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Children play at an early childhood development centre in Murghab.


Jonbegim Azizkhonova used to work as a primary school teacher at School #14. In 2013, after she retired, she joined the ECD centre as a teacher.

“Children, and especially their parents, like the centre a lot,” said Jonbegim. “We teach three groups, but there are many children who still want to join. Unfortunately, we cannot accept all of them because we just don’t have the space. Parents seem to prefer the centre over the local kindergarten.”

The centre now serves 70 children. Although most spots are paid for by parents, the centre also teaches children from vulnerable families who are unable to pay. Jonbegim shared an example of a girl who studied at the centre for two years, despite the fact that her parents could not afford the fees.

“Now this girl is a very active student at the school and participates in various events, sometimes getting first place,” Jonbegim said. “Her parents always say that her potential and skills developed in the centre, and this is what has been beneficial for her school life now.”

In the future, the centre hopes to expand to meet the community’s demand for its services. The ECD support group formed by AKF continues to help the centre meet emerging needs.

Since 2009, AKF has established more than 270 new ECD centres in Tajikistan and is supporting 320 ECD centres across the country. As a result, some 18,000 Tajik children aged 3-6 years have gained access to ECD services, while over 600 pre-primary educators and 550 ECD-related health workers have received support and training from AKF. Most of these centres are in Gorno-Badakhshan, which in 2020 reported significantly increased access to ECD services: up from 9 percent to 65 percent.

This text was adapted from an article published on the AKF USA website.