8 Facts About Education in Uzbekistan

Since 1925, the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic had been following the Soviet Union’s lead in education. But in 1991, after the Soviet Union collapsed, Uzbekistan became an independent state, which led to a need for reform in the public education process. Currently, Uzbekistan, a country with a population of around 32 million, ranks highly among the most developed countries, with an education index of 0.92, compared to the world average of 0.77. How Uzbekistan has reached this education index can be analyzed by looking at eight facts about education in Uzbekistan, focusing on educational reforms, enrollment rates, gender disparities and children with special needs and disadvantaged backgrounds.

8 Facts About Education in Uzbekistan

  1. Since Uzbekistan is under reform to gradually shift from a planned economy to a liberal market economy, it needs to do so by avoiding social conflicts, since Uzbekistan consists of many ethnicities. At the same time, Uzbekistan wishes to maximize intellectual potential and promote education as a national social priority. Uzbekistan also maintains a centralized form of implementing education reforms that are usually maintained by the National Program of Personnel Training (NPPT).
  2. One of the key changes in the education processes from 1991 to 2010 was the increase in the years of schooling from 11 to 12 years, where the last three years constitute compulsory secondary education. The Uzbek government expected the top ten percent of students graduating from high school to attend the more academic-oriented Academic Lyceum, and the other 90 percent to attend more technically and vocationally oriented institutions.
  3. Enrollment rates in both primary and secondary education reduced in Uzbekistan during the first part of the 1990s when the state got its independence, but they steadied by the 2000s. It is currently stabilized at 100 percent for primary education for both boys and girls. As for secondary education, it has steadily increased from around 89 percent in 2009 to above 92 percent in 2017 for both boys and girls.
  4. In addition to the NPPT, there are three other specialized ministries that are involved in the education reforms in Uzbekistan: the Ministry of Preschool Education, the Ministry of Public Education and the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education. The Uzbek government also devotes a large share of its resources and expenditures on education, at a 34.2 percent share of the 2017 state budget. Meanwhile, the average government expenditure on education for OECD countries stands at an average of 13 percent.
  5. Despite the high percentages among male and female students, there is still some gender disparity in education in Uzbekistan. Women are only a minority of students enrolled in higher education institutions, making up only 38.2 percent. In secondary education, the ratio of girls to boys has decreased from 0.39 in 2000 to 0.37 in 2011.
  6. UNICEF is advocating for Uzbek children who are at the appropriate age to be present in preschool establishments. The organization argues that the lack of access to early learning and developmental skills does not allow for the maximization intellectual potential. In Uzbekistan, less than 30 percent of children have access to quality preschool education, which mostly consists of urban male children. However, this will change, as there are regional plans to increase access to these programs in Bukhara, Djizzakh and Samarkand.
  7. Education in Uzbekistan for children with disabilities has been getting more attention recently, as a pending new law in education is to be released that would protect the rights of these children and their education. At the present rate, the number of children with special educational needs enrolled is at a nationwide average of 0.79 students per school. The schools which accommodate these children are the only ones who currently offer accessible or inclusive classes.
  8. The government attempts to provide support to children from low-income families and orphans. Such students qualify for free school materials, including textbooks and school accessories. In addition, around 80,000 children from a low-income background are exempted from tuition fees for preschool education.

These eight facts about education in Uzbekistan only provide a brief insight into the current situation and how it can be improved. Comparatively, education in Uzbekistan is performing at a better rate than its neighboring countries of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Uzbekistan continues to strive for equality among its citizens, which include their rights to an education.

