Uzbekistan: The Best of Endeavors for the Sake of Children

This week, the parks of the country are crowded with kids as never before, for several reasons. First of all, the school year is over and the summer holidays have begun. Another reason is the International Children's Day, celebrated every year on June 1 around the globe.

There is hardly an organization that would ignore this date. For example, the international charity fund Soghlom Avlod Uchun, jointly with the Republican Public Children's Fund Sen Yolghiz Emassan, the Ministry of Public Education and sponsoring organizations, have been running a specialized week under the motto ‘Love and Care for Each Child’ in the the best parks of the country. The campaigns are held for foster children of mercy homes, specialized boarding schools, as well as children from socially vulnerable families.

The public youth movement Kamolot and its children's branch Kamalak have stepped up these days to arrange eventful leisure for young people. Many specific events have been organized along with the release of fiction books of the series ‘Kamolot Library’, traditional competitions and sports competitions. There are cultural and educational events under the slogans ‘You Are Pillar of the Country, Dear Child!’, ‘Love and Care for Every Child!’ It is worth to mention a photo contest ‘Shirin Bolajon’. The creative competition has collected thousands of photographs depicting children from the age of one to six years in the family circle, at playgrounds, parks, preschools, schools. The best works will be published on the International Children's Day.

The ‘Shirin Bolajon’ contest is held for the second time, and the organizers promise to make it regular. If it succeeds, it will be interesting to collect all photos of the participants in ten years, or at least the winners of those years. The pictures will allow tracing the real state’s concern for children.

The fact that children in Uzbekistan are surrounded with love and care is indicated by the scale of ongoing creative initiatives of social infrastructure facilities in rural areas. They were empowered by a program of measures implemented within the framework of the Action Strategy for Five Priority Areas in Uzbekistan for 2017-2021. Perhaps, there is no area ignored, every effeort is aimed at raising the level and quality of life of the population. The environment for the creation of healthy and happy families has been created with special care. Happy families raise happy children. There are many initiatives that focus on the smallest citizens of the republic.

Let’s take culture and recreation parks, for instance. Despite the fact that the program, which was focused on the development of their network, was completed last year, and under which over 225 parks were repaired and reconstructed, the work on their creation has entered a new level. Six state-of-the-art parks of culture and recreation are currently being built and reconstructed in Tashkent alone. They are built using modern architectural solutions, new attractions. For example, a new park is being built in the Shaykhantahur district, Babur Park is moving to new premises, and the park in Navoi Street is being revamped.

Taking into account the needs of the younger generation in children's playgrounds, new residential blocks are being built in urban and rural areas. Even the recently adopted program on the repair of multi-apartment housing stock and improvement of adjacent areas attaches special importance to the repair and construction of children's playgrounds with modern attractions. They should appear next to each house.

A Program on Further Streamlining of the Preschool Education System for 2017-2021 is another important initiative. As a result, more than a million children will go to nursery schools. The ongoing changes and transformations are entailed by correct solutions of relevant problems, satisfaction of the needs of the younger generation. Unfortunately, far not all nursery schools, especially those in rural areas, are well-equipped and practice progressive methods of learning. Besides, the percentage of enrollment of children by pre-school educational institutions in remote areas is still low.

What are the ways to address pressing problems? In the next five years, it is planned to build 50 new nursery schools, revamp 1,167, and overhaul 983 nurseries. The institutions that will be built to updated design will have comfortable summer pavilions, playgrounds, and swimming pools. 2.2 trillion soums (currency rates of CB RU from 02.06.2017, 1$= 3846.33  soums) will be allocated for this purpose. Construction and repair works totaling 265.4 billion soums have been scheduled for this year alone.

According to preliminary calculations, the integrated measures should increase the coverage of children with preschool education by 1.5 times. By 2021, they will receive more than 1.1 million children.

The range of favorite books will expand. To expand children’s outlook, it is very important to cultivate the love for reading in them from an early age. Therefore, the organization of small libraries in pre-school educational institutions rangs among the priorities today.

In 2017-2018, libraries will be created in 2,420 nursery schools, consisting of 50 titles for children selected from among the best samples of Uzbek and world literature. They will undoubtedly contribute to shaping correct idea about the value of the book.

The Program on the Further Improvement of the Preschool Education System for 2017-2021 focuses on expansion of the network of nongovernmental nursery schools, and reduction of parental fees in rural areas. A practical step in this direction has already been made: as of February 2, 2017, the attendance fee for children of pre-school educational institutions has been cut by half in Karakalpakstan and Khorezm region by the resolution of the head of state.

Under the Program, more than 55,000 pedagogical workers will be assigned to gradually advance their qualification, thereby ensuring the training of comprehensively mature professionals who are dedicated to their profession.

The Ministry of Public Education runs monitoring and analytical activities to ensure a complete and high-quality implementation of the program, which is designed to bring the performance of pre-school educational institutions to a totally new level. Jointly with concerned organizations, experts study the main directions of work of nursery schools on the basis of the calendar plan. They assess the quality of teaching sessions and the educational process, the facilities for improving children’s health, their physical and intellectual growth, the level of provision with teaching aids, and the pedagogical skills of teachers.

In this context, the introduction of the most effective pedagogical technologies into preschool education, creation of all organizational and technical conditions for that builds up an effective foundation for growing the new generation capable of taking responsibility for the future of the Motherland. Approved by a Presidential Decree, the Program on the Further Improvement of the Preschool Education System for 2017-2021 sets large-scale tasks. It envisages taking measures to strengthen the logistical capacity of 2,200 nursery schools, construction of new schools in rural settlements, equipping them with modern tools, equipment, teaching aids and multimedia. The initiatives will help to educate the younger generation in decent conditions, reveal their aptitudes and talents.

