BISHKEK (TCA) — It is impossible to expand access to education for children and education specialists without access to the Internet, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov said at the recent international conference on prospects for digital government and digital education in the country.
Introducing modern technologies
The Taza Koom (clean society) national development program is primarily aimed at improving the welfare of the population through the provision of more affordable and quality education and public services, Isakov said.
The development of education is also impossible without the introduction of modern IT technologies. The Government goals within the Taza Koom program are to ensure access to best international practices, distance learning and electronic textbooks, as well as training of specialists ready for global competition and increasing human resources in the education sector.
More than 1 240 schools (55% of the total) in Kyrgyzstan are connected to the Internet, which makes the learning process more interesting, cognitive and modern.
The project to develop software for Education Management Information System (EMIS) is being implemented in the country at the expense of the European Commission, which allocated 1.4 million soms as part of the Taza Koom digital transformation program.
The EMIS supports Kyrgyzstan as a UNESCO member country in developing common database standards for tracking national education indicators. It also helps to monitor the quality of education, efficient budget planning, and to adjust the strategy for the further development of education as a whole.
Despite considerable spending since independence, the education system of the country has modest results. The Kyrgyz Republic was ranked last in math, science and reading among countries that participated in the 2006 and 2009 rounds of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Noticeable changes for the better have not happened so far.
The Government of Kyrgyzstan decided to address the overall management and improve the financing system of the education sector through the Education Development Strategy 2020 (EDS 2020), adopted in 2012. In response to the Government’s efforts, the European Commission provided comprehensive support to the education sector development in Kyrgyzstan.
At the beginning of the 20th century, only 4.6% of the total population of Kyrgyzstan was literate.
With the creation of the Soviet Union, 16.5% of the population from 9 to 49 years old were literate, and this figure rose to 99% in 1976.
After Kyrgyzstan gained independence in 1991, various types of education institutions were opened including numerous universities, lyceums and colleges.
Many universities, poor results
According to official data, 233.6 thousand students are currently registered in 52 higher educational institutions, of which 31 are state universities and 21 are private. About 90% of students study in state universities. With the population of 6 million, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Kyrgyzstan is a country of students.
Most of the specialists trained by these universities are economists, lawyers, linguists and teachers. Every year, from 35,000 to 38,000 students graduate from universities, and more than half of them replenish the army of unemployed. At the same time, company executives say that need quality specialists.
The number of students has tripled in recent years, but the quality of the education provided in universities cannot reach the world level. According to the Labor and Migration Ministry, less than 20% of all specialists work in their profession.
The poor system of motivations has not led to significant results. Misery wages cannot cause interest in the professions of teachers. The older generation has accepted their low salary, and there are many specialists of retirement age in the educational sector. Young people do not want to work for a low salary and prefer to be engaged in trade or private business.
According to the National Statistics Committee, there are 62,000 officially unemployed in the country, without taking into account the citizens who left the country. It should be taken into account that not all unemployed are officially registered.
There is an opinion among the local young people that to get a post with a good salary or at a public office, a person should have a thick pocket or influential relatives or acquaintance. From this point of view, higher education institutions train an army of certified idlers.
According to studies, the most needed professions are now teachers, medical workers, seamstresses, auto mechanics, welders, road builders, and electricians which are mainly graduates of secondary vocational schools.
The country lacks qualified engineers, technologists and designers, the Association of Domestic Manufacturers of Kyrgyzstan said. The Government should focus on training engineers in higher and secondary educational institutions. Some companies directly cooperate with educational institutions to train their own cadres, and other companies should use this good practice, the Association concluded.
Prime Minister Isakov wants to make “fashionable” training at vocational schools. “Of course, as soon as enterprises appear, people will also need technical personnel, so today we need to reform vocational schools and promote them,” he said.
On December 21, deputies of the Kyrgyz Parliament approved a bill according to which the Asian Development Bank is providing a $30 million grant to support and carry out key reforms to strengthen professional technical education in Kyrgyzstan including professional development of teachers, construction and equipping of five training centers with the appropriate equipment.