Armenia makes chess compulsory in schools
Tiny Armenia is a big player in world chess, and a new gambit could make it even bigger: mandatory chess in school.The former Soviet nation has made the game part of the primary school curriculum along with such standards as maths and history for children between the ages of seven and nine.
Chess is a national obsession in this country of 3 million people tucked away in a corner between Turkey and Iran. The passion was fostered in modern times by the exploits of chess champion Tigran Petrosian, who won the world championship in 1963 and successfully defended his title three years later.
In July a six-person national squad came first at the World Team Chess Championship in Ningbo, China. The returning players and their coach were greeted as heroes and collectively awarded $20,000 (£12,000). That group included up-and-coming player Levon Aronian, 28, who is currently third in the World Chess Federation’s rankings.
Armenian authorities say teaching chess in school is about building character, not breeding chess champions.
The education minister says taking the pastime into classrooms will help nurture a sense of responsibility and organisation among schoolchildren, as well as serving as an example to the rest of the world.
"We hope that the Armenian teaching model might become among the best in the world," said Armen Ashotyan. (via The Guardian)
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