Armenia faces a number of significant challenges to its momentum towards further democratization. The growing marginalization of various social groups has led to a weakening of social cohesion. Despite official claims of economic growth, poverty has grown. The country is experiencing increases in migration rates as its people seek economic opportunities elsewhere. The country continues to suffer from relatively ineffective government practices in part because recent institutional changes have yet to be reflected in generally practiced norms. Large-scale corruption remains in almost all sectors and many citizens doubt that either the ruling political elite or the oppositional “out” elite favour the creation of a more democratic polity. Popularly decided democratic succession through fully free and fair elections has yet to be practiced. There has also been little evidence of the respectful compromise or exchange between governing and oppositional parties through cooperative political dialogue, an essential practice of normal democratic governance. Thus, both the “decisional” and “operational” conditions for democracy remain incomplete and unfulfilled at best. Regardless of the stated ambitions of formal law, the social, political and cultural milieus of Armenia do not yet support the practices or skills of democratic citizenship.
Armenia’s economic and political difficulties in transitioning towards a more market-economy and democratic state should not prevent the stakeholders involved in EDC from taking concrete actions to address the challenges of implementing EDC. One of the most serious issues inhibiting the effectiveness of EDC remains its secluded practice. Because EDC has been treated as a separate subject aimed at transferring political knowledge, the civics curriculum is regarded simply as another stand-alone school subject. Absent a more interdisciplinary approach, it is unlikely that that EDS alone can support the furtherance of relevant civics knowledge. Furthermore, current emphasis on political education and social studies in the formal curriculum also restricts opportunities for development of adequate skills, such as persuasion, critical appraisal and negotiation that will be needed as Armenia transitions towards democratic governance and a modern-rational capitalism. Although these skills in critical thinking and cooperative interaction are sometimes taught and practiced in extracurricular projects, participation in these projects is optional and many schools lag behind. Other challenges reflect the persistence of normative and cultural legacies left from past regimes. These include:
Overall school governance remains authoritarian and often subdues practices of civic behaviour among members of its student body.
Lack of adequate knowledge on social activism and the prevailing authoritarian culture do not support student involvement in school governance. Practice of formation of student unions is quite rare, and even if there are student unions, few are fully functional.
Teacher associations are archaic, traditionally conservative and, as a rule, almost non-functional. This inhibits the process of reforming the authoritarian school practices into more democratic ones.