Learning chess in Armenian schools

A friendly moment during chess class at public school 81 in Yerevan
A friendly moment during chess class at public school 81 in Yerevan

Armenia is one of the smallest countries in the former Soviet Union, but it’s a chess powerhouse. The country of about 3 million has more than 30 living grandmasters in the game, and its national team consistently wins international competitions.

In keeping with this tradition, the government initiated mandatory chess class for all public school students in grades two through four. It was a pretty impressive sight to see seven-year-olds confidently move chess pieces down the board. Still, some critics contend the program is a misguided panacea for an ailing education system.

Here’s my radio story, plus a photo gallery, for PRI’s The World.

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