Ashot Avanesyan, principal of Moonk

Moonk School of Technology Advances Education and Society in a Remote Artsakh Village: Video Report

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Moonk School of Technology Advances Education and Society in a Remote Artsakh Village

By Haykaram Nahapetyan

Mirror-Spectator Video Correspondent

HAGHORTI, Artsakh — The highway from Artsakh’s capital of Stepanakert to Martuni turns into an unpaved dirt road which, after ups and downs and several curves, takes you to a rural settlement where pigs and chickens run beside your car. A white, modern-looking, neat house appears somewhat unexpectedly. Moonk, the school teaching technology in the Haghorti village of Artsakh, is Ashot Avanesyan’s creation. The name stands for “we” in the Artsakh dialect.

“We needed 67 million drams ($140,000) to launch the school. We started crowdfunding on the reArmenia.com platform and collected nearly 70 million [drams]. From literally $1 donations coming from individuals to Aurora Foundation’s $50,000 substantial contribution, people and organization pitched in from many different places,” noted Ashot, the principal of Moonk.

Students working at Moonk

In June, Moonk opened its doors with 3D printers, robots, computers, contemporary design, and colorful furniture. Situated next to the barns and coops of the village, the contemporary-looking hi-tech house aims to change the landscape and identity of the rural area.

The sign for the work area at Moonk named in honor of the Aurora Foundation

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“We named our main working space after Aurora. We name a working area after the donor of every donation above 2.5 million drams (~ $6,000 US). Another room is called Artsakh due to a substantial financial contribution from the Artsakh government,” added Ashot.

He showed me a plastic model printed by a 3D printer. “This is going to fly after we finish it. It’s a model of a colibri bird [hummingbird],” he noted.

A chess board produced by 3D printer at Moonk with pieces representing different cities of the world

The 3D printer produced a chess board with pieces that look like musical instruments; other pieces recall different cities of the world. The bishop has the appearance of the Eiffel Tower; the king is the Empire State Building of New York. The sky is the limit – the Haghorti professionals keep their sights as high as possible.

Khela Khokha, or smart kid in Artsakh’s dialect of Armenian, is another project of Artsakh’s tech innovators. The robotic intellectual child, controlled by cellphone application, is something they are working on now. “It is going to be a user-friendly and easy-going robot that a parent with a cellphone should be able to utilize. We see Khela Khokha as the technological mate of the kid(s) at home,” explained Ashot.

Ashot himself is not from Haghorti but from the neighboring village of Mushkapat. It was easier to launch such a techno-school here because, thanks to the efforts of the village headman, many teenagers of Haghorti had already attended computer classes in Stepanakert and elsewhere.

“We pursue the following stages in our educational practice: first we discover the teenagers who want to learn programming and robot-engineering and teach them either at home or bring them here. After, we help our graduates launch a startup business,” said Ashot.

There is also another Moonk school in the capital Stepanakert. “This is going to be a chain. Indeed, we need financial resources, but more than this, we need specialists, and teachers,” Ashot concluded.

The locals of Haghorti have already set up a programming company called Start Systems. Shushan, the manager, was working in the main area. “We have three employees here, one in Mushkapat and one in Yerevan. This is an online shopping website we are building now,” she said, pointing to the screen’s modern-looking interface.

Moonk is trying to reach out to IT companies in the Republic of Armenia or the diaspora seeking cooperation. “If they need to outsource their work, we are ready to take it. Also, if they need professionals, we can educate for them here, at Moonk, on the condition that afterwards, our graduates will be hired by them,” Ashot said.

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