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

Since gaining independence in 1991, the government of Uzbekistan has committed to reforming the education system and making this system a national priority. Free compulsory education for all children, as well as over 60 schools of higher learning, has lead Uzbekistan to achieve one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

Located in Central Asia, Uzbekistan has a population of over 26 million people. As the region’s most populated country, the government has taken significant measures to ensure high quality instruction for all children.

The Law on Education, established in 1997, states that all citizens have the right to education in Uzbekistan. After minor revisions, the law also encompasses that citizens are required to attend nine years of primary and secondary schooling. Students are then allowed to either continue with higher education for three years or seek vocational training, education that prepares children for a specific career path.

The Ministry of Public Education and the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education are responsible for all pre-school, general education schools, higher learning establishments and vocational education. Together, they have been working to improve state educational standards and curriculum, reconstruct school buildings and strengthen teachers’ capacities at all levels.

Research shows that access to primary and secondary education in Uzbekistan is above average for the sub-region. The net enrollment rate for primary school is 97 percent, compared to the lesser 92 percent average of the Central Asian countries. Students also have a 100 percent transition rate to secondary school, indicating that the gap in access between primary to secondary school is virtually non-existent.

However, the Government of Uzbekistan does struggle with early childhood education. Only 20 percent of children aged 3 years old to 5 years old are attending preschool, a figure that was much higher prior to independence. The limited access to preschool and primary school for the 130,000 children with disabilities remains an area of primary concern.

Although methods such as homeschooling are available for these children, they have proven insufficient in meeting the educational needs of this young population. There are few schools and teachers with the necessary supplies and training to deal with children with severe disabilities and learning difficulties. Thus school quality has been a recent target for improvement. In 2006, a learning assessment given to a small group of Uzbek students illustrated that only 30 percent of children were considered to be competent in basic mathematic skills. Likewise, a mere 30 percent of children scored above a proficient level in the literacy assessment.

Many attribute the basic levels of math and literacy to the shortage of teachers. Although teacher salaries have been raised, a large gap exists between teacher wages and the average salary in Uzbekistan. Schools not only find it extremely difficult to recruit new prospects, but also to keep experienced teachers.

Although education in Uzbekistan has seen great improvement over the years, a lot more can be done in order to see the country succeed. According to UNICEF, the Government of Uzbekistan has to increase educational access to children in remote areas and those with special needs. In addition, school infrastructure must be structured to accommodate students with disabilities as well as create a safe and workable environment for teachers and students alike. With these changes, there is great hope that children in Uzbekistan will have a bright future ahead of them.

– Leeda Jewayni

Sources: Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, UNICEF, UNESCO
Photo: UNDP