Education and Development?

As you may already know, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan implemented series of reforms in its higher education. Currently it follows the four and two year bachelor and master degree formats (Bakalavr and Magistr), in addition to Specialist Diploma (five years of study), and Doktor Nauk (doctor of science; six years after the Magistr degree).

imagesUnlike Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan is not a member of the European Bologna Process, the goals of which are “compatibility and comparability of higher education qualifications, programs and courses; academic and workplace mobility across international borders.”

_70129960_cotton144355002We learned from one of the earlier posts that it is still mandatory for high school and college students to help with cotton harvest and they miss up to two month of schooling each fall. That is an equivalent of two academic semesters in four years! 

uzb gerb

In this week post I would like to write about two decrees, banning the cell phone use in schools and teaching political science. Yes, you read both correctly.

In a decree of May 2012, students were prohibited using their cell phones at schools and universities in order “to ensure the constitutional rights of students in getting a quality education and professional training, as well as to lower youth health risks for the interests of the nation and society.” In addition, the students and school employees are not allowed to use their phones to take pictures or videos at school that can “damage the image of the educational facilities.”


According to Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia Human Rights Watch, this decree serves as the government’s “well-documented campaign to restrict freedom of expression and stifle civic discussion in the country.” Whose interests this decree is protecting, the students’ or the government’s? How far will the state go to control what’s going in schools and on university campuses?

banned books

In 2010, all political science departments were closed at the universities putting a stop to students’ enrollment in this major. In August 2015 a decree was issued, which banned the teaching of the political science and the words “political science” from the course offerings and all library holdings. Because of this ban, all literature related to political science will now require a special permission to access it.

The reasons for the ban are as follows:

  • an irrelevant Western import;
  • does not follow a scientific method;
  • a duplicate of history, psychology and sociology;
  • “a pseudo-science” because it does not take into account the Uzbek model of development.

A group of Uzbek political scientists posted an open letter against the decree but no response was received.

According to the decree, the last remaining course on “political science” was renamed as “The Theory and Practice of Building a Democratic Society in Uzbekistan.” Can anyone guess what’s in the course syllabus?





Evgeny Kuzmin, Uzbekistan: Karimov Decree Makes Schools, Universities Cell-Free Zones (June 14, 2012), EurasiaNet’s Weekly Digest. Retrieved from

Nick Clark, Bologna-Inspired Education Reform in Central Asia (May 4, 2015), World Education News & Reviews. Retrieved from

Alec Luhn, Uzbek president bans teaching of political science (September 5, 2015), The Guardian. Retrieved from

Uzbekistan, The European Education Directory

Uzbekistan Doesn’t Believe in Political Science (September 2, 2015), Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. Retrieved from

Disclaimer: images on this blog are taken from various internet sites and used for non-commercial purposes

7 thoughts on “Education and Development?

  1. What a fascinating post! While the ban on cell phone use may have merit if it were intended to help students focus, the reasons cited invite much suspicion as to what the government is trying to hide. This just invites an NGO like Human Rights Watch to take a closer look! And, as someone who holds a political science undergraduate degree, I’m blown away by how a government can ban an entire field of study based on what appears to be a lack of alignment with their way of thinking. I wonder what the Uzbek model of development entails that could be so radically different from that of the fundamentals of poli sci? I will definitely be watching this debate!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kelley – thank you for your comment. I was shocked just as you are about political science ban and everything related to it… Unfortunately HRW is not allowed in the country ( This is one of their recent reports on human rights abuses in Uzbekistan,
      BTW, many of the international organizations were kicked out after the Andijan Massacre (


      1. The “Uzbek model of development” site repeats the title three times. That seems to be the main content.

        Concerning the cotton picking: I have been wondering. What would be an efficient way of doing this without having to force students into it (definitely a bad idea) or even hiring low-wage workers. How does the US do it in the south? I guess that there are machine?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That was very interesting. I am not surprised that a country that was part of the fallen Soviet Union would go to such lengths to deny students their freedoms while in school. To create legal documentation making it illegal to use cell phones in school, in this technology age is unheard of to me. I studied Uzbekistan a little in my undergraduate degree and though the political science stuff didn’t surprised me, that cell phone decree is very far fetched. Thanks for such an informative post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dr. Perrottet, I found a video of the U.S. cotton harvest done by machinery

    One way Uzbekistan can approach this is by letting go of the state owned production but because it is one of the main income source, it is not likely to do so. The tradition of cotton picking goes back to the Soviet times done with propaganda to help the motherland to accomplish its five year plan by any means. The Uzbek model works wonders, if you’re not there to collect the cotton, you lose your job or expelled from school.


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