Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Schoolteacher Shortage Continues

Rural schools in Kyrgyzstan continue to be short of teaching staff as the profession is so poorly paid.
There aren’t enough teachers, and those there are sometimes don’t turn up for lessons,” reporter Janar Akaev was told by a pupil at a school in Bash-Bulak, located in the southern district of Karasuu.

Teacher Kanybek Ayilchiev complained that the going wage does not even cover subsistence costs. He earns 2,000 soms a month – about 50 US dollars a month – while a sack of flour now costs 1,500 soms.

“How can one feed a family on a wage like that? And buy clothes and shoes for them?” he asked.

Like others in Kyrgyzstan, the Bash-Bulak school has found ways round its staffing shortages.

Halima Nabieva, for example, has been taken on as a Russian-language teacher after retiring 12 years ago. At nearly 70 years of age, she is getting tired but plans to work until the end of this academic year.

Kanyshay, now the school’s English teacher, is only in Bashbulak because she was “stolen” by the man who is now her husband. The abduction of brides remains common in Kyrgyzstan.

It was not easy for someone with a college education and a career plan to suddenly find herself living in a village. “At first it was hard,” admitted Kanashay. “It felt like I’d entered a different world.”

Professor Gulbadan Matieva , who has been looking at the state of schools in southern Kyrgyzstan, says teachers are now treated worse in terms of benefits and provision than they were during the Second World War, when the Soviet Union was up against the wall. “Why can’t we place a proper value on teachers’ work now?” she asked.

Education officials insist efforts have been made to encourage young teachers to work in the provinces. There is a special government programme to offer new graduates financial incentives to do a stint in country schools.

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