On September 1st, I participated in the opening ceremony of the new school year in Kalys-Ordo School # 86, located in a new settlement close to Bishkek in the Kyrgyz Republic. USAID has supported early learning activities in this community, to help more than 1,350 school-aged children participate in a 100-hour state-operated training course. The course prepares the children for school, and introduces the children to learning and a classroom environment. USAID also helps families with school registration, which can be such a hurdle that it actually prevents some kids from starting school. Seeing the pupils on their first day of school, excited and nervous at the same time, made me feel proud that the United States is investing in the future of this country through its children.
Youth represent the future in every country, and that is certainly true in Kyrgyzstan, a nation in the midst of dynamic change in Central Asia. Among USAID’s programs in the Kyrgyz Republic, we are investing in strong schools, healthy students, and modern education systems across the Kyrgyz Republic.
USAID Kyrgyzstan has been working on different educational projects in the Kyrgyz Republic since the country gained independence 20 years ago. Since then, with USAID assistance, students in Kyrgyzstan are able to have equal and transparent access to higher education and government scholarships. USAID has supported National Testing since 2002, a standardized exam that is used to award scholarships and is completely merit based. More than 240,000 students have taken the test and more than 44,000 scholarships have been awarded through 92 test centers across Kyrgyzstan. It is widely accepted that this national testing system has reduced corruption in the admission process to universities and has increased the overall quality of the students. USAID also supports access to quality higher education through a program that guarantees student loans in partnership with private financial institutions.
I am delighted and honored to work in an American program which engages both the government and society in Kyrgyzstan, to help bring about quality education for children and young people in this beautiful country.