AKF’s satellite kindergarten education project in the jailoo (alpine pastures) of the Kyrgyz Republic was selected as one of the 12 fi nalists of the 2008 World Challenge, which was sponsored by BBC World News and Newsweek, in association with Shell.
Photo: AKF / Caroline ArnoldIn the remote mountains of the Kyrgyz Republic, AKDN is active in a variety of sectors. While the Aga Khan Agency for Microfi nance offers credits for livestock purchases and small enterprises, for example, the University of Central Asia’s School of Professional and Continuing Education provides formal, university-based, non-degree educational programmes, including vocational, professional development and personal improvement opportunities for youth and adults.
When the Aga Khan Foundation learned that many rural Kyrgyz children were missing out on kindergarten during the annual migration to the “jailoo”, or high pastures, for four to five months a year, it supported a programme to bring early childhood education to the mountains.
“The problems of Central Asia are remarkably complex – their causes are multiple and defi antly intertangled. Progress requires a multifaceted and multi-input approach…. The learning curve is steep and there should be a sense of urgency – for all of us – and all the more so because solutions can be elusive.”
Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Conference on Central Asia and Europe: A New Economic Partnership for the 21st Century, Berlin, Germany,13 November 2007The summer migration to the jailoo follows a tradition that dates back over 2,500 years – a tradition that was only interrupted during the Soviet era. To bring structured, active and enjoyable learning opportunities to the jailoo, AKDN supports a system of linked central and satellite kindergartens. Many of the satellite kindergartens operate in village homes during the winter and in yurts (nomadic tents) during the summer pasturage.
The yurt kindergartens have been exceptionally popular. In response to demand, the teachers have started organising activities for older children and have also set up small libraries in yurts that cater to children from two to 14 years old. The concept has since expanded to other villages and summer pastures. Early surveys indicate that when children from the jailoo kindergarten programme enter primary school, they outperform others in both reading and maths.
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