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Educational System—overview

Tajik education has been multicultural, the languages of education being Tajik in most schools, followed by Uzbek, Russian, Kyrgyz, and Turkmen. The younger population (those below 17 years of age) makes up more than 40 percent of the Tajik population.

The Tajik educational system consists of four levels: preschool, secondary (which also includes primary grades one through nine), specialized secondary and vocational, and university/higher education. Preschool education, which can begin as early as three years, is only partially intended to prepare children for entry into the more formal education system and actually encompasses most of the elements of day care.

Prior to independence, the universal language of instruction was Russian, and literacy almost exclusively meant literacy in Russian. In the early 2000s, education is at least nominally available in five languages throughout the country: Tajik, Russian, Uzbek, Kyrghyz, and Turkmen. In practice, however, the location of schools offering instruction in a family's preferred language (other than Tajik) may prohibit their children's attendance.

Nobody knows exactly how many children were and are out of school in Tajikistan, which was devastated by brutal civil strife that orphaned some 55,000 children. At least 126 schools were totally destroyed during the war, while another 130 school buildings need repair.

In recent years, gender disparities in education have also widened. The EFA assessment report says the boys to girls ratio has dropped from 52:48 in the first grade to 62:38 in the eleventh grade. Girls usually drop out in the eighth to ninth grades. The boys to girls ratio in colleges is 74:26.

In order to implement the resolution of the Board of Ministry of Education, "On Girls from Remote Villages," a plan has been devised for receiving graduates of remote schools into institutions of higher education in pedagogical specialties. Also a plan was prepared for receiving the quota of youth, including girls, from remote mountain regions, in full-time and correspondence branches of institutions of higher education without entrance examinations, at the expense of the state budget for 1997, particularly in pedagogical, technical, agricultural, medical, economic, and legal specialties as well as journalism. A total of 491 places were allocated, including 269 places for girls.

In recent years new government and nongovernment types of educational institutions have appeared. There are also combined educational complexes: kindergarten-school, school-university, technical universities, and others.

During the transition period, the prestige of education started to decline, being replaced by an income-generating imperative that does not require education. Young people, when faced with continuing to study or working, are choosing the latter. This has implications both for the young people in terms of their future ability to participate, and also for society in lower overall human capital.

With transition the meaning of "free" education has also changed. High inflation and reduced real government expenditure has given rise to an increasing number of self-financed educational establishments. Access to good education is becoming determined by money rather than by ability. This may result in social stratification with the exclusion of children from poor families.

Although enrollment remains high, it is only part of the story since some children who are enrolled cannot attend schools and do regulated household work or trade in the streets. According to World Bank data one child in every eight is not actually receiving any formal education. Dropouts from primary and secondary schools in 1997 were estimated as high as 37,900. As the costs associated with education increase, this number is expected to rise. Many poor families are unable to purchase textbooks, uniforms, or books, or to cover transportation. Conversely children need to supplement the family income by working in the home or in informal industry.

Guaranteeing continued access to primary and secondary education for all remains a priority of the government of Tajikistan. To overcome social disparities, the Ministry of Education is taking measures to find new ways of financing, training, and retaining staff; improving the quality of teaching; and attracting children to schools, to increase education enrollment and attendance. The Academy of Education was set up in 1996 to reduce inequities.

The creativity of Tajik scientists, artists, and teachers is recognized internationally. In 1998, Buri Karimov, expert UN ESCAP, was awarded "Man of the Year" for 1997 to 1998 and "Honorable Medal" by the Biographic Centre in Cambridge, England. The rector of Tajik State Medical University, Mirzohamdam Rafiev, was awarded the Gold Medal of Albert Sweitzer for his contribution to health careers in Tajikistan. Among 200 laureates, the Tajik medical professor was the only representative of the Central Asia region. The people's artist Subrob Kurbanov was awarded the title of Kyrgzyzstan Academy of Arts.

The Ministry of Education places great weight on the reduction of illiteracy among the adult population and in particular inequalities between the literacy levels of women and men. Despite the destruction wrought by war and the limited funds available for all purposes, the numbers of schools has steadily, if modestly, increased since 1990, from 3,112 schools in 1990 to 3,400 in 1994. The number of students actually enrolled, however, has shown a fluctuation that appears to be a direct reflection of the disruptions occasioned by the civil war.

By the beginning of the 1995 school year, total enrollment had nearly returned to pre-war levels but still comprised only 81.7 percent of the eligible age group.

Additional topics

Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferenceTajikistan - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education