Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

School of Education

Abstract

Structured according to the conceptual frameworks of nationalism and globalization, this study examined relationships between and among the Armenian Ministry of Education, the World Bank, the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation -Armenia, and Armenian secondary school teachers and principals from 1991 to the present. Each group played a central role, developing and implementing the Armenian National Curriculum and State Standard for Secondary Education throughout the education system.

Using Laurence Neuman's inductive approach to open, axial, and final coding, this qualitative case study investigated the global and national groups that produced the Armenian National Curriculum (the Curriculum) and the State Standard for Secondary Education (SSSE).1 Analysis of the Curriculum and the SSSE provided an understanding of educational policy guidelines for the Armenian secondary schools; themes central to the Curriculum and SSSE drove the analysis of semi-structured interviews and observations that completed research for this study.

This sophisticated system of analysis created a depth examination of curriculum reform at both policy and implementation levels in Armenia. Multiple interviews, including policy discussions with numerous officials from the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science, the directors of education from the World Bank and from the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation-Armenia combined with interviews of Armenian teachers and school principals, to present a reliable picture of the creation of democratic education policy in Armenia in this period.

Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia has struck a balance between the local and global perspectives that influenced post-Soviet curriculum reform. Armenia moved away from closed Soviet educational approaches and began to integrate international educational standards of the European Union into its system. Invited by the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science to assist in this transition, the World Bank and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation-Armenia encouraged the use of specific content and teaching techniques to institute democratic practices in the Armenian context of schooling. These educational standards were aligned with Western approaches to education to allow Armenia to compete in the global market. Subjects such as civic education stressing ideas of openness, tolerance, and human rights were aligned to curriculum practices to meet requirements for membership in the European Union. On the other hand, subjects such as the history of the Armenian Church provided citizens with an understanding of the importance of Christianity to the Armenian nation. Thus, curriculum reform in post-Soviet Armenia balanced local and global contexts in Armenian secondary schools, furnishing a complex and fascinating overview of the dramatic process of structural educational change in a nation transitioning from membership in the former Soviet Union. The analysis and interviews in this study with both local participants and leaders of international agencies that was critically important in the period of political, cultural, and educational transformation present elements essential to understanding the role of education in Armenia today.

1. W. Lawrence Neuman, Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (3rd edition) (Needham Heights: A Viacom Company, 1997), 206-209.

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