In 2005, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) initiated its programme in Early Childhood Development (ECD). Active in the remote communities of Osh, Batken, Jalalabad, Naryn and Chui oblasts (provinces), the programme seeks to increase the capacity of existing kindergartens and to provide affordable, quality and culturally-sensitive curricula for children age three to six.
Increased access to ECD
The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)’s Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP) supports 138 kindergartens, 67 parent resource centres, and 49 health facilities, all of which are designed to increase the coverage, affordability, breadth and quality of ECD in remote, mountainous communities of the Kyrgyz Republic. With an emphasis on community engagement, AKF/MSDSP’s ECD programming is well recognised by both communities and national-level stakeholders. Its affordable and innovative models have increased access to ECD in core programme geographies to well above the national average. The introduction of shift systems, satellite kindergartens, and jailoo (pasture) kindergartens has increased access to ECD in Osh and Naryn districts to 17% percent above the national average.
Innovative teaching tools for the early years
AKF has pioneered the use of technology-enabled tools to promote early grade learning and comprehension. In addition to its established book initiatives, AKF’s Read Together TV talk show and animated Adventure to the World of Books programme are broadcasted on national television, reaching 1.1 million viewers each week.
In 2016, the Center for Education Innovations recognised Read Together as a ”model innovation for creating a culture of reading nationwide”.
In 2015, AKF launched a mobile application, Fun Kitep, which houses 25 Kyrgyz-, English- and Russian-language children’s books and a suite of quizzes and interactive games designed to promote reading enjoyment and comprehension. The app is available for download from the Google Play store.
These tools complement the RfC programme, which promotes a love of reading in the early years. A recent EGRA study shows that the RfC programme increases performance from 66% in control communities to 78% in RfC targeted areas.
School Improvement Programme (SIP)
In 2015, AKF launched a comprehensive School Improvement Programme (SIP) in 20 pilot schools. SIP adopts a holistic approach to improving the quality of education, from kindergarten through to post-secondary school. It works by promoting student-centred learning, enhancing teacher training, strengthening the institutional capacity of school-based civil society organisations, and reinforcing the built environment of education facilities.
AKF’s primary school-related activities support key teachers through specialised training, as well as by developing teaching and learning materials. The unit has reached 757 teachers at 73 primary schools, and benefits more than 13,824 students.
AKF’s secondary-school programme has established and supported over 226 School Parliaments, which allow children to gain experiential learning in civic participation and practice the parliamentary system. The School Parliament approach is now established in four oblasts, and the programme is working to develop civic education job skills curricula to further enhance the model.
In 2015-2016, AKF collaborated with the Osh Institute of Education to develop training modules on school management, conflict prevention and trained 90 school administrators in Osh, Jalalabad, and Batken oblasts.