School in Kyrgyzstan
In Kyrgyzstan, a country located in Asia according to localtimezone, children start school at the age of 7. They attend primary school for four years, followed by secondary school, initially up to 9th grade. Those who continue to go to school have two or three years to go. School is compulsory up to the 9th grade. Since 2007, primary school students have had to wear a school uniform. Unfortunately, there are also children who do not even start school, that affects 2 out of 100 children. Only 80 out of 100 children attend secondary school.
The last bell
The school year always ends on May 25th. This day is therefore also called Akyrky Konguroo, which means “last bell”. On this day, the school yard is brightly decorated with balloons and flags. For the 11th grade students it is their last day of school. The boys therefore wear a suit and the girls a dress or a white blouse and a black skirt.
Very good students and winners of sports competitions receive certificates on this day. At the end of the festival, an 11th grade student takes a first grader on the shoulder. The girl rings a bell, the last bell, while she is carried around twice in a circle. Afterwards everyone celebrates somewhere else.
Freezing in school
The Kyrgyz schools are often poorly equipped. Even in winter the heating does not work in some schools. Or there is a lack of furniture, sometimes even toilets. There are no textbooks. There is even a lack of teachers or they are poorly trained. Teachers are badly paid and that is why not many want to practice this profession.
How are the children in Kyrgyzstan?
Unfortunately, not all children in Kyrgyzstan are doing well. Because a third of all residents are considered poor, many children are also affected by poverty. 2 out of 100 children do not go to school and have no chance of an education. 26 out of 100 children work. There is child labor on cotton and tobacco plantations, in coal mines, in brick factories, on construction sites or in households.
Playing with sheep bones
But of course there are also children who are better off. And of course Kyrgyz children like to play too! And what are they playing? For example, a throwing game called Chükö and played with sheep’s bones. The small bones of sheep’s feet are painted with paint to distinguish them. A row of bones is thrown from a fixed line and then you have to shoot them away.
Aisuluu meets Urmatbek
And what are the names of the children in Kyrgyzstan? Girls are called, for example, Hadidja, Madina, Nasgül, Aksana or Aisuluu. Often the names have meanings. Dschasgül means spring flower, for example. Boy names are Rachmatilla, Samat, Anarbek, Askar or Urmatbek. Boy names often end in -bek, which translates as ruler or ruler.
As in Russian, surnames often end in -ow. Many Kyrgyz people changed that to the Kyrgyz version in the 1990s. Moldokulow then became Moldokul uluu. Today many want to have Russian names again, for example because they want to work in Russia and that is easier with a Russian surname.
Eating in Kyrgyzstan
What do you eat in Kyrgyzstan?
Meat is an important part of Kyrgyz meals. In addition to lamb, horse meat is particularly popular, for example in the form of kazy, a horse sausage. Kuurdakh is made from mutton and onions. Shish kebab are pieces of grilled meat on a skewer.
Pasta, rice and bread are the most popular side dishes. As in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan or Turkmenistan, bread is baked as a round flatbread with a thick rim. It’s called naan here. Bread is sacred and is offered to every guest, even if they are only briefly in the house. People also like to eat dumplings such as manti or samsa.
What is beshbarmak?
Beshbarmak is considered a national dish in Kyrgyzstan. Chopped up meat, pasta and onions are its ingredients. The word beshbarmak means “five fingers” because it is traditionally eaten by hand. A shorpo soup is served with it, a thin broth cooked from mutton. Beshbarmak is a typical feast.
Paloo is known in other countries as plov or pilaf. It’s a rice dish. There are also pieces of meat and carrots. Paloo is often cooked in a Kazan, a large cast iron saucepan or kettle. Would you like to try Paloo once? You can find a recipe here!
What to drink
In addition to fresh mare’s milk, fermented mare’s milk is a traditional drink. Her name is Kumys. Kumys tastes sour and tingly. In summer, fresh kumys is sold all along the street in the mountains.
While Kumys contains alcohol, Maksym is free from it. It is made from malt and is now produced in factories. Maksym is drunk as a cool, refreshing drink. On the other hand, hot tea is drunk at any time of the day.