Armenia: Yerevan Waldorf School was founded in 1994. After long battles with the public authority the initiative received a limited acceptance for Waldorf classes in a context of a public school, which eventually passed into an authorization as a private school in 2005. With the introduction of an entrance grade admitting children between kindergarten and first grade, the Waldorf School currently counts 12 grades with 300 students.
It seems as if it would be just another usual school week. However, everyone knows that this is not true. Already on Thursday and Friday teachers of Eriwan Waldorf School are being surprised by practical jokes of their students and often, complete lessons are being cancelled due to the students activities. The consequences? None. It is carnival week or “Bari Kant”-week, as it is called in Armenia.
The crowning event of the week is, however, the masked ball on Saturday. This event serves as a possibility of reconciliation between the teachers and students. Actually only teachers, parents and students from high school are supposed to be there...and sometimes students of class nine (who don’t yet belong to the high school) if they manage to smuggle themselves past the guards without being recognized.
The hilarity of this week is something truly special for the school community. Until 2005, the year when the school was officially transformed from an experimental public school to an official private school, there was always the threat of the initiative being shut down. Additionally the school suffered from a public smear campaign. During that period there was not much time for frolic hours. Up to today each step in the public relations of the school and each public performance is a possible new evidence for the school’s opponents. However, the threat of a closing down the school is no longer relevant and it became clear that apart form the parents, of whom nobody pulled their child out of school during the time of crisis, there are also people on a political level who consider an alternative education as important and right.
Thinking back at the time between 1918 and 1920, Armenia used to be an independent republic and had one of the most democratic education laws at their disposal, which allowed every school – public, private or independently operated – the same kind of financial support. Although today’s situation is not comparable to that time, the period of denying a variety of education has however come to an end.
Privatizing the school and the connected loss of public funding made it unavoidable to raise a school fee. As a result of this the students often come from intellectual families. Nevertheless, the social commitment of the school remains high. Since years people with special needs are being integrated into the school community. As the popularity of the school keeps increasing, the school directorate thinks about founding another initiative, in order to give a better support to those students.