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A Review of Education and ICT Indicators in Central Asia (by UNESCO Bangkok)

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The region of Central Asia includes five independent republics – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – all of which used to be part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) that was dissolved in 1991 (UNESCO, 2008). With similar historical backgrounds, the people of the Central Asian republics have much in common in terms of culture and languages. The region has been constantly making significant progress in areas such as primary school enrolment and gender parity levels since the Education for All (EFA) goals were adopted in 2000 as governments recognised the critical role of education in socio-economic development, social cohesion and national prosperity. Although there have been constant debates on the accuracy of the data, the Central Asian countries have shown their achievement in overall youth and adult literacy rates of more than 99%. Furthermore, all five countries have reported to have achieved a gender parity index (GPI) of 1. The GPI is an indicator that is commonly used to assess gender differences through the computation of the ratio of female-to-male values and gender parity is reached when GPI is between 0.97 and 1.03 (UNESCO, 2014a, 2014b; UNESCO-UIS, 2013).

However, the region’s progress has inevitably been hindered in recent years due in part to the economic downturn and conflicts. The total public expenditure on education accounted for 15% of total government expenditure of the region in 2007 but this figure decreased sharply to 11.8% in 2011, falling below the global average of 14.4% (UNESCO, 2014a).

Expanding access to pre-primary education has been and is still an ongoing challenge for the region, especially with more than 50% of the region’s population residing in rural areas. The pre-primary gross enrolment ratio (GER) of Central Asia remains the lowest in Asia-Pacific, with 58.29% enrolment in Kazakhstan, 24.71% in Kyrgyzstan, 8.80% in Tajikistan, 47.06% in Turkmenistan and 24.83% in Uzbekistan. Furthermore, children living in poverty-stricken areas are in need of early childhood care and education more so than others, and yet are least likely to enrol in and/or attend such programmes. For example, in Tajikistan, there is an apparent disparity in attendance rates in early learning programmes, with 1.3% of children from the poorest households to almost 30% from the wealthiest quintile. However, efforts to expand pre-primary education should not be discounted by the low GERs and participation, as there has been a significant increase in pre-primary GER over the decade in countries like Kazakhstan – from 30.92% (2004) to 58.29% (2013) – and Kyrgyzstan – 10.99% (2003) to 24.71% (2012) (UNESCO, 2011, 2014a, 2014b).

In terms of achieving universal primary education (UPE), progress has been uneven across Central Asia. Of the four countries that have available data, only Kazakhstan has reached UPE with a primary adjusted net enrolment ratio (ANER) of 99.10%, but the rest are doing relatively well with ANERs above 90%. Despite the declining numbers of out-of-school children in the region, there are still about 220,000 children who are not receiving the basic education they need. Notably in Tajikistan, the number of out-of-school children had been steadily declining from 18,001 in 2005 to 7,099 in 2012 but increased by more than three times to 26,792 in 2014. Besides enrolment into primary education, facilitating completion is another key element towards achieving UPE. Considering children from poorer families or rural areas face higher risks of dropping out, a more concerted effort is needed to address the needs and concerns of the remaining out-of-school groups so as to successfully reach the marginalized (UNESCO, 2014a, 2014b).

With the region’s attainment of relatively high ANERs, the next crucial step would be to assess the quality of education to ensure high levels of learning achievement. Progress in education quality depends on having sufficient teachers and ensuring that they receive effective training and support. Progress in reducing the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) has been modest which could possibly be the consequence of decreasing government expenditure on education. However, of four countries with available data, the PTRs remain below the global average of 24. In the case of Uzbekistan, a significant decline in PTR over the decade – 21.3 in 2002 and 15.6 in 2011 – has been reported.

Central Asia Education Indicators

 

Kazakhstan

Kyrgyzstan

Tajikistan

Turkmenistan

Uzbekistan

Gross enrolment ratio (%)

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-primary, Total

58.29 [2013]

24.71 [2012]

8.80 [2011]

47.06 [2014]

24.83 [2011]

Primary, Total

106.25 [2013]

105.86 [2012]

96.20 [2014]

89.37 [2014]

93.31 [2011]

Secondary, Total

97.71 [2012]

88.19 [2011]

87.00 [2012]

85.37 [2014]

105.17 [2011]

Tertiary, Total

44.53 [2012]

47.64 [2013]

22.47 [2012]

7.99 [2014]

8.87 [2011]

Gross enrolment ratio/Gender Parity Index (GPI)

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-primary

1.00 [2013]

1.02 [2012]

0.83 [2011]

0.97 [2014]

1.00 [2011]

Primary

1.01 [2013]

0.98 [2012]

0.99 [2014]

0.98 [2014]

0.97 [2011]

Secondary

0.97 [2012]

1.00 [2011]

0.90 [2012]

0.96 [2014]

0.98 [2011]

Tertiary

-

1.54 [2012]

0.52 [2012]

0.64 [2014]

0.65 [2011]

Adjusted net enrolment rate (%)

 

 

 

 

 

Primary, Total

99.10 [2013]

98.37 [2012]

96.08 [2014]

-

91.49 [2011]

Out-of-school Children

 

 

 

 

 

Primary, Total

8 921 [2013]

