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Education in West Central Asia
 9781472544483, 9781441155214

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Series Editor’s Preface The volumes in this series will look at education in virtually every territory in the world. The initial volume, Education Around the World: A Comparative Introduction, aims to provide an insight to the field of international and comparative education. It looks at its history and development and then examines a number of major themes at scales from local to regional to global. It is important to bear such scales of observation in mind because the remainder of the series is inevitably regionally and nationally based. The identification of the regions within which to group countries has sometimes been a very simple task, elsewhere less so. Europe, for example, has multiple volumes and more than 50 countries. National statistics vary considerably in their availability and accuracy, and in any case date rapidly. Consequently the editors of each volume point the reader towards access to regional and international datasets, available online, that are regularly updated. A key purpose of the series is to give some visibility to a large number of countries that, for various reasons, rarely, if ever, have coverage in the literature of this field. For this volume, Education in West Central Asia, it was decided to remove Pakistan from its customary position in South Asia because of its closer identity with the six other “Stans”. The region is completed by Iran which, for cultural and linguistic reasons, obviously cannot be in the book on the Arab World, and has been, with Pakistan, the major recipient of refugees from the long-standing conflict in Afghanistan. The five northern countries in the region, until 1990, constituted what was known as “Soviet Central Asia”. Given the strong and distinctive footprint of Russian-dominated education in the former USSR, it is interesting to note from their respective chapters the ways in which they have adapted to political independence, which are by no means the same. This is also partly due to the considerable differences in their economic status, largely dependent on natural resources, that for some have attracted international investment and therefore new cultural connections and influences. Afghanistan and Iran are obviously very special cases. The former has been at the forefront of internal and international conflict for centuries and comprises numerous cultures and rival factions within a somewhat contrived


Series Editor’s Preface

landlocked frontier. It is interesting to note that the founding father of comparative education, Michael Sadler, co-authored his first and only volume with Halford Mackinder, the founding father of academic geography in England. Mackinder famously stated that “he who rules the heartland rules the world”. His “heartland” was approximately where Afghanistan is today. The geopolitics of West Central Asia may have shifted over the past 100 years or so, but there is still something in his perception. Iran is very special for a different reason, being the territory of the very distinctive and long-standing Persian culture and language. While it shares the faith of Islam with virtually all its neighbours, it is almost unique in the world in the degree to which it is a theocracy, albeit not completely. As Series Editor, I would like to thank Mah-E-Rukh Ahmed for all her hard editorial work, including the identification of authors from these countries and then dealing with texts on national issues, which in most cases have little visibility in the comparative and international education literature. Colin Brock, Series Editor

The Contributors

Mah-E-Rukh Ahmed completed her master’s in Education and PhD at the University of Hull, UK (obtaining an academic award for her doctoral project), and a master’s in Economics from the University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. Her research interests include comparative education, initial teacher education, girl’s education and early childhood education. She has presented her research at international conferences on comparative education. Her research has been published in scholarly journals and international handbooks. Sajid Ali is an assistant professor at the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development, Karachi, Pakistan. He has a PhD in Education Policy from the University of Edinburgh, UK, an MEd in Leadership and Policy from Monash University, Australia, and a master’s in Sociology from the University of Karachi, Pakistan. Ali won the Commonwealth Youth Leadership Award in 2003. Several other academic awards include the A. R. Kiyani Gold Medal, an Australian Development Scholarship and an Edinburgh Research Scholarship. In 2011 Ali was invited to be South Asian Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford, UK. He has also taught at Hamdard University, Pakistan, Karachi University, Pakistan, and the University of Edinburgh, UK. He has published both nationally and internationally in research journals and newspapers. Ali’s research interests include globalization and education policy, new forms of educational governance, policy networks, education reforms and the role of knowledge resources in shaping policy. Spogmai-Akseer is a doctoral candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada. Her research examines how higher education impacts female students’ lives in “post-conflict” Afghanistan, particularly in addressing gendered oppression. She has been researching gender and education in Afghanistan for over seven years. Spogmai-Askeer has presented her findings at over 22 national and international conferences, including the Comparative and International Education Society and the Canadian Society for the Study of Education. She has also co-authored four


