UNICEF’s education programme is intended to ensure that more boys and girls have access to quality and sustainable preschool and basic education. The programme supports the Ministry of Education and Science to implement its Education Development Strategy for 2012-2020. As chair of the Development Partners Coordination Council (DPCC) on education, UNICEF coordinates with Government and is facilitating preparation for introduction of the Sector Wide Approach in education planned for autumn 2013. It is also the Coordination Agency for the Global Partnership for Education in Kyrgyzstan. It uses its coordination role not only to strengthen collaboration among development partners and harmonise external aid but also to leverage resources from development partners such as the World Bank and the European Union to focus on the needs of the most vulnerable children.
UNICEF assistance has enabled the Ministry of Education and Science to create a common approach and legal framework in the area of early childhood development. A Law on Preschool Education was adopted in 2009, recognising community-based kindergartens (CBKs) as viable alternatives to the full day-care system, following the success of a programme piloted by UNICEF in Batken Province. Since this time, UNICEF has worked with the Ministry of Education and Science and local authorities to support the opening of new community-based kindergartens, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, and raise the quality of early childhood education. In these communities, UNICEF provides workshops, training and technical assistance to local government and civil society to facilitate successful early childhood education for all children in the communities. In 2012 UNICEF launched a major advocacy campaign, which has drawn the attention of decision makers to the importance of early childhood education, particularly ensuring universal school readiness and securing state funds for teacher’s salaries.
In addition, UNICEF is supporting schools in certain vulnerable communities to repair buildings, improve heating and insulation systems, and construct hygiene and sanitation facilities. UNICEF also focuses on improving the quality and availability of teachers and helping improve their status and working conditions.
UNICEF has revealed that as of 2011 more than 63,000 children in Kyrgyzstan were still deprived of their right to education. Research on out-of-school children has provided a clear picture of who they are, where they can be found and why they are out of school. UNICEF will continue to collaborate with line ministries, local authorities, schools, community groups and international organisations to include all out-of-school children in quality learning. Particular attention will be paid to closing the equity gaps for the most marginalised groups of children by putting in place data collection systems for tracking such children, and facilitating policy level discussions to remove barriers and bottlenecks.
In the aftermath of the June 2010 ethnic violence, UNICEF worked closely with the Government to promote safe return to school for all children and prevent or mitigate conflicts in schools. UNICEF has supported the Ministry of Education and Science to develop peace education materials, revise policy regulations and implement peace and tolerance promotion programmes in the most needy schools. In this regard UNICEF is supporting border schools in Osh, Jalalabad and Batken provinces through camps, theatre clubs and tolerance resource rooms. In addition, UNICEF is seeking to support multilingual and multicultural education in Kyrgyzstan to ensure that all children exercise their right to education on an equal basis and since 2010 has supported the publication of teacher manuals and more than 200,000 copies of textbooks for primary schools with special focus on schools with minority language of instruction.