|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
Part III: Prospects
From the outset of the nation-wide Education For All (EFA) system construction the key strategy line has been the elaboration of the state institutions' role in the EFA functioning, development and management. EFA remains the key priority in the national education system for the short and long term. The EFA-related national policy is formed on the basis of public claims and demands by the state administrative bodies. The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of the Kyrgyz Republic is the lead agency in the EFA development and implementation. The following tasks in the EFA area have been designed for the next decade:
The country's leadership developed a range of strategic programs to fulfill these tasks, which are described in the first part of the strategy.
"The Education For All Strategic Program" is the special EFA program developed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
The strategy guidelines for basic education will be implemented through a series of long-term program actions.
The implementation of the outlined long-term strategies has been started by developing Education 2000 program that determines EFA parameters for the first decade of the 21st century:
The following mid-term actions are taken to implement the program:
(a) Legal framework improvement
Controversies and complications of the transition demand a new legal framework to provide functioning of the educational system as a whole and EFA in particular. Currently a provision is being prepared to regulate EFA organization and functioning in the new law field.
The main mechanism to ensure that the educational system functions effectively during the transition is a realistic state educational policy and legal base underpinning this policy. One merit of the education system was that the Law On Education was among the first laws adopted during Kyrgyzstan's independent development. It reflected the main principles of education policy. Democratizing of the educational system, and orienting it to individuals to create a higher quality of education in order to improve quality of living constitute the pivotal part of this policy. This postulate reflects the world school development trends. In Kyrgyzstans national education policy makers never forgot that the development process has common features despite the social, political, economic and ethnic conditions unique in different regions and countries.
The Law made it possible to rapidly democratize the education system and revise it to meet personal requirements without neglecting social and public interests. However, though it was progressive during the first years of the republic today the current Law On Education is becoming obsolete. Though many amendments were introduced in 1997, this Law is far from meeting the current life realities. That is why a renovated law must be drafted and adopted.
The key aspects of this renovation will be designed to provide access to and guarantee everyone's demands for basic education and support institutions providing Education For All.
(B) Process of structural readjustment of the school education system
The general secondary education structure only slightly resembles that which most developed countries use. Educational programs also have great differences. So the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture is elaborating the idea of the transition to the twelve-year education. Now the experimental tests are being conducted in two directions.
The first one. The optimal 12-year training scheme is being tested. These experiments allocate leading role to the basic school development prospects, mainly in terms of its organizational structuring. Currently there are several alternative options of the structure: 3+7+2; 6+2+4; 6+2+2; 5+5+2. The option most suitable for Kyrgyzstan will be chosen within two or three years.
At this juncture of the research the six-year primary school (first level basic education) enjoys the support of many scholars and practitioners as it is regarded as the most sound foundation for basic education within the integral education system because:
The second one. The problem under study is how to combine this basic structure (it will remain compulsory and free to all citizens of Kyrgyz Republic), with the years of compulsory secondary school, in providing the youth with the choice between academic and engineering further education in the way it is done in the most countries. The academic stream will present a wide range of humanities courses and the engineering one will cover a wide range of professionally oriented groups of subjects including business and services area with an emphasis on improving communicative skills and mathematical and computer training.
As a result of the structural readjustment in the republic the school education structure and contents used in most of the world will be introduced in school education.
Meanwhile, the education programs will further diversify their education contents. During the period under study, the ongoing intensive generation and evolution of diverse types of schools and the emergence of non-traditional schools show that our education system is ready and able to offer various education programs proceeding from the demands of students and parents as well as the public and community orders. The transition to the 12-year education scheme will allow both mass schools and the new-type schools to provide a wider range of educational services demanded by the state, community, students and parents.
Converting to the new school education system is a big and complicated challenge, which will require efforts from the state, the family, and the school to solve. Preliminary social polls aimed at identifying the true demand for basic education services according to the new structure have revealed positive attitudes from both students and parents and the school teachers. Some remain concerned though that fair access, continuous involvement and high education quality will not be provided. The quality assurance system will be improved to address these concerns.
(c) Improvement of the education quality assurance.
"The National Education Standard" certificate is under introduction to assure the general education programs quality and assimilation at the level of the state educational standards. This will serve as the basis for monitoring educational programs and monitoring and assessing students' academic achievements disregarding the school location. "The National Education Standard" is analogous to the TOEFL (for English knowledge) or Russia's education standard. Along with the questions on the general education subjects for the general secondary school, special tests will include questions testing intellect and general development. Each cycle (general education and intellectual) will be evaluated according to the 120-point system for a total 240 points. This would make it possible to provide more authentic measurement of all parameters of the future student's development and education quality disregarding its place of training and teachers' professional background as well as to identify the students' knowledge gaps in subject and regional breakdown. The certificate will not be an obligatory document while testing.
The university graduation certificate will be the second-type certificate to assure education quality. The higher education certification will begin with the "Teacher's National Standard" (TNS) that is to be introduced on a voluntary basis once the renovated Law On Education has been adopted.
This certificate will testify that the high school graduate has assimilated the state educational standard on the due level and has rather higher intellectual development level. Young specialists who have gained positive results at testing for "Teacher's National Standard" and acquired the appropriate certificate will be entitled for Presidential Stipends within the "Cadres of the 21st Century" program and the oblast, raion and school level stipends. Other graduates of higher secondary vocational educational institutions will work in general educational institutions as probation teachers eligible for TNS test next year. Thus, every graduate is eligible for acquiring the Teacher's legal status.
The TNS testing will also extend to those specialists who wanted to return to school working after a long break.
