First and Only Teacher from Impoverished Province to Win Prestigious Award
In 2019, Atomamadova Angoma was named Tajikistan’s “Teacher of the Year.” But unlike previous winners, she hadn’t grown up in the country’s cosmopolitan capital city, Dushanbe, or the nearby prosperous provinces. Instead, Atomamadova grew up and began her career as a teacher in the impoverished and isolated eastern province of Tajikistan, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO).
Atomamadova was the first and only teacher from GBAO to win the prestigious “Teacher of the Year” award. But she may not have won at all if not for a two-week training hosted by Central Asia Institute Tajikistan. In the training, Atomamadova learned about lesson planning, how to accommodate different learning styles, child development, and much more.
“I am grateful to the trainings that CAI-Tajikistan organized for the preschool teachers,” she said. “The knowledge gained during these trainings helped me a lot. Working with children, teaching them different types of activities and seeing the result of my work makes me feel proud.”
Looking to the future, Atomamadova hopes that many other teachers from GBAO will have the chance to take the CAI-sponsored training and improve their knowledge and learn new skills. “I would like to ask CAI-Tajikistan to continue their training, which is very helpful for the teachers as well as for the children because the results of the children’s achievement depends on the qualified teachers.”
Ensuring that the children of Central Asia receive the quality education necessary for them to succeed academically and in life requires investing in teachers. That’s why, in 2019, Central Asia Institute trained 456 teachers. These devoted educators will, in turn, use their improved knowledge and skills to open the minds and unlock the potential of thousands of students, now and in the future.
No one in Freshta’s family wanted her to get an education. Her brother was especially adamant. The family was poor. He knew she’d be harassed and bullied in school.
“But I never gave up,” she recalls with confidence. Freshta credits the opportunity to attend CAI’s Literacy and Vocational Program in Kabul, Afghanistan with changing her life. It was a big deal that the courses were free. “I could move toward a career without going into debt.”
Was it easy? No. Freshta was criticized for being a girl in school. She wanted to quit many times, but the people who didn’t believe she could do it motivated her to get past the challenges and complete the training. “I wanted to prove to them that I could do it.”
Freshta turned harassment and ridicule for going to school into the motivation she needed to finish the training. She refused to give up. As a graduate of the livelihoods program, she has options that once seemed impossible. She can read and write. She’s a trained seamstress with a marketable skill. She’s earning income for her and her family.
Beyond learning to read and write and sew, the livelihoods program empowered Freshta to believe in herself. “Don’t give up,” she tells young girls. “When you feel like the obstacles in your path are insurmountable and your goals are no more than pipe dreams, don’t give up. Ever.”
Alia is the daughter of parents who cannot read or write, yet they were adamant that their six children—including the girls—get an education. The family lives in a rural village without a proper road, high school, or health clinic. Girls typically quit school after grade 10 and get married.
As a little girl, Alia had to cross two streams on her walk to primary school. Middle school and high school were in a village two miles away. Even with a four-mile walk, Alia was the top student in her class. Her dream was to study science in college but the family lacked the funds to pay the fees. They heard about the CAI scholarship program through a friend. Alia nailed the interview and was awarded a scholarship. “This was the beginning of a new chapter of my life,” she said.
With tuition and hostel expenses covered, Alia finished her Bachelor of Science Part I degree. She received a second CAI scholarship to complete her B.S. Part II. There’s no way she could have continued without the scholarship. “Our family expenses are very much bigger than my father’s income.”
Alia is the first girl in her family to graduate from college. She has her sights set on becoming a chemistry professor. From humble beginnings in a society that values boys more than girls, Alia is on her way to holding a master’s degree because of the support from donors like you.
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