March 22, 2010

Intel  Supports Armenia's Development

The  RA Prime Minister's Meetings in Silicon Valley Giving Concrete Results


By Gourgen James Khazhakian


On March 15 a remarkable event was held in Yerevan, a work-shop aimed at finding proper places and especially the ways where the world PC processors Number One producer, the Intel Corporation, and the Armenian Government as well as IT industry and related organizations and individuals could collaborate best. The event was organized jointly by the RA Ministries of Economy and Education and Science, Enterprises Incubator Foundation (EIF), the Unicomp CJSC, from one side, and Intel, from the other.


Robert Fogel - Armen Baldryan

Robert Fogel (left) speaking to the audience.

Armen Baldryan far right


The guest speaker was Robert Fogel, the Principal Architect of the Intel World Ahead Program, as well as of the Corporation s some other (educational) programs.
It's proper to remind our readers that within the framework of the ArmTech-3 ICT and High-tech Congress was held in November 2009 in San Jose (Ca, USA), the RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan had extensive meetings with top managers of the world IT giants such as Intel, Cisco, and some others. This work­shop was one of outcomes of the agreements reached dur­ing the above mentioned meetings.
As it was mentioned before, the workshop was moderat­ed by Mr Fogel, who coordinates collaboration between Intel and, in the EIF Director Bagrat Yengibaryan's words, "the entire world" in the field of education. In accordance with his Intel responsi­bilities, the Corporation's Principal Education Architect, is a (very) frequent traveler; this time Robert Fogel left the U.S. in February and will be back only by the end of March.

Bagrat Yengibaryan
Now it's Bagrat Yengibaryan's turn to answer questions by media representatives


And the main goal of such extensive voyages, according to him, is "to help the countries all over the world to improve their education system by putting into it e-learning programs."
Normally Mr Fogel has two main types of contacts:

1. with Governments;
2. with people who are actu­ally responsible for implementing educational programs, and indeed school students.

(Running ahead, it should be said that the workshop's next day Robert Fogel, accompanied by B. Yengibaryan and the Unicomp Founding CEO Armen Baldryan visited Mkhitar Sebastatsi and Anania Shirakatsi Educational Complexes, where he was sur­prised with the high organizational level of the educational process as well as students' skills on media-literacy. "I'm very impressed with what I've seen here," Mr Fogel said in an interview with the Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex' on-line radio, and added that it was right here he thought that "the mind is the most power­ful thing in the world".
In turn, Armen Baldryan remarked half-jokingly to the radio correspondent: "I'm feeling here that I have probably chosen my profession wrong; so, to enjoy the wonders of school education, I have no choice but to collabo­rate with you".
Mr Fogel went to say in his workshop opening speech: "Intel has been involved with education for at least almost three decades..." They think it's vitally important to put (the newest) tech­nology into education cause, in Mr Fogel's words, "technology is the backbone of our society".
And the Intel World Ahead Program has been designed for "connecting ever new people to computers and communication technology," as its Principal Architect said. "Today only 1.2bln of the world total 6.8bln popula­tion are connected to computer information technologies. And our target is another 5.6 billion," he continued.
The World Ahead Program is focused on three areas, primarily: education, healthcare and business development, which are, in Robert Fogel's words, "the three legs of sustainable social-economic development of the world soci­ety."
Healthcare programs (which are implemented mainly in rural regions, including those of African, Asian etc. states) cover h/c educa­tion, creating of mobile units as well as ICT-connection between local clinics.
As to business, here the Program's main target are small and medium enterprises as, in Mr Fogel's words, they are the driving force of the global economy.
Coming back to education, according to Mr Fogel, today the school teacher is no more a person who's teaching a single subject: math, physics, biology, etc; he /she is rather "a mentor," who is to teach the feeling of per­sonal responsibility, and, indeed, the six (principal) skills of the 21st century: creativity and entrepreneur-ship; technology and media literacy; effective communi­cation; problem solving; critical thinking; collabora­tion.
And for that reason Intel has created Partnership for 21st Century Skills program (
Replying a remark from the audience whether the e-learning would replace completely the tradi­tional teaching, i.e. "board-n-chalk" one, Robert Fogel said: "Well, I believe that in just a decade it will change crucially," at the same time adding that it doesn't mean students will no more need a teacher (as some of them, especially of senior age, are afraid of), rather vice versa: the teacher's role, as follows from the above men­tioned, will increase. "Is there a "threat" that the overall "computerization" will totally push out normal, live, face-to-face human intercourse?" -asked yours truly, meaning the so-called "robotization." Mr Fogel's answer was the following: "I don't believe it's going to happen, 'cause see­ing what happened with com­puter technologies in art, business, many other areas - it has not replaced people, face-to-face interaction, and I don't believe the day will come when we'll see such a replacement; 'cause the main objective of ICT is to make our life and job more efficient, and to help us be better collaborators. Technology is a tool, and as any tool, it can be used for both good or bad things; it depends only on us". Responding to a question raised by a school principal whether creation of (in his own opinion) such a rather "grid" than educational envi­ronment would not lead to a stu­dent's isolation, Intel's Principal Architect said that their aim is not to isolate but, in contrary, to inter­connect school children, and in the best possible way.
And here, no doubt, the Internet is to play a crucial role. (One should remind that it was the Intel Corp. which created Wi-Max).

