Ak-Bata School (School of Blessing) is a private school in Tokmok, with 200+ students from grade 1 to 11. It teaches mainly in Russian, the official language of business in Kyrgyzstan. That is despite the fact that 70+% of the population in Kyrgyzstan are Kyrgyz, who are mostly Muslims, while only 6% of the population are Russian. The school seems to be quite good. Even many Muslims send their children here, despite having to pay a fee, when the public schools are free.
The School in Kemin has 30+ children with mental or physical disabilities. It is in Kemin, at the eastern end of the valley near the foot of the mountains, in an area where the population is 90% Kyrgyz.
The school at Ivanovka Village, with 200+ students, serves mainly the Dungan people in Ivanovaka, mid way between Bishkek and Tokmok. The Dungan are believed to be part of the Hui Muslim people in China in the Qing Dynasty. They moved here due to war in the 1800s.
The Yrayim School in Djarbashy teaches only in the Kyrgyz language. It is situated at the foothills of the mountains, south west of Tokmok, with 50+ students.
International University of Central Asia is in Tokmok, with 200+ students in 7 disciplines, including information technology, linguistics, business, law, economics, pedagogy (kindergarten education) and international relations. Here we found that some of the students speak German. During the Second World War, many German prisoners of war captured by the Soviet Red Army were settled here.
On the west side of Bishkek, there is another group of schools. The School in Belovodsk has 200+ students.
The School in Kara-Balta has another 200+ students. Again, many Muslims send their children here even though this is a Christian School. The children of the Kara-Balta Children Home also attend this school.
The Children Home in Kara-Balta takes in orphans and social orphans, whose parents cannot take care of them. The children are very well taken care of. They also operate a community centre in the public park, set up in an old container.
We are planning to set up computer laboratories and science projects, with appropriate computer-based equipment for hands-on projects, in some of the schools and perhaps community center. We may invite some IUCA students to work with our students to serve the students in some of these schools and communities. A lot more planning needs to be done. This is just the beginning.
One of the many things that struck me during this short exploration of Kyrgyzstan is the ethnic diversity. In less than a week, we have met Russians, Kyrgyz, Germans, Dungans, … and perhaps others that we did not recognize. I have also learned how the Kyrgyz used the Russian alphabet to create the written Kyrgyz language. This is where history, linguistics, geography and much more come alive.