– Nergis Sefer
Photo: Wikimedia

top ten facts about life expectancy in Uzbekistan The top 10 facts about life expectancy in Uzbekistan reflect the many changes that the nation has endured since gaining its independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. An evolving healthcare system, which now technically includes primary care for all, still struggles to meet the needs of the country’s poorest inhabitants.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Uzbekistan

  1. The average Uzbek person has a life expectancy of approximately 66 to 72 years. However, the last 9 of those years are typically not spent in good health. When one accounts for the years lived in failing health, it changes the picture considerably.  It is an unfortunate fact that for too many Uzbek people, their final years are characterized by pain and sickness, most often due to heart disease and respiratory infections.
  2. Uzbek women, on average, live about 5 years longer than their male counterparts. Maternal mortality is at a 20 year low, down from 380 deaths for every 697,000 births in 1990, to 240 deaths for every 667,000 births in 2015. Prenatal care is also on the rise in Uzbekistan, up from just less than 95 percent in 1996 to more than 99 percent in 2015.
  3. The top 10 facts about life expectancy in Uzbekistan cannot exclude the leading cause of death, which is cardiovascular disease.  In Uzbekistan, where many traditional dishes are laden with bread and meat, the dietary risk is the number one cause of heart disease. Stress is another mitigating factor, unsurprising because in Uzbekistan the norm is to work 6 days a week.
  4. The Uzbek people are suffering from the adverse effects of polluted water. It is due to the prevalence of water-borne diseases and an overall scarcity of drinkable water. More than 30 percent of households lack drinkable water, thanks to an infrastructure that cannot properly purify drinking water or treat sewage.
  5. The good news is that Uzbekistan is now one of the 7 countries participating in a pilot program with the UNDP, called “Piloting Climate Change Adaptation to Protect Human Health in Uzbekistan.” The mission of this project is to provide medical personnel and the greater population with the information and tools to reduce the negative impact of climate factors on the health of the Uzbek population. The success of this project will be tracked by the decline of intestinal, respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses connected to climate.
  6. Another one of the top 10 facts about life expectancy in Uzbekistan is that many people in the country do not earn enough to access healthcare and fitness centers which would keep them healthy. Having financial resources makes it possible to buy healthy foods, pay for medical services and engage in activities that are optimal for a long and healthy life. A monthly gym membership in Uzbekistan is the equivalent of 20 American dollars, a considerable sum when the average Uzbek citizen earns only about $124 a month.
  7. The World Health Organization estimates that a typical 20-minute medical visit cost about 8 American dollars in 2005. While all citizens ostensibly have access to primary and emergency healthcare regardless of their ability to pay, the resources of the public sector are severely limited and medical personnel often prioritize patients who can pay for private care, often informally with cash or a bartering of services.
  8. Uzbekistan became independent of the Soviet Union in 1991, relinquishing a great deal of financial assistance. This has resulted in hospitals having fewer beds to spare and a decline in the number of doctors per population. The decline has been from nearly 350 physicians for every 100,000 population in 1990 to fewer than 250 in 2012.
  9. Out of a population of approximately 32 million, an estimated 52,000 people in Uzbekistan are living with HIV. The number has increased sharply in the last 30 years, which is attributed to the new mandatory reporting system and increased drug use. There are state-funded facilities dedicated to servicing HIV/AIDS patients in Uzbekistan, and outpatient pharmaceuticals are covered by the state, but there is still a tremendous stigma attached to an HIV diagnosis, which hampers treatment.
  10. Climate change has already impacted life expectancy in Uzbekistan.  An increase in dust storms has caused serious health issues for people exposed to an excess of dust particles, especially in the region of Karakalpakstan, which has an approximate population of 1.8 million.

The Uzbekistan government is working toward reinforcing the country’s preparedness for climate issues. It is doing this with the support of The Green Climate Fund (GCF). GCF, which is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project, is focused on accessing funds for climate financing and increasing private engagement. These recent strides demonstrate that Uzbekistan is well on its way to improving the stations of its individual citizens and the health of the nation as a whole.

– Raquel Ramos
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Change in UzbekistanAfter Karimov’s 27-year rule, the U.S. is supporting sustainable change in Uzbekistan, partnering with the World Bank by loaning $500 million.

A Changing Economy

The Development Policy Operation’s goal is to switch from a privatized, government-ruled economy to a market economy. A strong market economy should translate into jobs being created for the youth. However, Uzbekistan’s 2017 Development Strategy also wants to make these economic changes sustainable while implementing social reform to protect less fortunate people.

