2008 Finalist Projects

Learning With-in Tent

Yurt Kindergartens - Kyrgyzstan

Yurt-based kindergartens are giving the chance of an education to the children of Kyrgyzstan's herders.

The herders of Kyrgyzstan - and their families - spend just under half the year on the 'jailoo' or summer pastures. It's a fun time for the herders' children, but they miss out on a crucial stage in their education.

The Yurt Kindergartens project was set up to take the school to the pupils. Classes are held in 'yurts' - traditional Kyrgyz tents made from animal skins stretched over wooden frames. As the herders move their own yurts from one pasture to the next, the Yurt Kindergartens follow. "It's not so difficult," says project coordinator Burulai Aitikulova. "It is very possible to carry our learning materials - and our classrooms! - on horses and donkeys."

Unlike the old Soviet school system with its standardised Russian curriculum, the Yurt Kindergartens teach the Kyrgyz language and focus on the country's unique and colourful traditions. Studies have shown that children who attend the Kindergartens do more than just keep up with their contemporaries in the towns - they actually learn more than if they'd stayed behind.

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