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5th Regional Education Forum opens in Ashgabat

ASHGABAT, 13 June 2006 – Education deputy ministers of the five Central Asian republics and representatives of international organisations including UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank and USAID were among the one hundred participants who attended the opening ceremony of the Regional Education Forum (CARK) in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. 

In her opening speech, Turkmen Minister of Education Shemshat Annagylydjova mentioned the importance of the CARK Education Forum in advancing the goals of Education for All for the Central Asian countries of Kazakshtan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.  This is the first time that Turkmenistan is hosting the Forum.

UNICEF Deputy Regional Director Shanaz Kianian-Firouzgar underscored the valuable role that the annual CARK Education Forum has played with respect to the commitments made by Central Asian governments at the United Nations Millennium Summit and the Dakar World Education Forum. 

“This Forum also helps us to look forward and agree on what we need to do in order to ensure that the six goals which we seek to achieve for this region will be realised by 2015,” Firouzgar said. 

Firouzgar challenged Forum delegations to look at four critical issues concerning basic education in the region.  These include provision of pre-school education, promotion of inclusive education and child-friendly learning environments, provision of quality education including enhancement of teachers’ capacity, development of relevant curricula and textbooks and other learning materials and involvement of parents and communities in children’s education.

According to Firouzgar, the economic growth being witnessed in the region is not enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All goals if it is not coupled with sound social policies that encourage investment in children: in their education, health and in the provision of services.

Investing in education was also echoed by UNICEF Representative and Acting UN Resident Coordinator Mahboob Shareef.  In his opening speech, Shareef called upon Central Asian education officials to reiterate their “commitment to place children on top of the development agenda and at the centre of all available resources and programmes.” 

Shareef also stressed the importance of data collection and analysis in measuring the progress that Central Asian countries have made towards achieving the goals of the Millennium Development Summit, Education for All and World Fit for Children.

The theme of this year’s Forum is ‘Moving Forward to Achieve EFA Goals’.  At the end of the three-day Forum, participants are expected to have deliberated and agreed on a common resolution on the steps and measures that needed to be made to ensure that access, equity, quality and relevance of education in each of the countries in Central Asia are appropriately addressed.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
Gulyalek Soltanova, UNICEF Communication Officer
Tel. +99 312 4256 81/82/86/86, gsoltanova@unicef.org




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