So far, Uzbekistan’s government has committed to these transformations by “liberalizing its currency, lifting trade and investment barriers, reducing business regulations and opening markets to attract investment and boost imports and exports.” While these changes are already putting the country on a great trajectory, other projects like urban development are raising living standards for those who are less fortunate.

Modernization in Uzbekistan

The World Bank supported the modernization of the District Heating system at the beginning of 2018, which will provide 240,000 Uzbek residents new and improved heating and hot water services. By providing these services, the quality of life will go up for those dealing with harsh winters, reducing the risk of health-related issues caused by the cold. This will be great for young school children who sometimes go to school with no heat. Not only is this a health risk, but it is a distraction from learning. The new heating project will ensure kids have a brighter future in a healthy learning environment.

The District Heating Energy Efficieny Project will help people living in apartment building in Andijan, Bukhara, Chirchik, Samarkand and Tashkent. Government buildings like hospitals, schools and municipal offices also benefit from this project, and state-owned power companies will see a reduce number of power outages due to more networks being added. This project will also reduce CO2 and natural gas emissions in cities.  With all added benefits aside from helping people stay warm and healthy, the District Heating Energy Efficiency Project is a sustainable change.

A Free Market

In addition to education, health and safety being increased by public works projects and foreign aid, Uzbekistan is celebrating a free market with the switch of power from a private market to a public one. Uzbekistan’s market formerly known as Abu Sahiy became Tashkent Silk Road in early December 2017. Because former President Karimov owned this market, trade bans were in place that didn’t allow merchants to import goods. Now, small businesses are thriving and buyers can buy everything from food to phones.

The new market is also inspiring trades between Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Opening the door to trade with neighboring countries will continue to boost the economy of Uzbekistan. Continued aid and progress of political reform is inspiring hope for Uzbekistan’s poor. A free market, foreign trade and the new government’s commitment to do good allows for sustainable change in Uzbekistan.

– Hope Kelly
Photo: Flickr

UzbekistanUzbekistan’s developmental capacity is, to some extent, contingent on the inclusion of young girls and women in the formal education system. Though work is being done to improve girls’ education in Uzbekistan, there is still a long way to go. Access to early education for girls is scarce in Uzbekistan. The U.N. uses a mechanism called gross enrollment ratio (GER) to analyze the education levels of its member states.

Pre-primary Education

Pre-primary school enrollment ratios for girls (ages 3-6) have been around 26.5 percent in the last 10 years. While pre-primary education may seem to be an inconsequential aspect of education for young girls, a study from the World Bank linking preschool attendance to employment outcomes in Uzbekistan shows that it is rather important to girls’ futures.

The Government of Uzbekistan and The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) have both recognized the need to improve pre-primary education. With financial support from the GPE, The Ministry of Preschool Education plans to expand early childhood care and education, with the ultimate goal of achieving 100 percent enrollment by 2021.

Education and the Role of Women

The foundational laws and reforms in Uzbekistan have created an education system that is compulsory for primary school (ages 7-10) and secondary school (ages 11-18) boys and girls. However, practice school attendance, particularly for girls, has not been universal due to socio-cultural and socio-economic barriers. In recent years, the government has worked to remove those barriers and integrate underserved populations into the education system; a majority of those populations includes girls.

Between 2008 and 2017, the GER for girls’ primary education increased from 92.6 percent to 102.28 percent, remaining relatively equal with that of male students during the same time period. In 2017, the enrollment ratio for females in secondary school was 92.42 percent, lower but still relatively equal to their male counterparts.

Girls’ education in Uzbekistan is lacking most at the tertiary, or university level. The GER for females in tertiary schools (ages 19-23) is just 6.33 percent. However, this meager statistic is not a reflection of young women’s unwillingness to pursue higher education or a satisfaction with the status quo. It is, rather, a reflection of a lack of funding, high tuition costs and an outdated societal expectation that young women take on traditional, household roles after secondary school.

