10 May 2011

Educating Mormon Kids in Tokmok

I get asked a lot about where my children are going to school.  Homeschooling is basically unheard of here, but teaching foreign kids Russian in the public schools isn't much less unheard of.  Public schools aren't unfamiliar with dealing with children who don't speak Russian fluently, since not every child in Kyrgyzstan does speak Russian fluently, especially if she recently moved from a Uzbek or Kyrgyz or Dungan language school.  But to have a child show up who doesn't know any Russian at all?  I don't think my kids would get the help they needed.  Even in countries where public schools are prepared to support a large number of immigrant children, it's expected that the first year will be spent learning the language and that's all.  I think that would be optimistic here.

There are two other options in Tokmok though.  One is a Christian school.  From all accounts it's an excellent school, but after reading about the philosophy of the founders of the school, it's not for me.  Their stated purpose (at least according to their websites that are soliciting donations) is to convert Muslim children to Christianity and Muslim parents who send their children to these Christian schools are required to sign a waiver saying they won't get angry if their children convert.  In addition to your typical education, the children are also required to attend a variety of Christian and Bible classes.  There is a corner of me that would like to send my Mormon children there just to see what would happen.

The other school is one from the Turkish system that's all over Central Asia.  If we were staying here for a long time, I'd be very interested in it.  We've known several people who've received very good educations at these schools and I'd be happy to have my children go there.  Unfortunately the school in Tokmok is on the other side of town.  Maybe someday. 

So I'll spend my time fending off the questions about schooling (I try to explain that my children are learning math and science and history and writing and... at home, but it rarely seems to matter) and thinking that it's a little funny that I think my Mormon kids would be more welcome at a Turkish Muslim school than an American Christian school.

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