ADB assists the government and civil society in the Kyrgyz Republic to reform the primary vocational education (PVE) system and increase skill training opportunities for adults and out of school youth.
Like a child learning to walk, doing things for the first time may appear daunting for a country facing the challenges of renewed independence.
Take the Kyrgyz Republic for instance. For a long time, the country provided specific resources to the former Soviet Union's centralized economy. This included an education program where people were taught according to the skills expected of them.
Twenty years after its independence, the Kyrgyz Republic is still adjusting to a new economic system. Though new companies and enterprises have started to come in, the occupations being created require skills most people do not have.
"Even when the country started achieving modest growth for the past decade and the level of literacy remains high, the enterprises were having difficulty finding workers with the right skills," said Michiel Van der Auwera, project officer of the ADB-supported Vocational Education and Skills Development Project.
A new beginning
The idea of getting a certification for new skills suited to the current demand of employers attracted both young and old, like Lubov Vasilievna Kutulevskaya and her daughter Svetlana. Lubov learned sewing at 19 as an apprentice in a shop with her elder sister. When she got old, she could only accept sewing jobs from home due to health reasons, limiting her earning opportunities.
"The project hopes to contribute to meeting the goals of Education for All, including training young adults in dynamic economies, highlighting the need for continuous education in developing countries and 'ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes'."
"Tailoring is booming but new skills are required. Even with more than 20 years of experience, I still find it hard to get employed. Besides, I don't have anything to prove my qualifications. So when my daughter told me of the free new sewing courses, I did not have any second thoughts," shared Lubov.
Now, Lubov is a certified seamstress who can use modern sewing equipment. Svetlana also completed a sewing course and easily got employed.
With a regular income, Lubov and Svetlana are very pleased with the changes in their lives. "We have acquired our new home and pay for it through a mortgage. Recently, I have also bought my mobile phone and new clothes," exclaimed the 19 year-old Svetlana.
Lubov and Svetlana belong to the working age population that has been steadily increasing in Kyrgyzstan since 2005. The new courses and skills the primary vocational schools now offer can help the people get jobs easier and support the country's growing economy.
Training people with the right skills
ADB is supporting Kyrgyzstan's primary vocational education with the help of the Kyrgyzstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a civil society organization.
Through the chamber of commerce, a competency-based training methodology was introduced, where skills standards are developed for 18 occupations identified by employers, training providers and government policy makers as priority. It is a salient feature of the project which ensures that the graduates of primary vocational schools possess the skills needed by industries.
Curriculum and learning materials are then developed based on these skills standards. The teachers are given extensive training on how to deliver these courses.
Each curriculum has a set of modules targeting specific skills a worker is expected to acquire. A worker can then choose from one or a combination of modules for a short course of one to two years.
Upon passing the assessment, the graduates get a skills certificate, which assures the possible employers of a match between the worker and the job being applied for.
In 2011, 25 primary vocational schools have started offering these courses. The curriculum for seamstress is the first to be offered following the full cycle of the competency-based technology.
The Vocational Education and Skills Development Project was approved in 2007 in the amount of US$10 million.
The project hopes to contribute to meeting the goals of Education for All, including training young adults in dynamic economies, highlighting the need for continuous education in developing countries and "ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes".
ADB shares this achievement among its other education priority programs in celebration of Education for All in the month of September 2012 led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).