The Future of Girls’ Education

Changing the landscape of girls’ education in Uzbekistan requires structured and integrated reforms at every level. Extracurricular activities are another tool that can be used to expand and strengthen girls’ education in Uzbekistan. Encouraging girls to explore activities and career paths seldom held in the past can have an empowering effect. This was exemplified in early 2017 when the UNDP held a “technovation challenge,” in which hundreds of young female programmers collaborated to tackle social issues, including education, using their programming and innovative skills.

“The idea that ‘it is too hard for girls and women’ is as outdated as it is offensive, and yet we still hear it,” according to the event’s press release. At the end of the challenge, the girls in attendance were able to meet and hear from the Uzbek women that make up a small portion of the tech workforce now. In terms of cultural change, events like the technovation challenge are some of the most impactful as they dispel the notion that investing in these girls’ education is unnecessary. It puts on display the untapped potential within the Uzbek female population and changes the perceptions of those who still hold “outdated” understandings of the role of women in society.

The UNDP and the Women’s Committee of Uzbekistan have also put their monetary resources to use in order to provide grants to female university students. Monetary investment will prove to be a vital part of expanding girls’ education in Uzbekistan given the high tuition costs. This, alongside the structural and cultural changes being implemented, can break down barriers to girls’ education in Uzbekistan in the short-run and the long-run, expanding the potential paths of all women in Uzbekistan.

– Julius Long
Photo: Flickr

developmental aid around the Aral Sea
The Aral Sea was once a large saltwater lake located in Central Asia. With Kazakhstan in the north and Uzbekistan in the south, both countries bordered the body of water. Fishing communities in the countries prospered for years, yet a decisive change in the 1960s led to the demise of these towns. The two countries experienced drastically different outcomes, all due to developmental aid around the Aral Sea.

Causes of the Aral Sea’s Water Loss

In the 1960s, the Soviet Union decided to redirect the water in the Aral Sea for agriculture, predominately for cotton. Previously, the sea was replenished by the water that rivers returned, making it a reliable source of income for neighboring fisheries. Over the past four decades, the sea has retreated about 93 miles, losing a surface area the size of Maryland. With salinity levels continuing to rise to more than seven times the normal amount, a once plentiful resource has run dry.

As the sea dried up, so did jobs. A reported 60,000 jobs disappeared in direct relation to Aral fishery shutdowns. Dust storms that swelled within the barren seabed contained various chemicals from the agriculture in the surrounding areas and caused irrevocable harm to citizens. Diseases related to poor air quality were rampant. Even the food produced in the area contained hazards for consumers, which forced thousands from their homes. Those that chose not to leave, despite the water and air pollution, were left living in poverty.

Intervention in Kazakhstan Improves the Lives and Livelihoods of Residents

In 2005, the World Bank intervened with a plan for developmental aid around the Aral Sea and partnered with the Kazakh government to install a dam. The plan cost $86 million and was designed to improve irrigation along the rivers and restore the sea. The dam primarily prevented water in the northern regions from flowing south. Additional measures to improve irrigation along the Syr Darya River made sure enough water flowed back into the North Aral Sea. Previously, as much as 40 percent of water was lost due to poor irrigation.

In 2006, the Kok-Aral Dam was constructed and saw quick success. As the surface area of the sea expanded, fish stocks were reintroduced. The replenishment of local resources meant that the economy, once built on fishing, could flourish and grow to its previous grandeur. The water and air quality also improved, meaning that residents no longer needed to move away from the area.

In 2006, the ports handled around 2,000 tons of fish and houses in the area were no longer empty; about 17 homes were occupied as opposed to eight. As the local fish diet improved, so did the ability to grow vegetables. The changes to the ecosystem led to more rainfall and fewer sandstorms. Life was reintroduced to the region.

Uzbekistan’s Focus on Cotton Deprives the Fishing Industry

A very different story played out in neighboring Uzbekistan, where government leaders are still insistent that cotton production is their “white gold”. The country ranks 12th in highest value of cotton exported in 2017. The enterprise brings in around $850.4 million and accounts for 1.6 percent of total exported cotton.

