Gateway to the modern world: COAF SMART Rooms

21 March 2020

By Nane Vardanyan

3 min read

If you made it here to read the blog, you most likely have electricity, Internet access, and a computer or a gadget. Hope you are also warm, safe and sound.

Unfortunately, many rural communities in Armenia are devoid of such simple modern amenities, hence its members have to face challenges of connecting to the world, keeping up with rapidly growing trends and means of personal development. At COAF, we have been striving to bring a change to the new reality of Armenia’s remote regions.

SMART Room in Tumanyan village

Since the very beginning of over 15 years of on-the-ground experience, education has had a vital role in COAF’s initiatives. “Shifting from need-based to cluster and then to a holistic approach of community development, COAF has come up with the new initiatives aiming to include a variety of programs in all COAF-supported villages,” explains Korioun Khatchadourian, the Managing Director of the Children of Armenia Fund.

SMART initiatives (stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) include the SMART Rooms and the COAF SMART Center. While many of you probably know a lot about our SMART Center in Lori Province, SMART Rooms have been established long before the center (the first one was set up in Tumanyan village in 2016) and are at the core of the SMART concept.

A student from Koti village SMART Room

Standing as gateways to the modern world, SMART Rooms bring technology and innovation to Armenia’s most remote communities. The renovated rooms connect villagers and the world through modern high-speed Internet connections and the latest teaching technologies. “SMART rooms are bridges to the contemporary world, and in many villages, they are the only warm and cozy places, where the villagers can use the Internet and advanced educational resources,” mentions Edgar Sargsyan, the COAF SMART Rooms Coordinator.

Already established in 8 villages of the Lori and Tavush regions, the SMART Rooms are located in Akori, Arevatsag, Karinj, Mets Ayrum, Tumanyan, Aygehovit, Koti, and Vazashen communities. “SMART Rooms serve not only for after-school programs such as the English Access program, maths, and robotics but also for partnership programs with Armath labs, Startup Armenia Foundation, Wikimedia groups, and as conference halls for schools,” says COAF SMART Programs Manager Shahane Halajyan.

Robotics program in Koti village SMART Room

One of the SMART-Room highlights was the Hour of Coding worldwide event, organized by the partnership of COAF and Microsoft Innovation Center, bringing the knowledge of coding to more than 100 rural kids.

The SMART Room in Koti village has a rich library with classic and modern books, including “Steve Jobs” after Walter Isaacson, “And The Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini, “The unbearable lightness of being” by Milan Kundera, “The monk who sold his Ferrari” by Robin S. Sharma, and else. Multilingual book donations are more than welcome in the center!

SMART Rooms are accessible not just to rural youth but to members of surrounding communities. COAF offers community educational programs for vital competencies, like English language instruction, as well as offerings tailored to each local community’s needs and resources. We work with community professionals in medicine, social services, and other specialized fields, to conduct continuing education trainings, classes, and expert discussions using our SMART Rooms.

There are over 900 villages in rural Armenia, and your contribution will enable us to expand to as many communities as possible. Donate now.

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