TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr. April 2010

Section VS 1 The multitude of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques: From Theory to Practice
Sektionsleiter | Section Chair:
Birgit Fritz (University of Vienna), Matthias Thonhauser (Art in Progress/Austria)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

English | Русский

The Integration of Homeless Children into a Society
through Vital Skills Development

Jusupova Bakyt Musaevna (Kyrgyzstan) [BIO]


"We should have bravery and courage
to become happy"

Augusto Boal


In Zhanidzher aiyl okmotu, which is 50 km from Bishkek and consists of 4 villages, there is a population of about 8540 people. The structure of the population is polyethnic: Russian, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Germans, Dargins, Lezghins, and ethnic Kyrgyz people - refugees from Tajikistan. 80% of the population is unemployed, and 70 % live below the breadline.

2150 persons make the part of young population. The youth is marginalized, because of the lack of permanent jobs and limited access to education. The drugs are a real threat; also criminal incidents.

One of the most serious problems is dissociation of various ethnic groups, misunderstanding of cultural features of each other because of the lack of information, the unwillingness to do compromises. This problem, without some preventive measures, can lead to conflicts on the interethnic ground. Since there is no real culture, and no leisure activities in the village, traditional culture, knowledge and language are not transferred to new generations.

In the Professional lyceum №43, which is placed on the territory of Aiyl Okmotu, not only the rural youth studies, but also orphans, homeless teenagers older than 14, children from poor families from different regions of Kyrgyzstan, and from refugee families from Tajikistan. The lyceum is also engaged in conversation-training of the adult jobless population. Annually, 220 children and 100 jobless adults are trained in the lyceum. The preparation of experts for rural economy is conducted: poultry breeders, veterinaries, tractor operators, cooks, seamstresses, waiters, guides-conductors. Depending on education base, the training ranges from 1 to 3 years.

With the assistance of UNESCO, in the lyceum it was created the rehabilitation center for homeless and street children, who are integrated into the society through vocational training.

Children and youth, who don’t have parental care, require active and versatile protection, and also development of their physical and mental abilities. In the conditions of themarket economy, without the means of subsistence, work, habitation, it is difficult for them to adapt to realities of modern life and they are in great distress.

These are the problems which the pedagogical collective of lyceum are facing in their work with homeless children:

The major mission of Professional lyceum № 43 is to educate competent experts in the fields which are needed on the labor market. But how to make such an expert from a homeless child, who sometimes cannot read and write? How to enable personal, professional and social formation and development of such a child? The personnel of lyceum are faced with questions: “What to teach? Whom to teach? How to teach? Where to teach? Who will teach?”.

What to teach? - What knowledge and skills? What requirements does an employer make to experts? What level of proficiency is necessary for a labor market?

How to teach? - What level of the material, teaching and methodical maintenance and other things connected with educational process should be present in a vocational school in order to provide a required level of education and training?

Who will teach? - What should be the level of qualifications of the personnel, who will succeed in training street children to become mobile, highly skilled experts?

They can be employed, if their training will correspond to requirements of employers, and even to advance requirements of the labor market. The analysis of the labor market shows that for modern economy of Kyrgyzstan experts who possess not only technical, but also social and vital skills are highly required. Our graduates do not fully realize how their professions are connected with market economy; they inadequately estimate their professional interests and opportunities. They do not understand with what they canenter the labor market, what they can offer there as a product.

A graduate of lyceum should not only be a good cook or tailor, but also capable for problem-solving: to have an ability to make independent decisions both in everyday and extreme situations, to cooperate and interact with other people. Lack of communicative skills is the most serious problem for orphans, who spent long time in public institutions and children’s homes. They communicated only with teachers, but did not communicate with an external world. When they come to us, they are closed, hesitating, afraid to communicate, cannot go independently into a shop or in a hospital.

How to impart skills of general culture and generate valuable reference points? Our children should understand some main points and questions, such as “I and the WORLD”, “Life and Death”, “The Person and the GOD”, “The Duty and the Right”, “Culture and the Person”. They should know their rights, duties in a society, the moral code and universal values.

But how to prevent conflicts and aggression, when the hierarchy, which is supported by the use of physical violence, is also a structure among children?

Use of physical violence is a common element in relationships among children. An emotional violence is used among children for the maintenance of the superiority of one child over others, as a form of domination. Adults do not interfere, as it is difficult to determine who started with fight and who is guilty; they think that children will come to their own understanding.

How to enable a young person to plan the work, to execute it according to certain requirements, in certain manner and with planned resources?

The most important is how to learn to evaluate himself/herself critically, to define one’s own weaknesses, to plan some ways of self-improvement, to be engaged in self-education, and to choose a suitable path.

These problems are also aggravated with the fact that there is a deficiency of qualified experts on posts of tutors and teachers. It is connected with unattractive work conditions and a payment. Except for it, turnover of staff is high.