Another action to strengthen quality assurance is the introduction of the school activity rating. Currently school rating parameters are being developed where the rating of EFA achievement is the principal one. The rating results will be published in the open press to give all stakeholders in the education process - students, parents, teachers, school directors, public and community figures - a chance to see the place occupied by the school. School certification and rating issues require a range of actions to improve educational institution licensing, accrediting and certification procedures.
Whereas licensing and certification has been functioning in the republic since 1992, accreditation will only be introduced in 2000. Its introduction in Kyrgyzstan's school education system is caused by the fact that some secondary school that acquired the innovative status as gymnasium, lyceum and so on during the innovative transformations in 1991-1994, now no longer meet this standard. So the already existing licensing and certification system will be added by accrediting in order to protect people against indecent education workers and to assure quality. The accrediting system will also be introduced due to the transition to the 12-year school education system and the introduction of a school rating system.
(D) Improving school provision with textbooks and manuals
The basic education quality should be assured not only by a control system but also with quality textbooks and manuals. The 10-year "Teaching Book" national program has been designed to develop and provide a sufficient number of the new-generation textbooks.
Operation of the head center responsible for preparing school textbooks- the Kyrgyz Institute of Education (KIE) will be revamped to make it more effective. KIE will operate a two-year (1999-2000) program fund by the ADB to train its staff to develop textbooks and teaching materials to be used in schools. This program also stipulates work to create textbooks and other didactic materials for adults in order to improve their basic knowledge and skills.
This program will be funded from the following sources: 10 million soms allocated for textbooks publishing as part of "Araket" national poverty alleviation program; US $5.6 million will come through the Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan; about 2.5 soms will be allocated from the republican Textbooks Pool derived from the sales of the textbooks previously published by "Kyrgyzstan" publishing house. In addition, the soon-to-open Publishing Center of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture will contribute to the textbooks issue resolution.
(E) Improving teachers training, re-training and skill improvement system
In order to improve staff development work in education area it is planned to renew the teaching staff training and skill improvement system via new training technology. This first of all includes distance training. The National Institute for Teachers Training and Skill Improvement and two distance training centers will soon be opened: in Bishkek on the National University campus and in Osh on State University campus. Regional distance training centers will be connected to these centers. However, for these centers to function successfully, they will need appropriate resources and staff capable of undertaking this work. The Asian Development Bank greatly assists in this regard.
The main resources will be utilized to readjust approaches to staff training for education sector, first of all teachers and school directors so that to re-orient them for the updating of education contents and teaching techniques as well as to organize comprehensive re-training of teaching practitioners.
(E) Adult Education System Development
In order to maintain adults' high literacy and prevent functional illiteracy of the adult population adults education centers will be established by both the state and NGOs. Educational programs enabling the adult population to abridge themselves to the new socio-economic conditions will in the short term constitute the contents of the adult education system. Programs to learn foreign languages, computer equipment, economics fundamentals, marketing, bookkeeping and accounting, psychology and conflict science are the long-term programs aimed at eradicating functional illiteracy. Given environmental issues aggravating in the republic, a range of adults training programs will be aimed at environmental protection, survival fundamentals and emergency behavior.
(g) Financial protection of basic education sector
In order to strengthen basic education financial basis the government of the Kyrgyz Republic plans to introduce target funding for this level of education within the general budget education allocations share since 2000.
Loans and grants claimed by the republic from international organizations will also be directed mainly to the basic education sector. The greatest loan worth $30 million from the ADB is now used for this purpose.
Actions will be taken to strengthen control over the funds allocated for education both from the budget and non-public funds sources through establishing community committees.
(G) logistical support
To improve logistical support to basic education, 132 (teaching) school construction projects are planned. Of them, 56 are accomplishments of the projects started in the previous years and 76 are new construction projects. The construction will be funded from the republican budget and the budgets of the Ministry of Emergencies and Civil defense of Kyrgyz Republic. In addition, local budget and community funds will be attracted.
Schools will receive new furniture, laboratory equipment, computer equipment, video and audio equipment through the ADB loan.
(E) Management capacity development; information technology introduction in management system.
Basic education is now regarded as one of the basic aspects of all social and economic programs.
That is why efforts and resources will be utilized to strengthen basic elements with much stress on managerial and analytical staff.
In order to improve specialists in basic education management it is planned to undertake wide-scale staff training actions. Since 1998, specialists in this area have been trained in the Arabaev State University and the first professional managers will graduate in 2003. In addition, the series of training seminars and courses for specialists will continue and involve foreign investments and specialists.
Computer technology is part and parcel in improving education quality. Information flow used to support EFA-related decision making for Kyrgyzstan is extremely important. The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture plans to implement a management data system including data on the EFA finance, material and human resources by establishing a data base of the training results on basic school and secondary school as a whole including the academic training results of school and university graduates and certificates of their labor market successes. Therefore it is planned use the Internet, e-mail and other modern facilities.
The data base established for the education area will cover the central and regional levels as well as each particular educational institution.
The second ADB tranche worth $% million will this year be utilized to meet computer equipment demands of educational institutions.
(F) basic education expansion through NGO capacity building
Soon actions will be undertaken to consolidate operations of governmental and non-governmental organizations in the EFA area. The emerging NGO capacity will play a special role. Efforts of these organizations will be aimed to develop additional education for schoolchildren and establish various centers offering educational services to the adults.
(G) use of international cooperation channels
The experience of using international donorship was very successful and will be developed in all possible ways. The main areas for international assistance will be:
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