However, similar health risks and impoverishment are seen in areas previously home to fisheries. Many people migrated to agricultural regions to make a living farming and picking cotton. Conditions around cotton production in Uzbekistan remain questionable, with allegations of forced labor becoming rampant.

The Effects of Developmental Aid Around the Aral Sea on Poverty

Although both countries experienced high levels of poverty at the height of the Aral Sea’s reduction, the current state of poverty in the two countries is quite different. In 2005, 31.6 percent of the country lived in poverty in Kazakhstan, while in 2016, only 2.6 percent of the population lived in poverty. This reduction is directly related to developmental aid around the Aral Sea.

In Uzbekistan, the decline is much slower. From 2012 to 2016, poverty decreased from 15 percent to 12.3 percent. This progress is promising, yet slow compared to its neighbors. When the World Bank asked the Uzbek government if it wished to participate in developmental aid around the Aral Sea, like that in Kazakhstan, it declined.

The Future of Development in Central Asia

In partnership with World Bank, the Kazakh government provides an example of successful developmental aid around the Aral Sea. Currently, the World Bank is working with the Uzbek government to implement projects around horticulture. As new enterprises are explored, such as oil drilling in the south Aral Sea by Uzbekistan, avenues to combat poverty will vary. For Kazakhstan, working to reinvigorate a previously plentiful resource was the key to poverty alleviation.

This triumph in poverty reduction provides a hopeful message to those wanting to see a drastic drop in poverty through developmental aid.

– Taylor Jennings
Photo: Google

Water Supply in KarakalpakstanThe autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan occupies the entire northwestern end of the country of Uzbekistan. With a poverty rate of 32 percent, this region is considered one of the poorest in Uzbekistan.

The Necessity of Water

Because most of this nation’s produce comes from agricultural production, water is an essential resource for the people of Karakalpakstan. The economy is supported through the production of cotton, melons and livestock, making extensive irrigation systems critical for the smooth execution of farming practices and water management.

Water is essential to life in Karakalpakstan; more than 30,000 hectares of land have been abandoned because of the lack of water. Since the shortage of water in the region often results from farmers using water inefficiently, new and effective water-saving technologies are in high demand.

Improving irrigation systems would help these impoverished farmers move out of poverty. Effective water management can reduce the cost of supplying and storing water, which would inevitably increase the farmers’ yields and enable them to cultivate more crops. With a steady and reliable source of water supply in Karakalpakstan, the region’s farmers can be assured that they will be able to tend to their crops and rely on them for financial support.

The Project to Improve Water Supply in Karakalpakstan

In response to the ongoing water crisis, the World Bank initiated a project that aims to help 1,500 private farms and 40,000 small farming households secure access to water in Karakalpakstan.

The South Karakalpakstan Water Resources Management Improvement Project (SKWRMIP) for Uzbekistan focuses on the restoration of irrigation systems and improvements in water management. With 80 percent of its resources aimed at irrigation and drainage, the project aims to build a sustainable water distribution system and a financially stable community of farmers.

“Better water management and irrigation will lead to increased farm productivity, and thus help farmers in South Karakalpakstan build their assets and improve their living standards,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “We estimate that 41,000 water users will be provided with new or improved irrigation and drainage services under this project.”

Financial Benefits of the Project

This project would replace the 1950s water infrastructure in Uzbekistan, which is experiencing many complications due to age. The deteriorating infrastructure and poor water management of the 1950s system is estimated to cost Uzbekistani government $1.7 billion USD annually. However, the SKWRMIP proposal comes with a total annual energy cost of $2.4 million USD, saving the government a significant amount.  It also relieves much of the burden on rural farmers paying operation and distribution fees, allowing them the freedom to save the money for themselves.

“Our firm is planning to complete the civil works along the Buston channel this year. Thousands of farmers in several districts of South Karakalpakstan will be able to receive water for the irrigation of their lands,” said Islombek Ismatov, a SKWRMIP construction manager. “Lack of water in this region makes it more valuable than gold.”

In regions like Karakalpakstan, water is extremely valuable for livelihood. Water supply has been erratic and fleeting over the past few decades in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, but the SKWRMIP works to build and maintain a functional and accessible source of water supply in the region.

