Quality inclusive education
All children should have access to quality and inclusive education from early learning to secondary education, particularly those who are most marginalized.
In Tajikistan, many children in the earliest years of life are still deprived of quality education and early childhood development services, especially those with disabilities.
Children are deprived of learner-centred teaching and learning in a system that is knowledge-centred with no child-friendly facilities, and which faces shortages of trained teachers and educational materials. To improve the quality of education and learning achievements for all children, the Government has initiated curricular reform within the framework of the Global Partnership for Education.
Inclusive practices in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools need to be strengthened and expanded to ensure that children with disabilities are provided with opportunities to attend and successfully complete mainstream schools together with their peers.
There is a lack of reliable data about children with disabilities in Tajikistan. The medical definition of disability is still used in the country’s legislation and there is no adequate data collection system in place. For instance, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of the Population reports that the total number of children with disabilities is 28,286: this figure only covers the children who are registered and receive a disability allowance.
Further progress in the inclusion of children with disabilities at community level is hindered by prevailing professional norms built on a medical model of disability in which children with disabilities are deemed better off in institutions, where there is specialist medical support. In short, the right to live in a family environment is still denied to children with disabilities.
An Early Grades Reading Assessment conducted by USAID in 2011 revealed low reading ability and comprehension at early grades. Thirty per cent of girls and 31 per cent of boys in Grade 2 did not meet national standards for reading fluency, rising to 45 and 56 per cent respectively in Grade 4.
In addition, Tajikistan lacks a learning assessment system, and learning outcomes are not measured systematically. This means that education reforms are not informed by evidence, and recent evaluations have resulted in low reading ability and comprehension in early grades.
No child left behind
UNICEF believes that every child in Tajikistan should have a quality education, regardless of who they are, where they come from or their family circumstances. It has a clear mandate for action: Sustainable Development Goals
In Tajikistan, UNICEF is seeking to make all schools truly inclusive and child-focused, recognizing that the obstacles to children’s learning are not the ‘fault’ of a child’s impairment or the language they speak at home, but rather the inability of some schools to include children with disabilities or from minority groups. Its work and that of its partners has helped to increase the number of children with disabilities who are mainstreamed into regular schools across the country.
UNICEF focuses on entire education systems, rather than isolated education projects, to improve (and where necessary, transform), education policies, provision, inclusion, and quality. Building on its strong and trusted relationships with governments, UNICEF influences education policy, leverages funds and expertise for greater education inclusion, and supports innovative pilots as a way to test and shape vital policy reforms.
UNICEF is working closely with the Ministry of Education and Science to strengthen evidence-based policy and planning for a more equitable and quality education system. It is building the capacity of educators to shift to learner-centred pedagogy across the country.
UNICEF is supporting educational institutions to improve the quality of education by strengthening pre-service and in-service training of educators to equip them with the competencies needed to engage students in active learning and learner-centred teaching in an inclusive educational environment. This is helping to address the educational needs of various children, including boys and girls with disabilities in mainstream schools.
UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Education and Science to develop curriculums that offer quality education and developmental opportunities for children in Tajikistan, equipping them with the necessary skills and competencies to unlock their potential and help them thrive in life.