ArmeniaTools4Schools, Knight Electronics, and Knights of Vartan Inc. teamed up to provide $25,000 in tools, equipment, and supplies for the Berd Vocational State School in the Tavush region in Armenia. This support re-establishes a welding department at the school, re-supplies the electrical department, and doubled the equipment in their sewing and tailoring department. Founded in 1972, the Berd Craftsman State School was a top vocational education and training institution with functioning workshops and laboratories that provided training in many fields.
After the transition to a market-based economy and increasing budget costs to the government because of the war, funding to the school declined and some departments became nonoperational. Tuition is free at the school, and the average age of students ranges from 16 – 20 years. It is the only vocational school in the Berd region and its graduates work in the 16 villages surrounding the town of Berd.
The equipment comes at a key time. School enrollment has declined 33% from 2013 – 2018.
“We have good instructors to teach welding, we just don’t have the tools and equipment to teach that trade,” stated Principal Anna Avalyan. The new shipment of tools purchased by ArmeniaTools4schools restores the welding department at the school.
ArmeniaTools4schools is a North Carolina non-profit charitable organization dedicated to supporting vocational schools in Armenia. “We’re proud to be helping the Berd Region rebuild and it starts with empowering the students by giving them the tools and equipment to start their professional careers. We look forward to continuing this program with more regions throughout Armenia,” stated George Bournazian, President of ArmeniaTools4Schools in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Knight Electronics in Dallas, Texas worked with ArmeniaTools4Schools to provide the equipment, tools, and supplies at substantially reduced prices, for charitable and educational purposes, through their Knight Educational Products Division. “I’ve known George Bournazian for 15 years and when he came to us with this plan to provide support to Armenian vocational schools, we were ready to support him and the next generation of Armenian trade professionals,” said John Knight, President of Knight Electronics.
This funding was part of a broader effort by the Knights of Vartan to re-build economic infrastructure and strengthen social institutions in the Berd region. After enduring 20 years of devastating war, the Armenian villagers along the Azerbaijan border in the Berd region continue to suffer deaths and injuries from sniper fire.
In 2018, the school signed an agreement with the local factory owner that manufactures construction gloves and clothing. Skilled workers that can operate commercial sewing machinery are needed in the factory. The Knights of Vartan funded the procurement of the sewing machine equipment for the school. By providing the commercial sewing equipment to train people, the school has a program for employing graduates from the sewing department in the factory.
The Knights of Vartan Inc. is a fraternal leadership and service organization of Armenian men dedicated to safeguarding and perpetuating the Armenian heritage and cultural traditions. Its membership represents the spectrum of the leadership of the Armenian community. It was founded in 1916 in Philadelphia and is based the United States with 24 local chapters which support Armenian causes around the world. For more information about the Knights of Vartan, visit their website.