West Cascade Peace Corps Association
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Projects - Expanding Educational Resources

Name of ProjectExpanding Educational Resources
LocationKyrgyz Republic
ContactH. Yoder
Description of Project

Expanding Educational Resources, a Peace Corps Partnership project at a high school in Kyrgyzstan, is being organized by a PCV from Oregon, H. Yoder. The project will create an English language resource center in a high school where students currently have a limited range of English materials and often use outdated materials from the Soviet era.

The new center will supply students and faculty members with up to date books and digital materials and encourage contributions from both groups. Faculty and students from several classes will use the center. The organizers expect that the center will enable students to learn English to a higher level and thus gain better opportunities for university education and in the job market.

Additional Information

Please note the blanks (___) are where the name of the village or other identifying information was edited out before this information was provided to us.

1. Executive Summary:

As of right now, _____ Gymnasium School in ____ Village, Kyrgyzstan, does not have any outside resources for students learning English. Students who have books are learning from outdated materials from the Soviet era. The purpose of the proposed English resource center is to give students access to current books and materials. It will also help those students who may find the traditional classroom a difficult one to learn in. The center will encourage students to explore learning opportunities on their own outside of the materials they are given in class. A computer and the digital encyclopedias will also provide students and faculty members with current information about a variety of topics that they will find useful both if they are learning or teaching. This project is sustainable; students and faculty will be welcome to add their own contributions to the resource center now and in the future. When new books and materials come in, there will be a place to keep them where they will be readily available to those who might find them useful rather than limiting their access to one or two classrooms. With access to these resources, students will gain a better English language education, a better chance of getting into top universities, and a competitive edge in the job market.

2. Background Information:

___ Village is a rayon center in the ___ Oblast with approximately 15,000 current residents. ___ depends largely on tourism to stimulate its economy. There are sixteen families involved in CBT, or Community Based Tourism, an organization that hosts tourists who want to experience a more traditional visit to Kyrgyzstan. A large draw for many tourists is the ___ Lake, which is located 100 kilometers from ___.

Since ___ is a rayon center, many products are easily available. The center houses two libraries: one for children and one for pupils and adults. There are several good-sized shops in the center, including ones that sell school supplies, personal hygiene products, and household wares. The ___ Bazaar sells a small variety of clothing, shoes, and boots. Once a week on Saturdays the ___ Bazaar takes place, which is where most people buy their animals. The ___ Bazaar also offers a much larger area to buy clothing and housewares. The food market is small but offers fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables year-round. ___ has had volunteers before who have successfully implemented sustainable projects in ___ and at ___, a women's cooperative that makes shyrdaks (traditional rugs).

There are four schools located in the rayon center, and ___Gymnasium School is one of them. Of the four schools, ___is closest to the center, currently has 1,378 students enrolled, and is the only gymnasium school in ___ rayon. The school has a reputation for producing some of the best students in the rayon. Since 1997, seven students have been selected to study in America through the FLEX program. Many students take either first or second place in the Academic Olympiad each year in different subjects.

3. Community Need:

The condition of the School has been slowly deteriorating. The school was built in 1985 and has not been updated since then. Most of the resources currently available to teachers are from the Soviet era. While the school caters as best it can to the students studying there, there is currently no English center available for students to study at. The proposed resource center will provide teachers and students with updated materials to learn English rather than using outdated books. We will also request an encyclopedia set on CD in both English and Russian. With a computer and these encyclopedia sets, we will enable students to learn to obtain information on their own outside the classroom. Having access to these outside resources will not only improve their English but will also greatly expand their knowledge about the world and many topics they are not familiar with because they do not have the materials available to them.

Every student is required to learn a foreign language, and since most students choose to study English an English center would greatly benefit the majority of pupils at this school and would serve as a resource for students to enhance their reading and listening skills. Many students are very self-motivated, attending English clubs in their free time and spending significant time outside the classroom working on their speaking skills. These students would find the center an ideal place for practicing their language skills outside the classroom. Given that most classes are still taught in the traditional style of following a textbook, this center will also provide a place for students to explore other methods of learning.