The Contributors

papers in leading academic journals. She has visited Afghanistan multiple times and is familiar with local customs and languages. Yahia Baiza is a Research Associate at the Central Asian Studies Unit, Department of Academic Research and Publications at the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), London. His current research project is entitled “The Plurality of Shariah Interpretations and the Shia Ismailis of Afghanistan”. In this study he researches shariah interpretations in the wider Muslim context in general, and within the Shia Ismailis tradition, with a specific focus on the Shia Ismaili communities of Afghanistan. Recently, he also completed a two-year research project entitled “The Hazara Ismailis of Afghanistan: Their History, Religious Rituals and Practices”. In this study, Baiza researched the ethnic origin of the Hazaras in Afghanistan, the spread of Shiism and Ismailism in Afghanistan in general and among the Hazaras in particular, and explored how Shia Ismailis, particularly the Hazaras, preserved and developed their religious rituals and practices in Afghanistan. He has published numerous articles in both English and Persian. Currently, he is also finishing his first book manuscript which will be published by Routledge (London) in 2013 under the title Education in Afghanistan since 1901: Developments, Influences and Legacies. Juma Bulbulov was born and raised in Gorno Badakhshan Avtonomos Oblast (GBAO), Tajikistan, and has worked as a teacher and deputy director in a school in the Khatlon region, Tajikistan, and joined the Institute of Professional Development (IPD) GBAO as a head of department. Currently he is a director of the IPD. As a regional institute, the IPD serves the educational system nationwide and also in Afghanistan. Bulbulov’s research interest lies in in-service teacher education in the Soviet and post-Soviet period. Naureen Durrani has been a teacher-educator at the Institute of Research and Education, University of Peshawar, Pakistan. Currently, she is a lecturer at the Centre for International Education, School of Education and Social Work, University of Sussex, UK. Naureen has worked as a research associate in the School of Health, Communities and Education Studies, Northumbria University and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Central Lancashire, following a PhD from the University of Sussex (all UK). Maria Khwaja currently works at a special needs school in Doha, Qatar. Her degrees in education are from Boston University, USA, and the University of

The Contributors


Oxford, UK. Maria uses her free time to pursue her interest in educational development and teacher training. She has worked in Pakistan, Argentina and Nepal. Yukitoshi Matsumoto is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies of Waseda University, Japan. He has worked on the ground in Afghanistan for more than ten years (2002–11), in various roles with a leading NGO, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and UNESCO. Maral Meredova is an independent researcher from Ashqabad, Turkmenistan. Her areas of research include mathematics and the economic issues of Central Asian countries. She obtained her doctorate degree in mathematics. Maral has published her work in Turkmen and Russian. Mukhtarova Shakira Mukashovna worked in the departments of Ethnopedagogy and Ethnopsychology in Karaganda Pedagogical Institute, Kazakhstan. She has finished her postgraduate course in Karaganda State University on “General Pedagogy, History of Pedagogy and Education, and Ethnopedagogy”. Since 1996 and until entering the Institution of Doctorate Candidacy she was working in the departments of Pedagogy, Ethnopedagogy and Ethnopsychology in Karaganda State University, Kazakhstan, named after E. A. Buketov. She also worked as a professor at the Pedagogy and Methods of Primary Teaching Institute. Currently, Mukhtarova is working as the head of the Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy in Karaganda State University, Kazakhstan. Saeed Paivandi began his studies in sociology at the University of Tehran, Iran, and completed his doctorate in France. He worked as Associate Professor at the University of Paris for 15 years and is now Professor of Sociology of Education at the University of Lorraine, France. Among his publications, the two books Discrimination and intolerance in Iran’s textbooks and Religion et éducation en Iran. L’échec de l’islamisation de l’école are related to the Islamization of the Iranian educational system. Goli M. Rezai-Rashti is Professor of Education at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. Her research interests are broadly in the field of sociology of education, critical policy analysis and post-colonial studies. She has published numerous papers and book chapters which deal specifically with issues related to gender, race, class, sexuality and schooling and also the impact


The Contributors

of neo-liberal education reform on Canadian education. Recent research has focused on a critique of the male teacher as role model, and women and higher education in Iran. Rezai-Rashti’s research has been published in scholarly journals such as the American Education Research Journal, Gender and Education, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, and Curriculum Inquiry and Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies. Her book (with Professor Martino) on Gender, Race, and the Politics of Role Modelling: The Influence of Male Teachers was published in 2012. Keiko Sakurai is a professor at the School of International Liberal Studies and Dean of Organization for Islamic Area Studies, Waseda University, Japan. Her research interests lie in comparative sociology and area studies (Iran). She has produced numerous publications in these areas. Keiko has published her studies in Japanese, English and French and has obtained two academic awards for her work. Sarfaroz Niyozov was born and raised in Soviet Tajikistan and has spent many years in the Middle East (Yemen, Syria and Tunisia), South Asia (Pakistan) and Europe (United Kingdom), translating, teaching and researching education and culture. Currently he is an Associate Professor of Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, Canada, Co-Director of the university’s Center for Comparative, International and Development Education, and editor of its journal, Curriculum Inquiry. Sarfaroz’s research interests span education in post-socialist countries and Muslim education in the Western context. He has produced numerous publications in these areas. Laliya Yakhyaeva is a professor, author and consultant with 20 years of academic experience in the former Soviet Union and the USA. She has published over 100 scholarly works, including book-length studies. Her major projects include 20 years after communism; Society, Democracy and the Individual, and A Comparative Analysis of Policies in the Post-Soviet World Muslim countries. Her teaching and researching covers comparative sociology and social problems; politics, cultures and civilizations of South Central Asia; global citizenship; post-Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe; and religious and political movements, colonial legacies and gender issues in Muslim countries. Rakhat Zholdoshalieva is a doctoral candidate in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, Canada. Her doctoral thesis examines the changing relationship between education and society

