Archive for January 4, 2008

Education in Kyrgyzstan – Part I

The following is a continuation of a compilation of quotes I took from applicants’ project statements.  These Kyrgyz young people want to study in a masters degree program in the U.S. I found the material they wrote about fascinating but that’s because I’m an educator and hope the best for this small country south of Kazakhstan.

 One 34 year old married male in Public policy wrote the following:  “The disintegration of the Soviet Union has brought to the country independence and freedom.  The ideology about communism, socialism, Marxism and planning economy is not necessary today.”  Same could be true not only in the economy but in education as well as one 26 year old single female from Nookat observed: “the education system left from Soviet times is outdated and does not meet the requirements of the world’s rapidly growing civilization.”  

It is difficult to dismantle the old Soviet system.  A 40 year old single female is very well informed of the problems of Kyrgyzstan’s public education.  “In my opinion, the main things are lack of transparency and stagnation.  Many of my colleagues are well educated and thoughtful people.  But very few of them are initiative and motivated.  I came to the conclusion that I need certain skills and knowledge to become an effective school leader…They used to say 20-30 years ago “Initiative is punitive” (meaning that Initiative is not welcome).  Some administrators still work on this principle.  Loyalty to those in power is frequently more important than work experience and personal qualities.”

Another 25 year old married male from Naryn, K. observed other problems in higher education.  He found the main ones to be: “1) corruption, no books to study and Kyrgyz people’s laziness.  Many students study for getting a degree and not for getting knowledge.  2) students bribe at exams (unfairness of evaluation procedures)  Why is this true?  This is because 1) “students do not know ‘why’ they study due to lack of academic advisors, 2) teachers are involved in bribery because they feel obliged to do so because of low wages and/or job satisfaction 3) students are NOT encouraged to be leaders, there is no leadership training.

A 27 year old married male from Osh understood that having credit-based system of education following the Bologna system of education would help Kyrgyzstan. It helps that the Russian federation as well as CARs had recently signed an agreement to mutually recognize each other’s diplomas.  He explained “our Soviet system has only required courses with no choice, flexibility or responsibility left to either students or instructors.  The result is falling quality…it is no coincidence that the former Soviet countries are not developing in either education or democracy.  We are failing to teach our young people about the rights and responsibilities of choice in the universities, and as a result, they approach their civil society in the same way they approach their university study: waiting to be told what to do, following the lead of others, avoiding all responsibility.”

  One observant 35 year old married female from Tupe Issykkul wrote “the big difference is that American students focus on the research work, and our students don’t use this experience.”

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