Projects / Multilingual Governance in Kyrgyzstan

Multilingual Education in Central Asia
January 2004 - June 2005

Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the countries of Central Asia – characteristically multicultural and multilingual – embarked on the formation of a civil society, in which various linguistic and ethnic groups could coexist in consensus and mutual stimulation. Education and studying languages have a great role to play in this pursuit.
It becomes increasingly imperative that people have fluent command of several languages in order to be able to participate in domestic and foreign affairs. Russian plays an important role in the Central Asian countries. A language of interethnic communication, it serves as a link to the rest of the former Soviet Union and facilitates government affairs by providing access to information, high technologies and high education.
The traditional education system is unable to ensure the extent of language proficiency that is needed for interethnic communication. Worse still, this system opens the way to language and ethnic segregation by offering a monolingual education in Kyrgyz, Tajik, Uzbek or Russian.
Experience shows the only language that school graduates have a good command of is the language of instruction. This segregation-fraught system gives rise to a lot of problems. Worse, education authorities still do not have the teaching or methodological instruments necessary to reform the existing education system and bring it in line with the needs of multilingual policies.
A complicated language situation like this calls for a flexible language and educational policy that could effectively ease tensions arising from discrimination that may be provoked by language or ethnic conflicts.

Objectives and Goals
The objective of the Multilingual Education in Central Asia project is to demonstrate and put to use education patterns adopted by other multicultural communities.
It includes the following goals:
increasing NGO and institution network as well as the number of trainers involved in the promotion of multilingual education;
handing over more and more responsibilities to these entities and to the association for multilingual education “Til-Dil”;
raising academic standards of the multilingual education program by producing teaching material, further training trainers and improving teachers’ performance;
conducting promotional campaigns in the press.

Activities and Results
The project targeting Central Asia was launched in 2000. Up to date, the results are the following:
The project involves 17 schools and 14 kindergartens located in Chui, Naryn, Jalal-Abad, Batken and Osh provinces in Kyrgyzstan, and 3 schools and 2 kindergartens located in Sogd and Khatlon provinces of Tajikistan;
Over 3,000 children are getting multilingual education;
More than 200 teachers have been retrained;
More than 10 multilingual education trainers have been trained;
Four NGOs have been established: IMEMB (Interethnic Integration for Promoting Multilingualism in Bishkek), MOJUK (Multilingual education in Southern Kyrgyzstan), MONR (Multilingual education in the Naryn region) and MOChR (Multilingual education in the Chui region); these NGOs have later merged into the association "Til-Dil";
The study and dissemination of the project’s experience is done by the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education in partnership with CIMERA;
The Tajik Ministry of Education cooperates with CIMERA in the implementation of the multilingual education project;
A film "Two Languages Are My Two Wings" has been produced and aired on Kyrgyz television in 2003;
Project participants publish a bi-monthly bulletin Til-Dil that focuses on problems of multilingual education in the Russian, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek languages.
Publications / Events:
(In Russian and Kyrgyz): We are Learning by playing
Speech by Beatrice Schulter at the conference organized by the OSCE/HCNM, in Osh, Kyrgyzstan
Conference Proceeding 5: Multilingual education and Mother tongue education for national minorities in Kyrgyzstan
Conference Proceedings 3: Bilingual Education and Conflict Prevention

Education opens new doors
to the future (project photo)

Eurasia Foundation
Royal Netherlands Embassy in Almaty
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC

© Cimera 2001