KYRGYZSTAN - The stories of Hamid, Ainura, Nurlan, Guljigit and Aika

Hamid, 15-years old

Hamid, adopted into a large family by his aunty, had no choice but to work from a young age. Since grade 1 he started looking after sheep and cows. His attempts to combine this with school meant that he would often have to leave the cattle unattended and run to school dirty, untidy and hungry. However, he would be punished at home for leaving the cattle unattended. When he reached grade 9, he had to leave school and work in construction as a labourer. His 15 year-old hands were already scared.

Thanks to the interventions of ILO-IPEC, Hamid was accepted by a school on a correspondence basis. Hamid finished grade 9 and received his school certificate. This enabled him to enrol in and complete a vocational IT course.

Ainura, 15 years old

At 9 years of age, Ainura moved to Kyrgystan from Tajikistan with her parents and siblings. In Tajikistan, her father often disappeared leaving them without any support. Ainura could not start school but, instead, started to work in the fields during the summer months and in a sewing shop during the winter to help her family make ends meet.

Through an ILO-IPEC project, Ainura was chosen to participate in a non-formal education class. Thanks to her determination to study and her hard work, and with the help of her teachers, she was able to be join grade 7 of formal schooling.

Nurlan, 16 years old

Nurlan was taken from his mother at an early age to live with a distant relative. He was kept in his room in slave-like conditions. He was told that his mother was an alcoholic and that she had left him. He was forced to earn his food by taking care of all household chores. He was soon put to work loading goods in his grandfather’s shop.

As a result of this hard work, Nurlan developed a hernia in his spine. When child labour monitors found the boy, he was being treated in hospital. After being discharged, however, Nurlan’s relatives threw him out of the house. The child labour monitors negotiated with the local authorities for him to be accommodated in the school hostel.

Nurlan was then enrolled in an IT course and, at the same time, he went to a non-formal school group.

After some time, his mother was found and she welcomed Nurlan back into the family to live with her and his four siblings. Nurlan is now preparing to take exams at the end of grade 9.


Guljigit has not had an easy life since childhood. Guljigit works in the field alongside his mother to earn money. His father died after a prolonged illness and his mother is now the sole breadwinner. He has a sister who recently finished grade 9 and now works in the market selling children’s items.

Guljigit is a proud boy. When he was brought food and stationary items, he did not accept them. The ILO-IPEC project coordinators had to persuade him to take them. At the beginning, Guljigit wasn’t really interested in studying. However, with time, he began to gain interest and was invited to take part in non-formal education. He started attending school regularly and now participates actively in class. The project gave him a chance to finish grade 9 and sparked his interest in continuing education.

Aika, 16 years old

Aika’s parents divorced several years ago and her mother was left with seven children. Aika is the fifth child. The family moved to Bishkek from Karakol eight years ago. When they settled in Bishkek, Aika’s elder siblings were enrolled in school.

Aika, however, did not go to school due to the loss of her birth certificate. She stayed at home, did the household chores and watched over her younger siblings. As a result, Aika missed six years of school. She has now reached grade 5, when she should be in grade 11.

In the framework of an ILO-IPEC project, Aika was offered the opportunity to participate in non-formal education and a vocational training course. She confesses, “I was afraid even to talk with people about simple things and topics before. But now I feel more confident and can even count money by myself.” As part of the project, she took a cookery course and completed an internship in one of the restaurants in Bishkek. “My dream is to open my own restaurant.”