IX.       Early Childhood Development

Early Childhood Care and Education

Readiness of children for primary school can be improved through attendance to quality preschool and early childhood education programmes. Early childhood education programmes include programmes for children that have organised learning components as opposed to baby-sitting and day-care which do not typically have organised education and learning.

In Kyrgyzstan in the 1990s, some kindergartens have been closed or restructured for a different function. In the 2000s, the situation has improved considerably: the number of preschool institutions in this period has doubled, and number of covered children increased by three times. However, at present, the coverage of children by preschool education in Kyrgyzstan remains very low.  In this regard, within the framework of the "Strategy of development of education in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2012-2020", an increased coverage by pre-primary education is defined as one of the top priorities. Special preschool educational programmes are organised in kindergartens and schools for children who didn’t attend kindergartens.

In Kyrgyzstan, 23 percent of children age 36-59 months are attending an organised early childhood education programme (Table CD.1). Urban-rural and regional differentials are notable – the figure is as high as 40.5 percent in urban areas, compared to 16.0 percent in rural areas. Among children age 36-59 months, attendance to early childhood education programmes is more prevalent in the cities of Bishkek and Osh (44.8 and 51.6 percent, respectively), and lowest in the Osh and Djalal-Abad oblasts (11.4 and 12.8 percent, respectively). No gender differential exists, however, there are notable differentials by socioeconomic status; 50 percent of children living in the richest percenthouseholds attend such programmes, while the figure drops to 11.7 percent among children in the poorest households. The proportion of children attending early childhood education programmes at ages 36-47 months (19.2 percent) is somewhat lower than the proportion of children at ages 48-59 months (26.4 percent).

Table CD.1: Early childhood education

Percentage of children age 36-59 months who are attending an organized early childhood education programme, Kyrgyzstan, 2014

 

Percentage of children age 36-59 months attending early childhood education1

Number of children age 36-59 months

     

Total

22.7

1770

     

Sex

   

Male

22.8

900

Female

22.6

870

Region

   

Batken

33.1

170

Djalal-Abad

11.4

362

Issyk-Kul

25.4

112

Naryn

25.6

92

Osh Oblast

12.8

399

Talas

21.6

144

Chui

24.7

273

Bishkek City

44.8

150

Osh City

51.6

67

Area

   

Urban

40.5

482

Rural

16.0

1288

Age of child

   

36-47 months

19.2

925

48-59 months

26.4

845

Mother's education

   

None/primary

(*)

29

Basic secondary

10.1

200

Complete secondary

14.7

801

Professional primary/middle

30.5

313

Higher

39.3

426

Wealth index quintile

   

Poorest

11.7

419

Second

12.7

406

Middle

17.2

367

Fourth

33.3

311

Richest

50.0

268

Mother tongue of household head

 

Kyrgyz

23.8

1384

Russian

30.1

68

Uzbek

18.3

231

Other language

10.8

86

1 MICS indicator 6.1 - Attendance to early childhood education

Quality of Care

It is well recognized that a period of rapid brain development occurs in the first 3-4 years of life, and the quality of home care is a major determinant of the child’s development during this period[1]. In this context, engagement of adults in activities with children, presence of books in the home for the child, and the conditions of care are important indicators of quality of home care. As set out in A World Fit for Children, “children should be physically healthy, mentally alert, emotionally secure, socially competent and ready to learn.”[2]

Information on a number of activities that support early learning was collected in the survey. These included the involvement of adults with children in the following activities: reading books or looking at picture books, telling stories, singing songs, taking children outside the home, compound or yard, playing with children, and spending time with children naming, counting, or drawing things.

For close to three-quarters (72.1 percent) of children age 36-59 months, an adult household member engaged in four or more activities that promote learning and school readiness during the 3 days preceding the survey (Table CD.2). The mean number of activities that adults engaged with children was 4.4. The table also indicates that the father’s involvement in such activities was somewhat limited.  The mean number of activities with biological father was equal to only 0.7, and percentage of children who’s farther engaged in four or more activities was only 2.8 percent. About one-fifth (21.6 percent) of children age 36-59 months live without their biological father.

