Three hundred and sixty-nine new schools, accommodating 740,000 students, will open in Kazakhstan in 2024 and 2025, the minister for education Gani Beisembayev said at a February 20th government meeting about the “Comfortable School” project. The minister added that 163 of these schools will be built in rural areas, and 217 of them will open their doors this year. The new schools will be constructed using only domestically produced building materials, and all furniture will be purchased from Kazakh companies. The schools will be equipped with modern equipment, and increased security will be ensured with advanced technical means. They will also provide a barrier-free environment for children with special educational needs. Prime minister Olzhas Bektenov, who chaired the meeting, emphasized that the “Comfortable School” project should resolve the problem of overcrowded schools, and replace old schools that have fallen into disrepair.
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The US ambassador to Tajikistan, Manuel Micaller, and Tajikistan’s resident representative of the Aga Khan Development Network, Qozidavlat Qoimdodov, on February 15th joined the Tajik minister for science and education Saidzoda Rahim Hamro at a handover ceremony for 242,000 English language textbooks for secondary schools in Tajikistan. The three parties had together developed modern textbooks and curriculums for Tajik students in grades 10 and 11. The new English textbooks include 115,000 student books for each grade, 12,000 teacher’s books, and 12,000 CDs with instructional materials for teachers. These textbooks are all student-centered, communicative, and support task-based learning that promotes critical thinking. The textbooks use Tajik cultural contexts and history alongside cultures from around the world. The full set of resources — the textbooks, teacher’s books, and audio CDs — will be accompanied by a digital teacher training program on how to effectively teach language skills. The US embassy in Dushanbe is also working with partners to provide the Ministry of Education and Science with over 350,000 English language learning textbooks for grades 8 and 9, which would include 5,800 teacher’s books and 5,800 CDs with teaching materials.
The Central Asian University of Environmental and Climate Change Studies (Green University) was opened in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent Region on February 10th. The goal of the Green University is to introduce innovative ideas, practices and technologies for solving local, regional and global environmental problems, and strengthening regional cooperation in the field of ecology and environmental protection. The university’s opening ceremony was attended by the director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Grethel Aguilar, Uzbekistan’s Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change, Aziz Abdukhakimov, and the environment ministers from all the Central Asian countries. Speaking at the event, Aguilar said: “We congratulate the government of Uzbekistan on the opening of the Central Asian Green University, a major regional initiative that serves to develop environmental leadership and education. This university will help solve the triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution. Through environmental education, the university will contribute to the conservation of a region rich in nature.” On the same day, the Green University hosted the opening of the first office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Central Asia. Aguilar commented: “Today, our planet faces three major challenges – climate change, biodiversity loss, and air pollution. all countries must work together to solve these problems. Together with Uzbekistan and the countries of Central Asia, we are implementing new projects aimed at protecting the region’s ecosystem. The opening of the IUCN office is an important step in this direction”.
The use of personal electronic devices has been banned in schools, the head of Tajikistan’s Ministry of Education and Science, Rahim Saidzoda has said in an interview with Omuzgor. "We have made significant efforts to prevent students from using electronic copies [of materials] while they are in school. We have nearly finished supplying the necessary number of [physical] books to schools. Students were permitted to use electronics in class until recently - this was because of a lack of textbooks. Presently, the circumstances have changed; funds are sufficient, and the books have been published," the minister stated. Another reason for the ban is that parents frequently protested that their childrens' phones were taken away from them at during random searches at some schools, and that some administrators were even demanding payment in exchange for returning the device. Teachers and parents appear split on the issue. The first group feels that gadgets keep kids from studying and they haven’t figured out how to use these devices for learning; the second, on the other hand, feels that new technologies need to be introduced in order to stay up to date. A look at how the issue is handled in Kazakhstan – where children are banned by law from using phones in class - may shed light on the issue. In Kazakhstan, if the school has special boxes, children leave their devices in there, and if not, they are to remain in the children’s backpacks. The Deputy Minister of Education of Kazakhstan, Natalya Jumadildayeva, said she agrees with parents in Tajikistan who believe that use of electronic devices during classes will lower the results of both those using them, and their distracted classmates.
The scientific Olympiad “Chiloi Donish” has begun in Dushanbe, and will be held in thirteen different academic subjects. Four districts will participate in the city stage of the Olympiad, of which 3,783 students are in the field of social and humanitarian studies, and 1,986 in natural sciences and mathematics, said the Dushanbe City Hall Education Department. According to the Department, in accordance with the Regulations on Scientific Olympiads, the most successful participants will advance to the republican stage. The Olympiad began on January 2nd, and will continue until the 6th. This came following an order from President Emomali Rahmon that three republican competitions be staged, for 3,785,000 somoni ($345,000) was allocated. The purpose of the competition is to search for new talents in music, performing arts, painting and design, improve professional skills, and to promote and revive folk crafts.
On December 28th, a meeting was held between the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, Myahri Byashimova, and the Deputy Minister of Education of China, Sun Yao, who arrived in Ashgabat on a working visit, a Turkmen Government official website stated, stating that the parties noted that today, Turkmen-Chinese relations in terms of a comprehensive strategic partnership are dynamically developing in many directions. It was also stated that relations between Turkmenistan and China in the field of education tend to develop consistently and fruitfully, as evidenced by numerous exchanges of visits by university representatives, joint conferences, seminars, forums and exhibitions. The parties discussed opportunities to conduct regular short and long-term research and educational programs, courses, and lectures in such areas as medicine, agriculture, ecology, nanotechnology, and political science. Both sides expressed their confidence that the visit of the Chinese delegation will serve as an effective impetus for strengthening ties between higher educational institutions of Turkmenistan and China.