By: Rudina Vojvoda
NEW YORK, 18 January 2013 – In 2010 UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics launched the Global Out-of-School Children Initiative (OOSCI), an equity-focused effort whose goal is to reduce the number of out-of-school children, to address disparities in access and attendance and achieve universal primary education by 2015. Kyrgyzstan, one of the 26 countries participating in this initiative, recently published a country-level study on out-of-school children. The study describes the situation of out-of-school children in the country, the progress made by the government to get children into school and the challenges ahead.
This study emphasizes the complex and multidimensional barriers and bottlenecks that cause children to be out of school. It is clear that the issue of out-of-school children cannot be tackled in isolation, and a multi-sector approach is needed. Based on the findings of the OOSCI report, there is a crucial need to address the barriers to education in coordination with other sectors, particularly in areas of health and social protection.
The OOSCI Kyrgyzstan study hopes to pave the way towards a more inclusive education system, where children can participate equally and meaningfully regardless of poverty, disability, gender, ethnicity or other circumstances.
Key findings on out-school-children in Kyrgyzstan
While estimates on the number of out-of-school children in Kyrgyzstan vary, there is consistency in identifying that the largest group of out-of-school children is 7 year-olds. This indicates that one of the main challenges is late enrolment in primary school.
Children living in rural areas, children from poor backgrounds and children living in families that do not speak the official language are much more likely to be out of school. In addition, street children, children without registration documents, children living with a disability, children of migrants and children affected by ethnic conflicts are particularly vulnerable to exclusion.
Poverty affects the out-of-school rates of boys more than girls at the secondary school level, with boys being almost three times as likely to be out of school. Poverty also drives many children to seek employment despite their young age. In Kyrgyzstan, over a quarter of children aged 5 to 14 is involved in some form of labour. Even though students who are engaged in child labour may not necessarily drop out of school, their attendance, learning achievements and future job prospects are compromised.
The report also highlights some of the major government interventions to achieve primary education and includes testimonies from children excluded from education and their families.
To learn more about the situation of out-of-school children in Kyrgyzstan, download the full report:Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children: Kyrgyzstan Country Study