For 29.7 of children age 36-59 months, mothers engaged in four or more activities that promote learning and school readiness during the 3 days preceding the survey, which is 10 times higher than father’s involvement. The mean number of activities that mothers engaged with children was 2.8.  It is worth noting that the percentage of children not living with their biological mother is also quite high – 14.1 percent.


Table CD.2: Support for learning

Percentage of children age 36-59 months with whom adult household members engaged in activities that promote learning and school readiness during the last three days, and engagement in such activities by biological fathers and mothers, Kyrgyzstan, 2014

 

Percentage of children with whom adult household members have engaged in four or more activities1

Mean number of activities with adult household members

Percentage of children living with their:

Number of children age 36-59 months

Percentage of children with whom biological fathers have engaged in four or more activities2

Mean number of activities with biological fathers

Number of children age 36-59 months living with their biological fathers

Percentage of children with whom biological mothers have engaged in four or more activities3

Mean number of activities with biological mothers

Number of children age 36-59 months living with their biological mothers

Biological father

Biological mother

                       

Total

72.1

4.4

78.4

85.9

1770

2.8

0.7

1387

29.7

2.4

1521

                       

Sex

                     

Male

74.0

4.4

78.3

85.3

900

3.2

0.8

705

28.6

2.3

768

Female

70.1

4.3

78.4

86.6

870

2.4

0.7

682

30.9

2.4

753

Region

                     

Batken

43.2

3.0

73.3

82.6

170

2.4

0.6

124

27.7

2.0

140

Djalal-Abad

87.7

5.0

68.2

79.5

362

4.2

1.1

247

34.3

2.6

288

Issyk-Kul

69.0

4.1

85.5

87.2

112

0.8

0.5

96

21.1

2.2

98

Naryn

76.5

4.6

80.3

84.9

92

9.4

1.2

74

26.4

2.4

78

Osh Oblast

76.9

4.5

75.2

82.8

399

1.7

0.5

300

15.7

1.8

331

Talas

61.6

4.1

89.0

91.9

144

1.7

0.8

128

23.9

2.0

132

Chui

64.3

4.1

84.8

89.3

273

1.8

0.3

232

35.5

2.6

244

Bishkek City

79.6

4.9

85.9

97.2

150

3.8

1.2

128

62.8

4.0

145

Osh City

68.6

4.2

84.1

95.7

67

1.6

0.5

57

27.6

2.6

64

Area

                     

Urban

74.5

4.5

79.8

92.3

482

4.2

0.8

385

43.4

3.0

445

Rural

71.2

4.3

77.8

83.6

1288

2.3

0.7

1002

24.6

2.1

1077

Age

                     

36-47 months

69.2

4.2

78.9

86.5

925

3.3

0.8

730

29.4

2.3

800

48-59 months

75.3

4.5

77.8

85.3

845

2.3

0.7

657

30.0

2.4

721

Mother's educationa

                     

None/primary

(*)

(*)

(*)

(*)

29

(*)

(*)

24

(*)

(*)

23

Basic secondary

69.6

4.1

84.0

90.0

200

0.0

0.4

168

23.8

2.0

181

Complete secondary

70.7

4.3

74.1

82.1

801

2.1

0.7

593

23.6

2.1

658

Professional primary/middle

74.0

4.4

75.4

81.1

313

3.6

0.7

236

29.0

2.3

254

Higher

78.2

4.8

85.8

95.3

426

5.0

1.0

366

45.9

3.2

406

Father's education

                     

None/primary

(*)

(*)

(*)

(*)

12

(*)

(*)

12

(*)

(*)

12

Basic secondary

62.4

4.1

100.0

99.0

158

0.2

0.6

158

20.9

2.2

157

Complete secondary

70.5

4.3

100.0

97.2

706

2.1

0.8

706

27.7

2.4

687

Professional primary/middle

74.9

4.6

100.0

97.4

193

4.4

0.9

193

36.3

2.9

188

Higher

78.5

4.7

100.0

99.7

318

8.1

1.3

318

49.6

3.3

317

Father not in the household

73.7

4.3

0.0

42.0

383

na

na

na

17.5

1.4

161

Wealth index quintiles

                     

