Social Entrepreneurship and Education in Kyrgyzstan

There is not a single kindergarten in Archa Beshik. This district of Kyrgyzstan’s capital city is home to an estimated 50,000 people, many of whom are young families raising two or three children. There are two primary schools, but neither has the capacity to educate all of Archa Beshik’s children.

Archa Beshik grew from waves of internal migration that began in the early 1990s. People from all corners of Kyrgyzstan moved to Bishkek in search of jobs. The migrants settled here building homes with the materials they could find, and making do without running water or electricity. Over time things have slowly improved in Archa Beshik; however, the community is still lacking schools.

This summer saw a promising sign of change. In June, the community had an official opening ceremony for the Aikol Children’s Development Center. The brainchild of Nuriya Temirova and Gulnara Shukeeva, the center provides classes for children from vulnerable families in Archa Beshik. The women decided to establish the Aikol Children’s Development Center after Nuriya attended a program on social entrepreneurship in Poland. The program, run by the Social Research Center at the American University of Central Asia, brings together promising leaders from NGOs in Kyrgyzstan with social entrepreneurs in Poland to exchange ideas and experiences. It is supported by Open Society Foundations in Kyrgyzstan and Poland as well as the East East: Partnership Beyond Borders Program.

Once Nuriya returned to Kyrgyzstan the pair got to work. They set up the center in an office building. They acquired bookcases, tables, and chairs from a local education project funded by USAID. And they enlisted members of the community to donate classroom supplies and toys for the children.

The opening ceremony was a remarkable event. It was attended by community members, NGO representatives, donor organizations, local authorities, and—most important of all—happy children and their parents. Children performed song and dance, and local residents used stones to write tynchtyk (peace) in front of the center.

Today, fifteen children from the ages of three to six years old attend four hours of daily classes at the Aikol Children’s Development Center. Tutors help the children play games, read, and count.  The center is planning to recruit a second group of children and hopes to insulate the building in time for winter.

The time Nuriya spent in Poland learning about social entrepreneurship has made a real impact on the lives of Archa Beshik’s youngest inhabitants. What began as an exchange of ideas culminated in the creation of a children’s center; a vision became real change.

6 Comments

I'm interested in more detail about a number of aspects of the project.
How much money was necessary in U.S. dollars?
How were the community leaders identified?
What kind of school will the children go on to?
What was the nature of the training in social entrepreneurship?
What is the nature of the Social Research Center at the American University of Central Asia?
What will the Social Research Center's relationship be to the Asian Women's University in Bangladesh and now forming in Singapore?
Is social entrepreneurship being taught?
Is Ashoka related to either University?

Dear Ellen,
Thank you very much for your interest in this project. We are happy to answer your questions.
1) The Office was provided free of charge by several self-helpgroups. Around USD 1000 were paid for essential furniture, toys, learning materials for children, and some administrative charges.
2) The community leaders were identified through creation and development of self-helpgroups.
3) The children will attend public primary schools.
4) The participats of trainings were taught the principles of social entrepreneurship and visited 16 Polish social social to know how social entreprenuership works in Poland.
5) You can learn about the Social Research Center at www.src.auca.kg. The SRC started this project as a followup of our research on social enterprenership. We felt obliged to continue spreading the idea of Social Enterprenuership to local NGOs.
6) At this moment we have not any relationship with Asian Women's University. We would be happy to know about this unviersity if you could send us information.
7) Social Enterpreneurship is not taught in our country, therefore, we applied to East-East Program of Soros Foundation to take a group of Kyrgyz trainers that first learnt about SE from Polish experience and now conduct trainings in Kyrgyzstan to spread this knowledge among local organizations.
8) Unfortunately, we do not work with Ashoka.

Further step would be:
1. Giving opportunity to parents and people from community to donate facilities like books, toys, games and other educational tools to share.
2. Identify partners from community and parents like teaching volunteers and babysitters (schoolchildren, house wives, pensioners, etc.) who can share their time and knowledge on Center's goals, like developing children reading, singing, math abilities and other activities.
3. Using the locally familiar system of "Ashar", actually volunteering with participation in the community development, particularly this Center. This Center can grow to be "Yourth Development Center", depending on capacity.

Dear Jyldyz. Thank you very much for your comments. We will forward them to the leader of the Center. Your advices are very valid.

Dear Djyldyz,

How can I contact you?

Regards,
Aizhan

Hello there,

I am a student getting my Masters in social work in the U.S. I was wondering if you might be able to tell me a little about how the social service system is set up in Kyrgyzstan for social workers? Also about how your agency became aware of all of the supports in your area to start such a wonderful program as this, are they well advertised or was it difficult to find the assistance?

Thank you so much for your time!
Krysta

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