”The Yerevan State University continues to play a significant role both in terms of formation of academia and public awareness. We need to discuss ways of shaping a modern and efficient system of education,” Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan said at a meeting with the YSU management and faculty.
Presenting the government’s program of activities and reforms, the Prime Minister stated in part, “Whatever we do to develop our country is to be done in a smart and well-calculated manner: we have no other option. This is just an imperative. Our main capital – the man – must be educated and literate.”
YSU Rector Aram Simonyan provided some figures. The University has around 19,000 students, 19 faculties, 4 institutes, 2 of which of scientific bias, 15 training and research centers, about 50 laboratories and 3 newly established Start-Up student labs. He said the University has to go through the creation of centers of excellence, shall focus on the best scientific and innovative potential of the University. Aram Simonyan also spoke about international cooperation, student self-organization, current and future projects.
The Premier stressed that the higher education, teaching and research systems should be closely linked in order to provide a higher level of scientific and applied products. The Prime Minister inquired about the criteria of evaluation of the university’s academic institutions, investment amount, the expected and actual results, state-university-private sector cooperation. Karen Karapetyan referred to the market demand for highly skilled IT professionals, stressing the importance of active cooperation with the relevant companies.
“Any entity willing to be successful must conform to the trends of the market. The IT sector has an annual demand of at least 2000 qualified specialists, and regular work must be carried out to activate business-university linkages in a bid to meet existing demand,” the Head of Government said.
During the exchange of views that followed, the speakers focused on the need to make a targeted use of scientific potential in the spheres of information technology, management of water and natural resources, the pharmaceutical industry and other areas, as well as the application of innovative ideas and technologies, the development of scientific products and other related issues. Highlighting the commercialization of research activities, the Prime Minister suggested submitting projects to promote the launch of applied products.
Addressing the students, the Prime Minister said, “Be proactive, voice your opinion, do not be accommodating.”
At a meeting with the YSU students, Karen Karapetyan stressed the importance of keeping in touch with the public at large, showing civic activism and providing periodic signals on government activities. “This meeting is very important for my team as even during the Soviet Union era, YSU lecturers and students used to be liberal and rebellious in the good sense,” the Prime Minister underscored.
The Premier next dwelt on his government’s activities – per-sector problems diagnosis, preparation of a development vision, analysis of management-related issues, and digitization in the system of public administration along with increased level of accountability and transparency in investment and management operations.
Citing the example of agriculture, healthcare, information technology and territorial administration, Karen Karapetyan spoke about the ongoing reforms. Commenting on the expected volume of investment, the Prime Minister said the Government has collected and analyzed investment projects available from the private sector and line ministries all the way through his visits to the provinces.
“We have examined 471 projects, of which 345 deemed to be quite realistic, with a total portfolio of USD 3.2 billion, of which USD 830-840 million-worth ones feasible in 2017. These projects have financial partners and financing sources, including the State budget, municipal budgets and the private sector. That does not mean at all that it would be a failure, if we do not implement the aforementioned USD 830 million-worth projects: it is just the potential and the horizon we have set ourselves. I would like to inform you that in addition to the above projects, the Government is discussing 79 other projects worth USD 5.3 billion. We are paying special attention to this question because there is an impression that making investment and money is impossible in Armenia. The projects posted on the government’s website evidence the contrary,” the Prime Minister noted.
In his speech, the Prime Minister stressed that the Government aims to create an independent, secure, just, and intellectual country. “We need to create a country where any businessman, creative person or individual that can generate added value may feel comfortable and satisfied. We cannot afford being ill-advised. We need to be smart in whatever we do. The region and the neighborhood in which we live, the logistics, everything compels us to be smart and educated. The human capital is our main asset and, therefore, it should be literate, intelligent and capable of calculating. Therefore, it is extremely important for me to understand which way we are going and when you will join us,” Karen Karapetyan emphasized.
The Premier told the students that the Start-Up initiative will be launched today. “We have announced a tender, and stand ready to finance the three highest-ranked business plans submitted by students. Our team needs additional capacity and, therefore, any initiative is acceptable to us. We are ready to discuss any ideas relating to the development of our country in the Center for Strategic Initiatives,” the Prime Minister pointed out, urging the students to use this platform for implementing their innovative ideas.
During the interview, the Head of Government answered the students’ questions regarding the government’s plans, the involvement of young people in the system of public administration, the promotion of student activism, the strengthening universities-labor market interaction, the introduction of an academic achievement-based tuition discount system, the change of generation in the university system, the recruitment of young professionals, qualitative changes and research funding, the optimization of State machinery, balanced regional development, as well as a number of political and other issues of concern to the public.
Asked about his name being absent on the proportional list of the Republic Party of Armenia ahead of the upcoming National Assembly elections, Karen Karapetyan noted, “It is no surprise to me that I am not included in the list of the Republican Party. I cannot appear in the list, since there is a restriction. Should the voters believe us, trust in our platform and our vision of what we want to do, how we see the development of our country, and if the RPA obtains the required majority of votes to form a government, I think that the Republican Party will give us the opportunity to continue in office.”
Commenting on the armed forces and, in particular, the questions raised in the context of the April war, the Prime Minister stated in part, “There is government program for addressing the needs of the families of April war participants, implemented by the Ministry of Defense through a clearly defined budget and objectives. Both the State and the citizens have a moral duty before each of these families, and we should be consistent in this matter.”
Answering a student’s question on whether there are political prisoners in Armenia, the Prime Minister said, “Nobody is entitled to violate the laws the State has adopted. Another issue is that we can interpret the laws one way or another or enforce them selectively. In fact, this is a bad practice, but if we try to interpret the laws emotionally, we will never get good results.”
Summarizing the meeting, the Prime Minister urged the students to submit their proposals in writing and participate in the formation of the government and society for effective feedback. “I have said it many times before” please be proactive, voice your opinions. Do not be accommodating. Actively participate in our initiatives or submit your own projects,” Karen Karapetyan said.
The Prime Minister availed himself of the opportunity to tour the Faculty of Informatics and Applied Mathematics, the Physics Research Center, the Start-Up laboratories, as well as the recently renovated sports complex, getting acquainted with the ongoing activities and programs.