Outside eye

I have a friend who is a teacher. She teaches at one of the most prestigious universities in Yerevan. Students in fine clothes and fancy cars with cell phones and suntans from holidays on foreign beaches returned to the school yesterday to start another year.

She teaches a foreign language there. Her expertise, passed on, is a ticket for the ones who apply it to get the best jobs in this country of rare best jobs.

If they care about their financial future, they will not choose the profession the teacher has chosen.

She is a fulltime university professor and she makes about $70 a month. She spends about $10 of that each month riding a bus to the university. She lives in the suburbs. A person with her salary can’t afford an apartment in the center.

She has a son. Thursday was his first day of school.

Earlier in the week, like thousands of mothers in this city, she went shopping for school things for the boy.

She dressed him in a new suit. It cost $15

She bought him new shoes. They cost $10

She bought a new shirt, $5. And a new tie, $2.

She took him for a haircut. It cost $1.50.

She bought notebooks, a book bag, pencils, pens. The cost was about $11.

It cost the teacher nearly a month’s salary to properly send her boy off for his first school day.

The teacher started her new school year this week too, with eight groups of 20 students each. 160 students; about 85 cents per student per month. She will spend 64 hours a month with them. She will make $1.09 per hour, not including preparation time.

Other teachers in Armenia make even less.

If my friend were a math teacher, I’d ask her to explain to me how those numbers add up to anything that makes sense.