16 January 2018

In south Kyrgyzstan, multilingual education is path to opportunity and inclusion

Having biology, history, and other subjects taught in three different languages might seem like too much of a learning challenge. But students at this secondary school in Kyrgyzstan’s southern city of Osh are tackling the challenge, and asking for more. ‘We did have difficulties understanding Kyrgyz and Russian in the beginning, but it’s good now…,  , Target languages, There are altogether 41 classes at the school, and 14 of them are part of the program. ‘Multilingual’ here does not mean having a lot of language classes; rather, teachers use more than one language in each class teaching regular subjects. For example, a class may be divided in three parts, and the most challenging part – for example, when new…,  , Key to integration, In 2010, Kyrgyzstan’s south saw clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, with several hundred people killed and over 200,000 displaced. The unrest was centered on the city of Osh. Since then, a successful peace recovery has led to relative political stability. Nevertheless, the political situation remains precarious. UNICEF Kyrgyzstan, with…, Fear of the future, Before deciding to participate, the school consulted with all parents and children, explains Hidoyat Abylkasimova, one of the teachers: ‘We found that both parents and children were very eager to learn. It wasn’t merely a wish, but a need to gain a better education, to secure a better job in the future. Everybody here have fear of the future, so…,  , Adapting to challenges, The new methodology came with challenges for the teachers: ‘It was very difficult to explain terminologies in the different subjects in Kyrgyz and Russian’, says Abylkasimova, who has been a teacher now for 28 years. ‘We had to turn to dictionaries all the time. To be honest, in the beginning, the quality of the classes was not good.’ As the…,  , Peacebuilding impact, ‘After we began the multilingual education, we have seen many positive results, that help eliminate many of the problems that led to the conflict in 2010’, notes Kadyrova, the principal. ‘For our school, a very positive sign is that we have started getting students from other ethnicities. Now we have 14-15 from other groups, mostly in primary…
01 November 2017

Becoming multilingual is child’s play

Sakhiba Abdullaeva looks around at the four-year-olds sitting in a half circle in front of her, and she can tell that some of them did not understand what she just explained in Russian. The teacher promptly picks up a green scarf and puts it on. It’s not just any scarf – it’s the one that tells the children she’s now an Uzbek speaker. Sakhiba…, Dreaming to teach, Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyz is the state language, while Russian has the status of official language. Not knowing either of these two languages puts children at a disadvantage. Up until 2015, the language of instruction was Uzbek for all children at Kelechek kindergarten. But that year, a UNICEF-supported pilot project of multilingual instruction was…, A hat on the door, The effort made by Sakhiba and other staff has paid off. The pilot is a success, and this year, the kindergarten administration has decided to make two more classes multilingual. Nowadays, when the girls and boys who attend Kelechek arrive in the morning and see a kalpak – a traditional high-crowned hat – on the door, they know that today they…, Muhayo speaks three languages, Dilnoz Nabieva is a volunteer at the kindergarten. Her daughter Muhayo attended the first multilingual group here: “On the very first day, when I took Muhayo home from kindergarten, we had this exchange: -    Mommy, do you know what we ate today? -    What did you eat? -    We had a soup with kukuruza [corn]! -    What is kukuruza? -    Dumbol…, Multilingualism as peacebuilding, Kelechek is one of five preschools, 56 schools and two universities in Kyrgyzstan where the Ministry of Education and Science, with UNICEF support, is piloting multilingual education. The project aims to promote multilingualism, foster an environment enabling broader integration, especially of minorities, while promoting protection of their rights…, “Any problem can be resolved”, Dilnoz Nabieva firmly believes in multilingualism as a means to build trust and harmony: “I know four languages – I speak Russian, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and a little English. I know from personal experience that knowing languages improves understanding between people of different nationalities. And when there is understanding, any question can be resolved…