For decades, Tajikistan’s children learned by rote memorization, a teaching method that does not foster critical thinking and is teacher driven.
But, over the past year, the USAID Quality Learning Project has trained 1,000 teachers in a new pedagogy that is child-centered—one that takes into account students’ learning styles and promotes the development of each child. This pedagogy demonstrates that learning is the result of a mind well formed rather than one that serves as a simple repository for data.
Kurush is one of 40 customs brokerage companies in Tajikistan that has already begun using an automated system to prepare customs declarations, and the positive results are immediately clear. Kurush Director Shodmon Tagayev explained to staff from USAID’s Regional Trade Liberalization and Customs pro-ject that use of the electronic system has cut the preparation time for a declaration from three hours to three minutes.
Bibioisha Saidkhojeva sits, needle in hand, surrounded by her colorful labors of love… and economic independence. Emroidered pillowcases, curtains and meticulously sewn dresses are strewn about the floor as Bibioisha explains the importance of sewing.
Standing above her greenhouse, Sayonat Hakimnova exudes pride as she shows off her onions, cilantro and dill. In her family’s first greenhouse, she was able to plant these greens two months earlier than usual this year.
Sayohat Faiziddinova is one of 2,000 primary school teachers across Tajikistan that is using the new Primary School Curriculum Standards, which were updated recently with USAID support. “Teaching is easy now,” says Faiziddinova, who works at secondary school # 12 in Tajikistan’s south.
Like many teachers in Tajikistan, just a year ago Sayohat was using a teacher-centered approach with old textbooks and curriculum standards inherited from the Soviet education system. Setting out learning objectives and goals for each lesson was not part of Soviet era teaching practice.
Serious illnesses caused by water-borne diseases are a critical health issue in Tajikistan. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), water-borne dis-eases account for 60 percent of gastro-enteritic afflic-tions, such as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera and typhoid, in Tajikistan. Children are greatly affected. In recent years, 16 percent of deaths among children under age 5 in Tajikistan were caused by water-borne diseases.
In Chorku, a small community in Tajikistan’s Isfara district, only 42% of girls continue their studies after 9th grade, but Faroiz Makhkamova and Robiyai Amirullo are changing attitudes about girls’ education.
Intrigued by a performance staged by participants of USAID’s Youth Theater for Peace (YTP) project, Robiyai asked to join the local YTP drama group and quickly gained respect among peers and teachers for her leadership on stage. Her parents, too, were very proud. “They started to believe in my capability to learn new things.
Two plus two gives the same answer all over the globe, but the method in which it is taught to students varies from intimidation to engagement. Zikrullo Karimov, a primary education methodology planner of 25 years, has always been a proponent of the classic teacher-centered style of education. But after working with the USAID Quality Learning Project, he has realized how small changes toward more friendly student-centered methodologies make a difference in students’ apprehension of the subject and their overall engagement in the study process.
Challenge Tajikistan, a post-conflict country in Central Asia, faces the challenge of high student drop-out rates, particularly among girls. Schools are overcrowded and often incapable of satisfying students’ social and emotional needs for support. Because it is common for adults to migrate abroad for work, children often lack support from immediate family members. The UNICEF Global School-based Student Health survey has indicated 23.3 % of students in Tajikistan felt a daily sense of hopelessness, and 12% had even considered suicide.
Nestled amid mountains and winding roads near Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan, Otchapar is one of the world’s more remote communities. Populated by less than 20 homes, its residents are ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks. “Our village has not had any visitors for the past 20 years,” explained Nurrullo Amrulloev, head of the village committee, when receiving a group of youth theater performers from Panj, a town in Tajikistan’s south.