TAJIKISTAN:

Educator Passionate About  Helping Fellow Teachers

December 16, 2009

Picture-021-800x535  Fayziddin Niyozov counts Don Quixote among his literary heroes, but his positive impact on teachers in his native Tajikistan can hardly be called whimsical. Now the Teacher Training and Assessment Specialist for USAID’s Quality Learning Project implemented by Creative Associates, Niyozov was at the core of developing materials used to train 1017 Tajik teachers in modern pedagogy in August.

“As a student, my professors only used the lecturing approach and so as a teacher I based my lessons on topics without clear objectives and goals, not, in effect, on focusing on learning outcomes,” Niyozov said.

A former English teacher, Niyozov is passionate about helping Tajik teachers and other stakeholders rethink attitudes towards teaching and learning. His goal is to move from rote learning to higher order thinking skills to make the teaching and learning process “flow smoothly.”

Unlike Don Quixote, who fought windmills to keep change at bay, Niyozov has sought meaningful and tangible change. Success has not eluded him.

“At the beginning it was hard to communicate the new teaching techniques and ideas to the team charged with developing primary school teacher training modules,” Niyozov admitted. “A lack of skills in the development of reflective and teacher-friendly training materials required significant effort from the Quality Learning Project’s team to build the developers’ capacities.”

The expert training of over 1,000 teachers by Niyozov and project staff has garnered the attention of Abdujabbor Rahmonov, Tajikistan’s Minister of Education. On October 7th, the Minister drafted “Letters of Appreciation” to the Project’s participants for their hard work developing fifty-five modules for primary and secondary teachers and three for school principals and accountants. The Minister plans to present the training materials to the President of Tajikistan as evidence of the Ministry of Education’s work with the donor community bringing positive change to the nation’s teacher training system.

As a teacher, Niyozov always aspired to improve the quality of classroom learning. Niyozov overcame the lack of teaching resources at his former school by developing his own activities and tasks for students that linked to learning objectives. This led to a grant from the Open Society Institute Tajikistan in 2000. This allowed Niyozov to develop a ground-breaking Tajik activity dictionary that provided students with vocabulary, self-learning activities and evaluation tests, such as quizzes and crossword puzzles. And just this month, an English textbook Niyozov co-authored was published for nationwide use. One can scarcely say he’s been “tilting at windmills” in his quest to better education in Tajikistan.

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