Today was a day of triple celebration for the growing community of Arajamugh, a border village in Southern Artsakh, as the villagers celebrated the start of the new school year, the 10-year anniversary of the village school and the reopening of the school after its expansion.
The Zabel Yessayan school of Arajamugh.
We visited Arajamugh to join the celebrations together with our friends from the Armenian Diaspora and journalists from Italy, who are visiting Artsakh with the invitation of the Tufenkian Foundation. As we approached the school, we were met with a group of students who recited poetry and welcomed us to their school and village.
The school, named after prominent Armenian writer Zabel Yessayan, is one of the fastest growing village schools in Artsakh: last year, despite the hardships that the people of Artsakh went through in relation to the Four Day War, the school welcomed 16 new students, a record number for these territories.
The expansion of the school is a testament to how much the community of Arajamugh has expanded since its establishment 13 years ago: at the end of the last academic year, the village had so many school-age children that the local school no longer had enough capacity to house them.
The construction started this summer: 4 new classrooms were built and general renovation works were carried out to improve both the exterior and interior conditions of the school.
This year, due to the added capacity, 85 children (10 are first-year students) will attend school in Arajamugh, with the number expected to rise every year.
After opening remarks by Tufenkian Foundation Executive Director Raffi Doudaklian and Artsakh-Fund Eastern USA representative Raffi Killian, the Second Annual Human Rights Essay Contest in Artsakh based on the Legacy of Zabel Yessayan was launched by Artsakh Human Rights Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan and Judith Saryan, the liason from the United States. The contest will give a chance to high school students (9-12 grades) of Artsakh to compete for prizes by writing short essays based on the human rights discourse in Yessayan’s The Gardens of Silihdar.
For the people of Arajamugh, the school is not just a place for the children to learn. It is also a community center and a major employer (25 teachers from Arajamugh and the neighboring villages currently work in the school), and we are happy to have been able to contribute to growth of the village with this small step.