The Contributors


in rural Kyrgyzstan undergoing the transition from socialism to a marketoriented economy. Her research reveals the creative responses of mountain youth and their families to this transition by reviving centuries-old pastoral practices, searching for opportunities via higher education and the formal labour markets, or out-migration to Russia and Kazakhstan as labour migrants. Rakhat’s area of research is education and labour markets relations, teacher development and learning, gender and schooling, and education for democratic citizenship.

Acknowledgements I owe an enormous debt to all the contributors to this volume from the West Central Asian countries in presenting their original work. Their chapters provide readers with the particulars of each country’s educational situation. I would like to thank series editor, Dr Colin Brock for his preface, and for his advice and support which helped me present this book in a more succinct manner. I would also like to thank his wife, Shirley Brock, for her careful proofreading and indexing of this volume. Particular thanks and appreciation are offered to family members and friends, who were always there to encourage and help me during this project. I also would like to thank the publishers, Rosie Pattinson and Anna Fleming, who were very encouraging during the process of compiling this volume. Mah-E-Rukh Ahmed

Introduction Education in West Central Asia: A Regional Overview Mah-E-Rukh Ahmed

This book discusses formal and non-formal education, approaches and trends, problems and policies, contradictions between cultural values and modernity, and historical perspectives in the West Central Asian republics. The book includes 15 new and original chapters taking into account different aspects of education in eight West Central Asian countries. The articles describe a number of issues that are important in order to understand education systems in Islam-embedded cultures, as well as former Soviet based secular countries with majority Muslim populations. Central Asia is the core region of the Asian continent and extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east and from Iran in the south to Russia in the north. It is also referred to as “the stans”. All countries, except Iran, generally considered as within the region and this book have names ending with the Persian suffix “stan”, meaning “the land of ” or “home of ”. In modern contexts, all definitions of Central Asia include five republics of the former Soviet Union: Kazakhstan (population 16.6 million), Kyrgyzstan (5.5 million), Tajikistan (7.6 million), Turkmenistan (5.1 million) and Uzbekistan (29.5 million), for a total population of 64.7 million as of 2012. In the light of contemporary events, both Afghanistan (30 million) and Pakistan (182 million) are now usually included in the stan clan as well (McFedries, 2001). Central Asia has historically been closely tied to its nomadic peoples and the Silk Road.1 It has acted as a crossroads for the movement of people, goods and ideas between Europe, West Asia, South Asia and East Asia. Islam is the religion most common in the Central Asian republics, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Prior to the arrival of Islam in this region, Zoroastrianism2 and Buddhism3 were the prominent religions. The influence of Zoroastrianism is still felt

xvi Introduction

today in such celebrations as Nowruz,4 held in all five countries, Afghanistan and Iran. The UNESCO general history of Central Asia, written just before the collapse of the USSR, defines the region based on climate and uses far wider parameters. According to it, Central Asia includes Mongolia, Tibet, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (Punjab, Kashmir and Ladakh provinces) and the former five Central Asian Soviet republics. Another approach is to define the region based on ethnicity, and in particular, areas populated by Eastern Turkic, Eastern Iranians or Mongolian peoples. These areas include the five republics, Afghanistan and northern areas of Pakistan, while Tibetans and Ladakhi are also included. The following is a brief introduction to all of the countries included in this book. There is no right or wrong about the definition of the region, merely alternatives.

Afghanistan The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is a landlocked mountainous country located in the centre of Asia, forming part of South Asia, Central Asia, and West Asia. With a population of about 30 million, it has an area of 647,500 square kilometres (250,001 square miles), making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world. It is bordered by Pakistan to the south and the east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far north-east. Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point of the Silk Road and human migration. Sitting at an important geo-strategic location that connects Middle East culture with Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, the land has been home to various peoples through the ages and witnessed many military campaigns, notably by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and, in the modern era, Western forces.