The personnel of the lyceum have no opportunity to receive and update knowledge and skills on the main aspects of their work with children: education of children, training, and a settlement of crisis situations. As a rule, training for tutors and teachers is confined only by irregular rare cases of participation in seminars and trainings organized by means of the international donor organizations. At the same time the personnel of the lyceum require training actions, which would concern the main aspects of their work.

The operational experience has shown that for development of vital skills it is necessary to find methods and means of training and education, corresponding to peculiarities of each pupil, and to develop their abilities and opportunities.

The system and the strategic program were developed in the lyceum in order to solve all these problems on marginal youth adaptation and integration through vocational training, theatre, and art.

The given system provides acquisition of social experience by them in order to develop vital skills, such as: good will, sociability, the trust in people, skills to solve the problems, and to find the right direction that operate in constantly changing world.

Creation of such system assumes the rethinking of the practical steps that provide human conditions in an environment in one is brought up, to enable one to achieve personal, professional and social development of one’s own self.

The given system consists of various components:

We made contacts with various labor and business structures that developed training programs according to their requirements; on this basis we have developed training programs based on the skills proved in practice. Through the technique of conducting subjects, we teach them to work in a team, to make calculations, to use information technologies, and to make independent decisions. We also use separate elements of various pedagogical technologies that focus on the active participation of the young student in educational process; for example, the use of interactive methods of training as a role play, solving problem situations, protection of business projects.

The operational experience with a marginal category of youth has shown that art and religion are unique tools for the achievement of emotional contact and dialogue with them.

Owing to the support of UNESCO, the cooperation with theater-collectives of Bishkek has been developed; children had an opportunity to watch drama, ballet, and opera performances. Much was made with the help of “Sahna” public foundation and Arsen Omuraliev’s foundation, which bring to young people the feeling of kindness, mercy, and beauty, and help them to develop certain norms of behavior.

The given estimation has developed as a result of cooperation since 2003, when “Sahna” foundation offered to our children its first performance named “Kerez”.

Opening of the world of theatre has impressed children so much that they have started to make their first imitative performances on their own.

The executive secretary of UNESCO A. Toktosunova and the “Sahna” Foundation, led by Nurlan Asanbekov, has supported various undertakings of enthusiasts from the lyceum to create their own theatre named “Oomat”. Owing to the Foundation, our youngsters could organize and stage their own performances.

The employees of the lyceum did not have enough skills to in theater directing, acting, stage-design, in working with light and sound equipment, in tailoring of requisites and costumes.

Beginning from the reconstruction of an old mechanical workshop and finishing with internal design, an interior, decoration of a stage, installation of electric equipment, the public Foundation, Arsen Omuraliev, helped to create the theatre. Young students used old, destroyed mechanical equipment and reconstructed it, repaired, and constructed a stage.

The first performance organized by our children was – “The Twelfth Night” by W. Shakespeare.

The “Sahna” provided a director for the theatre, helped with requisites and suits in staging Shakespeare’s play “The Twelfth Night”.

We understood that a rural theatrical platform can become the tool for solving many social and psychological problems, with which the youth are faced today. Social adaptation of the children of the lyceum, their integration into a local society, improvement of mutual cultural understanding and tolerance among representatives of various ethnic groups, moral education – are only some issues which can be solved in village with help of a theatrical platform.

A great support was offered by the Swiss bureau on cooperation, which contributed a lot to development of our theatrical platform: “Ali-Baba and 40 robbers” and “Shyrdakbeka the Ambler” plays were put on stage; light and sound equipment was acquired.

One of the factors promoting personal education is a national folklore art, which promotes one’s self-knowledge, and imparts the feelings of beauty, mercy, and good. It is important to give special attention to a process of education through knowledge and preservation of national traditions, preservation and propagation of an epic heritage.

“Aga Khan” and “Ustat-Shakird” funds have almost created folklore-ethnographic collective in the vocational lyceum № 43.

With the help of these foundations, national musical instruments were purchased, 3 musical instructors were provided for study groups. By the help of “Ustat-Shakird” foundation, children visit gala concerts of folklore-ethnographic ensembles, listen to lectures on history of the Kyrgyz folklore, listen to concerts of the presidential chamber orchestra, which regularly comes to the lyceum.

The educational folklore-ethnographic “Dambyr-Tash” program is launched on the basis of the Kirghiz folklore and is presented to tourists and pupils of other educational institutions. An ethnographic platform with yurts and a viewing platform were made, where tourists can watch various Kyrgyz ceremonies, traditions, national foods preparation, and manufacturing the products of national crafts.

Tailors make folklore suits and national souvenirs.

It was necessary to develop the theatre platform further, and to expand the repertoire. Students had a strong desire to show their work in other rehabilitation centers, educational institutions, in villages.

