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Wednesday, 26 February 2003

PROBLEMS OF SECONDARY SCHOOL EDUCATION IN KYRGYZSTAN

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By Gulzina Karim kyzy (2/26/2003 issue of the CACI Analyst)

In Kyrgyzstan, there are at present 20510 secondary schools, in which nearly 1,2 million students are being educated. There are 416 kindergartens, 121 out-of-school education centers and 59 boarding schools. The number of teachers working in these educational institutions is about 74,000.
In Kyrgyzstan, there are at present 20510 secondary schools, in which nearly 1,2 million students are being educated. There are 416 kindergartens, 121 out-of-school education centers and 59 boarding schools. The number of teachers working in these educational institutions is about 74,000. This year, over 92 million som was spent to repair the schools, of which over 76 million was provided by parents and sponsors, while 16 million came from the budget of the local administrations. But over 100 schools in the country today remain in a wrecking condition because of the lack of resources, a source of most of the problems that secondary schools today are facing. One of the sharpest problems of the secondary education in Kyrgyzstan is a lack of qualified teachers and specialists. According to information provided by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Kyrgyz Republic, there is a shortage of 2,863 teachers in the schools. This problem is especially acute in rural areas. Schools in remote villages desperately lack teachers of English and Russian. There are cases when people without proper qualification have been teaching some subjects. As a result, the quality of secondary education is suffering greatly. Part of the reason is that because of low salaries, many teachers and graduates of higher educational institutions with pedagogical degrees do not work based on their specialization but are engaged in private business or work in bazaars (markets). Some, especially teachers of English and Russian, have left for Kazakhstan and Russia, where the situation is believed to be comparatively better. In an effort to address this problem, the Ministry of Education and Culture adopted a decision, which obliges the graduates of state universities studying free of charge, and specialized in pedagogy, to work in schools for three years after graduation. Another problem in the sphere of secondary education in Kyrgyzstan is the lack of and high price of textbooks. In the republic\'s budget, the free supply of textbooks or their supply at a reduced price is not considered. As reported by Kabar news agency, prior to 1994 all the school materials both for students and teachers of Russian-language schools were received from the Russian publishing house \"Prosveschenie\", but as the state ceased to provide books due to the lack of financial resources, the Russian supply also stopped. As a result, the school library funds of most of the schools became old. But the situation in Kyrgyz schools is even worse, especially for those located in rural areas. Most people do not have access to books and even if they do, not all of them can afford to buy them. Although the Kyrgyz government recognizes the seriousness of the issue, the lack of resources does not allow it to address the problem effectively, which forces it to turn to foreign assistance. In 2001, the government of the Russian Federation gave to the Russian-language schools in Kyrgyzstan 102,000 copies of textbooks. According to Minister of Education and Culture Ishengul Boljurova, the Asian Development Bank gave US$2 million for publishing and purchase of books. On February 17, 2003 the Legislative Assembly of the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic adopted a law on education, which was worked out by the deputies with the assistance of the Ministry of Education and Culture. If signed by the President and coming into effect, the law is believed to address some problems in the secondary education system. For example, the law includes articles, which are directed towards improving the social protection of teachers. However, according to the deputy and Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Culture Jankoroz Kanimetov, the financial parts of the bill cannot be implemented until 2004, which implies that the problems of the secondary schools are unlikely to be solved in the near future. Meanwhile, at the republican pedagogical council of teachers, President of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akaev said that there are 2,500 school-age children, who dropped out from school. However, reports suggest that the actual number far exceeds this figure and constitutes around 5,000 children. Children drop out from school for the most part because they have to help their families with earning. Thus, the current socio-economic situation is not only affecting the quality of secondary education but is also depriving some individuals of an opportunity to build a more certain and educated future.
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