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Secondary Education

In 1998, some 1,556 young people out of 2,294 aged between 7 and 23 (78.8 percent) were enrolled in some kind of education. The enrollment rate for primary and secondary schools remains at 94 percent of all those aged between 7 and 16.

The inherited Soviet structure of the curriculum is very strong in traditional schools, especially in language and numeracy. However, it is being modified to account for the new needs of the market economy and sustainable development. The secondary and tertiary education system in the past produced narrowly trained specialists, whose number was determined by predilection and inertia, rather than demand.

Specialized Secondary & Vocational Education: Both specialized secondary and vocational education are designed primarily to train students to fill specific needs of the various economic sectors. The specialized secondary schools tend to have a slightly more "professional" and academic focus in their training while the vocational schools tend to be training students to fill a specific job in a specific enterprise.

In 1994 specialized secondary education was provided at 50 institutions with 34,900 students, while an additional 75 vocational schools catered to 32,500 students. Unlike the pattern of enrollment in the general education system, there has been a steady decline in the enrollment in these sectors of the educational system since 1990, with no upsurge in enrollment following stabilization of the political situation.

Schools offering specialist education in medicine and nursing, teacher training, and the industrial professions represent more than half of the number of both schools and student enrollment. Female students are mostly represented in the schools of medicine and nursing and of teacher training, where they comprise 79.7 percent and 48 percent of total enrollment respectively. Overall, female students comprised 43.4 percent of total enrollment in specialized secondary schools in 1994, up from 41 percent in 1990. Total enrollment at this level of education, however, is down 15 percent since 1990 and the number of graduates has declined by 20 percent.

Vocational schools provide training for 156 occupations in all sectors of the economy, including the Industrial Pedagogical Institute that trains teachers for other vocational schools. Forty of the vocational schools (53 percent) provide training in agricultural occupations, and rural students outnumber urban students two to one in the system as a whole. Because of their location in rural areas of the south and southwest, 45 vocational schools were damaged and had their fixtures and equipment stolen during the civil war, with total losses calculated at 1993 values of RR 14.6 billion (US$14.7 million).

Students of vocational schools are entitled to free meals, lodging, and uniforms, and receive half the normal salary of the job for which they are training. In the l990s and early 2000s, however, they have been subject to the same cutbacks and shortages that have afflicted all other students, and receive no clothing and only irregular pay. As most enterprises in the country, especially industrial plants, have reduced production and laid off workers, the future of vocational school students has looked even bleaker than that of others. As a consequence, these schools have suffered the greatest attrition rates, both for students (25 percent) and for graduates (33 percent). Those who do graduate all too frequently join the ranks of the unemployed, losing even the modest incomes and benefits associated with their status as students.

Secondary school is the core of the Tajik educational system, comprising the whole period of compulsory education. Prior to independence, eight years of education was compulsory. This was expanded to nine years in 1993. The secondary school system is itself divided into three stages or phases of education, consisting of primary grades 1-4, incomplete secondary grades 5-9, and upper secondary grades 10-11. Children enter grade 1 at age 6 or 7 and graduate from grade 11 at the age of 17 or 18.

Admission to Phase III of secondary school (upper secondary), as well as to specialized secondary education, is only an option for those who can pass appropriate entrance examinations given in grade eight. Like enrollment at university level, the number of students admitted to each of the specialized secondary schools has, in the past, also been limited by the anticipated demands of employers. Specialized secondary schools offer training in teaching, health sciences, and a wide spectrum of industrial and technical trades and professions, including agronomy.

Vocational schools offer courses similar to those offered in many specialized secondary schools and, indeed, there is some overlap. These schools, however, are attached either to the Ministry of Labor and Employment or to individual industrial or agricultural enterprises, and exist primarily to train individuals to fill specific jobs within specific enterprises. Many students who have a special interest in a trade or profession but who have not gained admission to the specialized secondary schools are enrolled in the vocational schools.

Just as the inability to provide adequate nutrition is a problem in preschool establishments, so is the inability to provide hot meals in the secondary schools a matter of increasing concern. At the beginning of the 1994-1995 school year, only 1,455 schools (43 percent) had dining room facilities, and then only sufficient room to accommodate one in five students. Urban schools are far better equipped, both in numbers of facilities and in capacity, than rural schools. During the 1994-1995 school year, 202,000 students (15 percent) were provided with hot meals. Dushanbe and the Leninabad (Khujand) region fared best, with 30.3 percent and 30.4 percent respectively of students supplied meals. In Khatlon Oblast, only 2.5 percent of students were fed in schools; in Gorno-Badakhsthan, owing to a lack of foodstuffs, students were provided with no hot meals at all.

If all students enrolled in specialized secondary and vocational schools are added to enrollment in the general secondary school system, the combined enrollment ratio for the age group 7 to 18 years (primary and secondary education levels) is still only 68 percent. In simpler terms, three of every 10 children in Tajikistan are currently receiving no formal education at all. For girls, the situation is even worse. Their enrollment ratio is only 60 percent, meaning two of every five girls between the ages of 7 and 18 years are not currently in school.

Additional topics

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