Nekruz Ismoilov

President & CEO, NeksNuts, Inc.

This conversation is closed.

We want to build a unique, a non-profit school in Tajikistan for children from middle and poor class families.

Dear Friends, assume that you were given $ 1 million USD. You are requested to build an unusual school with this money where children could study from 1st to 11th forms. You are given the freedom of imagination, starting from the development of education and ending with the building design and classrooms at this school.

We want to build a unique, a non-profit school in Tajikistan for children from middle and poor class families. So, we intensely would like to consider your recommendations.

Your advices are highly preffered!

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    Aug 2 2012: Great !
    Just do it
    Only execution brings the difference......
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    Gail .

    • +1
    Aug 8 2012: $1,000,000 USD = 250,000,000 TJ dollars. The median TJ after-tax income is $150USD/mo. Drop the conflation of $ with education. All research is showing that $$ rewards don’t work as thought. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html

    1. Education has to be locally relevant. One doesn't need desks to begin education. Given the housing crisis in KJ, it seems that many children & adults would benefit from a joint community project of creating a school using free local building materials. With already near 100% literacy rates in spite of the poverty, it sounds like a better place to start. Put less emphasis on $$ and more on learning. DO NOT CONFLATE THE 2. $ kills education. Curiosity spurs it.

    The report, ENERGY EFFICIENT (local) BUILDING METHODS FOR TAJIKISTAN speaks of building using straw, mud bricks, etc.to replace the unhealthy materials now in use. They’re also more energy efficient.

    See this TED talk aboiut keeping it relevant. http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html

    2. How many Tajikistanis would want to know how to build a windmill for water and power or solar panels or even bicycle powered generator, that work like the battery-less flashlights that have become popular. Places like Khan Academy and computers with wind-up power sources (like emergency radios) perhaps combined with solar power, would do much for little to create an effective educational environment.

    NP means different things to different people. NPs are well known for paying handsome salaries to directors & cronies, thus never making a profit. They serve $$$, not their advertised cause. Proposing $1 mil USD or $250,000,000 TJ dollars to build a single rural school sounds insane.

    Humanity needs a new paradigm because the old one has been proven unworkable. Our unsustainable global economic model is a serious problem. Work to throw it out. That’s a good lesson by itself. It will serve ALL mankind
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    Aug 8 2012: Hello Nekruz,

    I've recently been looking at a lot of different school based settings in which teaching takes place and considering the different contributing factors which are those that make up a classroom and essentially a school.

    With the amount of money that you are talking about you would be able to provide a school for both students and staff that has many resources to aid various educational approaches and programs.

    I personally believe that in a time where society is ever changing so fast sustainability needs to be a big concern when building a structure that will house many years of teaching and learning so in stating this i plead with you to have a look at sustainable options such as passive solar heating.

    http://www.dwls.org/sustainability.html - this is a school in Ladakh which was effected by some landslides in 2011. Upon rebuilding the school they seeked help from some UK and US universities to design the school to be as beneficial for learning as it was the environment. May this be a possibility with your school and classrooms?

    As for the development of education it would be imperative to look at the community in which the school is placed and the industries surrounding the schools general vicinity. This would allow for a basic idea of a curriculum focus and possible approaches to learning that may need to occur.

    Also it may be an idea to ask the community which the students are a part of and coming from what they would hope the school will achieve with its students.

    Lastly please consider the individual learners within your curriculum approaches. So many times I have audited schools and consulted with teachers and though the ideas the teachers pose are fantastic, individual learners are often left wondering and not being catered for. By engaging education with all learners you will reach a higher level of learning and understanding with your pupils.

    AND where ever possible incorporate Outdoor Education and Environmental Studies. The future
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    Aug 8 2012: If I were in that situation I would choose to partner with the Khan Academy. I pasted a link at the end of my post in case you are not familiar. I will let their about section speak for them, but suffice it to say that utilizing their model of education would allow your classroom to be dynamic and engaging for the students in an unprecedented manner. I would use the budget to create a campus where students could create, collaborate, mentor, tutor, and be inspired. I would work with an architect to create a structure that is visually interesting and at the same time supremely functional and inviting. I have always has a distaste for the cinder block boxes that are the classrooms in the US, they were just depressing and uninspiring. I would hire a couple of educators to steer the ship, and to guide students on multidisciplinary projects that provides them with goals to work toward while providing a reason for understanding to the ideas and concepts they are being exposed to. It also has the side-effect of teaching children how to communicate, manage their time, and work as a team. I would provide each student with a tablet or laptop, whichever was more economical, that would act as their portal to the Khan Academy. I would also budget for providing a meal or two depending on how long the students will be staying on the campus. I apologize that is seems as though I am just throwing ideas out there. I haven't come up with a comprehensive plan yet but I have been thinking a lot lately about how I would change my educational experience if I could, and these were some of my random thoughts. Hope they were useful.

    http://www.khanacademy.org/about
  • Aug 7 2012: I am impressed by Salim's Just do it. Does it really have to be conventional? Is there even a library for these kids/ That's a big start in making things bette. There are many resources including the net, DVD's, Cd's , Books, etc. Though choices, but do we really have to be conventionasl? What do we want to do? While there might be excellent materials in English or French, but gee whez this is Tajikstan. If one wants software ready to go (maybe Taji is not the wat to go - look I'm a long way away so if I've messed up your language - I didn't know better. However, I am sure there areprepared materials in Turkish, Persian, or Russian. If one works as a desired second language all the better. Don't recreate the wheel and use what is cheap and available.
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    Aug 3 2012: Hi Nekruz

    First and foremost when it comes to developing an education plan I would say do not underestimate the intelligence of youth. I do not t see why subjects like physics, philosophy, literature, and other more advanced classes could not be taught at lower levels; get kids to critically thinking while they are younger and engage them in meaningful discussion. Knowledge and World problems are growing larger and more complex every day; therefore education needs to stay competitive.

