The project resulted in the complete reconstruction of one of the two main buildings of the two-story school, which was built in 1962. The improvements include a new roof as well as newly installed hardwood floors, doors, and windows. In addition, the entire structure has been repainted and a boiler room was built to provide the school with heating.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in a jubilant atmosphere attended by the entire Artsni community and several guests of honor. Dignitaries present at the event included Achal Kumar Malhotra, ambassador of India to Armenia; Sergey Manasaryan, deputy minister of foreign affairs of Armenia; Aram Kocharyan, governor of Lori; and Ara Vardanyan, executive director of the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund.
In his remarks during the ceremony, Governor Kocharyan said, “This is a marvelous achievement. We find it deeply touching that the government of India, one of the oldest countries of the world, has on its part provided support for helping address the core issues faced by schools in Armenia’s border communities. A village has no future without a well-functioning school. And we believe particular importance must be attached to the existence of schools in border villages and the support they deserve to receive for their continued well-being.”
Later, in an interview with reporters, Kocharyan stated, “Assistance work must be consolidated and carried out consistently. When the mayor of a given village seeks assistance from donors and his efforts lead to the realization of community projects, his constituents will have reason to be hopeful. Their faith in the future will be restored and they will once again consider building families in their native villages.”
Artsni is the site of two other major projects implemented by the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. Thus a newly built community center will be unveiled within days, and the construction of a potable-water network is under way.
“I am so very happy to be here today, celebrating the opening of this beautiful school,” said Ambassador Malhotra in his remarks. “We live in a time when a good education is of critical importance to the advancement of the individual, the society, and the entire nation. Of equal importance is the environment in which young people receive their education. I am delighted that the government of India brought its modest contribution to this wonderful project.”
As he addressed the attendees, Artsni mayor Khenko Khachanesyan painfully noted that the population of the village has declined considerably since the 1990s, and that whereas the community school now has 49 students, some 300 pupils once attended the campus.
Although, thanks to the current construction of a drinking-water supply system, soon the residents of Artsni will no longer be forced to carry water from nearby springs, the village still grapples with a host of problems which have led to an exodus of the youth and the consequent diminution of the community’s workforce. In his remarks during the opening of the school, Khachanesyan mentioned the lack of natural-gas and potable-water service as well as the lack a kindergarten and community leisure activities as the overarching issues still impacting Artsni.
“Today we are witnessing the result of the Indian government’s great generosity,” said Deputy Minister Sergey Manasaryan in his speech. “A school is the future of a community. The existence of a school is perhaps the most crucial component in securing the emergence of an educated, vibrant generation.”
“If we are to give villagers a compelling reason to continue to live in their communities, we must strive to address the most serious of the issues they contend with,” said the fund’s Ara Vardanyan in his concluding remarks. “It is through the school that the community’s future will be forged.”
Vardanyan also informed the attendees that the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund has finished work on Artsni’s community center, which will open its doors as soon as the structure is furnished. Vardanyan also announced that within the next week the fund will donate five computers to the Artsni school, intent on helping students acquire computer skills.