December 29, 2004: Headlines: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Blogs - Kyrgyzstan: Personal Web Site: Sean Brown in Kyrgyzstan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kyrgyzstan: Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan : The Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan: December 29, 2004: Headlines: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Blogs - Kyrgyzstan: Personal Web Site: Sean Brown in Kyrgyzstan

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 1:59 pm: Edit Post

Sean Brown in Kyrgyzstan

Sean Brown in Kyrgyzstan

Sean Brown in Kyrgyzstan


Hey everyone. itís a few days before New Years and Iím officially on break. I have two and a half weeks to plan lessons and recover from a pretty stressful first three weeks in site. My class schedule has been in no way demanding (18-20 hours a week) but Iíve discovered teaching in in this country is damn tough.

Tough is probably the wrong word. Frustrating is closer to the truth. The system of education is so drastically different from the American system that itís appalling. Grades for example: In America, students take tests and grades are given based upon the results of these tests. Students are expected to do their own work, and cheating is considered a grave violation. Not so in Kyrgyzstan. Cheating is rampant, tests arenít really given, and the grading system is a joke. The grading scale ranges from a 1 to a 5, five being the best. One could compare this five point scale to the American A-F scale, but this would be a mistake since in reality 1ís and 2ís are not to be given. If a student is behaves poorly in class, doesnít participate or do work he is usually given a 3; a passing grade. Why? Because if a student fails a course he has to repeat it. This means more work for the current teacher, who already works 40+ hours a week and most likely has a family to take care of (this also is not comparable to America, since day to day living here is so much more taxing; try walking a quarter mile to fetch water a few times a day and youíll see what I mean.) So the teacher passes students who donít do the work and the student eventually graduates and is no longer the schoolís problem. This is not an isolated phenomenon. In fact, it is unspoken policy from the Ministry of Education. As long as things look good, there is no problem. A particularly Soviet way of thinking.

Another post Soviet aspect is the idea of total control. Quarterly lesson plans must be approved by the state board of education. Sometime during the quarter an official comes to check all the teachers lesson plans. A few days into teaching my school was checked. Most of the teachers there were busy writing their lesson plans a day before. They said they donít follow the plans anyway but have to turn them in or they will be fired. I asked why have this system if no one really follows it. Everyone shrugged and said thatís just the way it is. The government has this insane English curriculum which they expect every school to follow. Within the first year of instruction (usually 5th grade) students are supposed to learn 700 English words and master a dozen different verb tenses and modes. I have kids that have studied English for three or more years and canít answer questions like ďWhat is your sisterís name?Ē . The state curriculum is impossible, especially since students only have English class at most 5 hours a day and have no current materials or qualified teachers (Itís not uncommon for the local English teachers not to speak English, though this isnít true at my school.) In short, expecting any class to be even remotely proficient in the English language would be impossible.

So where does that leave me, the local TEFL volunteer? Frustrated. My romantic idea of moving to a foreign country and teaching entire classes to speak English and better their lives has been crushed. The majority of my students donít speak English and donít want to. They are waiting till graduation and are going to work as laborers, farmers or drivers. There are a few students that I can think of (less than ten) that actually care about learning and hope to go to university and use their English. I had a student approach me the other day and ask if I would soon be teaching after school English clubs. I said I would start clubs in the new year. He said he wanted to practice his English because he wanted to live in the capital and be an English interpreter. After a whole day of blank stares to what should be easy questions, this student was a godsend. Iíve let go of my idea of teaching entire classes to speak English, and have decided that I am happy settling for teaching a handful of students who really have the motivation to learn and will use their skills to actually improve their lives.


When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.

January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: January 8 2005 No: 367 January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Zambia RPCV Karla Berg interviews 1,374 people on Peace 7 Jan
Breaking Taboo, Mandela Says Son Died of AIDS 6 Jan
Dreadlocked PCV raises eyebrows in Africa 6 Jan
RPCV Jose Ravano directs CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka 6 Jan
Persuading Retiring Baby Boomers to Volunteer 6 Jan
Inventor of "Drown Proofing" retires 6 Jan
NPCA Membership approves Board Changes 5 Jan
Timothy Shriver announces "Rebuild Hope Fund" 5 Jan
More Water Bottles, Fewer Bullets 4 Jan
Poland RPCV Rebecca Parker runs Solterra Books 2 Jan
Peace Corps Fund plans event for September 30 Dec
RPCV Carmen Bailey recounts bout with cerebral malaria 28 Dec
more top stories...

RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.
Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.
Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."
RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kyrgyzstan; Blogs - Kyrgyzstan



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.