Country programme 2005 - 2009
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.
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.
• 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.
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.
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.
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.