In the Kyrgyz Republic: Bringing Computers, Chairs, and Change to Rural Schools
Rural Education Project
August 12, 2013
In a school in the town of Cholpon-Ata, students are learning basic biology, history, and Kyrgyz epic poetry. This school, named after the Kyrgyz poet Alykul Osmonov, has a new roof, better teachers, and school supplies like computers and DVD players. One sign of the school’s popularity is that, in the last five years, it has doubled its enrollment to 1,019 students.
Tatiana Masenzova is a vibrant 10th grade student who is planning to study abroad next year. “The physical improvements in the school have helped us learn more, and with the help of computers, I can use the Internet. I’ve broadened my knowledge of the world,” she says.
The school’s Russian language teacher agrees, saying the physical environment at the school has had an impact on her students. “Not only in teaching but in general, learning has improved very significantly,” explains Gulnara Abdikadirova. “We used to work without equipment, software, and now we can teach in an integrated way, connecting our subject with other subjects.”
The physical improvements in the school have helped us learn more, and with the help of computers, I can use the Internet. I’ve broadened my knowledge of the world.
One Million Textbooks
With support from the World Bank Rural Education Project, schools across the Kyrgyz Republic received more than one million textbooks, learning materials, and small grants for books, maps, and computers. The goal is to strengthen performance. Kyrgyz educators say they are concerned about the way their students’ test scores stack up against other countries; in some assessments, Kyrgyz students score last.
Dogdurgul Kendirbaeva is the Kyrgyz Republic’s Deputy Minister of Education. She says the math is simple: the more that is invested in learning, the greater the yield. “Another important part is the mindset we’re changing with the teachers’ work and with IT,” she says. “We’re changing the way we teach and students learn.”
Another important part is the mindset we’re changing with the teachers’ work and with IT. We’re changing the way we teach and students learn.
A Focus on Test Scores
Another push in education is decentralization. More decision-making and more money flow to the schools themselves, so educators can best sort out local needs. At the Alykul Osmonov school, educators say they can see the change on the ground.
“Because of this project, our students are in a nice school with a good learning environment, and that’s raised the students’ motivation to learn better,” says Lyudmila Vorocheva, the school’s principal.
The school is certainly buzzing. After-class options range from tae kwon do to jewelry and crafts. Several students are entering competitions on subjects ranging from athletics to physics. “After academics are done, we stay at the school, and we stay here because there are so many things to do,” says Aman Erkimbaev, a 10th grader who is also the head of student government.
After academics are done, we stay at the school, and we stay here because there are so many things to do.
The World Bank helped to renovate 49 schools and provided furniture and supplies to hundreds more. Without those basic tools – heat, light, a place to sit, a way to connect with the wider world – teachers say they cannot improve the quality of education in their schools. With them, they can begin the more meaningful work of sharing knowledge.