As FAR continues its work to develop a vocational training center at the Parakar School for Children with Disabilities, staff continue to work with experts to try to better understand how to bridge the overall gaps in vocational training and higher education for those with special needs.

Recently, FAR held a focus group discussion with representatives from Armenia’s Ministry of Education and Science; the Republican Pediatric Rehabilitation Center; Arbes Health Center; the Employers Union of Armenia; the Pyunik Union of People with Disabilities of Armenia; Special School N150 After F. Nansen; the Armenian State Institute of Physical Culture and Sport; local NGOs like Unison that champion the rights of the disabled; and parents and school management, to collect professional feedback on how to improve the quality of life for children with disabilities. The discussion was led by Annie Madzhagopian, an international expert on inclusive education and vocational training programs for Persons with Disabilities (PWD).

“I appreciate FAR’s efforts in investing in this project. It’s not only about its activities, it’s about changing the quality of life of a people—the most vulnerable people—whether it’s those with disabilities or those who cannot reach any kind of services,” she stated. “Our main goal is to have independent, safe, productive and happy people with dignified lives. This is the expected outcome of the project and today the most important thing for me is to meet with the stakeholders related to FAR’s Parakar School project because I believe that sustainable development cannot be achieved unless there is coordination.”

After the two-hour interactive discussion, the parties agreed to work together on improving and/or advocating for changes at the higher level to positively impact the lives of Parakar students so that they can be trained to excel in their capacities and achieve practical workplace experience.

FAR has already completed some particular small projects at Parakar, such as the renovation of some of its classrooms, and is currently in the process of renovating and revamping the entire school. This major project is sponsored by James and Marta Batmasian Family Foundation.

Stay tuned to learn more about the developments!