How did a Kyrgyz education project become a participant in the international BOOST competition?

Posted July 28, 2022

"Blackboard, teacher and desk" - this familiar method of education for us is becoming less relevant every year. It’s not just the modern world in general, but the children themselves. After all, new generations come up with new approaches.

Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed many problems in all part of society, including education. Today, we are going to talk about the Kyrgyz project "MUGALIM", which aims to help teachers transition to online learning.

A major difficulty for the development of online education and e-learning platforms is the post-pandemic crisis. The pandemic caused major disruptions in education systems around the world. School closures reversed decades of educational progress and caused irreparable damage to children's education. Kyrgyzstan was no exception, with teachers finding it difficult to adapt to new, online platform of teaching and learning. A secondary school teacher, Oksana Grigorievna, shared her experience, where a lot has changed, and no one imagined that the entire curriculum would be redesigned to an online format.

"We faced the challenges of teaching in this format. Every teacher coped with the transition of work to online as best they could. I and some of my colleagues got into the MUGALIM project, and the platform was accessible and user-friendly for all teachers. The material was clear, we chose our own convenient time to take the course. Upon completion, I was able to plan my lessons, prepare tests and quizzes with more ease. Moreover, I found an additional job, and now I am also an e-school teacher.”

                                Oksana Stefan, Issyk-Kul oblast, L.N. Tolstoy Secondary School No. 1, mathematics teacher

The MUGALIM platform has become a kind of salvation for teachers who are used to working in a traditional format. The creators of the platform point out that 97% of the participants are female teachers. In this way, the team supports the professional development of women through continuous learning. The platform itself was launched by three young women who are experts in pedagogical design, marketing and educational project management. The aim is to give teachers access to the most advanced skillsets in education. The experts developed courses to help teachers acquire skills of a 21st century educator. These courses are hosted on the MUGALIM platform and are available to every teacher, regardless of their location.

"We have developed a course on the use of modern digital technologies in the education system and prepared a mentor support programme. As a result, we have trained over 1,000 teachers from across the country. Our team is very proud of the results. Seeing the great demand from the teachers, we developed the project. With investments, our team developed an online education platform for teachers and the first professional development courses that take into account the principles of neuropsychology of learning and key approaches in online learning.”

                                            Aisuluu Zhamangulova, founder of the MUGALIM project.

The MUGALIM team not only trains teachers but also actively develops itself. For example, for 12 weeks, the project founders received training at the United Nations Development Programme, which consisted of five modules, such as business acceleration, impact measurement and management, digital transformation, crowdfunding and behavioural intuition. The team worked with entrepreneurs from other countries and were inspired by joint results and networking. The BOOST programme attracted them with opportunities to find partners to scale their work and receive mentoring support from world-class experts. In addition, the project was in search of funds to improve the product and reach out to other Central Asian countries.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that gender stereotypes and cultural norms often hinder women and girls' access to digital technologies and reduce their employment opportunities in the ICT sector. Women are more susceptible to restrictions from the family primarily due to existing social norms - and thus find themselves excluded from the digital transition. Unfortunately, access, ownership and use of digital tools is not gender-neutral, but the United Nations Development Programme actively supports initiatives aimed at developing women's knowledge and competencies.

 

For reference:

BOOST: Women Innovators, launched in February 2022, is an open competition for women innovators across the region using innovation and technology to promote gender equality. Recognising that women entrepreneurs are still rare in the region and that women are particularly underrepresented in terms of venture capital funding, the call focuses on strengthening, connecting and connecting women-led start-ups, SMEs, social enterprises, non-profits and academic institutions, and helping to scale their innovative ideas and solutions.

Around 300 applications had been received by the closing date of 15 March. Starting on 11 May, the selected cohort of 55 innovators undergoes a 12-week BOOST acceleration course.