Recent trends show that although education in Uzbekistan has come a long way since the nation’s Soviet days, Uzbekistan needs to focus on improving its tertiary education to secure a successful economic and social future. Currently, tertiary enrollment in Uzbekistan is among the lowest in Central Asia at just 15 percent.
After Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991 from the Soviet Union, the Uzbekistani government shifted its focus to prioritizing educational reform. However, major economic and social challenges were placed on Uzbekistan as a result of past Soviet reforms, making it difficult for Uzbekistan to reform its education system. Although Uzbekistan has put effort into improving its economy and social system, education in Uzbekistan needs attention, especially postsecondary education.
When first comparing general education net enrollment rates in Uzbekistan to respective sub-regional and regional averages, the country is above average for primary and secondary school enrollment. However, learning outcomes and overall education quality is concerning. Despite recent reforms such as increasing teacher salaries and revising the Law on Education, school performance is subpar. UNICEF states that Uzbekistan has plans to improve school infrastructure, teacher working conditions, and access to quality basic education. The World Bank believes that the biggest concern for education in Uzbekistan is tertiary education.
Over the past 20 years, Uzbekistan’s economy has shifted from agriculture to the service sector. According to the World Bank, tertiary education in Uzbekistan has failed to adapt to this shift in the economy and the limited access to tertiary education is concerning for the future of Uzbekistan. Statistics show that of total public spending on education in Uzbekistan, only 5.2 percent is spent on higher education. Many firms report that it is difficult to find qualified specialists in Uzbekistan due to the lack of higher education. It is predicted that if Uzbekistan does not shift its focus to postsecondary education, then there will be long-term ramifications on the economy, ultimately creating more social challenges in Uzbekistan.
Reports state that “experts from the World Bank Group have worked with key stakeholders in the country to analyze the challenges and design policies, recommendations, and interventions capable of overcoming these challenges.”
A recent report titled “Uzbekistan: Modernizing Tertiary Education” explores the education system in Uzbekistan and its relations to the economy. Experts believe that by doing things such as expanding equitable access to higher education for all students and increasing spending on tertiary education, Uzbekistan will see more economic growth.
– Morgan Leahy