Turkmenistan boasts high national education enrolment and literacy rates and within the framework of the MDGs and Education for All (EFA) goals Turkmenistan performs reasonably well. A notable exception is the quality of education, which the Government of Turkmenistan is addressing as one of its highest priorities.
Through public sector reform and its current attention to quality education, Turkmenistan is working hard to ensure ‘Equitable, Quality Education and Lifelong Learning for All’, which is highlighted as a key focus for education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Fast advances are being made in the areas of policy and legislation to promote equity and quality of education. In May 2013, Turkmenistan adopted the Law on Education guaranteeing free and equal access for all children to education programmes in state educational establishments. The Law also stipulates that children with disabilities have access to inclusive education, however also makes the provision that children with disabilities ‘who cannot attend mainstream schools will receive education in special education establishments’.
Also, in 2013 the Government increased the number of years of schooling from 10 to 12 years, showing the emphasis and investment in upper secondary education. This new education policy is guided by the Concept on Transition to 12 Year General Secondary Education in Turkmenistan and the President’s ordinances and Government’s resolutions on improvements in the education sector. In 2012, a resolution on the procedures for the developing and approving state education standards was enforced, creating a normative framework for the ongoing education reform aimed at enhancing continuity and quality of education and at better aligning the country with international education standards.
The Child Friendly Schools initiative (CFS)
The Ministry of Education and UNICEF continue to work together to strengthen the quality of the education system and to make it equitable for every child through the Child-Friendly Schools (CFS) framework. The national CFS initiative, which involves a wide range of national stakeholders, focuses on developing a comprehensive and system-wide approach to all aspects of a child’s well-being through education. It aims to improve teaching services by introducing innovative pedagogical approaches through a new teacher training curriculum. It will also broaden young people’s skills through the development of a new “life skills” curriculum.
Twenty-six child-friendly schools in rural and urban settings in Turkmenistan have succeeded in the establishment of CFS resource centres and youth clubs for children and are acting as models for other schools looking to innovate.
In further support of the child-friendly education reform, the country has developed a CFS certification package, which includes a comprehensive set of child-friendly standards, indicators and tools that will allow for school-based assessments of quality. It is envisaged that the certification package will help create a system that ensures consistency and quality of child-friendly activities in schools nationally. It was developed with support from UNICEF, international expertise, national education specialists from the National Institute of Education, pedagogical institutes, teachers and school managers.
Further work is in progress to institutionalize the inclusive CFS standards. This will create a benchmark to assess individual school progress in ensuring a child friendly learning environment for all children. The standards will also be instrumental in ensuring that equity is central to system-wide planning and resource allocation in education; monitoring progress towards meeting the standards; and evaluating the effectiveness of education reform. In the future the CFS mainstreaming strategy envisages introducing standards in pre-school education.
Turkmenistan is making progress toward creating the enabling environment for children and families in the country. It is a State Party to the CRC, CEDAW and CRPDs, among other international human rights Conventions relevant to child rights, demonstrating the readiness of national authorities to more fully implement international human rights standards.