Annually, a certain amount is allocated from Khujand city budget for the maintenance of preschool educational institutions. The mayor of Khujand, Maruf Muhammadzoda, repeatedly noted at the press conferences that funds for the repair and maintenance of schools and childcare centers was not being collected from the population. Our investigation shows that administrations of childcare centers still demand payments from parents.
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Dilafruz, 36, resident of the city of Khujand, told us she pays 200 somoni for her two children to childcare center, while her salary is only 670 somoni ($69). This young unmarried woman, who lives with two children, added that along with monthly fee, payments for renovations to the premises of the center and their maintenance are demanded every once in a while. In addition, every month she pays extra money for running expenses. Sometimes, they ask to pay for organizing some events or the needs of the childcare center.
“No One Forces to Pay, but…”
Maruf Muhammadzoda, the mayor of Khujand, during the semi-annual press conference in 2018, noted: “Nobody forces to pay, but parents’ committees put forward initiatives to improve the conditions for their children’s education”.
Meanwhile, according to the Agency for State Financial Control and Combating Corruption in the Sughd region, the number of corruption-related crimes in the north of the country has increased among employees of local government bodies and in healthcare and education structures.
“For example, in 2018, 19 crimes committed by 14 educators were registered, of which 2 cases of corruption were committed by directors of childcare centers,” stated the Agency.
According to Vaslibek Nazriyon, chief inspector for analysis and information of the Agency, on April 30, 2018, Safiya Karimova, director of the childcare center in Buston, accepted 400 somoni from a citizen Karimova A.M. for priority admission of her child Saidov R. to childcare center.
Karim Ibrohimzoda, Head of the Agency in Sughd region, considers the social factors and the social status of individuals who accept bribes to be the main reasons of corruption in state bodies.
The Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Fighting Corruption” defines “Corruption” as follows:
Lawyer Abdulmajid Rizoev says that according to this definition, those involved in giving and receiving bribes must be prosecuted. In the Republic of Tajikistan, all conditions have been created to combat corruption. For this purpose, on the basis of the Decree of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, a specialized body was created in 2007, the main purpose of which was and remains combating corruption. At the same time, the legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan is improved every year, and those acts that were not previously considered as corruption are now recognized as such.
Rizoev also emphasized that in order to prevent acts of corruption, the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan provides for punishment both for giving and accepting a bribe. “For example, articles 319 (“Taking a bribe”), 320 (“Bribery”) and 321 (“Provocation of Bribery”). All these articles imply criminal liability in case of violation,” said lawyer Abdulmajid Rizoev.
According to official data, more than 22,000 children of preschool age lived in Khujand, of which 8,470 children studied in state preschool educational institutions and 800 children in private childcare centers during last year.
According to Muhabbat Nozimova, a consultant of the Education Department of the city of Khujand, there are currently 44 preschool educational institutions in the center of Sughd region, of which 32 are state-owned, 11 private and one correctional and educational institution for children with speech disorders. These institutions train and educate 9,270 children; 430 educators work there. Thus, in 2018 in the city of Khujand, more than 42% of preschool children studied in childcare institutions.
According to information on the website of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, during a meeting with leaders and active residents of the Sughd region in the city of Khujand of June 29, 2018, Emomali Rahmon said that, according to the research, 15% of the children in the region are enrolled in preschool education institutions, considering children in development and daycare centers, the figure is 20%.
“Despite the fact that this indicator is higher than in other regions of the country, it cannot be considered satisfactory. Since the implementation level of the State program for the development of private preschool and secondary educational institutions for 2014-2020 in the region is 12.5%, only 35 out of 280 planned institutions have been created during this period,” the President noted.
In his speech, Emomali Rahmon also noted that in accordance with the indicators of the National Development Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period up to 2030 and the Medium-Term Development Program of the Republic of Tajikistan for 2016-2020, involvement of children from 3 to 6 years of age to preschool educational institutions should be increased up to 30%. Therefore, the administrations of the Sughd region’s cities and districts should take appropriate measures to fulfil the task, the President said.
More Than 15 Million 800 Thousand from the Local Budget in 2018
According to the data provided by the Khujand City Finance Department, in accordance with the approved budget for preschool educational institutions of the city for 2018, 14 million 778 thousand 486 somoni were allocated for per capita financing. At the end of 2017, childcare centers were damaged by natural disasters. At the beginning of 2018, additional funds in the amount of 1 million 90 thousand 971 somoni were allocated from the reserves of the local budget to eliminate the consequences of the disaster. This ultimately increased the total amount to 15 million 869 thousand 457 somoni.
FINANCING CHILDCARE CENTERS OF KHUJAND
Muhabbat Nozimova, a consultant of the Education Department of the city of Khujand, during a conversation with CABAR.asia, noted that all preschool educational institutions of the city of Khujand from January 1, 2016 were transferred to normative (per capita) funding. This was done on the basis of the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan dated November 2, 2015, No. 627 “On the Transition of State Preschool Educational Institutions to Normative (Per Capita) Financing” and article 55 of the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Education” in order to introduce a new financing mechanism for state preschool educational institutions.
According to Nozimova, more than 14 million 700 thousand somoni were allocated from the local budget for the maintenance of preschool educational institutions in 2018, which is 3% more than the previous year. These funds are used to pay salaries, for social security fund, food, utility bills, office supplies and equipment, she added.