    Now for the expensive part, imagine mixing in design elements from across cultures, and doing away with standard four, mono-color, walls. Imagine different wings of a building based in various styles of design, or even a “green wing" that is self-sustaining and demonstrates uses of numerous alternative energy sources. Perhaps you could even use abstract shapes and styles to stray away from the usual and mundane.

    Either way, what is learned is more important than what is seen. Good luck with your endeavors.
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    Aug 3 2012: I would start digging for the foundations...

    For the past 10 years we've been building schools in Vietnam. Fortunately, we only need 50'000 USD to build a decent school for some 100 children. In Vietnam, having a school comes before having a sophisticated school. To make these schools work we have to make sure that children can come to the school from wherever they live and that the local government is willing to support it in the future.

    But that is Vietnam and not Tajikistan! Whatever you will do, I think it is great that you are doing it!
  • Aug 3 2012: Nekruz, My advice is to make sure half the administration and teaching staff are males and half are females and they are well-paid and paid equal wages. My advice is to make sure that half the students are female and half are male. I suggest you focus the subject matter on the current state of knowledge and minimize studies of history and either teach subject content of 10 different religions or have no religious teaching whatsoever. Do not allow the next generation to receive the negative brainwashing that has kept the people and country down. No need to repeat the mistakes of the past. Teach the children to respect other cultures, religions, ideas. Allow them to be creative. Do not allow the teachers to act in authoritarian ways, but rather to act as resources to facilitate learning. Children are people. Respect them. In every part of the process make sure males and females are acknowledged and treated as equals.
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    Aug 3 2012: IN MY VIEW:
    If you have already received the fund then all you need is a focused objective and step by step plan of execution. I understood that you want to create a unique school but I think rather than being unique, your school should become needed. Your school shouldn't just educate but empower your students with needed skills. Focus should be there to identify and enhance their imagination and creativity. You should concern about management of the school but more focus and concern should be given towards the students. What you teach them and how you teach changes them and along with them changes society and then country.
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    Aug 2 2012: Record every class, tag it, and tag every question asked, and then post it for free in Tajikistan, for everyone with access to a library. Make cds, or dvds, and sell them for what they cost to make, as cheap as possible, or give them out for free.

    That's what I would do.
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      Aug 8 2012: david is this so the school is unique?
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        Aug 8 2012: Yes, and no... This is just the future of education, best teachers you can afford, teaching as many people as possible, utillizing technology. It could either be used to help generate revenue, ie selling the online versions of the classes cheap. Or, simply used to get as much free information out to children of Tajikistan as humanly possible.

        I imagine this would be the first school that some rural children could ever gain access to in their primary language. Children all over will "favorite" teachers, and in a few years, you'll know who the best gradeschool teacher in Tajikistan is. Pay him or her to do a whole series of video grade school classes for children with no access to schooling.
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    Aug 2 2012: Are you aiming to put forward a proposal to do this and looking for design suggestions for that proposal? How many kids? What institutions, cultural and otherwise, are in your vicinity? Is this an urban or rural area? Do you have a few major employers?

    I ask these questions because schools need to be situated in a context to serve the particular students you expect to enroll and to draw effectively on the resources that may already be available in the location.

    I would be looking at the context first and then moving into an effective and aligned curriculum across grades. The best models to adapt will depend on the context.
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    Lejan .

    • +1
    Aug 2 2012: The use of this single budged you named, highly depends on the follow-up financing you will have to maintain the service of this school.

    The cost for salaries, heating, cooling, water and food supply (if school dinner is served) and other fixed costs will determine the best use of the initial funding to a very high degree.

    Could you give some details on that topic already?
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    Gail .

    • 0
    Aug 8 2012: Something sounds amiss here. $50,000 US dollars = $250,000 TJ dollars. The median after-tax income is $150 USD. It sure sounds like SOMEONE is making a LOT of money here, and it sounds like education isn't the primary cause of your project.

    1. Education has to be relevant to the area that it serves. What better skill is there than to have children and adults learn essential skills that have to do with creating shelters that serve them well. One doesn't need desks to begin the education process. And given the housing crisis in Kajikistan, it seems that many - both children and adults would benefit from a joint community project of creating a school. With nearly 100% literacy rates, it even sounds like a better place to start.

    this report: http://naturvernforbundet.no/getfile.php/Dokumenter/Internasjonalt/REPORT%20-%20ENERGY%20EFFICIENT%20BUILDING%20METHODS%20FOR%20TAJIKISTAN%200309.pdf (slide 7) speaks of building using local natural building materials to replace the unhealthy ones now in use.

    2. See this TED talk aboiut keeping it relevant. http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html

    3. How many Tajikistanis would want to know how to build a windmill for water and power or solar panels or even bicycle powered battery recharger? This too is a valuable skill.

    Places like Khan Academy and computers with wind-up power sources (like emergency radios) combined with solar power would do much for little to create a school.

    I do have to repeat that for a non-profit, it sure sounds like some are profiting handsomely. Perhaps the NP is NP, but NP means different things to different people. NP are well known for paying handsome salaries to directors, thus never making a profit. Your suggestion sounds like a con.