There appears to be evidence that chess benefits schoolchildren, though it has so far been on a somewhat elective basis. Even in the good old days of the bad old USSR, the ultimate chess factory, chess wasn't mandated but offered through clubs like the Young Pioneers. If it worked well on a voluntary basis, though, why not just make it part of the curriculum? That's what they're going to do in Armenia, and it will be interesting both as an educational experiment and to see how much more powerful that already chess-crazy country will become.
HT: Bob Banta.