The education reforms program launched 15 years ago by way of implementing the National Program for Training of Specialists constitutes an integral part of the economic and political reforms in Uzbekistan. Given the fact that about 35 percent of the population consists of children under the age of 16, and 60 percent are under the age of 30, the role and significance of these reforms becomes obvious.
Mandatory and free education for 12 years was introduced based on the formula 9+3: nine years of general school education, and three years’ education in academic lyceums or specialized professional colleges. It is important that young women have both education and a profession. After a 12-year compulsory education, everyone by his or her choice can continue study at higher education institutions to obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees.
In the past, Uzbekistan has made enormous efforts to radically renew and transform the sphere of education. About 95,000 school facilities have been erected anew, overhauled and supplied with modern teaching and laboratory equipment. More than 1,500 professional colleges and academic lyceums have been built.
General education in Uzbekistan is carried out in seven languages: Uzbek, Karakalpak, Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, and Tajik. A great deal of importance is attached to students learning foreign languages.
Higher education institutions play an important role in ensuring sustainable development. Within the past few years, their number has increased twofold, and currently there are more than 230,000 students enrolled at 59 universities. There are also branches of the leading educational institutions in Uzbekistan, including Westminster University, Management and Development Institute of Singapore, Turin Polytechnic University, Russian Oil and Gas University, Moscow State University, and the Russian University of Economics.
The National University of Uzbekistan and the Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Cambridge University, are establishing the educational and experimental Center of High Technologies. It is tasked with teaching talented students, postgraduates, and young academics modern methods of conducting applied innovative scientific research in chemistry, physics, biology, biochemistry, biophysics, geology, and geodesy. The Center will be equipped with high-tech facilities where the scientists and specialists from Cambridge University will train our young scholars to conduct modern research.
The issues of broader involvement of young people in physical education occupy a special place in implementing the National program. The Children’s Sports Development Foundation was funded by the state budget, sponsorships, and charitable contributions. During the last period, about 1,500 public sports facilities for children have been built by the Foundation. Annual sports competitions are held for schoolchildren, students of professional colleges and academic lyceums, and the Student Games are held for those in higher education institutions. Girls made up one-third of the total of over 500 young Uzbek athletes participating in 42 international competitions in 2010. The number of girls involved in rhythmic gymnastics, for example, has tripled over the last two years.
In the framework of the education reforms program, we have reorganized the system of faculty training and skills improvement for colleges, lyceums, and higher educational institutions, and subsequently adopted new standards and modern methodological guidelines. We have radically changed the criteria of assessment and stimulation of their work.
Within the last ten years, educators’ wages have been 1.5 times ahead of average salaries in other sectors of the economy as a whole.
In general, annual expenditures for development and reforming the education system in Uzbekistan make up 10 to 12 percent of the GDP, while their share in national budget expenditures exceeds 35 percent. This is proof of the priority significance we attach to the educational process. This is also evidenced by the International Conference “Preparation of educated and intellectually developed generation – the most important condition for sustainable development and modernization of the country,” which was held on February 16-17, 2012 in Tashkent.