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).
Unlike 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.”
We 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!
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?
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 http://www.eurasianet.org/node/65545
Nick Clark, Bologna-Inspired Education Reform in Central Asia (May 4, 2015), World Education News & Reviews. Retrieved from http://wenr.wes.org/2015/05/bologna-inspired-education-reform-central-asia
Alec Luhn, Uzbek president bans teaching of political science (September 5, 2015), The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/05/uzbekistan-islam-karimov-bans-political-science
Uzbekistan, The European Education Directory http://www.euroeducation.net/prof/uzbekco.htm
Uzbekistan Doesn’t Believe in Political Science (September 2, 2015), Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. Retrieved from http://www.rferl.org/content/uzbekistan-political-science-abolished/27222937.html