– Jenny S Park
Photo: Google

credit access in UzbekistanUzbekistan is setting strong economic precedents for the European and Central Asian region. New supportive legislative policies have increased government spending on education and training programs. Global economists argue this is one of the main reasons Uzbekistan’s GDP has increased by more than eight percent the past three years.

Recent economic success is also attributed to growing economic freedom allowed by a currently changing Soviet-style economy. Uzbekistan has the most diversified economy in Central Asia. This provides an increase in GDP per capita, which has been increasing steadily over the past three years as well. Improvements in GDP per capita are strong indicators of improvement in personal living standards.

At present, the service sector accounts for about 45 percent of GDP. Examples of common Uzbekistan services include car repairs, the medical industry, teaching and the food industry. Not far behind services lies industry and agriculture. Uzbekistan is the world’s fifth-leading cotton exporter and seventh-leading producer.

Economic projections for the private sector show a steady increase over the next few years. Fiscal space in the government budget allows the economy to increase stimulus without increasing public debt. This leaves the public to continue growing in wealth while working simultaneously to steadily boost GDP.

The Banking System

Credit access in Uzbekistan is likely to increase due to recent banking growth. More money circulating through the Uzbekistan economy raises banking lending power. In the past, Uzbekistan banking systems limited access to foreign investments due to governmental regulations. Almost all money contributed had come from the domestic system.

Exclusive banking provided benefits such as domestic accountability. An increase in Uzbekistan credit access relied on loans by the population. Other past pros to this system included resilience to global financial crises. Banks proved most effective in 2014 when domestic capital injections provided immunity from failing global counterparts.

This, however, has changed in 2018. Total banking capital increased 26 percent in 2014, and this year banking directors met to discuss boosting central bank interdependence with foreign allies to target foreseen inflation rates.

Banking directors continue to emphasize the importance of regulation to create and maintain a newly inclusive baking system. The new system would include an interactive global policy regarding foreign loans and cooperation.

Personal Credit Access in Uzbekistan

Smaller banking also influences credit access in Uzbekistan. A closer look reveals smaller economic changes, some of which include assistance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IFC is a member of the World Bank and works to improve business in the private sectors of developing countries.

Private sector investments from the IFC have improved credit access in Uzbekistan in several ways. For example, the financial Markets Infrastructure Program (2009 to present) aims to create and improve credit information sharing. Members of the public can now receive an accurate prediction of loan repayment possibilities.

The current program also educates possible loan participants on formal risk factors associated with taking a loan. The certification for financial institution employees is the most prevalent in this project, as it allows job creation while creating a more knowledgeable private sector.

The Mortgage Market Development Project also instituted public credit access in Uzbekistan by improving mortgage lending procedures in local banks, made possible through set lending practices. Both programs continue today, allowing the general public higher access to jobs, loans and savings options.

Strong Projections

Expansion into the global economic sphere is a huge step for Uzbekistan, as previous years of Soviet-style economics would not have allowed this type of growth. Compared to its European-Asian counterparts, the Uzbekistan economy is at the forefront of balance and diversity.

The shift from exclusive banking to possibly inclusive is a prime example of the forward economic thinking propelling the country forward. Further improvements to liberalize the Uzbekistan economy, establish rule of law, social safety, constructive foreign policy and personal banking are also paving the way for success in the coming years.

– Logan Moore
Photo: Flickr

higher education in UzbekistanAlthough Uzbekistan’s economy shifted from agriculture to a service sector over a 20-year period, its higher education system was unable to adapt to this change. According to a report from the World Bank in 2013, Uzbekistan saw exceptionally low enrollment rates in its universities. However, work has been done in recent years to improve higher education in Uzbekistan.

Initiatives to Modernize Higher Education in Uzbekistan

In January of 2016, the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) launched a program that would help Uzbekistani students and young scientists implement startup ideas and realize their entrepreneurial potential. The UNDP launched the program to utilize the potential of Uzbekistan’s higher education students. The program is three months long and teaches students how to present products and ideas to potential investors.