Poorest

62.8

3.9

74.8

82.5

419

2.4

0.7

313

17.4

1.9

345

Second

70.9

4.3

79.1

85.4

406

2.5

0.7

321

23.4

2.1

346

Middle

77.9

4.5

75.2

83.8

367

2.1

0.7

276

32.2

2.4

307

Fourth

78.2

4.6

83.9

87.6

311

3.3

0.7

261

34.3

2.5

273

Richest

73.4

4.6

80.6

93.0

268

4.5

0.9

216

49.8

3.3

249

Mother tongue of household head

                   

Kyrgyz

71.5

4.3

77.6

83.4

1384

2.7

0.8

1074

28.7

2.3

1154

Russian

86.9

5.1

83.5

95.0

68

(11.8)

(0.9)

57

59.5

3.8

65

Uzbek

81.3

4.6

79.9

94.6

231

1.6

0.7

184

29.0

2.5

218

Other language

46.0

3.4

82.1

95.5

86

0.4

0.4

71

25.3

2.0

82

1 MICS indicator 6.2 - Support for learning

2 MICS Indicator 6.3 - Father’s support for learning

3 MICS Indicator 6.4 - Mother’s support for learning

na: not applicable

a The background characteristic "Mother's education" refers to the education level of the respondent to the Questionnaire for Children Under Five, and covers both mothers and primary caretakers, who are interviewed when the mother is not listed in the same household. Since indicator 6.4 reports on the biological mother's support for learning, this background characteristic refers to only the educational levels of biological mothers when calculated for the indicator in question.


There are no gender differentials in terms of engagement of adults in activities with children.  Strong differentials by region are observed: adult engagement in activities with children was greatest in the Djalal-Abad oblast (87.7 percent) and lowest in the Batken oblast (43.2 percent). The percentage of children with whom adult household members have engaged in four or more activities increases slightly with the age of the child.

Exposure to books in early years not only provides the child with greater understanding of the nature of print, but may also give the child opportunities to see others reading, such as older siblings doing school work. Presence of books is important for later school performance.  The mothers (or caretakers) of all children under 5 were asked about the number of children’s books or picture books they have for the child, and the types of playthings that are available at home.

In Kyrgyzstan, only 27.3 percent of children age 0-59 months live in households where at least 3 children’s books are present for the child (Table CD.3). The proportion of children with 10 or more books declines to 8.4 percent.  While no gender differentials are observed, a greater proportion of urban children appear to have access to children’s books than those living in rural households. The proportion of under-5 children who have 3 or more children’s books is 39.6 percent in urban areas, compared to 22.1 percent in rural areas. The presence of children’s books is positively correlated with the child’s age; in the homes of 37.5 percent of children age 24-59 months, there are 3 or more children’s books, while the figure is 12.3 percent for children age 0-23 months.

Among regions, the lowest percentage of children living in households with at least 3 children’s books is observed in the Osh oblast (11.9 percent). The presence of children’s books is positively correlated with socioeconomic status and mother’s education. Children living in households whose head speaks Uzbek as the mother tongue are the least likely to have access (20 percent) to 3 or more children’s books.

Table CD.3: Learning materials

Percentage of children under age 5 by numbers of children's books present in the household, and by playthings that child plays with, Kyrgyzstan, 2014

 

Percentage of children living in households that have for the child:

Percentage of children who play with:

Number of children under age 5

3 or more children's books1

10 or more children's books

Homemade toys

Toys from a shop/manufactured toys

Household objects/objects found outside

Two or more types of playthings2

               

Total

27.3

8.4

32.0

93.2

48.2

59.3

4577

               

Sex

             

Male

26.9

9.0

33.1

93.6

48.2

59.9

2342

Female

27.6

7.8

30.8

92.8

48.1

58.7

2235

Region

             