The Foundation of A. Omuraliev decided to stage a musical.

In Kyrgyzstan, musicals are not well known. The youth does not know this genre of art. Therefore, children had a desire to try to work in this genre, which is accessible to understanding for all groups of population.

The idea: to put on stage a musical and offer the performance to various categories of the population as a tool of cruelty-prevention, conflicts-transformation, strengthening of awareness of democratic norms, human rights, as a toll for development of intercultural dialogue among the youth from various strata, for individual development of marginal youth in the sphere of drama, stage design, music, and acquisition of new skills.

That project also solved a concrete practical problem: there is a problem with heating in the winter period (the infringement of heating system in resident and educational buildings), because not enough funds were invested into the maintenance of buildings. It was necessary to buy heaters for heating the living rooms, educational classrooms and a concert hall, to make possible the work there in the winter period. We developed children’s skills of self-care, for the good not only of themselves, but also of their organizations.

The Foundation A. Omuraliev invited the great national actor of Kazakhstan, director and teacher, Bekpulat Parmanov, and the well-known jazz singer from Russia, Natalia Soboleva, for conducting master-classes on plastic concert numbers and jazz vocal. In August, our children acted with their new musical-drama program for children-participants of Summer Eco-school within the framework of an international “Planetary Eye” Festival in Tosor village, which is located on the southern side of the Issyk-Kul lake. For September-October we plan some charitable and other performances with a concert program in social and specialized secondary education institutions across Kyrgyzstan. It was surprising that children sang songs in English, although some of them could hardly even read.

The Foundation A. Omuraliev hopes to start with this project and organize the whole program “Art and Culture for Homeless Children Development”.

It is especially important to note the teamwork with THAI-TZI-TSUAN Federation, which has been organizing thai-tzi gymnastics trainings and helping with carrying out the practice in the yurt area of Tosor village, in the past 3 years. In practice classes our students learn about vegetarian kitchen, field kitchen, they learn how to serve tourists. Annually, the president of THAI-TZI-TSUAN Federation Vladimir Marusich, who is also the director of a “Planetary Eye” Festival, organizes not only trainings in vocational skills for homeless children, but also the participation of our children in musical programs such as it is the Festival of Jew’s-harp music, “The Empire of Cicadas”, “Lullaby songs”, the Indian classical dance, Eastern and fighting dances. Our children were encouraged to take part in festivals on the body art, in painting on stones – “Hardened echo”, in meetings with film directors, actors, writers, and musicians from Kazakhstan, Russia, Greece, and Ukraine. 

The self-management of children that represent their own parliament was created and it functions now at the lyceum. Self-management solves many household questions on its own:

There is also a center of mass-media at student’s parliaments, where information boards are made and newspapers are published.

The self-management consists of the elected president and representatives. Self-management has its own newspaper called “The Life of Our Lyceum”.

So, under the initiative of the parliament, a group of children was included into a joint project with the Center for the Protection of Children, learning about AIDS, and now they conduct trainings for the children from other educational institutions.

The contract was made with the Center for the Protection of Children with the aim to create mobile training groups who will work with children.

Trainings called “Advices of friends” are conducted once per week, once in the lyceum in the “Equal to equal” program; 30 children learn there to conduct trainings and self-presentations, get communicative skills. The parliament is also engaged in a design activity: they write projects on their own and seek donors.

In a work with such category of children the personnel of the lyceum is emotionally exhausted, because, despite of the efforts there are also many failures. There are cases when our children give up studying, engage into criminal activities, become drug addicts, thieves, prostitutes. Some of them leave their own children as their parents left them. The feeling of hopelessness sometimes forces the employees to give up their work. All this is also aggravated with a low wages, lack of working skills with the given category of children. There is a lack of qualified psychologists and social workers in the country.

In 2006, the group of homeless children of the lyceum participated in the project of the Theatre of the Oppressed. After a seminar participants of the project arrived to the lyceum with their performances. The personnel of the lyceum and children saw that the forum theatre opens opportunities for dialogue and discussions on most various problems and best behavioral reactions.  In the Theatre of the Oppressed it is possible to see one’s life from an outside perspective and to believe in the power of human society. It is a good tool that helps an individual to evaluate her/himself and finds out who s/he is.

The methodology of the Theatre of the Oppressed helps to train:

In connection to this, the participants of the seminar understand that the given seminar is just the beginning of the system training of the experts, who are involved in the sphere of protection of children, women, invalids, other vulnerable parts of population, since there are no state retraining courses for experts on the work with the given category of the population in Kyrgyzstan today.

VS 1 The multitude of Theatre of the Oppressed techniques: From Theory to Practice

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For quotation purposes:
Jusupova Bakyt Musaevna: The Integration of Homeless Children into a Society through Vital Skills Development - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

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