Intel  Supports Armenia's Development

The active participants of the workshop


In Robert Fogel's words, in 1980's and even early 1990's not so many business people were too optimistic on Internet and PC; the latter was considered by some of them as a "toy"... "Look, how the ICT has changed actually every­thing in the world's life in just a couple of decades ", argued Mr Fogel.
The experienced ICT manager stressed that a country, which is setting high tax benchmark for its ICT companies, is a "suicidal one". He also added that although the framework (of a Program) is uni­versal, meanwhile, any project for a country should be localized, fig­ured out: what works and what doesn't work for that specific coun­try.
"So, for instance, in educa­tion, one of things we need to do is to localize (it) for language, culture and the curriculum stan­dards," Mr Fogel said. "The very reason of my (very first but we hope not the last - G. Kh.) visit to Armenia is to learn about the country by this workshop, meet­ings with managers, educators and the Government indeed: tomorrow I am meeting Minister of Education and Science Mr Armen Ashotyan. (In Robert Fogel's next day meetings at the Ministry Armen Baldryan as well as Intel South Caucasus and Central Asia Regional Manager Dmitry Kissel, who especially arrived in Yerevan, participated - G.Kh.). These all contacts are to discover what is specific for your country. We don't want to pro­pose something, which will not work."
So, the main objective of the Intel Principal Educational Programs Architect's visit to Armenia was, in his own words, "to get of the next level of details to prepare in the best way the Memorandum of Understanding between the Intel Corp. and the Government of Armenia" (expect­ed to he signed soon).
Replying a question by a jour­nalist, Robert Fogel stressed: "We are ready to work with all types of companies and institutions (in Armenia) eager to collaborate with us in a proper way; Intel is ready to help all of them as it can. As to Unicomp, our long time partner, I believe that we've been doing very good things with it, and we are looking for to contin­uing those good things with Unicomp."
(To note, the Unicomp CJSC is the only firm in the region holding the "Intel Premier Channel Partner" title, which is a top accolade for an Intel integrator company and Unicomp Founding CEO Armen Baldryan is the only member of the Intel EMEA Council from a CIS country).
Armen Baldryan, who is also member of the IT Development Support Council (ITDSC) under the RA Prime Minister, said: "For all of us, the IT community, Number One priority is to promote maximally the development of Armenia, and education is a key-tool for that develop­ment. And for this I will use all my contacts throughout the world."
Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex

At the Mkhitar Sebastatsi Educational Complex.

The  guests watching an on-line video conference with (overseas) Ganyan College are, from right to left:

Bagrat Yengibaryan, Armen Baldryan, Robert Fogel and Zara Haroutiunian of the  EIF(interpreting).

The Complex Principal Ashot Bleyan far left


As Unicomp has been an active participant of the Computer for All Program (aimed at providing Armenian's population with affordable PCs), a question on that project was asked by a workshop participant. Armen Baldryan said: "Definitely the pilot stage of the Program shows an absolute suc­cess (it started in the fall of 2009), the evidence of which is readiness of the world ICT giants such as Intel, Cisco, others, to get involved in its further realiza­tion ".

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