Batken

37.2

5.7

45.2

90.7

63.8

75.1

408

Djalal-Abad

21.8

4.5

52.3

97.9

42.4

61.8

956

Issyk-Kul

22.9

5.3

9.4

90.8

36.7

39.5

264

Naryn

30.6

4.4

41.8

96.4

53.3

67.2

195

Osh Oblast

11.9

1.6

41.2

93.0

32.8

53.1

1015

Talas

23.8

4.4

5.0

92.9

78.3

79.3

352

Chui

39.7

23.0

22.1

91.6

67.9

70.7

715

Bishkek City

46.8

18.7

10.1

91.7

35.7

37.9

474

Osh City

28.3

5.8

16.2

86.7

37.4

40.0

198

Area

             

Urban

39.6

12.7

21.0

91.5

41.4

48.4

1360

Rural

22.1

6.6

36.6

93.9

51.0

63.9

3217

Age

             

0-23 months

12.3

3.4

21.4

84.8

30.6

38.8

1868

24-59 months

37.5

11.9

39.3

99.0

60.3

73.5

2709

Mother’s education

             

None/primary

(7.0)

(3.8)

(52.1)

(89.5)

(63.1)

(66.6)

58

Basic secondary

17.0

3.3

34.2

92.5

45.5

55.7

529

Complete secondary

19.3

3.7

35.9

93.3

46.9

60.0

2102

Professional primary/middle

32.8

13.0

29.6

93.8

54.1

63.4

732

Higher

43.9

16.7

24.4

93.2

47.2

56.8

1155

Wealth index quintiles

             

Poorest

14.7

1.5

37.2

94.1

51.0

62.5

986

Second

14.7

2.1

40.8

94.0

49.7

64.4

1039

Middle

24.2

4.4

32.2

92.9

47.5

59.7

951

Fourth

36.8

14.8

24.6

92.8

45.6

54.1

823

Richest

53.6

23.7

21.1

91.8

46.1

53.5

778

Mother tongue of household head

           

Kyrgyz

26.5

7.2

31.6

92.9

48.9

60.1

3534

Russian

67.5

48.4

16.4

94.4

64.0

66.8

180

Uzbek

20.0

2.8

36.6

93.8

34.5

50.3

656

Other language

28.9

11.6

38.8

94.8

65.2

69.1

205

1 MICS indicator 6.5 - Availability of children’s books                    

2 MICS indicator 6.6 - Availability of playthings

Table CD.3 also shows that 59.3 percent of children age 0-59 months had 2 or more types of playthings to play with in their homes. The types of playthings included in the questionnaires were homemade toys (such as dolls and cars, or other toys made at home), toys that came from a store, and household objects (such as pots and bowls) or objects and materials found outside the home (such as sticks, rocks, animal shells, or leaves). It is interesting to note that 93.2 percent of children play with toys that come from a store; however, the percentages for homemade toys are 32 percent.  There are no gender differentials for the percentage of girls and boys with 2 or more types of playthings. On the other hand, this percentage is lower among children living in urban areas (48.4 percent) than those living in rural areas (63.9 percent), due to the higher percentage of children that play with homemade toys and household objects/objects found outside in rural areas.   There were no notable differentials in terms of mother’s education and socioeconomic status of the households. Percentage of children who play with two or more types of playthings was the lowest in the Issyk-Kul oblast (39.5 percent) and Bishkek and Osh cities (37.9 and 40.0 percent, respectively).

Leaving children alone or in the presence of other young children is known to increase the risk of injuries.[3] In MICS, two questions were asked to find out whether children age 0-59 months were left alone during the week preceding the interview, and whether children were left in the care of other children under 10 years of age.

Table CD.4 shows that 4.1 percent of children age 0-59 months were left in the care of other children, while 1.0 percent were left alone during the week preceding the interview. Combining the two care indicators, it is calculated that a total of 4.5 percent of children were left with inadequate care during the past week, either by being left alone or in the care of another child.

