Kotayk is a small village in the Kotayk province, 15 km north of the Armenian capital of Yerevan. Around 254,000 people live in the province.
Kotayk is a low-income province, where more than a third of the people live in poverty.
In addition, more than 45% of the population lives in rural communities where access to education, healthcare and other provisions are difficult to access.
Since 1990, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Kotayk.
Many children are malnourished in Kotayk. The region is among the Armenian regions experiencing the greatest amount of malnourished and stunted children because families can’t afford nutritious food.
This is mainly because families living here experience high unemployment, underemployment and are underpaid. As a result, more than 21% of children live in poverty.
A poor diet risks damaging a child’s physical and mental health, including affecting their ability to concentrate in school. It also increases the risk of illness, and chidren may miss school because they are unwell.
In rural areas, education facilities are severely lacking. Where they exist, facilities often lack adequate resources, such as furniture and heating, as well as hygiene and sanitation facilities.
Early year education is particularly important for young children living in poverty, yet more than half of pre-schoolers in the province are not enrolled in kindergartens.
Early childhood education can be particularly beneficial for disadvantaged children, setting them up for success in the further stages of education.