BISHKEK, KYRGYZ REPUBLIC – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing grant assistance of $22 million to help the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic address major gaps in the quality and relevance of the country’s education system, which are undermining its drive for better living standards and a more competitive economy.
“Right now there are weaknesses in the system which result in poor learning outcomes and these have a negative effect both on individuals and the country as a whole,” said Jazira Asanova, ADB’s Senior Education Specialist. “Our assistance will support the government’s ongoing reform efforts to address these gaps.”
Although the country has near universal enrollment rates for primary education, it falls well below the OECD average in learning outcomes, including in reading literacy. More than half of all students score poorly in national tests for mathematics and sciences in grades 4 to 8. Curricula are outdated, there is a shortage of textbooks, and teacher quality is low.
In response, the government has launched a series of initiatives under its Education Development Strategy for 2012 to 2020 and the ADB-assisted Strengthening Education System Sector Development Program will support ongoing policy reforms and sector actions.
The program will help the government complete an introduction of the new curricula, including for mathematics and sciences; revise guidelines for textbook development, publishing and distribution; and establish a textbook rental scheme to provide free rentals to a number of poor and vulnerable students. It will also help implement a national teacher development program; introduce a teacher ranking and progression system with salaries linked to professional standards, and develop and roll out a training plan for school principals, teacher training staff and others, which will include e-learning. The competencies of 10,000 teachers will be upgraded under the in-service training plan.
Creating schools responsive to the needs of a modern economy is a government goal, and the program will support the development of up to 30 schools as innovative learning centers for math, science and technology, and as cluster centers for teacher training, which can potentially be replicated. The schools will get financial support for science laboratories and information and communications technology, including software. The target schools have yet to be selected but will be in poor and remote locations.
The program builds on and complements previous ADB support for the sector which began in 1997 with the Education Sector Development Program.
ADB’s assistance from its concessional Asian Development Fund will be provided as policy and project grants, to be disbursed in two tranches, while the government will provide counterpart support equivalent to $2.12 million. The full program will run over about 6 years, with an estimated completion date for the project grant of August 2021.