6 237 [2012]

26 972 [2014]

-

177 691 [2011]

Literacy rate (%) –  UIS estimate

 

 

 

 

 

Youth (15-24years), Total

99.84 [2015]

99.75 [2015]

99.88 [2015]

99.84 [2015]

99.95 [2015]

Adult, Total

99.79 [2015]

99.52 [2015]

99.77 [2015]

99.69 [2015]

99.59 [2015]

Survival rate to last grade (%)

 

 

 

 

 

School year ending in 2010, total

100.00

95.00

99.00

-

98.00

Pupil-teacher ratio

 

 

 

 

 

Primary education

16.5 [2013]

23.9 [2012]

22.4 [2014]

-

15.6 [2011]

Source: UNESCO-UIS. Country profile: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Retrieved from: data.uis.unesco.org/index.aspx

In terms of ICT development, there is great disparity within Central Asia with Kazakhstan at the top of the ranks[1]. While the ICT development index of Kazakhstan is above the global average of 4.77 out of 10, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan remain below. This is however not unexpected as all five countries except Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are classified as low-income countries. There is also a great variation in connectivity, with universal internet connectivity in Kazakhstan to around 60% in Uzbekistan, 7% in Tajikistan and only 3% in Kyrgyzstan. Compared to Kazakhstan, both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan reported very low ICT household penetration with less than 10% of households having access to the internet. Gaps in internet connectivity in the region could be attributed to several factors such as difficult mountainous terrains and reluctance of Internet service providers (ISPs) to unprofitably operate in rural areas with low population density. (ADB, 2012; ITU, 2014; UNESCO-UIS, 2014).

ICT Development Index (IDI), 2012 and 2013

Economy

Global Rank 2013

IDI 2013

Global Rank 2012

IDI 2012

Global Rank Change 2012-2013

Kazakhstan

53

6.08

53

5.80

0

Kyrgyzstan

108

3.78

107

3.69

-1

Tajikistan

-

-

-

-

-

Turkmenistan

-

-

-

-

-

Uzbekistan

115

3.40

116

3.27

1

Source: ITU. Measuring the Information Society Report 2014. Retrieved from: www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/publications/mis2014/MIS2014_without_Annex_4.pdf

 

ICT Access Indicators

Economy

Fixed-telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants

Mobile-cellular subscriptions per 100 inhabitants

Percentage of households with computer

Percentage of households with Internet access

 

2012

2013

2012

2013

2012

2013

2012

2013

Kazakhstan

26.8

26.7

185.8

180.5

63.0

63.0

52.6

55.0

Kyrgyzstan

8.9

8.3

124.2

121.4

17.6

20.0

7.2

7.7

Tajikistan

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Turkmenistan

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Uzbekistan

6.9

6.9

71.0

74.3

8.0

9.3

9.6

9.5

Source: ITU. Measuring the Information Society Report 2014. Retrieved from: www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/publications/mis2014/MIS2014_without_Annex_4.pdf

 

The region of Central Asia is making headway, albeit at a relatively slow rate, towards achieving the EFA goals. It is also evident that several factors such as the persistence and consequences of conflicts and a huge rural population have hindered the region’s progress. Therefore, a more concerted effort is required to address these challenges. There has also been a focus on expanding access to education over the decade but with that in the works, it is now crucial for the region to work on improving the quality of education. In this aspect, teachers play a vital role, and hence the need for not only more teachers but also sufficient training and support for them is timely (UNESCO, 2014a).

 

Contact info: Jollyn Peiling Cheong, jp.cheong@unesco.org 

 

References:

ADB. (2012). ICT in Education in Central and West Asia. Retrieved from www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/29964/ict-education-central-and-west-asia-exec-summary.pdf

ITU. (2014). “Measuring the Information Society Report 2014.” Retrieved from www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/publications/mis2014/MIS2014_without_Annex_4.pdf

UNESCO. (2014a). EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/14. “Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All.” Retrieved from unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002256/225660e.pdf

UNESCO. (2014b). Regional Report on Progress Towards Education for All in Asia and the Pacific. Retrieved from www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/ED_new/pdf/APA-GEM-2014-ENG.pdf 

UNESCO-UIS. (2013). “Adult and Youth Literacy: National, Regional and Global Trends, 1985-2015.” Retrieved from www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Documents/literacy-statistics-trends-1985-2015.pdf

UNESCO-UIS. (2014). “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education in Asia: A Comparative Analysis of ICT Integration and e-Readiness in Schools Across Asia.” Retrieved from www.uis.unesco.org/Communication/Documents/ICT-asia-en.pdf


[1] The measurement used here is the ICT Development Index (IDI), a composite index combining 11 indicators – categorised into ICT access, ICT use and ICT skills – into one benchmark measure, and used as a tool to monitor and compare developments in ICT across countries. Theoretically, IDI values range from 0 to 10 and the greater the value, the higher the level of ICT development – globally, the average IDI value is 4.77 with the lowest IDI value of 0.96 in the Central African Republic and highest of 8.86 in Denmark. Further details on the methodology used to compute IDI values can be found in: www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/publications/mis2014/MIS2014_without_Annex_4.pdf



24.03.2015