Thrive by Five12 Oct 2022

New ‘world-first’ parenting program, Besh Qadam, promises to help Uzbek children build brain power

A new parenting program has launched in Uzbekistan that promises to help children build their brain power, improve communication skills, and connect with their parents and grandparents.

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Children at the launch of Thrive by Five in Uzbekistan. Photo Credit: Bilim Makon.

“Besh Qadam” is a new early childhood development platform targeted at children aged 0-5. It’s the Uzbek version of the “Thrive by Five” program developed by the Minderoo Foundation, an Australian philanthropic organisation. The program has been launched in Uzbekistan in collaboration with the Innovation Centre of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Preschool Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Besh Qadam includes more than 100 simple and fun activities to do with children and prompts parents and grandparents to take time out of their day to engage with them. These activities combine the latest neuroscience research with traditional parenting practices.

The program is underpinned by three core products:

  • The Besh Qadam App for parents and caregivers of children aged 0-5 years, which is free to download and use;
  • Supporting content disseminated via online and offline channels for increased accessibility ensuring families from low socio-economic backgrounds are not left out, and
  • The Thrive by Five TED Talk from Australian schoolgirl Molly Wright on “How every child can thrive by five”, which became the most popular Ted Talk of 2021

By the age of five, a child’s brain has already reached 90 per cent of the volume of an adult brain. Research shows that having interactions with children early and often can make a big difference for cognitive development. Even simple games like peek-a-boo are scientifically proven to have a significant impact on a child’s development.

“Uzbekistan has made expanding access to pre-school education a policy priority. But the most critical years in a child’s development come before children even begin attending school. Our ministry immediately understood the potential of this project,” said Shin A.V., Minister of Preschool Education. “The Besh Qadam program is a powerful tool to help parents ensure they are giving their children the best start in life.”

Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Minderoo Foundation Nicola Forrest said “This program aims to give parents and caregivers the knowledge they need during the precious early years – to help children reach their full future potential. The science shows that it’s the little moments of connection and interaction, repeated often and especially during the toughest of times, that can make all the difference.”

The Minderoo Foundation collaborated with the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney to develop the Thrive by Five program. Researchers at the University of Sydney conducted in-depth analysis of the community norms, parenting roles, as well as religious, cultural, and environmental factors of countries around the world. They then adapted the latest scientific findings in cognitive development, physical heath, and communication skills to this local context in these countries.

Professor Ian Hickie of the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney commented: “The Thrive by Five program uniquely combines new insights from the science of early brain development with application of place-specific cultural knowledge. That’s a real challenge but also the beauty of the project. It truly is a world first.”

Uzbekistan is the fifth country in which a local version of the Thrive by Five program has been launched. The Foundation plans to launch the program in 30 countries worldwide as it seeks to increase awareness around the importance of a child’s early years and empower parents and caregivers the world over to give children the best start in life.

“The app makes helpful suggestions to parents so that they can connect and interact with their children in ways that are both nurturing and playful,” said Rakmatillaev O.Z., CEO of the Innovation Center, who led the effort to adapt the app for Uzbek parents. “It is no exaggeration to say that the more Uzbek parents and grandparents who use this app, the brighter the future of our country will be.”

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

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