The Issue

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© UNICEF Azerbaijan/2011/Pirozzi
Young people in the region call for more practical learning opportunities.

The OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2009 showed that about half of 15-year-olds failed master basic reading, mathematics and science skills in 11 participating countries in this region. 

A 2009 report published by the Regional Office entitled ‘Learning achievement in the CEECIS region: A comparative analysis of the PISA 2006 results’ shows that there is a crisis in education quality in the region. Fifteen-year-old students in the CEE/CIS region scored significantly below their peers in Western Europe in reading, mathematics and science, on average. Furthermore, in UNICEF Education programme countries, students were over 30 per cent less likely to achieve the proficiency benchmark in all three subjects than in EU 8 countries. These results show an unacceptable level of learning outcomes and indicate that education is not meeting the needs of students with regard to basic skills and life skills needed for positive participation in society and the workforce.

A number of factors contribute to the deteriorating level of education quality across the region:

  • Falls in education spending. Education spending fell by one-third in the Russian Federation in the 1990s, and by at least three-quarters in Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia and the Kyrgyz Republic.
  • Poverty. Poverty in the region is widespread, with the average PPP at US$2.15 and the poverty rate in some countries reaching 80 per cent (Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan).
  • Situations of fragility. Political, natural and economic disasters, violence and poverty continue to destabilize societies and disrupt education across the region.
  • Poor school infrastructure. In Armenia, lack of heating means that classrooms are often colder than the playgrounds. Three quarters of the schools in rural Uzbekistan do not have functioning toilets.
  • Out dated curricual and lack of equipment and textbooks. In Moldova, there are no funds for teaching materials, and only 3 per cent of schools have access to the Internet. In parts of Tajikistan, up to 10 students have to share a single textbook.
  • Undervalued, underpaid and poorly trained teachers. In Tajikistan, a cleaner or driver for an NGO can earn as much in one month as a teacher in one year. In Uzbekistan, a teacher earns the equivalent of around US$6 per month.
  • Lack of employment opportunities. With the collapse of the regulated economies of the Soviet era, there has been an erosion of the linkages between education and employment.





Learning achievement

Learning achievement in the CEE/CIS region

Published by the UNICEF CEE/CIS Regional Office.

Demand for education in the CEE/CIS Region

Reality Check. The view from the school and community

Published by the UNICEF Regional Office for CEE/CIS, 2009.

Central Asia Forum on Education 2009

10+1 indicators for measuring real teacher shortage in Kyrgyzstan presented by Gita Steiner-Khamsi, UNICEF & Columbia University, Teachers College, at the Central Asia Forum on Education 2009.


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