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Kyrgyzstan: “Shift” model for preschool education helps address issues of access

© UNICEF Kyrgyzstan

UNICEF is advocating that the country makes a gradual transition to a “shift” model for preschool institutions to help improve access to services. This model is much cheaper, as children do not sleep in kindergartens and attend for only a few hours instead of the usual nine, significantly simplifying necessary maintenance.

This shift is extremely important in a country where only 12 percent of children have the chance to attend pre-school and in Batken Province, the pilot region for UNICEF’s early childhood development programme, that figure until recently has stood at two percent.
Currently, out of 31 preschool institutions that have opened in the target villages of Batken Oblast with the support of UNICEF, 12 are already working with the shift model. As a result, for example, in the remote village of Kyzylbel, 82 percent of preschool age children are already attending the Barchyn Children’s Educational Centre, where teachers are using innovative methods to work with young children.
“In order that more children can attend preschool institutions, the most promising approach today and in today’s conditions is the transition to a shift approach,” says Chinara Akhmedova, the UNICEF’s project partner in Batken. “And the most important thing,” she says, “is that thanks to the introduction of this system, the doors of preschool institutions have been thrown open for the most vulnerable and poorest families. The education programme has to be flexible, so it can accommodate the needs of real children from real communities.”

International studies show that children who attend preschool institutions for the whole day and children who attend such institutions for a few hours per day develop at the same speed.  That is, the significance is not the intensiveness, but the duration and quality of preschool.

(source: UNICEF Early Childhood Development Newsletter, April-May 2009)



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