In April of 2017, the World Bank and Uzbekistan’s government signed a $42.2 million credit agreement for a project to modernize Uzbekistan’s higher education system and improve the quality of its labor market. The World Bank also intends to modernize Uzbekistan’s higher education laboratories, research facilities and establish a national electronic library. The project will also finance an Academic Innovation Fund that higher institutions can use for proposing new education initiatives.

Uzbekistan’s Plans For Higher Education Reform

In May of 2017, there were only twenty applicants per subject at Uzbekistan universities. Teachers were also reported to be greatly underpaid. Authoritative figures made plans to reform higher education in Uzbekistan, setting a goal for 18 percent more college students by the year 2020. Uzbekistan’s officials said the country also planned to raise professor salaries and hire more foreign faculty.

In October of 2017, Webster University signed a memorandum of understanding with Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Higher Education. Julian Schuster, Webster University’s provost, said Webster is committed to pursuing long-term partnerships that would benefit “our academic communities and our countries.” Schuster also said that establishing a presence in Uzbekistan implied that the university might offer its programs there.

In November of 2017, Webster University set up a branch of its institution in Uzbekistan. Sia Eng Kee, a researcher at the Management Development Institute of Singapore, said the new American campus would give Uzbekistan’s local students an alternative to their traditional Russian, European and Asian studies. Webster University will also prepare Uzbekistan’s college students for global career opportunities.

Improving Doctoral Studies at Higher Education Institutions

On Feb. 7, 2018, the Tashkent Chemical Technological Institute hosted a Quality Assurance Seminar in accordance with Uzbekistan’s project to further the quality of doctoral studies. Radoslaw Darski, the head of Uzbekistan’s policy, press and information sector, emphasized the project’s importance in helping Uzbekistan develop its science and higher education sector. From February 5 to 9, the project held training seminars with doctors and scientists of various universities and institutions.

On Feb. 21, 2018, Uzbekistan and Kuwait signed an agreement with the aim to establish bilateral cooperation between the countries’ higher education and science education systems. The agreement allows Uzbekistan and Kuwait to exchange students and researchers who are awarded yearly scholarships. The agreement also promotes interactions in teaching and learning the Arabic language, preserving Oriental manuscripts and cooperation in source studies.

Many efforts have been made in recent years to improve higher education in Uzbekistan. The UNDP, World Bank, Webster University and Kuwait will continue their work in helping the future of Uzbekistan’s higher education students.

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

sustainable agriculture in UzbekistanUzbekistan is the most populous nation in central Asia, with over 32 million citizens. It is a landlocked country with little precipitation (3.9 to 7.9 inches annually), but its landscape includes two rivers and the salty Aral Sea. Despite the dry area’s water sources, decades of misuse of the rivers and sea have led to degraded land and Uzbekistan’s high reliance on exported crops like cotton. A new generation of citizens now counters the mistakes of its predecessors as they strive toward sustainable agriculture in Uzbekistan.

Cotton – Profit Over Environment

Uzbeki leadership employed poor practices, originally implemented by Soviet leadership in the 1950s, to cultivate the cotton crop through large-scale chemical use, inefficient irrigation systems and poor drainage systems. Each variable contributed to soil degradation and high soil salinity (salt content of the soil).

The higher the soil’s salinity, the harder plants must work to absorb water. Even if the soil is at proper saturation, if the salt content is high enough, plants will wilt or even die from the high expense of energy. The process of diverting water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers that fed the Aral Sea led to the desertification of what was once the fourth largest saline lake in the world. The extremely high concentration of salt in the small body of water left behind affects the soil of its boundaries with a high level of salinity.

The sea is now less than 10 percent of its former size and the eastern basin, which dried up completely, is now known as the Aralkum Desert.

“Modern Slavery”

Further, Uzbekistan employed even poorer labor practices. The cotton industry saw state workers directed away from their occupations during harvest season and out to the fields picking cotton. The practice met the definition of “modern slavery” as outlined by the Global Slavery Index, as the workers received little to no compensation for their extra work and were under the alleged threat of expulsion from their state jobs if they did not participate in the harvest.

