Caravan of Knowledge from the «Roza Otunbaeva Initiative» FundMay 16, 2016, 06:00
From the 10th to the 14th of May, 2016, an 18-man team from the “Roza Otunbayeva Initiative” Fund traveled to the furthest corners of Kyrgyzstan: Kara-Soo, Chon-Alay, Ala-Buka, and Chatkal. All of these areas are located high in the mountains, for example, Chon-Alay stands at over 3615 meters above sea-level, while Chatkal is over 2841 meters above sea-level. As part of this journey, the team held meetings in these far-flung neighborhoods on a variety of subjects; including lectures on early-childhood development, consultations for teachers and professors on the subject of inclusive education, lectures for girls in higher grades on scientific education, and a workshop on ethnic dances. Former President of the Kyrgyz Republic and founder of the Fund Roza Otunbayeva spoke about the organization’s projects at these meetings, and presented the book My Father – Den Syaolin, the “Mekendeshter: Kyrgyzstandin Kelechegine Salim,” Forum, and the book After Three It’s Too Late by Masaru Ibuka. She also dwelt on the importance of early-childhood development, making sure to draw attention to the important role parents can play by reading out loud to their children at least 15 minutes a day, particularly when fathers read to their children. The entire journey represented an exchange of information and expansion of cooperation between different districts and states in the country. Representatives from the Osh National University, T. Satilganov District Lycee in Karakol, Center for Сhildren’s Creativity in Osh, as well as experts in inclusive education and Montessori-schooling, and choreographer Turganali Mamai from Bishkek all took part in the expedition. All the participants were given information about the Fund’s projects, such as “Inclusive Education,” Kindergarten in the Mountains,” “Optimization of Hot School Meals,” STEM,” and “Early-Childhood Development.” Experts answered a number of questions about inclusive education during the meetings, on subjects as diverse as early diagnosis and treatment for children with special needs. Experts from the Fund gave a lecture on the different categories of illnesses and their main symptoms, as well as how to address each unique illness in turn. During the meetings parents and teachers asked a lot questions, touching on supplementary allowances and financing mechanisms for the inclusive classroom and kindergarten classes, and were also able to consult with experts about concrete cases and work with specific children. This speaks to the need for out-patient consultations and the creation of a medical psychological/educational commission for the regions of Kyrgyzstan, especially the most far-flung ones. The lecture on Montessori-schooling generated particular interest. The humane relationship with children, the need for early-childhood development in kindergartens and within the family: these are all ideas that obvious to the majority of the audience – parents and teachers. Parents and teachers understand the importance of early-childhood development, investment in the future of their children, and the need for kindergartens and quality education. The workshops on ethnic dances, conducted by choreographer Turgunali Mamai, were met with great success. The dances themselves were interesting not just for children, but also for teens and adults. After all, Kyrygz dance is not just a artform, but a revitalization of the Kyrgyz cultural legacy; and it has become extremely popular among the citizens of Kyrgyzstan. The project “Organizing School Meals for the First Grade” was also presented during the meetings. Questions touched on the creation of an action plan for the introduction of hot meals into school menus and the participation of parents and local communities. Participants were not only able to get answers to what interested them over the course of the presentation, but also when addressing the sustainability of the project. Information in the form of stories and photos was given about the actions of various governmental and international organizations in addressing the improvement of school meals (for example, the schools that were part of the VPP UN program), and other organizations and schools that are independently introducing hot meals. Experts concisely related stories of cooperation between local government, schools, and parents in their quest to development school meal programs. Information and practical courses on how to use new informational technologies was in high demand not only among students, but among inhabitants of the district as well. As part of the “Women in Technology and Science,” (STEM) project, girls from the 9th to 11th grade were given lectures on education in field of STEM and shown video clips about the future of the field. Later, the girls were able to enjoy specially-created workshops on STEM (physics, chemistry, computer science), wherein they divided into groups by interest and explored the various subjects. Gulshaan Ergeshova, senior teacher in the Computer Sciences Department, showed the girls the main components of a computer and what they do. OSHNU teachers Aichurek Egemnazarova and Kuluipa Abdraeva gave workshops on chemistry and physics, during which they conducted small experiments and demonstrated how a laboratory works. The goal of the workshops was to show the girls that the hard sciences are not as complicated as they seem, and that each of them can do their own experiments independently, with the hope that they can work in these fields in the future. As part of the “Open Educational Resources” project, a series of presentations and trainings were given for school-teachers. A presentation on the book/directory Open Educational Resources in Different Disciplines (released by the IPF “Roza Otunbayeva Initiative” with the support of the “Soros-Kyrgyzstan” Fund) was also given to teachers. The book contains links to open educational resources on school subjects. Later, teachers listened to a presentation given by Djarkin Ubaidildaeva, deputy director of the UVR District Lyceum in Karakol, and Kasiet Emilbaeva, math teacher, on open resources for empowerment and the raising of interest among teachers about using OOR. In addition, provost of OSHNU O. Shaimkulov spoke about the experiences of India in the development of the IKT sphere. Later, Djarkin Ubaidildaeva and Kaciet Emilbaeva gave trainings for teachers on the use of open resources from the Internet, such as E-textbooks, books-on-tape, online classes, and other educational resources that can make preparation for classes interesting while ensuring that lessons are diverse. In conclusion, is should be mentioned that despite economic hardships and unemployment, these neighborhoods are developing: kindergartens and schools are being built, meals are being introduced in schools, and many new homes, hotels, and hostels are being built. It is worth mentioning, that schools in Chatkala and Chon-Alai now have interactive whiteboards, classes will stocked with computers, projectors, and webcams.