Working in partnership to strengthen organisational capacity in education trade unions in Kyrgyzstan through the creation of trade union study circles


During the week of the 11th of September, 28 local trade union leaders from the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of the Kyrgyz Republic came together alongside representatives from ETUCE and study circle trainers from Läraförbundet in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, for 5-days of training. The training sought to provide the trade union leaders with the foundational knowledge needed to begin the process of creating trade union study circles for educators throughout Kyrgyzstan.

Trade union study circles are not a new innovation. They originated in Scandinavia at the end of the nineteenth century and commonly refer to small informal groups made up of colleagues who have a shared interest in working together to find solutions to their problems. Throughout the course of the week, the local trade union leaders worked in unison with the ETUCE team and trainers from Läraförbundet to adapt this practice to the Kyrgyz context.

The training was opened by the Chairman of the Trade Union for Education and Science workers of the Kyrgyz Republic, Asylbeck Toktogulov, who emphasised that trade union study circles were important to strengthen organisational capacity. In order to understand the way in which this can be done, during the week of training, the participants discussed several questions. In particular, the following, amongst others, were addressed: what is the relevance of creating trade union circles? what are the organisational and methodological principles of organising the work of successful trade union circles?

The training was a fluid practice that was in the continual process of being adapted to the needs of the the participants and therefore the Kyrgyz context. The local trade union leaders firstly worked to define what it meant to train study circle conveners in their respective regions before then clarifying what a successful study circle looked like for their primary trade union members. Ultimately, after receiving the training, the participants expressed a desire to contribute to the creation of study circles that fostered greater trade union education, increased literacy in social and legal rights and enhanced solidarity in the workplace among educators in the country.

Following the success of the trade union study circle training, the Chairman, Asylbeck Toktogulov, concluded that there would be a six month testing period that would include running trial study circles. Eventually, those involved in the project trials would come back together to engage in a knowledge exchange to ensure the smooth roll out of study circles. These would then contribute to enhancing organisational capacity of education trade unions throughout the country.

The ETUCE's European director, Susan Flocken, further commented on the training, stating that: ‘We are happy to partner with Lärarförbundet and the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of the Kyrgyz Republic on this initiative and we wish our Kyrgyz colleagues success in implementing study circles to address and work on the pressing issues of their members.’ 


Training Seminar on Trade Union Study Circles - Kyrgyzstan September 2022