Not long ago, Ramil*, now 19, was one of nearly 11,000 children who grow up in orphanages and boarding schools in the Kyrgyz Republic. Many are required to leave at the age of 15 to 17 because of official regulations. Having to adjust to a new life with limited support, some end up on the streets—a life Ramil knew all too well.
Many teenagers around the world are in high school, preparing to leave for college. But Dastan Umetbai Uulu, a 17-year-old journalist from Kyrgyzstan, is completing his 16th story in the past few years. He is a product of his own determination and the skills provided by a USAID project.
Curtailing Kyrgyzstan’s school racketeering culture is not a simple task—myriad forces work against progress. Some insist that the education system reflects problems within Kyrgyz society at large, including ethnic conflicts, civil unrest and powerful organized crime syndicates.
Like other youth in her village, at 16, Adina Bazarbaeva assumed she would eventually go to Russia to find work when she finished school. “I didn’t think I had anything to contribute to society,” she recalls. “I wasn’t focused on developing myself, setting goals, and achieving success. My life was boring.”
April 2014—In November 2013, a group of 20 student body presidents from the Talas region organized a charity concert that included performances by schoolchildren, youth art groups and local comedy troupes. Ticket sales from the concert raised over $300, all of which was donated to a local nursing home.
Last updated: August 21, 2014