The Government of Kyrgyz Republic has made considerable progress in addressing the challenge of out-of-school children. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics the number of out of school children has decreased almost 5% between 2009 and 2010. This is the beginning of a positive trend.
Yet, more than 63,000 children are still deprived of their right to education in the country based on data from 2010 (the latest available). A total of 18 490 children of primary school age and 44 893 children of lower secondary age are out of school.
During the past two years, UNICEF has supported the development of two reports on Out-Of-School Children. The first one is a Country report undertaken as part of the UNICEF and UNESCO Institute of Statistics Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children, which analysed data on out of school children with aim of exploring the profiles of out of school children, why they are out of school and the policies that have been tried to respond to their needs. The second one was a local study on the identification of barriers to education in the Southern regions of Kyrgyzstan, examining in greater depth the factors contributing to children’s non-enrollment and drop out.
Each report applies a different methodology, but they highlight a common theme: The undeniable fact that too many children are being left behind, deprived of their right to education – simply because they were born in remote rural areas,have a disability, or live in a disadvantaged or poor family.
In response to the challenges identified through the analytical work, the Ministry of Education and Science in collaboration with UNICEF initiated a number of activities to support the reduction of out of school children in the country. Those activities aim to:
- Reduce data gaps by improving monitoring and information systems about education exclusion;
- Identify and address policy gaps that lead to exclusion of children from education systems;
- Improve the implementation and management of education policies and services and encourage innovation.
Overview of Activities
2011 and 2012
Ministry of Education and Science in collaboration with UNICEF worked to improve information and awareness on the issues of out of school children through the:
- First National conference on out of school children and launch of a National Study on Identification of Barriers to Education in the Southern Regions of Kyrgyzstan (2011)
- Launch of Out-of-School Children Study report and Second National Conference.
- Development of a Monitoring Framework for Out-of-School Children for Kyrgyzstan in 2012, defining terminology and indicators and outlining the way forward in terms of data collection and of the strengthening of cross-sector data sharing mechanisms in order to identify children missing education.
The country has articulated its response and interventions on out of schol children around four main pillars:
- Closing Data Gaps. The MOES with UNICEF support is:
- Establishing links between existing and planned databases of various agencies (of state registry, MOES, the Ministry of Social Development, local self-government, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior Affairs, etc.),
- Revising of Regulation 667 of 1997 on recording school age children and adolescents;
- Improving the currently piloted system of school databases.
- Identification of out-of-school children and child protection mechanisms. The MOES with UNICEF support is:
- Working with a National Expert Working Group on the development of a regulation on the referral and support provision for children in difficult life circumstances and their families. These regulations are accompanied by a primary assessment and a comprehensive assessment form for children in difficult life circumstances, which include information on the education profile of the child, drop-out risk categories and parental educational neglect.
- Strengthening prevention, response and compensation interventions at all levels. The MOES with UNICEF support is:
- Developing a road-map for education actors on how to follow-up on the issue of out-of-school children, drop-out and children at-risk
- Mobilizing greater commitment from national duty bearers on the issue of out-of-school children and drop-out.
- Piloting of local interventions. Under the framework of the Welcome to School project, UNICEF will:
- Identify 2400 children out-of-school or at risk of dropping-out in 8 municipalities in Southern Kyrgyzstan
- Strengthened local coordination with regards to identification and response.
- Respond to children’s needs through school and community-based support.
- Develop the capacity of 61 social pedagogues in 61 schools to equip them with tools and approaches to identify children at risk, provide early response interventions and conduct drop-out prevention activities.
- Document best practices for scale-up.