Araratian Baccalaureate: Impressive Step towards Reshaping Armenian School Education

Recently, Dan Bray, Deputy Director at University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), visited Armenia for the annual review of the works carried out within the framework of the National Program for Educational Excellence (NPEE) and the Araratian Baccalaureate (AB), an Armenian-language and internationally recognized educational program that is comparable to UK GCE A Level and US Advanced Placement.

The tight schedule of Mr. Bray did not allow him to see very much of Armenia, however, the NPEE Communications Team organized a short tour in Ayb School to show him life in the first school in Armenia offering the Araratian Baccalaureate, and held a short interview mostly focusing on NPEE-Cambridge collaboration and its future.

- Mr. Bray, what accounted for CIE’s decision to collaborate with Armenia?

- About 18 months ago in January 2015 a delegation came from Armenia to Cambridge and explained their vision for having an internationally recognized qualification. Their vision truly impressed us and we thought we could add value to that vision. That’s how we started our collaboration and I am very happy for it.

- Is there anything that makes your collaboration with Armenia, more specifically with the Ayb Educational Foundation stand out?

- The thing that stands out most is quite how quickly the Araratian Baccalaureate has progressed at where it is at the moment. We started talking about it only 18 months ago and in this time we have an internationally recognized qualification that is functioning and of a very high quality. And we also have students that have qualified and have been awarded these certificates. To achieve all that in this time scale is very impressive.

- How do you see the future of your collaboration with Armenia?

- I think the collaboration has been incredibly successful. We’ve really enjoyed working with colleagues in Armenia. Over the next two years the project will be characterized by a gradual handover of activities from Cambridge to Armenia. For the first round of qualifications a lot of the activity happened in Cambridge and was supported by Armenian colleagues, and gradually as the project progresses over the next 4-5 years that will reverse and most of the activity will happen in Armenia with a really small part of quality assurance happening in Cambridge.

- Mr. Bray, the education systems in the UK, Finland or Singapore are well known all around the world. Do you think the Armenian education will ever stand on the same level with them?

- We are building a qualification, which is comparable with international qualifications and I don’t see a reason why not. The answer whether the Armenian education will be recognized internationally in the same level is really dependent on what happens here. I think we have set foundations in place which will enable that to happen. And from what I have seen today (ED.: refers to the tour in Ayb School) and from what we know from our partnership with the Ayb Educational Foundation I can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be recognized. Certainly the conditions are in place and it’s up to you, guys, to make that happen.

The Araratian Baccalaureate (AB) is an Armenian-language internationally recognized educational program, which is to provide competitive school education for all schoolchildren in Armenia. The Program was designed by the Ayb Educational Foundation and was further improved within the framework of the National Program for Educational Excellence (NPEE).

In the first stage, the program will be rolled out to selected schools of Armenian regions with at least one class and has the goal to expand in the future.

The program is carried out along with the Ministry of Education and Science in collaboration with Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) and the University College London (UCL) Institute of Education (IOE). The program will be offered along with the state program, granting students broader opportunities for the high school educational program and ensuring local and international recognition of their education, graduation marks, and diplomas.

In 2015, AB was benchmarked by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) and was found comparable to UK GCE A Levels. In August 2016, one of the most reputable agencies of recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills – UK NARIC – also found AB comparable to leading international educational programs such as the UK GCE A Levels and US Advanced Placement (AP). AB’s comparability to these educational programs grants Armenian students the chance to take international exams in Armenian and, based on their results, be able to get admitted to top universities around the world or be granted credits in those universities.