia; training teachers to improve their computer literacy level; creating and using the informational educational environment of educational institutions; developing and publishing digital educational materials and software packages as well as providing them to educational institutions; ensuring the processes of storing, analysing and disseminating statistical information of institutions implementing pre-school, general and professional education, creating a unified database; and releasing to the public data and indicators related to the field of education.
When it comes to distance education, the powers and mechanisms of stakeholders, including schools, are defined in the “Order for the Organisation of Distance Education” adopted by the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports in May 2020.
Distance education can be organized by general education institutions, as well as by the Distance Learning Centre (DLC) operating under the National Centre for Educational Technologies.
As to the coordination mechanisms, the supreme body coordinating the digital transformation processes of the Republic of Armenia is the Information Systems Management Board, which is headed by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic. Plans/new projects for the introduction of new digital tools and platforms f are submitted for discussion and approval by the Board, after which work development and implementation phases begin
Coordination at the level of the MoESCS is carried out according to the ICT implementation priorities, which are mainly reflected in strategic documents, in particular: in The Government Programme of the Republic of Armenia for 2021-2026, in the Law on approving the State Program for Education Development till 2030, as well as in Action Plans of the mentioned documents. According to the schedule, digitalization programs/actions are also included in the annual State Budget Programs, the execution of which is entrusted to NCET (planning, monitoring and reporting on implementation of above mentioned strategic documents, as well as ICT introduction within them, is coordinated by the Department of Development Programs and Monitoring of MoESCS in cooperation with line departments of MoESCS).
Current legislation does not restrict the use of mobile devices for on-site learning. Educational institutions can decide whether to allow students to use mobile devices in the classroom or not.
This profile was commissioned by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) and developed by Artak Poghosyan. It has been reviewed by Robert Stepanyan, Head of the Department for Development Programs and Monitoring, Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of the Republic of Armenia.