26 May 2006

Kuwaiti Armenian School recovers from the latest war in the region

Azad-Hye, Dubai, 26 May 2006: After the formation of the United Arab
Republic in Egypt and Syria (1958), many Armenians emigrated to the United
States, Canada, Australia, Argentina and elsewhere. Some of them arrived in
Kuwait, then a desert Emirate, with limited modern comforts.

In 1961 priest Barouyr Sarkissian settled down in Kuwait City and served the
community for more than thirty years, including 9 years as a Principal of
the Armenian School (1961-1970).

The Kuwaiti Armenian community was originally formed by bachelors who were
employed in light industries, auto repair shops, electronics, services etc.
Eventually they got married and brought to Kuwait their brides from their
countries of origin (Syria, Lebanon, Iran, etc.).

As their children reached schooling age, the need for learning the Armenian
language, history and religion led to the establishment of a school in the
late 1960's.

The new premises of the school was inaugurated in 1972, during the tenure of
Principal Manuel Charshafian (1972-1978).

Since then the number of the Armenians in Kuwait expanded and reached a peak
of 10000 in the mid 1980's. The number of students enrolled in the Armenian
School scored a record 700 pupils. High School section (Jemaran) was
introduced, enabling graduates to get enrolled in University studies
worldwide. Today the school covers the whole range from kindergarten to the
12th grade.

Asadour Boghosian has been Principal during two different terms (1978-1983)
and (2000-2004).

The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq caused damage to the State of Kuwait and the
Armenian Community. Fortunately the invasion took place in August (1990),
during which many Armenian families were already outside the country and did
not directly suffer the consequences of the invasion. Only 500 Armenians
remained in Kuwait during the six months of the Iraqi invasion, many fled
the country through the Saudi border.

After the restoration of national authority in Kuwait, many Armenians
returned to their positions in Kuwait, yet a considerable number continued
living in new places. The returned ones were compensated by the Kuwaiti
government (through special arrangement with the United Nations) with
monthly salaries that covered the complete period of invasion.

The present day Principal is Dr. Manoug Manougian, a graduate of Karen Jeppe
Armenian High School (Aleppo, 1983) and Dentistry Faculty (Yerevan, 1990).
Dr. Manougian gave us the latest statistics concerning the school.

The number of the students in the 2005-2006 school-year has been 373. The
breakdown is as follows:

94 students in the Kindergarten
135 students in the Elementary level (1-5 grades)
88 students in the Intermediate level (6-9 grades)
56 students in the Secondary level (10-12 grades)

The number of students just two years ago was 324. Therefore we can say that
there is an increase of about 15%. This figure is very close to the
1999-2000 school-year (before the latest war in the region), when the number
of students was 376.

Dr. Manougian gave us also the overall number of the educational and
auxiliary staff as follows:

Educational staff (teachers): 37 (26 Armenians)
Administrative staff: 4 (all Armenians)
Auxiliary staff (drivers, caretakers, etc.): 10 (3 Armenians)
Total number: 51 (33 Armenians)

The number of the Armenians in Kuwait, according to Dr. Manougian is no more
than 3300. More than 70% are Syrian-Armenians and the rest are from Lebanon
and other countries. Lebanese Armenians are mainly from Ainjar
Until 1990 (the year of the Iraqi invasion), the percentage of the Iranian
Armenians was 30%, but almost all of them emigrated later to Western
countries. Currently many Syrian-Armenians use the so-called Armenian
passport for Diaspora (special residency status), which is easier for
obtaining Kuwaiti residency visa.

The number of graduates from the Secondary level (Jemaran) is 381, although
thousands of students have attended the school during different periods of
time. The mobile status of the families living in Kuwait has contributed to
the fluctuation of the figures.

Azad-Hye had also the opportunity to meet with the newly appointed Deputy
Principal Peggy Tokmakjian (graduate of Aleppo College and English
Literature Department in the University of Aleppo 1990, former Principal of
"Accad" Computer Science Center in Aleppo, Syria). She briefed us on the
educational aspects of the Armenian School in Kuwait.

See complete set of photos of the Armenian School in Kuwait here:


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