No differences were observed by the sex of the child or between urban and rural areas     Children age 24-59 months were left with inadequate care more often (6.3 percent) than those who were age 0-23 months (2.0 percent). No differences are observed in regard to socioeconomic status of the household and mother’s education.  The highest percentages of children were observed in the Djalal-Abad and Naryn oblasts where 10.6 and 8.5  percent of children, respectively were left with inadequate care.

Table CD.4: Inadequate care

Percentage of children under age 5 left alone or left in the care of another child younger than 10 years of age for more than one hour at least once during the past week, Kyrgyzstan, 2014

 

Percentage of children under age 5:

 

Left alone in the past week

Left in the care of another child younger than 10 years of age in the past week

Left with inadequate care in the past week1

Number of children under age 5

         

Total

1.0

4.1

4.5

4577

         

Sex

       

Male

1.0

4.3

4.7

2342

Female

1.0

3.9

4.3

2235

Region

       

Batken

1.5

4.1

4.8

408

Djalal-Abad

1.9

9.8

10.6

956

Issyk-Kul

0.3

1.4

1.4

264

Naryn

0.2

8.5

8.5

195

Osh Oblast

0.0

1.1

1.1

1015

Talas

0.7

1.0

1.1

352

Chui

1.8

2.5

3.4

715

Bishkek City

0.3

3.4

3.4

474

Osh City

2.0

4.4

4.7

198

Area

       

Urban

1.1

4.6

5.1

1360

Rural

1.0

3.9

4.3

3217

Age

       

0-23 months

0.6

1.6

2.0

1868

24-59 months

1.3

5.8

6.3

2709

Mother’s education

       

None/primary

(3.8)

(3.8)

(3.8)

58

Basic secondary

0.9

2.2

3.0

529

Complete secondary

1.0

4.8

5.0

2102

Professional primary/middle

1.1

5.1

5.6

732

Higher

0.8

3.1

3.6

1155

Wealth index quintiles

       

Poorest

1.4

5.9

6.1

986

Second

1.1

4.0

4.5

1039

Middle

0.2

2.6

2.7

951

Fourth

1.3

3.5

3.8

823

Richest

1.1

4.5

5.4

778

Mother tongue of household head

     

Kyrgyz

0.9

4.7

4.9

3534

Russian

2.7

1.5

3.0

180

Uzbek

0.9

2.5

2.8

656

Other language

1.5

2.2

3.7

205

1 MICS indicator 6.7 - Inadequate care

Developmental Status of Children

Early childhood development is defined as an orderly, predictable process along a continuous path, in which a child learns to handle more complicated levels of moving, thinking, speaking, feeling and relating to others. Physical growth, literacy and numeracy skills, socio-emotional development and readiness to learn are vital domains of a child’s overall development, which is a basis for overall human development.[4]

A 10-item module was used to calculate the Early Child Development Index (ECDI). The primary purpose of the ECDI is to inform public policy regarding the developmental status of children in Kyrgyzstan. The index is based on selected milestones that children are expected to achieve by ages 3 and 4. The 10 items are used to determine if children are developmentally on track in four domains:

  • Literacy-numeracy: Children are identified as being developmentally on track based on whether they can identify/name at least ten letters of the alphabet, whether they can read at least four simple, popular words, and whether they know the name and recognize the symbols of all numbers from 1 to 10. If at least two of these are true, then the child is considered developmentally on track.
  • Physical: If the child can pick up a small object with two fingers, like a stick or a rock from the ground and/or the mother (or caretaker) does not indicate that the child is sometimes too sick to play, then the child is regarded as being developmentally on track in the physical domain.
  • Social-emotional: Children are considered to be developmentally on track if two of the following are true: If the child gets along well with other children, if the child does not kick, bite, or hit other children and if the child does not get distracted easily.
  • Learning: If the child follows simple directions on how to do something correctly and/or when given something to do, is able to do it independently, then the child is considered to be developmentally on track in this domain.

ECDI is then calculated as the percentage of children who are developmentally on track in at least three of these four domains.

