On September 23, 2020, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) donated 285,000 children’s books to more than 1,000 public schools and libraries across the Kyrgyz Republic. These books include 45 new and adapted titles in Kyrgyz and Russian languages appropriate for primary grade students. The official handover ceremony took place today at the Bayalinov Library with the participation of the Deputy Minister of Culture, Information, and Tourism Mr. Kairat Imanaliev, USAID/Kyrgyz Republic Acting Mission Director Ms. Alder Bartlett and Director of the Pre-School, Basic and High School Education Department of Ministry of Education and Science Marat Usenaliev.
The new books include story books, fairy tales, poems, riddles and other interesting material for children in grades 1-4. The titles were developed in collaboration with local authors and illustrators to make sure they are best suited for children in the Kyrgyz Republic.
“High-quality books in a variety of genres and on diverse subjects are an important gateway to learning for young students,” said Ainagul Bazarbaeva, a children’s author. “We hope to inspire a new generation of learners and build the foundations of reading and critical thinking that will help children grow and thrive.”
During the handover ceremony, USAID also presented its new project – Oku Keremet! – which is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. This new five year initiative will focus on improving children’s math skills in addition to reading skills. The total budget of the project is almost $19 million.
“Okuu Keremet! will work in more than 1,600 schools across the Kyrgyz Republic and we will invest in the professional development of over 18,000 teachers and other educators. We expect that more than 300,000 students will benefit from the project” said Acting Mission Director Bartlett. “It’s the United States’ goal to see a book in the hands of every Kyrgyz child, and we are working closely with the Kyrgyz government to make this a reality.”
Under the Okuu Keremet! project, USAID will support the creation of around 1,500 new book titles. USAID plans to deliver over a million copies of these books and other supplementary learning materials to target schools across the country over the next five years.
“We hope that going forward, the project will develop and provide the schools with new books and materials that not only improve reading skills of children, but also strengthen their math skills” said Marat Usenaliev.
The new project is a part of an ongoing partnership between USAID and the Ministry of Education to improve basic education in the Kyrgyz Republic.