Preparing for a New School Year
16 August 2011, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek – “A year ago, after the civil strife in the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad in June 2010, UNICEF supported the educational authorities in their seemingly impossible task to bring all children to school in a climate of general stress and fear,” said UNICEF Representative Jonathan Veitch at a press conference at the Ministry of Education and Science. “Today, the situation is different, but the issues of school attendance and safe school environments are still of concern.”
The Welcome to School Initiative of the Ministry of Education and Science which was supported by UNICEF in collaboration with donor community, NGO partners and civil society for 2010-2011, achieved most of its goals. Temporary learning sites and tents set up by UNICEF a year ago for children from the ruined school have been replaced by a newly built school. There is no need for buses to take children to school to ensure their safety. Parents allow their children to go out and attend school.
However, there is much to be done to ensure equitable access to schools and quality education which can contribute to peace, tolerance and social cohesion. That is why the Ministry of Education and Science approached UNICEF on behalf of children, teachers and parents with a request to extend the Initiative for the upcoming school year.
The new plans include support for the most vulnerable children to overcome barriers to education by providing them with basic school supplies; by publishing textbooks for schools in Osh, Batken and Jalalabad provinces; and purchasing computers for the affected schools in Osh and Jalalabad.
Teachers are being trained in development and application of the methodology needed to deliver education in a multicultural and multilingual environment
Children will be given a chance to contribute to peace in their communities through various events (drawing, poster and literature contests). Entries will be demonstrated on the International Day of Peace on 21 September.
To further ensure a responsive learning environment in schools, UNICEF will follow up its last year successful experience of providing small school grants in Osh province with the support of Department for International Development, and will introduce similar activities in Jalalabad province.
All 471 schools in Jalalabad province, including boarding schools, will be supported to with small grants for strengthening safe and enabling learning environments for children. Twenty four school-based half-day camps will be organised for almost a thousand children in Osh Province. Local communities will be mobilised to organise various arts, sports and learning activities for these children. Each school hosting a camp will receive a grant to procure necessary equipment.
During the press conference, which included the awards ceremony for a media contest on support for the Welcome to School Initiative in 2010-2011, media representatives committed themselves to continue to support activities and raise awareness of the achievements of schools and communities throughout the country. Kubat Chekirov, chief editor of “Kut Bilim” newspaper, one of the prize-winners, said: “It is a great honour. The computer that I won as a prize will help me work even better and support educational initiatives until every child attends school and receives quality education”.
The education of every child is becoming everybody’s business.