Dilya Zoirova, Communications Associate in the World Bank Tajikistan Office, offers this story.
Every morning Tohirov Abdurahmon and his youngest daughter Omina head out for school # 15 of Hissar District in Tajikistan, about 30 kilometers from the capital city of Dushanbe. Abdurahmon goes there to teach social studies and history, while Omina joins her high school classmates to learn. The place where father and daughter spend their days has recently changed for the better: gone are cracks in the walls and leaks in the roof.
Almost 50 schools in the country have been similarly repaired and upgraded as part of the EFA Fast Track Initiative Catalytic Fund Grants administered by the World Bank. The grants support implementation of the country's education strategy to increase access to better education in places and with materials that are more conducive and welcoming for students to learn.
Tajikistan aims to deliver better education by fixing rundown schools and supplying them with furniture and basic equipment. In addition, new textbooks and educational materials are being printed. Teachers and principals receive additional training and qualifications, while school management and financing has been reformed. Per capita financing has been introduced nationwide along with an education management information system.
School #15 was rebuilt two years ago. Two buildings, 15 classrooms, the library, the computer classroom, and restrooms were repaired and upgraded. Desks, chairs and other furniture were also replaced. Abdurahmon notes that these changes have already had positive effects. "In previous years, our school was in really bad shape, but after the reconstruction the environment both outside and inside the school is pleasant. Of course, this positively affects the kids' desire to study."
Odil, Second Grade Student
More work remains to be done. A few kilometers away, school #56 of Hissar is not even a recognizable schoolhouse. Instead, there is a dilapidated structure where cracked walls and a leaky roof are longstanding problems that let in the harsh Tajik winter weather. Things are especially tough for second graders, whose classes are taught in a room reminiscent of a shack. However, the grim situation is about to change. This school has been selected to receive a new building. Once construction of the new building is completed by mid 2012, it will have 12 classrooms, a computer classroom, a teacher's lounge, new desks, chairs and other furniture. Also, one of its most important new features will be the boiler room, a necessity for heating during the cold winter months. Odil, a second grader at this school, is very enthusiastic about the upcoming changes as they would provide him with basic tools to succeed in the future. "Once my school becomes better and nicer, I will study hard and become an important person in the future," exclaims Odil standing nearby ongoing construction, which is in full swing despite the cold weather.
Several teachers from this particular school have already taken a course in modern education methods. Boboyev Orziqul, a physics teacher, was one of them: "We have gone through an interactive training course, which helped us significantly. It is aimed at using methods of actively engaging students' participation. We have gone through a total of 164 hours of training and now are employing these methods in our school."
It is expected that by the end of 2012, these grants will have helped build and rehabilitate a total of 75 schools and published 1.6 million textbooks and study materials. Almost 4300 teachers and 1100 school principals will have had training in various updated methods of teaching and management.
Education is one of the most vital tools for development, prosperity and growth. Thus, through investing in education, Tajikistan is investing in one of its most valuable assets—its human capital. As Tajikistan contributes to the development of its young and growing population, it is also investing in its future growth and the well-being of its society at large.