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Construction of a K-12 School Applying the Principles of Deep Education and a Forthcoming Deep Teacher Education Institute

 Good education is the premise of progress in every society. 

        Tajikistan was a part of the Soviet Union after the collapse of USSR; then the country faced crises in many spheres. It just celebrated its 25 years of Independence, but the progress isn’t much noticeable.  The conditions of current public schools require complete renovation of existing structures. The government has been unable to provide heat in public schools for more than 25 years. Children have a long vacation in winter because of freezing classrooms. Children are studying in the classroom with coats and gloves. Although Tajikistan is receiving a lot of external support, the funds are not used appropriately.

     In the early years of the transition, there was also great pressure to revise the curriculum in ways that reflected the breakup of the Soviet Union and the reconstitution of the new socio-demographic make-up of the countries in Central Asia. ADB, World Bank, and FTI all earmarked sizeable portions of their grants for curriculum reform, even though most of the funds have been used to revise policy documents rather than pedagogical practice. The education system in Tajikistan experienced a structural reform pressure on curriculum reform that has triggered generous donor support. Tajikistan extended schooling from 10 to 11 years, and intends to eventually extent the years of schooling to 12 years. It is an area of ongoing reform with ample external assistance (Sina & Natasha, 2007).  In the Soviet Union, the education system was at good level. The Soviet Union generation is getting old, and the new generation doesn’t have sufficient knowledge. There are some scholarship programs provided by the embassies, but most of the students after completion of the program do not want to come back to the origin country. Family with sufficient funds send their children to study abroad, but most of the youth receive an education in Tajikistan.  

     Although the government of Tajikistan requires recurring in-service training of school teachers (every 3-5 years), there is no in-service training required for instructors. Furthermore, there is no systematic financial support for those instructors who seek other forms of professional development. According to a study conducted in 2015, 72% of all university instructors in Tajikistan had not engaged in any form of professional development between 1995 and 2015, and only 18.5% have received some form of professional development (“retraining”) between 2000 and 2005 (PULSE, 2006).

Here begins the deep venture in Khujan. Dr. Umeda Gadaybaeva (2017), professor at the University of Khujan in Tajikistan, highlighted the necessity to build a high tech and modern school in her work, which led her to found the Arkon Language School. As an award from the government, she receives a land to built a school. Here is a brief history of the school funding and the plan for future funds and projects. Dr Gadaybaeva has been working in the education sphere for about twelve years. She was an instructor at Khujand State University and defended her Ph.D. degree in Typology.  In 2012, she opened Arkon Language School (www.arkon.tj), and within five years the language school became the biggest school in Tajikistan. In five years, the number of employees increased to 72 employees, and  the school is now inviting native speaker teachers from the USA, Australia, Canada, India, and UK. The school became an accredited TOEFL center, cooperating with the Goethe Institute, U.S.  Embassy, British Embassy, China Embassy and Erasmus Mundus. Dr. Gadaybaeva has applied for two projects with Erasmus Mundus and won the scholarship for the school's students. In 2015-2016,  37 scholarships were paid for students to study through Erasmus Mundus and Arkon Language School in Germany.

To improve teacher education, the school is cooperating with Senior Expert Service (SES). The expert from Germany came three times a year to provide teacher training to the school staff. Nowadays, Arkon Language School holds more than 1900 students learning English. Its students won a lot of scholarships (UGRAD, FLEX, Fulbright) and won school Olympiads. As well, Arkon Language School is actively involved in a Charity program: the school is buying food, clothes, towels, lining, diapers and medication for the nursing home, hospital of cancer and orphanage. Every year, Arkon Language School offers 20 students a 100% scholarship for orphans and the poor. Also, they are renting a cinema and organizing Movie Day twice a year for free. The students  watch movies in English, and after the movie, there are activities and prizes for the students.    

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 Picture: Arkon K-12 School and forthcoming Deep Teacher Education Institute

        During its five years of operation, Arkon Language School has opened 3 branches and one pre-school. The branches located in Kanibadam, Spitaman, Chikalovsk and the pre-school in Gafurov city. The ceremony of opening Arkon Academy Pre-school was on 1st June 2016. The curriculum and syllabus were prepared by an expert from Estonia. In the first month of operation, the enrollment was full in the academy.

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Picture: The Arkon School and its Major Actors 

        Education is one of the main factors for human development, also for maintaining the social, economic, political system. A well-educated nation is the foundation of a country. For the improvement of our life conditions, the youth should be well-educated. All powerful countries around the world have the strongest education. Therefore, Tajikistan should pay attention to the quality education of the new generation. 

         Due to the success of the first school, community members have called Arkon to build a K-12 school with deep quality education. The parents are asking to build a second K-12 school that their kids can continue education after pre-school in Arkon School with the same quality. Furthermore, the name of Arkon is now very famous in my country. As a result, the government awarded  land to Arkon to build a new school. The land is about 3 hectares, and It is a 15-minute drive from downtown. The school is spending a lot of money to support its operation needs, and inviting teachers who are native speakers is a major expense. The students pay US$18 per month. Foreign teachers' rent, utilities, salary, work visas and apartment, as well as work permits, flights, utilities, taxes, stationary for school, phone, internet access, etc are covered by the school.

        Dr. Gadaybaeva cannot start building a new, Deep S chool with the small amount of money that was used to start her language school. Fund raising is being organized by Deep University International, our Charity, to help her build a school with depth and the highest quality education, and allow her to face the financial challenge. Umeda knows how to create an outstanding school and we may help her train deep teachers but the finance issue has to be solved.   

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Picture: The land awarded by the government to build the Deep School, which may serve as a threshold to create a Deep Teacher Education Institute

        Good school are built on good teachers. Most private schools are not providing teacher training courses in Tajikistan. They are focus on an old framework rather than educating the new generations.  Tajikistan has two kinds of schools: private and public. People with sufficient funds may prefer to send their children to the private school rather than the public system. In the public school, many classes may be canceled by teachers; there is poor discipline, no teacher training programs, poor work condition, and poor education. There are many private schools, their quality is somewhat better from the government schools. The private schools rarely see class cancellation, bad learning and teaching conditions, average discipline, or bad education.  There still are some post-Soviet teachers with old methods of teaching but with extended subject-matter knowledge. If these teachers move to another private school most of the students will follow the teachers and move to the other private school. 

        The government needs the support from its citizens to improve the education. For that very purpose it gives land to people who want to build a school. The public schools are weak because of lesser control and possibly careless attitudes, and the teachers salaries are low. Private schools have more success because management is working, increased accountability and care about good business. Khujan, the capital, has some international schools, but so far Khujand City did not have very good schools. The only one good school with quality education in Dushanbe is QSI, which is very expensive QSI tuition costs $ 6.000. Children of embassy employees usually go there.

        The average salary in Tajikistan is US$100 per month, and the private school should not be as costly for people. The average people should have access to quality education. In the present project, the goal is to provide deep and affordable education.  The school will need a lot of students to enroll to cover school expenses because of school tuition is very low. Arkon School has built a strong reputation, and this will be the same for the deep K-12 school . The school will also provide discounts or free education in K-12 school for orphans and the poor as well as providing weekend teacher training programs for teachers in Sugd Oblast. It will offer extracurricular activities on weekends for students from other schools, such as swimming lesson, drawing classes, yoga, music classes, basketball, ballet. We don’t have these activities in whole Tajikistan. The funds will directed to create new buildings for the school, to provide water system, heating system, electricity, and supply with the equipments.

Then the focus will be on finding the fund to create a Deep Teacher Education Institute.  

 

 

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