4. Community Initiation and Direction:

The administration and faculty of the school are extremely supportive of this project. The English teachers at this school initiated this project, backed by the administration. Previously, English books were housed in a small room that only one English teacher had a key, and therefore access, to. The administration has offered to donate a much larger room to this project, and also to pay the salary of an extra employee so the center will be open and operable during the school day and students will be free to use the center as they wish.

The community is also taking direct responsibility in implementing the project. They have already found outside sources to complete jobs such as building the cabinets and shelves needed, and also delivering the newly purchased computer to the school. They are also donating time and labor as well as extra monetary funds to repair the room where the center will be. My counterpart and I will be responsible for the transferring of skills not only to students on how to effectively utilize the center, but also to faculty members, on how to maintain the center's success and sustainability. The community will then be responsible for making sure the center remains open for students and that its resources continue to expand after the I have left.

5. Community Contribution:

The total cost of this project is slightly over 2,000 $USD. The School is showing it's support for this project by contributing 27% of the total costs. They have agreed to donate the monetary funds needed to purchase smaller items needed to repair the venue: metal bars for the windows, a plug-in for the computer, nails, paint, and desks and chairs. They will also be funding the cost of the transportation to bring outside materials to the school, like the shelves, cabinets, and computer. Also, several teachers have volunteered their labor in the actual repair work of the room. They will install the bars, paint the classroom, lay new flooring and linoleum, and install electricity and the computer. Their largest contribution that is also most geared toward sustainability is the donation of the large classroom and their willingness to pay a faculty member an extra salary indefinitely in order to keep the center open and available to the students during the week.

6. Project Implementation:

Beginning in May, the counterpart and volunteer will ask the cabinet builder to begin building shelves, cabinets, the computer desk, and round table. During this month ___will also purchase the materials needed to repair the room designated for the center, and with the help of the the computer teacher, ___, will find and purchase a computer. The months during summer vacation have been designated as the time when the repairs to the center will be made. The Counterpart and her husband, as well as various other available teachers employed at the school will make the repairs including installing electricity. Following the repairs, the finished cabinets and shelves will be installed by the same teachers who will make the repairs, and the room will be furnished with the table, computer desk, computer, and donated desks and chairs from the school.

After the room has been repaired and furnished, the counterpart and the PCV will move the books and teaching materials the school already has into the center. We will sort and categorize the books and materials by difficulty level and subject and then designate cabinet and shelf space for the various topics and categories. The books will be filed accordingly before the beginning of the new school year in September.

The school has already designated one staff member who will make sure the center stays open during the week for students to use. The counterpart and the PCV will train her on the categorization of the center and teach her how to file new books and resources so that any new materials that come in will be filed correctly and students will be able to find the resources they are looking for quickly and efficiently. This training will take place in August, before the beginning of the school year.

Once the center is furnished, categorized, and the staff member has been trained, the students will be welcome to use the center as they like, following a training by the counterpart and the PCV on how to find and use the resources that will be available. Given that there are 1,378 students currently studying at the School, these trainings will take place over several months, from September through November.

7. Project Sustainability:

This project is designed to benefit the school for years. The room the school has designated for the center is spacious, and the shelves and cabinets are large enough that they will be able to hold the books and materials that have been donated already with plenty of space for any new materials to come in. The faculty and administration at the school have pledged their full support for this project by locating a larger venue than was initially planned and by agreeing to hire an employee that will be responsible for the categorization of materials and maintenance of the center in the future. This person will serve as a librarian and will hold regular work hours so that the center will be available to students when they want to access it during the school day. The school has agreed to take on this extra employee and pay her salary indefinitely. The administration has also taken into consideration the need for more computers in the center in the future. The school will donate extra desks that will accommodate students who want to study independently while in the center, but in the future can potentially hold more computers.

The school has a history of self-motivated students who are eager to utilize any and all resources the school has to offer. With the support that the faculty and administration have shown, I believe that this project will greatly benefit students for years to come. It will also serve as a resource for English teachers since we will house outside teaching materials there. It also has enough space to hold trainings and seminars for teachers in the rayon. In short, although the students at the school will be affected on a daily, regular basis by this project, it will also benefit the community as a whole both in the near future and for many years to come.

WCPCA Contribution to Project$960

Date of ContributionApril, 2011