Digital transformation: An opportunity for long-lasting improvement of quality of education service delivery in Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan [CIES Presentation]

Digital transformation: an opportunity for long-lasting improvement of quality of education service delivery in Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan Over the past decade, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyz Republic have been consistently demonstrating their commitment to quality education, evidenced by the amount of GDP allocated to education. These education systems aim to produce world-class graduates capable of success both globally and at home. Various donors have stepped in to support these efforts in a coordinated way via direct funding of initiatives that enhance instructional skills, increase accountability for excellence, and improve formal and non-formal learning environments. In Uzbekistan, critical thinking, problem solving, and practical skills are at the forefront of the Ministry of Public Education (MPE)’s agenda. In the Kyrgyz Republic, performing well on the upcoming PISA survey in 2025 is a focal point for the Ministry of Education and Science (MOES) in recent years. And, in Tajikistan, COVID-19 provided an important opportunity to rethink the delivery of in-service teacher training from in-person to a blended learning format, resulting in impressive early grade learning gains. However, the COVID-19 crisis brought many education systems to a grinding halt, and these three countries were no exception. Nevertheless, the speed and efficiency with which their education systems adapted has been remarkable. It speaks to their resilience, rooted in the fact that these countries enjoy strong institutional, financial, and policy legacies that are strongly rooted and capable of weathering storms. Undoubtedly, the strongest driving force behind this change is the belief shared at all levels of their education systems – especially at the level of parents and teachers – that education is important. It comes as no surprise that when faced with the challenge of school closure due to a pandemic, their various systemic actors collaborated and adapted their approaches to continue delivering teacher professional development (TPD). In the Kyrgyz Republic, after less than a year following the outbreak of the pandemic, the majority of teachers reported accessing online learning resources, and 85% of teachers did so using smartphones. The USAID-funded Okuu Keremet! project had planned to deliver teacher training in person, but swiftly shifted to development of blended learning modules for reading and mathematics. It designed an online training platform that in a short period of time was accessed by 18,000 registered teachers and librarians. The online learning platform integrates Google Analytics that can allow the Ministry of Education and Science (MOES) to not only monitor progress towards certification of individual teachers, but to also detect, in real time, the teachers and schools that are lagging behind . In Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Public Education (MPE) has made significant investment in continuous professional development, and as part of its growth strategy, Avlonyi has created a Learning Management System (LMS) for teacher accreditation based on OECD teacher professional development standards. To aid Avlonyi in this significant undertaking, the USAID-funded Uzbekistan Education for Excellence Program (UEEP) project developed a blended TPD model comprised of synchronous and asynchronous in-person and online assessment-based learning events (with the focus to improve Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) instruction for grades 5–11 and 1-11, respectively). In addition to gaining skills through this opportunity, teachers will achieve career advancement through the accreditation of their efforts by Avlonyi. In Tajikistan, the impact evaluation data shows strong performance as a result of the USAID Read with Me project implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. TPD in Tajikistan applies digital development principles, a multi-user coaching and training platform, which provides content and accountability for self-regulated learning, coaching, peer learning and performance monitoring, including uploading assignments and assessments, aligned with the National Teacher Competency Framework. The EGRA end line results clearly showed the benefit of effective teaching techniques correlating to oral reading fluency gains of more than thirteen correct words per minute. This panel brings together researchers and practitioners documenting the transformational change of Teacher Professional Development in the three Central Asian Republics – Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Panelists will discuss details about the effectiveness and utility of online learning platforms vis-à-vis TPD and student learning gains; the skills required to make this shift to digital, self-regulated learning; and lessons learned for getting these new platforms mainstreamed into educational systems.