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Hiroshi Saeki: The World Bank remains committed to continued collaboration

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Hiroshi Saeki: The World Bank remains committed to continued collaboration

On February 1-2, 2024, national and international media representatives participated in the press tour to Taylak district of Samarkand region to learn about the results of the work carried out in preschool education and projects run in collaboration with the World Bank.

At the beginning of their trip, participants took part in a press conference attended by the representatives of the Agency for Preschool Education and the World Bank, who shared the results of their work. It was noted that based on international experience, investments in good quality preschool education ensure children’s preparation for school, their social adaptation, and the development of necessary knowledge and socio-emotional skills. For these purposes, Uzbekistan is implementing promising projects in collaboration with international organizations.

In accordance with the Education Development Plan for 2019-2023, in cooperation with the World Bank, new and alternative models of preschool education have been introduced in remote and hard-to-reach areas of our country. The next step in this direction was the “Improvement of Early Childhood Development” project launched based on Taylak Pedagogical College of Samarkand region and Kasansai Pedagogical College of Namangan region.

Within the framework of the project, according to the order No. 195 of the Ministry of Preschool and School Education, “Early Development Centers” started working as a pilot of the experiment. Each includes three alternative models: home visits to low-income families with children not covered by preschool education, organization of 20 developmental playgroups, and home visits to families with children needing additional educational needs.

World Bank Senior Economist Hiroshi Saeki noted that investing in the education of young children is a potent means to foster the development of human capital from an early age, thereby stimulating economic growth. Uzbekistan, recognizing the significance of this endeavor, has partnered with the World Bank to enhance both the accessibility and quality of early childhood education.

“Over the past four years, our project has made significant strides and continues to demonstrate commendable progress”, Mr. Hiroshi Saeki noted. “Three primary objectives guide the project: firstly, to increase access to early childhood education; secondly, to enhance the quality of learning environments in selected public preschools; and thirdly, to facilitate systematic measurement of education quality for informed decision-making”.

According to Mr. Hiroshi Saeki, the project has played a crucial role in the systematic measurement of education quality, not only for preschools but also for basic education. Introducing the MELQO assessment tool, for the first time in the country, for early childhood development quality and children’s readiness for school, the project has contributed to rigorous evaluations of training effectiveness. This institutionalization of quality measurement tools and processes supports regular and routine data collection, fostering continuous improvement in preschool education.

Furthermore, the project has enabled the Ministry’s participation in international assessments such as PISA, PIRLS, TALIS, and TIMSS, providing valuable insights into the effectiveness of the education system and informing policy updates.

“While our project has significantly advanced Uzbekistan’s ECD system, it has laid the foundation for further development and improvement. The World Bank remains committed to continued collaboration with the Ministry and the Agency even after the project concludes in December 2024”, Mr. Hiroshi Saeki said.

During the press tour held in Samarkand, media representatives got acquainted with the activities of this center.

The project’s primary goal is to nurture children’s individual potential, abilities, and needs, further physical, mental, and spiritual development, social adaptation, individual educational programs for children with special needs, and create favorable conditions for modern inclusive preschool education.

Participants received additional information on “Early Development Centers”. Namely, they work in three models. The first covers families with children aged 3 to 6 who are not covered with preschool education and those who live in hard-to-reach areas without access to preschool education. Work with children is organized in families, with the active participation of parents in accordance with the “First Step” state curriculum.

The second model works based on play groups. Such groups were opened in the “Early Development Center” for children aged 3-7. The educational process is carried out in accordance with the state curriculum “First Step”, parents can participate voluntarily. Playgroups consist of children of a certain or different age. There can be from 15 to 20 children in a group.

Families with children aged 2-6 years with disabilities are covered under the third model. When working with children needing special education, parents will be provided with the necessary psychological and pedagogical assistance. A defectologist, psychologist, and pedagogues will make home visits.

The project experts claim that the project “Improving Early Childhood Development” has been successfully tested as an experiment.

This project helps children of many single mothers, families in need of social protection, and families with limited opportunities for their socialization, and provides them with psychological and social support. In this way, it helps people find their place in society and helps children without attention and coverage develop according to age.

There are 50 mahallas in Taylak district. Of these, children from 41 mahallas are covered. The farthest neighborhoods are located 45-50 km from the center.

Since the beginning of the project, the center has covered 1413 families and 1617 children from these families.

The World Bank Group supports the efforts of the Government of Uzbekistan to expand the provision of ECD (Early Childhood Development) services through the Investment Project “Improving Early Childhood Development”, which became effective on December 13, 2019.

The project is implemented by the Agency for Preschool Education under the Ministry of Preschool and School Education for five years (until December 31, 2024), divided into components and mainly financed by the International Development Association (IDA).