International Conference entitled “Theoretical and Practical Issues of Chess Education in Schools” was held on the 1st and 2nd of October, at “Russia” hotel in Tsaghkadzor resort city, Armenia. The Conference was organized under the auspices of Chess Academy of Armenia and Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia, cooperating with FIDE, Armenian Chess Federation and Khachatur Abovian Armenian State Pedagogical University. More than 50 representatives from 15 countries (Spain, Hungary, Angola, UAE, Poland, Belarus, Iran, Luxembourg, Russia, Slovakia, Georgia, Uruguay, Belgium, India, and Armenia) took part in the two-day Conference.
The Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia Mr. Levon Mkrtchyan, the Chancellor of Armenian State Pedagogical University, Professor Ruben Mirzakhanyan, the President of European Chess Union Mr. Zurab Azamaiparashvili and the Founder and President of Chess Academy of Armenia, the Vice-President of Chess Federation of Armenia Mr. Smbat Lputian and FIDE CiS Commission Chairman Mr. Kevin O’Connell delivered their welcoming speeches at the opening ceremony. Before proceeding to the speeches, a film about the Armenian experience and success story in the field as well as great on the heritage of Armenian “Chess in Schools” Program was introduced to the audience.
Thenceforth, the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia Mr. Mkrtchyan, while delivering his welcoming speech, highlighted the importance of the role of chess prioritizing the fact that chess, by its nature, is a pure Armenian school subject. It helps pupils to think independently, fomenting their perception of life situations more calmly and more logical thinking. Chess, as a school subject, has its positive impact on the perception of Mathematics. He emphasized the fact that teaching chess as a school subject is a unique example of successful innovation in the school curriculum and there have been no negative feedbacks. “It is highly important that “Chess in Schools” program brings together specialists from all over the world in Armenia to explore the Armenian experience trying to implement it in their own countries”, summed up the Minister.
In his speech, Mr. Smbat Lputian drew attention to the fact that the Armenian experience in this field and the involvement of chess in primary-school curriculum have found a huge response in many countries of the world, and the conference participants appeared eager to follow the example of Armenia. Mr. Lputian also mentioned that during the Conference the psychologists, sociologists and methodologists would present their opinions that were the results of diligence of the “Centre for Educational Research in Chess” at Armenian State Pedagogical University founded in January, 2015.
The President of ECU Mr. Zurab Azmaiparashvili also delivered a welcoming speech. “In the 21st century, information flow is too high and it causes a lot of problems. So, that’s why people are not able to find solutions to those problems. Some of you may ask how chess is related to international and local political as well as to life problems. I would say that chess players are very talented people with an important ability to assess their next steps. Chess is not only a game but also science: science about life. I am very happy that in one of the most ancient countries of the world the idea to teach chess as a school subject was realized and now Armenia is a wonderful example for other countries. They say that chess is a combination of science, sports and art. I do believe that Armenia is the birthplace of new civilization and I do believe that Armenia will start a new round of world chess education”, said Mr. Azmaiparashvili.
FIDE CiS Commission Chairman Mr. Kevin O’Connell summed up in his speech the results of a number of researches conducted in various countries –Italy, the United Kingdom and Poland, mentioning that some of them were successful and some, unfortunately, failed.
One of the main goals of the Conference was to expound the outcomes of the Research Centre’s explorations. The Chancellor of Armenian State Pedagogical University, Professor Ruben Mirzakhanyan highlighted the role of the cooperation between ASPU and other partners making special reference to the most important achievements that are the result of joint efforts. He also referred to the efforts of the University Chair of Chess and Sports and Centre for Chess Educational Research aimed at popularizing chess, particularly, through the researches regarding the educational processes of the smartest game.
During the two-day Conference, psychologists, sociologists, methodologists and chess trainers offered their reports that were introduced in accordance with the main topic sections (rubrics) of the Conference listed below:
• Chess Education and Personality Development
• Socio-psychological issues of Chess Education
• Chess Teachers’ Training and Professional Development
• Technological and Methodological Aspects of Chess Education
• Chess and Inclusive Education Practices
It’s important to state that the presentation of the AVC (Armenian Virtual College) project launched under the auspices of AGBU (Armenian General Benevolent Union) made a deep impression on our foreign guests as this project provides the opportunity to cooperate at a distance making chess more popular and accessible to all.
The presentations were followed by Q&A sessions accompanied by heated discussions aimed at fruitful cooperation and offering a good platform for further mutual endeavors and great new beginnings.
On the second day of the Conference, after the report session, all the participants took part in a round table discussion and shared their views on the major issues and current obstacles that should be overcome conjointly and in unison. The discussions infer that all the specialists have the same vision on the development of “Chess in Schools” program.
The second day was full of animated discussions and exchange of ideas that were followed by a sightseeing tour to Kecharis Monastery in the heart of Tsaghkadzor. Finally, the last day of the Conference ended with a gala dinner inspired with hope that soon Armenia could again gather specialists from all over the world to discuss “Chess in Schools” program and to do our best for promoting the international cooperation in this field.
Watch video from the conference here
Official website iccs2016.chessacademy.am