Table CD.5: Early child development index

Percentage of children age 36-59 months who are developmentally on track in literacy-numeracy, physical, social-emotional, and learning domains, and the early child development index score, Kyrgyzstan, 2014

 

Percentage of children age 36-59 months who are developmentally on track for indicated domains

Early child development index score1

Number of children age 36-59 months

Literacy-numeracy

Physical

Social-Emotional

Learning

             

Total

14.5

95.5

82.5

91.2

78.3

1770

             

Sex

           

Male

12.3

96.7

81.9

90.8

76.1

900

Female

16.8

94.3

83.2

91.6

80.6

870

Region

           

Batken

10.3

97.0

83.4

95.0

81.2

170

Djalal-Abad

7.1

95.9

89.3

94.4

87.1

362

Issyk-Kul

8.5

93.9

86.7

95.9

81.6

112

Naryn

19.5

90.4

85.0

96.5

80.5

92

Osh Oblast

9.0

93.3

79.9

82.0

69.6

399

Talas

16.1

97.2

84.3

96.6

84.9

144

Chui

22.7

97.8

78.5

91.3

73.5

273

Bishkek City

36.1

97.3

85.8

92.3

87.4

150

Osh City

16.5

95.3

54.2

89.9

52.0

67

Area

           

Urban

23.4

95.5

79.9

92.4

78.3

482

Rural

11.2

95.5

83.5

90.8

78.3

1288

Age

           

36-47 months

8.8

92.6

79.0

87.4

73.0

925

48-59 months

20.7

98.6

86.4

95.4

84.1

845

Attendance to early childhood education

         

Attending

26.8

96.9

82.5

91.7

79.8

401

Not attending

10.9

95.1

82.5

91.0

77.9

1369

Mother’s education

           

None/primary

(*)

(*)

(*)

(*)

(*)

29

Basic secondary

10.2

95.7

81.3

87.6

70.1

200

Complete secondary

9.6

95.4

82.4

89.9

77.2

801

Professional primary/middle

21.2

95.7

82.3

93.3

80.8

313

Higher

21.4

96.0

83.3

94.0

81.8

426

Wealth index quintiles

           

Poorest

6.1

94.7

83.3

87.6

76.5

419

Second

8.3

95.0

85.5

92.7

80.3

406

Middle

13.6

95.7

77.1

91.5

73.0

367

Fourth

18.7

96.9

83.4

94.0

79.3

311

Richest

33.5

95.5

83.2

90.9

84.3

268

Mother tongue of household head

         

Kyrgyz

13.9

95.1

83.6

90.9

79.2

1384

Russian

38.6

100.0

81.6

93.9

79.7

68

Uzbek

11.2

95.8

76.9

91.3

72.3

231

Other language

15.0

97.6

80.2

93.2

77.9

86

1 MICS indicator 6.8 - Early child development index

The findings regarding early childhood development are presented in Table CD.5. In Kyrgyzstan, 78.3 percent of children age 36-59 months are developmentally on track. ECDI level among boys was 76.1 percent, while among girls - 80.6 percent. As expected, ECDI is much higher in the older age group (84.1 percent among children age 48-59 months compared to 73.0 percent among those age 36-47 months), since children mature more skills with increasing age. Children living in poorest households have lower ECDI (76.5 percent) compared to children living in richest households (84.3 percent). 

The analysis of four domains of child development shows that 95.5 percent of children are on track in the physical domainand 91.2 percent are on track in the learning domain, while they are somewhat less on track in the social-emotional domain (82.5 percent) and particularly so in the literacy-numeracy (14.5 percent) domain. For the literacy-numeracy domain the higher score is associated with children living in richest households, with children attending an early childhood education programme, and older children. For example, 26.8 percent of children attending to an early childhood education programme are developmentally on track in literacy-numeracy compared with only 10.9 percent among not attending children.


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[2]UNICEF, 2002. A World Fit For Children adopted by the UN General Assembly at the 27th Special Session, 10 May 2002:2.

[3]Grossman, D.C. (2000). The History of Injury Control and the Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Injuries. The Future of Children, 10(1), 23-52.

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