Tajik kindergarteners – close to 300 children, ages 1 1/2 to 5, have been waiting excitedly for the long winter to loosen its grip on Tajikistan. This spring the arrival of warm weather signals the start of Kindergarten No.5’s first school year with a brand new playground, installed late last September.
Along with the highly anticipated playground, which allows the children to challenge themselves and grow, Central Asia Institute raised money last year to build a boundary wall to improve the safety of Kindergarten No.5. The new playground equipment replaced twisted monkey bars and two rusted slides that sat abandoned behind the school, and the boundary wall will make sure the children are safe as they learn and play.
When the kindergarten first approached Central Asia Institute-Tajikistan (CAIT) about the project, our staff sat down with a team of experts (ages 3 to 5) to come up with a list of equipment to purchase. The focus group had plenty of suggestions:
“Cars and trampolines!”
Although, we weren’t able to include ice cream in the deal, the children will get to bounce, swing, and climb to their hearts’ content on a colorful new jungle gym, complete with swing sets, twisty slides, and rope walls. Mahbuba Qurbonalieva, director of CAIT, says the community is very happy with the new setup.
“The children like the playground very much and play there for an hour every day. Before there were just two slides for 300 children, but now children and teachers like the playground equipped by CAIT.”
Thanks to generous donations from CAI supporters, recess will be a fun-packed way for these young minds to relax, let loose, and build self-esteem and social skills during the long school day.
While the children at Kindergarten No.5 are looking forward to the new playground, their parents are excited about another development, a perimeter fence.
Kindergarten No.5 is situated in the very center of town, just a few yards from Khorog’s bustling marketplace. Men and women pass by the school as they dash to and from their homes, work, or nearby shops.
With so much activity, parents expressed concerns. Cigarette butts were flicked into the schoolyard, construction workers were loitering by the school entrance, and the many holes in the property’s fence meant anyone could come and go as they pleased. A nearby parking lot also made for a dangerous situation.
“There is a car park for the cars coming and going to Ishkashim District and therefore it was very dangerous for the children,” said Mahbuba. “Now the high boundary separates the cars from the kindergarten area.”
The new high fence, with lockable gates, is much more secure, and vibrant paint along its length adds a splash of color amidst the neutral tones of nearby buildings.
Mahbuba continued, “When I had visited Kindergarten No.5 to attend the Nowruz celebration (Persian New Year) the parents thanked CAI and CAIT for all the work we do to support education.
Previously, CAI has made repairs to the buildings crumbling walls and windows, replaced their nonfunctioning sewer system, facilitated trainings for all the teachers, and provided supplies for the children and their classrooms.
Thanks to Mahbuba’s hard work and the generous support of donors around the world, Kindergarten No.5 is shaping up to be a model early childhood development facility. The girls and boys, the countries future leaders, are learning and growing in a clean, safe, and fun environment.
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