Making reading fun for Uzbekistan’s children

Reading opens a child’s imagination to a world of possibilities.

A U.S.-backed literacy program in Uzbekistan provides opportunities to promote a love of reading among young children.

Mercy Corps, a U.S. nonprofit organization, is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to donate children’s books to Uzbekistan’s schools and create reading corners that encourage reading.

Reading rooms in 58 schools

Preschool children reciting to adults outside their school, with large balloon arrangement in background (© Mercy Corps)
Mercy Corps and school officials greet preschool students outside Preschool #23 in Jarkurgan, Surkhandarya, Uzbekistan. (© Mercy Corps)

The program set up reading corners in 58 schools with books, bookshelves and cushions. Topics included Uzbek fairy tales, world fairy tales, alphabet learning, bilingual texts and math. The books are in Uzbek, Russian and English.

This is exciting not only for the children, but also their parents, the preschool staff and myself,” said Mohira Kenjebaeva, a teacher at Preschool #8 in the Takhiatash district, Republic of Karakalpakstan.

“We currently spend time together with children in this reading corner. I’ll read them a book of their choice and we’ll talk about the story together with them.”

The program helps Uzbek children:

  • Develop an appreciation for literature.
  • Build their memory and imagination.
  • Develop a love of reading

Uzbekistan declared 2023 as the “Year of Human Care and Quality Education.”

Teacher training

Mercy Corps also conducted teacher training in Uzbekistan during March for 48 preschool teachers on literacy, speech development and writing in the Republic of Karakalpakstan. Another training session was held during March in Termez for 45 teachers.

“I would not be mistaken to say that training allows us to improve our skills , teaches us new knowledge and techniques, and allows us to share experiences with our peers,” said Jumageldiyeva Adiba, a teacher who participated in the Termez sessions.

Preschool boy selecting book from book rack in his school (© Mercy Corps)
A student chooses a book at Preschool #16 in Jarkurgan, Surkhandarya, Uzbekistan. (© Mercy Corps)

Mercy Corps plans continued expansion in 2023, with a goal of reaching 90,000 students.

The program is part of the USDA McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which supports education, child development and food security, with the goal of increasing enrollment and academic performance.