Basic Education and Gender Equality

Basic Education and Gender Equality - Country Programme 2010-2015

 

Country programme 2005 - 2009

UNICEF Tajikistan
© UNICEF Tajikistan

Issue

One fifth of the country's schools were totally destroyed during the civil war, and the education infrastructure is being refurbished only gradually. Many schools still lack adequate sanitary facilities and heating systems. Most are not well maintained.

Curricula have not been updated for over a decade, and child-friendly practices have not been integrated into teaching methods.

Some girls are staying at home to help with chores or because parents have chosen to prefer the education of boys. Due to economic hardship, vulnerable families are being deprived of the possibility of supplying their children with books or acceptable school clothing. Not receiving their full pay for several months at a time, teachers become unmotivated and do not always deliver quality education. In an environment of hand-to-mouth subsistence and lack of employment opportunities, some families and students view education as a luxury. Numerous families have lost the habit of sending their children regularly to school.

Singly and jointly, these factors are resulting in a decline in attendance. The share of drop-outs is appreciable already at the fourth year. Especially girls are dropping out.

Action

During the current UNICEF country programme (2005-2009), the quality basic education for all component is supporting efforts to reverse the declining demand for education among girls and stem the rise in the share of girls among drop-outs, especially after the fourth grade. The component seeks to improve school management and the classroom environment in selected schools through the active participation of children, parent groups and communities. The component favours participatory approaches to learning that are gender sensitive and child centred. This is leading to greater awareness and more political commitment locally and nationwide to systematic change in support of the education of girls.
Important UNICEF action to benefit education in Tajikistan includes the following.

  In 2005, with the support of UNICEF and the World Bank, the Republic of Tajikistan prepared a comprehensive strategic framework and plan in education for the first time. To gain transitional funds for the implementation of the plan, UNICEF undertook an intensive, thoroughgoing effort at coordination among in-country donors. As a result, a donor endorsement letter on the strategic framework and plan was produced and reviewed during a donor meeting in Beijing in December 2005. The Education for All Fast Track Initiative catalytic fund subsequently approved an annual allocation of $9.2 million for 2006 and 2007 as seed funding to fill financial gaps in education in Tajikistan. This is an important step towards a sector-wide approach in education.
  UNICEF is exercising significant leadership in fostering efficiency and complementarity in the financial contributions and development interventions of donor agencies and the Ministry of Education so as to ensure that reforms and other initiatives in basic and secondary education are consistent with the strategic framework and plan.
  A measurement of learning achievements project has been initiated to help teachers assess school effectiveness and learning outcomes among their students.
  At the Fourth Education Forum of the Central Asian Republics and Kazakhstan, which was held in Dushanbe in June 2005, area-wide progress was discussed in Education for All priorities such as girls education, life-skills education, the improvement of management information systems in education, adult education and early childhood development, a new component of the forum.
  As the chair of the girls education thematic group of the Forum of the Central Asian Republics and Kazakhstan, the UNICEF Tajikistan country office facilitated exchanges on experiences and lessons learned in the education of girls in the region.
  The global education component was created as part of the curriculum reform process. Approximately 2,000 students in grades 1 and 5 and 2,000 students in grades 2 and 6 are being taught through a child-centred approach. Approximately 80 teachers and school principles in 15 pilot schools have improved their knowledge and skills in global education by participating in training initiatives.

Numerous other initiatives have been carried out with UNICEF assistance in selected schools and at the community level to enhance education. These include the following:

  Community-based programmes are being assigned priority through joint initiatives.
  Community education committees have been formed in numerous schools. The committees are composed of parents, community representatives, teachers and children. Following training in data collection and analysis, the committees gather information, analyse data and draft community school improvement plans to address the most important issues in schools.
  Capacity-building among education system professionals is being carried out. Parent-teacher associations are being empowered to assist teachers.
  To repair infrastructure, UNICEF is financing projects to enhance the delivery of safe drinking water and create adequate sanitary facilities in key schools. Heating problems are also being resolved in many places.
  Workshops in photography and other subjects have been conducted among 4,800 students in eight schools.

The beauty of this strategy is its simplicity. UNICEF implements and encourages projects that are small, innovative, cost effective and designed to create child-friendly schools and communities. It is continually bringing the ideas behind the projects into the greater policy formulation process so that donors and government leaders can appreciate project models that can be replicated throughout the country.

Impact

Through a UNICEF support programme, over 63,000 children in 320 schools have been enabled to attend school despite harsh winter weather.

In general, girls continue to be excluded. Specific projects are being implemented that focus solely on getting girls back into school or keeping them there not merely up to the compulsory grade-nine level, but all the way through high school and on to university. This represents a challenge.

UNICEF is working with the Government to encourage girls who have left school to return. In 10 schools, 6,000 students and 100 girls who are out of school have been provided with skills-based learning.

UNICEF is also seeking to improve the overall self-esteem, motivation and success of girls who have remained in school. An integral part of the process is an effort to help girls gain a better understanding of their right to education, which, in turn, will create a demand for better education. Local and national advocacy campaigns will be launched to promote gender parity.

With financial assistance from UNICEF, the Ministry of Education established a working group with the task of creating an education costing model. The costing model was designed to calculate the cost of the education reform process in order to meet the education targets among the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The model showed that the Government needs to raise the share of education in GDP from around 3 per cent to 6 per cent by the end of the decade. The Government subsequently confirmed a plan to increase the share of education in GDP to at least 3.5 per cent now, a clear sign of its commitment to improve the education sector.

 

 
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