More Than 10 Million 160 Thousand Somoni from Parents in 2018
According to the Education Department of Khujand, on the basis of Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan dated March 31, 2016 No. 150, “On Payments for Maintenance of Children in State Preschool Educational Institutions”, and the Decree of the Education Department of Khujand dated January 10, 2017 No. 17, “ On Payments for Childcare in State Preschool Educational Institutions”, all directors of preschool educational institutions are obliged to monitor the designated use of the allocated funds.
Muhabbat Nozimova noted that in accordance with these regulatory legal acts, in the local budget-setting process, cost estimates for each preschool educational institution in the city are considered, and they are financed depending on the number of children.
Having regard to the above, the monthly financing for each child is 100 somoni, of which, in accordance with the order of the Education Department, 70% are allocated for food, 25% for utility bills and other services, and the remaining 5% – to cover the deficit from the difference between expenses and income, added Nozimova.
According to our calculations, if the parents of 8,470 children enrolled in state preschool educational institutions paid 100 somoni per month fee for their children, then the amount of their payments per month was 847 thousand somoni, and for 12 months of 2018 the total figure amounted to 10 million 164 thousand somoni. If 15 million 869 thousand 457 somoni were allocated from the local budget, then for each of the 33 childcare centers of the city there were 480,892 somoni 63 dirams.
8,470 children x 100 somoni = 847,000 somoni
847,000 somoni x 12 months = 10,164,000 somoni or
15,869,457 somoni / 33 childcare centers = 480,892.63 somoni
8,470 children х $10.32 = $87,395.27
$87,395.27 х 12 months = $1,048,743.24
or $1,637,444.49 / 33 childcare centers = $49,619.53 (the dollar exchange rate on November 1, 2019 is 9.6916)
In total, the amount of funds allocated from the local budget and from the parents of children in 2018 was 26 million 33 thousand 457 somoni (about $2,686,000).
In August 2017, three high-ranking departments of the Sughd region announced that starting from 2018, they would put an end to raising money for the repair and maintenance of children in educational institutions in cities and regions of the North of the country.
However, Davron Karimov, Khujand resident, said in an interview that from the moment a child is admitted to childcare center and up to school age, childcare center employees will certainly find a reason to demand additional payments beyond monthly fee. “Until the end of 2018, the monthly fee for childcare center services was 100 somoni, and since January 2019, it increased to 110 somoni. Naturally, parents pay this money to educate their children, so that their child does not lag behind others. Sometimes it surprises me when, in addition to this fee, money is collected every month for repair and maintenance of children,” says Davron.
Former chairman of the Sughd region Abdurahmon Kodiri was one of the first high-ranking officials in the region who spoke with journalists on this topic during a press conference. He said that since 2018 in 8 cities and districts of the region, in particular, in Khujand, Panjakent, Guliston, Buston, Istaravshan, Ayni, Bobojon Ghafurov and Matcha, the fundraising for the repair of educational institutions was stopped.
Later, the chairman of the city of Khujand, Maruf Muhammadzoda, added that, money will not be raised for the repair and maintenance of schools and childcare centers in 2018 academic year. “I officially declare this. The budget of the city gives us the opportunity to repair, maintain schools and child centers. But this is starting only from the new academic year, since this year all funds have already been collected, distributed and 89% of the work has already been completed,” said the mayor of Khujand then.
Osim Karimzoda, head of the Education Department of Sughd region, also intervened in the discussion of the repair and maintenance of educational institutions and told journalists that “we are finishing the current academic year with the parents’ help, but we will plan the school repair fund in the budget for 2018 starting from the new academic year”.
Last year, this topic was again brought up during a press conference by the chairman of the city of Khujand. Maruf Muhammadzoda then told journalists that “indeed, during the last press conference we stated that we would put an end to fundraising from parents. And we will continue to follow this statement. However, due to a natural disaster at the end of December 2017, several educational institutions of the city were seriously damaged, and a lot of money was spent on repairing the roofs, doors and windows of schools. Due to this, there are too few funds left in the budget”.
Despite the fact that the authorities promised to resolve this problem and take the necessary measures, after a while, these “promises” still remain unfulfilled.
Survey Instead of Conclusions…
From the beginning of 2019, payment for the services of state childcare centers in the city of Khujand officially amounted to 110 somoni per month. However, according to the results of our survey, most parents pay more than 110 somoni fee for childcare centers.
Most of the 130 respondents of a survey conducted on the Facebook – 84% replied that they pay more than 110 somoni per month for childcare centers services. In a face-to-face poll among 36 parents, only 28% answered that they pay from 100 to 110 somoni, the remaining 72% – from 115 to 150 somoni. Face-to-face polls about the payments for childcare centers services were conducted during May of this year among the residents of the city of Khujand, the surveys were conducted in three groups on Facebook (“I Love Khujand!”, “Tajik Mama Group”, “Navidi Sughd”).
Face-To-Face Poll Results
18 respondents noted that they were “satisfied” with the conditions of childcare centers, 7 people were “not satisfied” and 11 people rated the conditions as “acceptable”. However, 15 people said that they “paid money” for admission of their children to childcare centers, another 8 respondents were helped by “acquaintances,” 8 people “helped” the childcare centers for admission of their children.
Also, the survey showed that out of 36 respondents, 78% have a contract with a childcare center, while the remaining 22% do not have a contract. In addition to monthly fee, parents also pay for other purposes.
Parents are concerned that there are too many children in groups. During the survey, they noted that there are up to 40 children in some groups. This creates both difficulties for teachers and problems with controlling the group.
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.