Public Legal Education Pioneers in Southern Kyrgyzstan

August 2008 

The public legal education program in Kyrgyzstan is one-of-kind. In addition to having taught more than 7,000 young people about their legal rights as citizens, ABA ROLI's street law-type program has dramatically affected those young people who chose to participate in the program. In 2001, ABA ROLI launched its public legal education project to teach secondary school students the legal basics of using innovative teaching methodologies. The twelve Osh City law students who participated in the pilot project joined forces to help deliver these lessons, dedicating themselves whole-heartedly to this endeavor.

Though none of them knew what the outcome of their efforts would be, Nodira Akbaralieva, a member of that first street law team, remembers the commitment the young law students had to the program. She muses about the “engaging trainings, lessons, active teamwork, out-of-class activities, fellowship and exchange with street lawyers from Central Asia,” commenting that their experiences were rich and diverse.

“We dived in the street law world and each of us tried to achieve [accolades]: best lesson organized in school, organizational skills during the Olympiad, creativity in developing authorial lessons, training skills,” smiles Akbaralieva.

Thanks to the team’s hard work, the program was later rolled out across Kyrgyzstan. With U.S. Agency for International Development support for the past seven years, four Public Legal Education (Street Law) Teaching Centers have been established to provide training in secular secondary schools and in Islamic schools.

“It taught me to deliver laws simplistically to the population,” says Adyl Ismailov, who credits the program with developing his aptitude for collaboration and communication.

One of the greatest long-term accomplishments of the program is its trainers’ professional growth. The first class to finish the program is enjoying broad professional success. Elina Amerhanova works as a program officer with the international non-governmental organization (NGO) Freedom House, providing assistance to victims of human trafficking, while Dinara Dyikanova is a lawyer with the International Migration Organization and conducts anti-corruption training. Adyl Ismailov heads an NGO that provides free legal consultations throughout the Ferghana Valley and Matlyuba Zainabidinova leads a street law-type Teaching Center in Osh. Nodira Akbaralieva is a lawyer at the ABA and Cholpon Sultanalieva teaches at the State Law Institute. Aida Kenjekulova heads one of the branches of the Consulting Service LARK.

“Due to the high unemployment rate in Kyrgyzstan and the great number of lawyers, it is difficult to secure employment,” notes Albina Kojontaeva, a project coordinator. “I’m especially happy for those students who managed to turn an interest in studying law into a thriving career.”

“I can say I grew in this program… moreover, I discover many new things every day which means the progress goes on,” says Zainabidinova with pride. 

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