In the Kyrgyz Republic: Working to Open Preschool to All
Education for All Fast Track Initiative Catalytic Fund Grants
July 24, 2013
There are 70 kids in the preschool program in the village of Don-Aryk. But, school officials say, there are at least two hundred more whose families want to join the program. Demand is high, but space for more students is low. “I think there’s a need to expand preschool education,” says Jumagul Alibaeva, the school’s principal. “Here, we have kids from other villages and there is an increasing understanding of how important early childhood education is in socialization.”
With support from the World Bank, the Kyrgyz Republic is trying to both improve and expand pre-school education. The Bank’s fast-track project has provided training to over 3,000 preschool teachers, and bought furniture and materials for classrooms like this one.
There is a big difference between kids who go to preschool and kids who don’t. Those kids who go to preschool are often more open-minded, those who stay in their families are less well integrated.
A Huge Demand
“There is a big difference between kids who go to preschool and kids who don’t,” says Dinara Janjigitova, an education specialist in the Chui district. “Those kids who go to preschool are often more open-minded, those who stay in their families are less well integrated.”
The preschool system in the Kyrgyz Republic largely fell apart when the Soviet Union did, and Kyrgyz officials are acutely aware of the importance of early childhood education, according to Dogdurgul Kendirbaeva, the Deputy Minister of Education. “The Kyrgyz Republic ranked last in international assessments of learning, and our shortcomings were in terms of reading and counting. We know that early childhood education is crucial in addressing these shortcomings,” she says.
It is for my granddaughter’s benefit. I want her to learn to socialize and get experience.
Improving Test Scores Early
Both in the capital and in all the regions, school officials stress the importance of preschool education in achieving better learning results and in building a flexible, skilled work force.
And the families of preschoolers argue that school during the important early years makes a big difference. “There’s a big difference between kids growing up at home, only in their families, and in preschool. I want my kid to be in preschool and learn,” says Janyl Attokurova, the mother of a five-year-old girl. “It is for my granddaughter’s benefit,” agrees Gulbarchin Musilova. “I want her to learn to socialize and get experience.”
So far, the World Bank’s fast-track project targets the country as a whole; the goal is to expand, increasing not only the numbers of kids who go to preschool, but also the amount of time they spend in preschool.