CARK Education Forum
Date: 13 December, 2001
CENTRAL ASIAN REPUBLICS AND KAZAKHSTAN (CARK) EDUCATION
To generate dialogue amongst education policy makers in the Central
Asian Republics and Kazakhstan (CARK), to support commitments to
the maintenance of quality and universal basic education.
Background and Rationale:
The ten years since the CARK countries gained independence have
seen many developments in education policies. These include a review
of the languages of basic education, the widespread introduction
of new technologies into the classroom, and reflection about the
role of vocational education for teenagers. The years since independence
have also seen Governments endorse the principles of Education for
All, and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both
echoing the highest level of political commitment to the principle
of maintaining a quality and universal basic education for their
Whilst national education systems have evolved in ways that reflect
the evolution of the five countries more broadly, they have also
shared a common starting point, and many of the challenges facing
policy makers have been shared. Equally, the determination of Government
to maintain their education systems through a period of terrific
fiscal pressure has also been evident in each of the countries.
Against this background, there are limited opportunities for education
policy makers - whether at the political level or that of technical
expert - to share experiences of the last decade, and the challenges
that they are currently dealing with.
It is proposed to establish a CARK Education Forum to draw policy
makers together to review experiences of education reform, and consider
policy options relevant to current agendas.
Drawing on the lessons of the CARK Mother & Child Health Forum ,
it is proposed to convene a meeting of senior officials of the Ministries
of Education of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan
and Uzbekistan, to discuss a broad agenda of issue current to the
education debate in these countries. The agenda would comprise of
issues common to the countries, or specifically suggested by Ministries
which feel that there would be benefit to them or their colleagues
in discussing particular agenda items.
Should senior officials believe that it would be useful, it is
proposed that technical working groups would discuss such matters
at a technical or professional level, meeting as necessary between
It is proposed that the Forum be open to international organisations
and bilateral donors active in basic education in the CARK region,
and that involvement of relevant civil society organisations be
considered by the Forum.
It is suggested that the members of the Forum may wish to nominate
one of their members to the Presidency of the CARK Education Forum,
which would subsequently rotate amongst the Government members.
It is proposed to provide a Secretariat to support the Forum, and
this would service the administration of the annual meeting of the
Forum, and the technical working groups held between annual meetings.
The initiative is supported by the UNESCO and UNICEF offices for
the countries of Central Asia and Kazakhstan.
The initial Forum meeting meets at a time when there are major
international initiatives involving education:
the World Education Forum met in 2000, with participating countries
undertaking to complete National Plans of Action for to achieve
the Education for All goals agreed at the World forum by 2002;
the Global Movement for Children, in connection with the UN General
Assembly Special Session for Children, commits itself to a global
partnership to ensure a broad swathe of children's rights, including
quality basic education.
These commitments involve universal access to education for all
school age children, with a quality that is defined by "basic
skills" that all children will have to be equipped with to meet
the challenges of evolving societies.
The CARK countries enjoy high rates of school enrolment, with
limited disparities between boys and girls, which see near universal
levels of literacy. However, whilst there are no indications of
widespread patterns of children dropping out of school, there
are some indications of pressure on school enrolments, and non-attendance
in some areas is considerably higher than formally reported statistics.
Where studies investigating this have been carried out, it appears
that there is no single reason for this, but factors related to
the quality of education pre-dominate.
On the other hand, recent Monitoring Learning Achievement (MLA)
studies that UNICEF and UNESCO have undertaken with the governments
of three CARK countries (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan)
revealed that children score well in mathematics and social science.
Learning achievement, in general, is over 80% (dropping slightly
in rural areas). The MLA studies also showed that for most pupils,
education still focuses on subject content. 96% of teachers use
blackboard as the main teaching method, whilst just 5% of teachers
use out-of class activities. Another teaching method predominating
is "home work" (95%), though there is no mention of participatory
active learning processes, which would equip children with basic
life skills such as inter-personal communications, problem solving,
conflict management and healthy habits.
The CARK Education Forum would attempt to address issues related
to ensuring Quality Basic Education for All in CARK Countries.
It will provide a platform for high-level decision-makers to review
and monitor the activities to achieve universal quality basic
education. It will provide an excellent opportunity for professionals
and practitioners to share their thoughts, experiences and the
results of their scientific work in achieving the these goals.