“Education is the one sure way to secure a better future for our children.”
The Anoushavan Abrahamian Education Fund (AAEF) seeks to enrich the lives of disadvantaged youth worldwide by providing enhanced educational opportunities, particularly in the area of vocational training.
The AAEF was established in 2004 as a California non-profit charitable organization with the intention of helping youth throughout the world, mobilizing first in Armenia.
Already active in Armenia, AAEF programs are focused specifically on improved trade skill education for rural youth that will lead to satisfying local employment opportunities. The program has as its objective the reduction of current youth migration away from rural towns and villages due to a lack of skills that match available job opportunities.
The AAEF mission in Armenia has concentrated initially on the direct improvement of physical facilities at ten vocational high schools – one school in each of the ten Marzes of Armenia, excluding Yerevan. This program is intended to improve the educational experience of well over 5,000 students throughout Armenia. The AAEF is now completing the process of evaluating vocational schools that match AAEF’s criteria for this pilot program, criteria that include an enrolled student population of at least 500 at each school. Where vocational schools now operating in specific Marzes cannot accommodate such a student population, the AAEF is working closely with local government officials to evaluate situations where relocation might be possible to more suitable, region-serving facilities.
Another AAEF program now underway in Armenia is a program to funnel new educational resources applicable to common trade disciplines at every vocational school. Seeking to cause synergies and collaboration by and between various schools that are part of its mission, the AAEF is standardizing the resources offered across ten common skill areas and professions. This includes skill areas such as carpenters, auto mechanics, beauticians, computer technicians, chefs and cooks, secretaries and office clerical workers, and building contractors.
As a means to protect and enhance these direct programs, the AAEF will also be sponsoring after-school and extracurricular activities for youth in the 13 to 18 year old “at-risk” age bracket. These activities will include the organization of academic clubs (math, physics, computer programming), sports clubs (soccer, basketball, ping-pong), and design and performance arts clubs (voice, chorus, dance, crafts, pottery). A special form of financial aid will be made available to needy youth who may otherwise not be able to participate.
At each school, the AAEF will form an independent advisory committee (IAC) to oversee these programs, with committee members including parents, teachers and students.
Each school’s IAC will oversee inter-school competitions, work to foster local community involvement and sponsors in the school’s programs, and organize annual award ceremonies where participation and achievement will be recognized from among the students and community volunteers. The objective of the IAC groups is to create self-fulfilling “engines of change,” so that AAEF’s efforts will have the best chance for long and sustainable futures. The IAC’s are also expected to assure a level of local community involvement in each school that might otherwise not exist.
An additional means of protecting and enhancing its overall mission to Armenian schools, AAEF plans to supplement schoolteacher salaries through reimbursement of continuous education expenses and time spent on IAC-organized sponsored programs. Providing such an incentive to the most important player in the youth education process – the teachers – seemed to the AAEF to be among the best areas to focus an area of sponsorship.
The AAEF welcomes the opportunity to work together with organizations of similar and serious intent, to best leverage its activities for the benefit of youth. Cooperation with state agencies, international development groups, local and international NGO’s, and private charitable organizations, are all see as positive opportunities by the AAEF.
In a well-known speech, U.S. President John F. Kennedy once remarked, “… we all cherish our children’s future,” in seeking a common thread among all of humanity.
AAEF is moved by this idea and believes that through educating our youth we may best fulfill the obligation that we all share as parents – and adults – to help the next generation prosper. In this way we may also play our part in contributing to the stability of Armenia and its peaceful and successful future among all nations.
AAEF Board of Directors