Formation of role models for youth – A challenge for civil society

The formula of success in an age of high tech, strong competition and in-depth knowledge is consistent and diligent work, a vision of the ultimate goal and desire for it. Being satisfied with what we have and not going forward, is now equivalent to failure. All this is fully applicable not only on a personal level, but also in the context of the overall sphere. We are talking about information technology, as existing global trends clearly demonstrate that this area is becoming the mainstay of economic growth in all countries.

As for Armenia, the domestic IT sector now surpasses the other economic sectors in many aspects. Moreover, our country has a real chance to become an IT leader in the region. To do this, we have sufficient capacity and appropriate level of technology integration. But this area could develop much faster if not for some problems. The most important of these problems is the lack of human resources. Therefore, this issue is very acute in the IT field, requiring a large number of highly skilled engineers, programmers and computer specialists.

According to market participants, today the industry is able to absorb from 1,000 to 2,000 additional employees, of course, if such supply appears. But the reality is that in IT there is a high demand which we are not able to meet yet. To solve this problem, many IT companies cooperate with the relevant institutions, in particular, the State University and the State Engineering University. The latter will have a unique National Engineering Laboratory valued at 6.1 million dollars by the end of the year. About 20% of the costs to build the laboratory will be covered by SEUA extra budgetary funds with the assistance of the President of Armenia, another 20% by National Instruments, and the remaining funds will be fundraised through the USAID.

As a result, in the foreseeable future a critical mass will begin to form in Armenia that will in some way allow achieving results in terms of the quality of knowledge of graduates from educational institutions. For now the leading companies in the field, trying to somehow fill the existing gap in knowledge of young professionals who come from universities, conduct various educational programs aimed at training qualified specialists to meet current requirements in IT sector.

Synopsys Armenia is also actively involved in the educational process, in cooperation with SEUA. But, in addition to educational programs, a few years ago the company decided to initiate and finance the project, which is able to repeatedly raise the interest of the students through annual competitions, whose main objective is to identify and encourage the best university students, young engineers and high school students from schools with specialization in physics and mathematics. But the main thing is that the best of the best are awarded diplomas, prizes and trophies symbolizing the IT field directly from the hands of the President.

This mid-autumn for the eighth time the President will award prizes to the winners of this contest in the following nominations: Grand Prix, Best PhD Student, Best Master Student, Best Bachelor Student, Best Female Student and Best High School Student. Best Female Student nomination is specifically established to encourage the participation of young female students, who do not actively manifest themselves in the field of information technology. By the way, during the past seven years, presidential awards honored 201 university and high school students.

But in order to get the coveted award, one will have to go a long way and establish themselves as a worthy candidate. After all, the main criteria for selection is student performance in schools, active participation in various competitions and contests in IT and the natural sciences, involvement in social programs, as well as comprehensive knowledge . Over the last two weeks such students from “Anania Shirakatsi” Lyceum, “Photon” College (Gyumri), “Eureka” Special School (Vanadzor), “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educational Complex, “Quantum” Lyceum , Yerevan State University, SEUA, American University of Armenia, the Armenian-Russian (Slavonic) University, were interviewed by the Selection Committee.

I was present myself at some of the interviews held in Synopsys Armenia. During the first interviews, when the students from “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educational Complex and “Anania Shirakatsi” Lyceum were interviewed, I was so impressed by the students, their worldviews and positions on civil responsibilities that I felt a great sense of pride in the fact that this country has such talented youth. My positive impressions grew stronger because of the atmosphere of lightness and ease as members of the committee, headed by Hovik Musayelyan, conducted the interview.

Alas, my enthusiasm decreased after a couple of days when I was listening to the university students. This time, most of them were unable to articulate their thoughts, not to say they lacked logical thinking. But what struck me most is that if the younger applicants were patriotic and loved their country, the university students by and large did not conceal the fact that they did not link their future with Armenia.

In an interview with the Mr. Musayelyan I tried to figure out the reason for this situation and his assessment of the overall level of the participants this year.

“This year participants made a good impression on us as a whole. However, in recent years we have seen a new trend:  the higher the educational qualification (High School – Bachelor – Master – PhD), the lower is the “quality” of the student. This is, in fact, illogical, given the fact that as they reach maturity students must have a higher intellectual potential. Because usually, the older you become, your values are perceived more meaningfully, and your horizons grew wider. It is no accident that this year’s award in the category “Grand Prix” will be awarded a high school student, and this fact in itself says a lot,” explained the Hovik Musayelyan.

In fact, the basic philosophy of this competition is to ensure that year from year we demonstrate the best indicators of the achievements of our youth. From this perspective, it is important to track all the trends that occur in the course of the interviews with the young candidates of such a prestigious presidential contest. A few years ago during the fifth year of the contest, we decided to find out the values of our youth again in a conversation with Mr. Musayelyan.  At that time he mentioned with regret that most of the young people are unable to name role-models, who they look up to.

It turns out that we as a society, in fact are unable to form role-models (in arts, sports, politics, etc.) in the minds of our young people, which they would look up to. And this question, according to Hovik Musayelyan, will become a matter of national security. Has anything changed in recent years in this direction and did the absence of role-models among young people cease to be the most painful problems of our society?

“The situation, unfortunately, has not changed. I think that all of us have to do something in this regard. It is a challenge not only for a particular school or university but for civil society overall, in order to change the existing values by creating a new system, while young people will be able to see and appreciate these people – the characters they would like to look up to. I hope that in the near future we will be able to fill this gap, though; it’s an extremely difficult task,” summed Mr. Musayelyan not without some optimism.

Source: translated from RA

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