Primary School Years
There are approximately 1.7 million children in the 5-14 age group, representing around one quarter of the population.
Children of this generation in Tajikistan will be less educated then their parents. Practically universal during the Soviet era, net primary school attendance (relative to enrolments) has fallen to around 80 per cent since then.
Girls who are dropping out account for the biggest share in this decline. Though official statistics do not show the fact, the drop-out rate among girls, especially in the higher grades, has been increasing. Public awareness of the advantages of girls education is still very low, especially in rural and remote areas. Religious and community leaders are not being adequately utilized in efforts to advocate for the completion of compulsory basic education among all girls and boys.
Instead of attending school, many children are carrying out chores at home. More than 5,000 children are working on the streets, in the markets, or at transit centres. Eighteen per cent of young people are involved in child labour of one sort or another to supplement the meagre incomes of their families or, lacking families, to support themselves.
Children with disabilities have generally been excluded from the regular education system. There are currently no provisions for inclusive education. Children with disabilities are often placed in poorly funded institutions, where the care, family support and education are inadequate.
Much of the educational infrastructure not directly damaged during the civil war is not being properly maintained. Many schools, especially those in rural areas, are without sanitary facilities. Schools that do have sanitary facilities usually have only simple pit latrines, which are unhygienic and spread disease. Many schools (and the surrounding communities) do not possess safe sources of water.
The production of electricity is too low to meet demand, and rationing has been introduced outside the main cities; thus, many schools do not have proper heating in winter. Some schools have coal heating systems, but the Government does not support such systems in the education budget. These schools must usually seek other sources of funding to pay for heat.
There is a serious shortage of teaching materials and learning aids, particularly in local languages. (Available books are predominantly in Russian.) Teacher salaries are low, and many qualified teachers have migrated to Russia seeking higher wages and better teaching conditions. Those teachers who remain have little training and complain of low job satisfaction.
Schools are unable to offer extracurricular recreation opportunities and programmes to provide safe spaces for girls and boys to play and study. Children are deprived of assistance with homework, education in proper nutrition, health and hygiene education, life-skills education and job skills training through after-school activities that would help them reach their full potential. The positive role of sports in promoting family and community participation, healthy lifestyles and gender equity among children is not generally appreciated by schools or by parents.