6,100 short-term groups will be organized across the country in order to further improve the quality of preparation of children for school with effective use of alternative technologies of teaching. The list of urgent tasks in rural areas includes the opening of groups to prepare 5-6-year-old children for school, and conduct practical classes to stimulate their mental abilities and logical thinking. As their activity is established smoothly, more than 305,000 children will successfully pass this important stage annually. To date, 1,220 short-term groups of this kind have been established in the country, covering 81,000 preschool children.

When studying the experience of developed countries, it is important for us not to imitate their methods, but to comprehensively analyze, choose the most acceptable and suitable, and then supplement and enrich them. Pursuing solely this policy, our country will introduce the advanced programs of preschool education and upbringing. They will help the children attending short-term groups to learn to read and write, acquire the first mathematical skills.

Certain measures have also been taken to increase the role and responsibility of families in preparing their children for school. For example, parents whose 3-6 year-olds do not attend pre-school educational institutions for certain reasons, are provided with methodological aids. For the first time ever, methodical guides of seven titles have been created for them for a short time. They can be used through school libraries. The colorfully illustrated editions contain all the knowledge needed for the future first-grader. They will help parents to introduce their childred to the world of knowledge, develop perseverance, attention, and strengthen memory. Since 2017, such literature ​​will be gradually supplied to 400,000 families in rural areas in Uzbek, Russian and Karakalpak languages.

In pursuance of the Action Strategy for Five Priority Areas for 2017-2021, measures have been taken to further improve school, college and academic lyceum education. New state educational standards were approved for secondary, secondary specialized and vocational education. Up to 2017, schools worked in accordance with 1999 standards. Those were the first standards in the history of national education, which envisaged the requirements and the amount of knowledge that students should acquire at each stage of their study. This year, the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers has approved new standards, which were developed taking into account previous experience, and which have several fundamental differences.

Previous standards were applicable for schools, and separately for colleges and lyceums. This is how they were conceived and approved. That entailed inconsistencies in learning the subjects, which did not have the best effect on the quality of education. The new standards for twelve-year compulsory education, comprising nine years of school and three years at the college or lyceum, are considered as a single whole. This allows avoiding all possible shortcomings.

Previous standards and curricula set priority for the academic education, that is, learning of the material. Everything was arranged in a way that, upon the completion of the study, a child was able to say: "I know ...", while now the educational process is focused on the development of practical application of the stuff learned.

The system of education has to ensure that, according to the results of the topic covered, the student might say: "I can do ..." It is important that a child did not just know, but knew how to apply the received knowledge in practice. Thus, the preparation of children for professional work will begin already at school.

The system of secondary specialized vocational education has been radically revised. A corresponding Presidential Resolution was adopted according to the results of the critical analysis of performance of academic lyceums, aiming to improve their activities.

144 academic lyceums functioned throughout the country for in-depth preparation of students for university admission exams. However, as the analysis of their activities showed in terms of the perspective development of the regions, taking into account the territorial, demographic, economic and other social factors, the performance of the lyceums on vocational guidance of graduates in choosing higher education institutions is unsatisfactory. Therefore, it was decided to abolish four of them, and restructure 54 lyceums into colleges.

Another innovation implies that academic lyceum graduates will receive a certificate confirming the confernment of the profession, along with the diploma. According to experts, this should significantly help their entry into an independent life.

The initiative of the Ministry of Labor and Higher and Secondary Special Education on the conduct of the ‘Startup Week’, supported by commercial banks and the youth public movement Kamolot, has become innovative. Graduates will have a chance to present their projects to representatives of banks, local authorities and potential investors, as well as get some assistance and support in starting a business. To participate in the ‘Startup Weeks, graduates need to submit an application with a brief description of the project, its purpose, the social and economic problem (task) being addressed, the target audience, the cost (own funds, bank loans, investor funds), the planned number of jobs, and other details. The authors of the best ideas will get a support in their implementation.

Healthcare has been another public policy priority since the first days of independence, with a special focus on the protection of motherhood and childhood. According to the latest data published by the World Health Organization, 99% of children under one year of age in Uzbekistan are vaccinated (against the required 95%). Uzbekistan shared the first line with Belarus and Turkmenistan. Thus, our country ranks among the CIS leaders in vaccination. Meanwhile, the implementation of programs on provision of pregnant women from rural areas with free polyvitamins, enrichment of salt and flour with micronutrients that lack in the environment, has been underway in Uzbekistan to ensure the morbidity prevention since early childhood.

The abovementioned facts point out to the level of availability of qualified medical care, which includes all phases of care, ranging from disease prevention to the provision of hospital aid. At the same time, unprecedented measures are being taken in the framework of the adopted documents to make this assistance even better and accessible.

Pediatricians, or doctors who specialize in the treatment of children, have appeared again in the primary link of health care - family clinics and rural health units. This should allow to significantly improving the quality of medical care. Additional provision of the ambulance service with specialized vehicles and equipment it needs will undoubtedly have a positive impact on this work.

The Republican Specialized Research and Practical Medical Center for Pediatrics, the Clinic of the Tashkent Pediatric Medical Institute, the Republican Specialized Research and Practical Medical Center of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Republican Perinatal Center keep working on the introduction of advanced diagnostic and treatment methods. The introduction of new technologies in the regions has been a priority of similar relevance. It is facilitated by the appropriate equipping of regional medical centers.

The entire complex of measures creates an excellent microclimate in the country for a happy and healthy childhood.

(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

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