Reforming Curriculum Design and Pedagogy for Improved Learning in Uzbekistan
- Project Name: Basic Education Textbook Development Project
- Region/Country: Central and West Asia/Uzbekistan
- Sector and Themes: Education
- Year: 1998–2004
- Project Leaders: Marc Cohen and Zulfia Karimova
The project also introduced new thinking and practices, thus enhancing capacities within the Ministry of Public Education.
Basic education in Uzbekistan was underfunded after its independence in 1991 as the country was shifting to a market economy. Lacking essential inputs and operating within the old outdated system of education, the quality, relevance, and access to basic education became major concerns for the government. Textbooks were outdated and unaffordable. This impacted the morale of educators and students, and significantly reduced learning.
In 1995, the government started to implement a change in the medium of instruction from Uzbek Cyrillic to Latin script, requiring a comprehensive rewriting and reprinting of textbooks. Thus, improving education quality by providing textbooks that are better designed, more affordable, and more durable—as the textbooks are rented out—became a priority for the education sector. At the same time, during this time, the government restructured and extended compulsory education to 12 years, introduced state education standards, and abolished provision of free textbooks by the state.
Uzbekistan and ADB became partners in 1995, and one of the first projects was to produce a large quantity of good quality textbooks with modern content. The Basic Education Textbook Development Project (BETDP), approved in December 1997, comprised two components: a development finance institution loan of $20 million for publishers and printers for upgrading equipment and procuring high-quality paper and cover board; and a project loan of $20 million for other project components, including capacity building, and purchase of selected textbooks.
Knowledge products and services delivered
The project enabled publishing of new textbooks and built the capacity of teachers. It supported publishing of more than 60 million textbooks in 6 different languages, 2 million teachers’ guides, and 49,000 visual aids. The capacity of the Ministry of Public Education and teachers were built through TA that included training on the new pedagogy and learning curriculum.
Impact and results
The introduction of an innovative textbook rental scheme allowed parents to pay a fraction of textbook purchase price as rental fees. This made the supply more sustainable, as fees collected are designated for buying replacement copies of textbooks. The program also helped enhance skills and capacities through the newly developed curriculum, improved pedagogical and methodical quality of textbooks and learning material, and guides for teachers. Enhanced capacities within the Ministry of Public Education has continued to benefit ADB operations in basic education and contributed to cumulative progress in education sector reforms.
To augment the success of the BETDP, ADB approved the Second Textbook Development Project (Loan 2093) that enabled the pilot textbook rental scheme to become part of the wider education system, benefiting more than 4.5 million school children annually. The project helped extend textbook rental coverage to all grades and all basic education schools. It also institutionalized the textbook rental scheme and its funding mechanism through the Special Republican Book Fund Foundation to ensure sustainable provision of affordable textbooks.
Lessons for Replication
The textbook rental scheme made textbooks easily available and affordable for all. Lessons also apply through improved pedagogy and teaching material. The BETDP offers valuable lessons for improved impact monitoring in future projects.