Labor and agricultural policies were enforced under the leadership of President Islam Karimov, elected in 1991 after Uzbekistan declared independence from the Soviet Union. Shavkat Mirziyoyev became the nation’s second president in 2016 following the death of Karimov. Mirziyoyev has since publicly denounced the traditional labor practice and initiated reforms across the labor and agriculture sectors.

Time for Crop Diversification

A 2013 study on the possible outcomes of developing land for crops besides cotton found a high potential for more efficient water use, as well as farm income for the area’s dryland citizens. The multiyear study indicated that crop diversification would also assist farmers in wetland areas that will be affected by the climate-driven decline water availability. The article concluded that crop diversification was key to sustainable agriculture in Uzbekistan.

That same year, the World Bank financed the Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change Mitigation project. The project objectives are to introduce renewable energy and technology for energy efficiency to the agriculture (agribusiness and farms) sector, and to improve the degraded irrigated land and water conservation practices.

The project looks to secure the objectives by implementing three components:

  • Promotion of renewable energy technologies, especially by supporting the circulation of knowledge and information through training and goods
  • Promotion of best practices and technology to mitigate the irrigated land degradation
  • Advisory services and project management

Horticulture Development

In 2014, the Horticulture Development Project initiated the shift in focus from heavily relied-upon exports like cotton to sustainable agriculture in Uzbekistan. By growing its own fruits and vegetables, the nation will realize growth in sector-crossing agribusiness and through its more diverse economy.

The project’s three main components include agricultural support services, access to credit and project management. The World Bank partners with the International Finance Corporation for the project to develop solutions to implementing food safety practices, improving competitiveness, agricultural lending and understanding the supply chain.

Uzbekistan must overcome the inheritance of neglectful policies, rising above the mandates of 1950s Soviet Russia and the heavy-handed culture of the Kamirov-led 1990s and 2000s. Through aid and the drive to emerge victorious, Uzbeki will citizens create sustainable agriculture on their way to creating a fully sustainable nation.

– Jaymie Greenway

Photo: Flickr

humanitarian aid to uzbekistanWith its 28.1 million people, Uzbekistan is the most heavily populated country in Central Asia. More than two-thirds of the population live in rural areas and over one-quarter live in poverty. Its economy relies heavily on agriculture, which is why agricultural development and diversification is the main goal for USAID in Uzbekistan. For instance, in 2011, humanitarian aid to Uzbekistan through USAID introduced 3,000 farmers to new production techniques which doubled crop yields and increased sales.

USAID Contributing Humanitarian Aid to Uzbekistan

Other USAID activities include offering cold chain workshops to over 200 farmers, training over 1000 farmers on agriculture-related techniques and training households to dry fruits. All of these are geared toward improving farm incomes by 80 percent.

Regional threats in the country include human trafficking, illegal narcotics, extremism and terrorism. As a result, humanitarian aid to Uzbekistan also goes toward addressing these issues.

Supporting TIP Survivors

For instance, U.S. assistance programs support the reintegration of trafficking in persons (TIP) survivors. Protection activities include case management of TIP survivors and providing shelters. Assistance also improves the capacity of civil society, NGOs, and other social services to prevent trafficking in persons and enhances cooperation between government and civil society.

Humanitarian aid to Uzbekistan supports a highly effective, NGO implemented anti-TIP program. It aims to improve law enforcement’s response to TIP cases. Aid to the country also helps train Uzbekistan’s defense establishment. Through distance learning and training programs, U.S. humanitarian aid to Uzbekistan also supports the country’s inspection, detection and interdiction capacities.

Due to high poverty rates and complex human rights issues that the country faces, humanitarian aid to Uzbekistan plays a crucial role in its development process. Most importantly, foreign aid allows Uzbekistan to access crucial training and advice that is necessary to successfully handle complex challenges. With continued foreign assistance, Uzbekistan will be able to reduce poverty and respond effectively to these human rights issues.

– Mehruba Chowdhury

Photo: Flickr