Learning Better Together With Yasmina

Yasmina's kindergarten is one of the pilot centers taking part in the Learning Better Together project, a partnership between UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and Science of Kyrgyzstan and USAID.

Aiperi Alymbekova
Yasmina
UNICEF/2019/Chernyshova

29 October 2019

From the many children at the Pre-School Center №13, Yasmina seems especially happy this morning. As part of the morning class, she is participating in a game in which they learn about conflict resolution and diversity, mixed with children from different ethnicities and backgrounds. Yasmina and her classmate were chosen by her teacher for the exercise to play a scene where they fight because of a doll. The teacher asked the rest of the class to help the girls to find a way to end the fight.     

The 6-years-old attends her classes in a very diverse environment in Karakol city (Issyk-Kul region), in the east of Kyrgyzstan. Among Yasmina’s classmates, in addition to children from the Dungan minority like her, there are children from different communities such as Kyrgyz, Russians or Tatars. The Dungan minority is a small Muslim-majoritarian community (as most of the population in Kyrgyzstan), which speaks Dungan, a Chinese dialect with bits of vocabulary borrowed from Arabic, Farsi and Turkish.

Yasmina and her classmate during the exercise on tolerance.
UNICEF/Chernyshova/2019
Yasmina and her classmate during the exercise on tolerance.

In her class, Yasmina enjoys the range of possibilities provided by her pre-school center to fully develop her potential in this remote part of the country, almost 6 hours away from the capital city by car. Her kindergarten is one of the pilot centers taking part in the Learning Better Together project, a partnership between UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and Science of Kyrgyzstan and USAID.

The project focuses on inclusive quality education. This initiative is piloting the identification and enrollment of children with special education needs in 10 schools and 10 pre-schools in the same communities and is introducing multilingual education in a minimum of 20 settings like Yasmina’s kindergarten. Through this programme, children will be supported to smoothly transition to primary school and be better prepared for the first years of formal learning.

As part of the project, Yasmina and her pre-school friends benefit from the curriculum and learning materials aimed at building a better understanding of diversity among children and parents, with a focus on improving their reading skills. For children like Yasmina, and her brother Amirhan, 3 years old and attending the same PreSchool Center, this programme gives them the tools to embrace and acknowledge the diversity present in their community and turn it into an asset for the future.

Yasmina loves to spend her afternoons going through her exercises with Mohammed, her grandfather
UNICEF/2019/ Chernyshova
Yasmina loves to spend her afternoons going through her exercises with Mohammed, her grandfather

Another important objective of the project is to involve parents and caregivers into the learning process. After school hours, Yasmina is fully of energy, and runs home to do her homework. She really likes math, and teachers consider her a really dedicated little learner - when she is back home, she loves to spend her afternoons going through her exercises with Mohammed, her grandfather. Mohammed is fully engaged with Yasmina´s education and development.

Pre-school teachers regularly conduct parents’ meetings and short workshops to train them on the importance on bonding and spending time together. They also explain to parents what they teach at school, so parents can practice it at home, and Yasmina´s parents are among the most engaged parents in these meetings.

UNICEF Early Childhood Development Officer with Yasmina and children benefitting from Learning Better Together project
UNICEF/2019/ Chernyshova
UNICEF Early Childhood Development Officer with Yasmina and children benefitting from Learning Better Together project

With all these new tools for Yasmina and her family, the young child now has a brighter future ahead. A future in which she will be fully aware of her diverse environment and she will have all educational tools to develop and thrive. All thanks to the Learning Better Together project.