New issue note on promoting technology-enabled education and skills development in rural and remote areas in Central Asia published
The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) and the UNESCO Almaty Office have jointly published the issue note Promoting technology-enabled education and skills development in rural and remote areas of Central Asia. It explores the realities and challenges of technology-enabled education in the four Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
More than a half of the region’s population resides in rural areas (57.5 per cent), with the lowest percentage of rural inhabitants in Kazakhstan (43 per cent), followed by 50 per cent in Uzbekistan, 64 per cent in Kyrgyzstan, and the highest in Tajikistan (73 per cent). Even before COVID-19, there was an evident skills gap between rural and urban students’ learning outcomes. During the learning crisis that ensued following the pandemic, these gaps have become more pronounced.
The issue note covers key information about the context of education in the rural areas of the four Central Asian countries, the ICT infrastructure and connectivity, the quality of education and skills development, and the impact of COVID-19 on education and lifelong learning. A particular emphasis was made on investing in the expansion of open educational resources in national and minority languages and rural-focused digital skills programmes for educators, youth and adults. It furthermore provides insight into specific challenges, and outlines recommendations for each.
These Central Asian countries are invited to critically examine the lessons learned from best practices during the pandemic, explore the potential of learners and communities, and leverage technologies effectively for the future. Finally, there is a call for all four governments to draw attention to the transformative potential of lifelong learning in the sub-region and to enhance their educational planning to make it more resilient in the face of future crises.