Since independence, Uzbekistan has made legislative changes to reform the country’s education system. Among other things, they have worked to replace the Cyrillic alphabet with a Latin written language. Although the written language reform was officially implemented in 2005, both writing systems are used in parallel (2017).
As in other post-Soviet states, great emphasis is placed on emphasizing the indigenous language in education, even if the Russian maintains its position at higher school levels; The Russian, however, has faced some competition from English in recent years.
The compulsory compulsory school covers 11 years, and the children start at the age of 7. Then follow lycees, upper secondary schools, vocational schools, teacher colleges and universities. Religious schools are banned because the authorities fear they could spread Islamic propaganda.
According to official statistics, illiteracy is insignificant and there is also no significant difference between the sexes in that regard. With a high proportion of the school-age population, the school system is struggling with teacher shortages and the education system has not been reformed at a sufficiently rapid pace. At the same time, the country has implemented extensive modernization of teaching materials.
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There are classes where the teaching takes place in the minority languages Russian, Kazakh, Karakalpak, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Turkmen. The number of Russian-speaking schools has decreased radically, and Tajik parents prefer, because of expected discrimination, to send their children to Uzbek-speaking schools. Since 2010, the British School in Tashkent has been teaching English in all subjects. There has been an École Française in Tashkent since 1997 that also accepts Uzbek students. The desire to replace Russian with English as a foreign language in schools is hampered for a long time to come by a lack of teachers.
Only 10 percent of students go on to higher education, which is significantly fewer than in other Central Asian republics.
There are about 20 universities in Buchara (founded 1930), Namangan (1942), Nukus (1979), Samarkand (1933), Tashkent (1920), Andizjan (1939) and Fergana (1930). Furthermore, there are a further 40 institutions for higher education. In 1999, Tashkent Islamic University was founded, which is controlled by the state. The authorities subsidize the education of students, but the universities are often characterized by corruption. There is a constant shortage of educational places and the universities assume a fraction of all those who apply.
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The lack of well-educated citizens is a growing societal problem. In recent years, some international universities have also been established with master’s programs in English, such as the prestigious Westminister International University in Tashkent in 2002 and MDIST University, also in Tashkent in 2007, which is funded from Singapore. In 2006, the University of Moscow opened a branch in Tashkent and in 2014 the Korean Inha University did the same. Many students apply for higher education abroad, especially to Turkey and the Russian Federation, but also to the United States and Germany.
The lack of democracy, despite an improved economy, has contributed to widespread emigration of well-educated people.