Iran The Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia. Iran is 18th largest country in the world in terms of area at 1,648,195 square km. It has a population of around 75 million. It is a country of particular geopolitical significance owing to its location in three spheres of Asia (West, Central and South). Iran is bordered to the north by the Central Asian republics and to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran is a regional power and holds an important



position in international energy security and the world economy as a result of its large reserves of petroleum and natural gas. It is also noteworthy for its near theocratic political structure.

Kazakhstan Geographically Kazakhstan is a part of Central Asia. It is more than twice as big as the four other Central Asian republics together. Kazakhstan is mineral rich, and enterprises involved in the extraction and processing of coal, oil, gas, non-ferrous and ferrous metals play a leading role in the national economy. The republic is a multinational state inhabited by representatives of more than 120 nationalities. The main religions are Islam and Orthodox Christianity, but religious tolerance is the norm.

Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan became independent in 1991 and since then has been a democratic presidential republic. Bishkek is the capital with about one million inhabitants. As a result of its varied and turbulent history, the country throughout the centuries became a real melting pot of nationalities. The three main ethnic groups in Kyrgyzstan are the Kyrgyz (traditionally nomads), Russians and Uzbeks. Bishkek is heavily influenced by the Russian way of life and Soviet architecture. Therefore, the second largest religious identity is Russian-Orthodox, in a predominantly Muslim country (80 per cent).

Pakistan The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign country in South Asia. It sits at the crossroads of the strategically important regions of South Asia, Central Asia and Western Asia. With a population exceeding 180 million people, it is the sixth most populous country in the world and has the largest Muslim population after Indonesia. It has a semi-industrialized economy, which is the 27th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power and 47th largest in terms of nominal GDP. The country continues to face challenging problems, including terrorism, poverty, illiteracy and corruption.

xviii Introduction

Tajikistan Tajiks are one of the most ancient people in the world. Life in an area situated at the main crossroads of eastern civilizations has given them continuous access to the achievements of other cultures. For many centuries the country, involved mainly in trading with neighbours, suffered from foreign invasions by the troops of Alexander the Great, steppe nomads, Arabs and TartarMongols. Archaeological finds, the works of Herodotus and other written evidence provide information on trading relations, customs and the rituals of the nation.

Turkmenistan The geographical position of the republic is more advantageous than that of its neighbours due to the outlet to the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan is a country of deserts and oases as well as unique historical and cultural traditions. It is rich in oil, gas, potash and rock salts and non-ferrous and rare earth metals. Turkmenistan is one of the richest states per capita, mainly due to its gas and oil deposits.

Uzbekistan Uzbekistan has preserved well the relics from the time when Central Asia was the centre of Tamerlane’s (Taimur) empire, which also coincided with the development of education and commerce. Cities of today’s Uzbekistan, including Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Tashkent and Shakhrisabz, live in the imagination of the West as symbols of oriental beauty and mystery. Many cities which are located in the territory of modern Uzbekistan, in ancient times were located on the Silk Road—the road between the East and the West. This advantageous geographical location of the Uzbekistan’s cities makes them attractive for international tourism, now an important source of income. Each chapter of the present book reveals the similarities and the differences among eight countries of West Central Asia in the area of formal or non-formal education. Spogmai-Akseer in her chapter, “Afghanistan: Formal Education—A Contested Terrain”, describes how formal education has generated controversy from the very beginning when it was first introduced in the early 1900s.



Tensions have risen whenever attempts were made to formalize and expand educational reforms, particularly the relation between these reforms, foreign influences and their impact on women and girls’ lives. The particular focus is on how educational development efforts have materialized post-2001 and been experienced by Afghan women and girls. Moreover, as a poor centralized state, the majority of Afghans have traditionally felt alienated from the state’s reforms. Their alienation was particularly heightened when they felt their values and beliefs were challenged and/or contradicted by the state’s efforts. This has created disconnect between the state and the needs of its people at a time when internal strife and external intervention make the situation even more complex. Yahia Baiza, in his chapter, “Afghanistan: Religion, State and Education”, analyzes the relationship between religion, state and education in modern Afghanistan, from 1880 to the time of writing. There is a focus on to what extent religion and the state have influenced developments in education; and how recent debates and political developments in Afghanistan may affect the future provision of education. He illustrates two things in particular: a) how religion has been used for political decisions, and religious and ethnic supremacy; and b) how the institutionalization of religion within the education structure is politically driven, on the one hand, and contributes to the development of parallel education systems (madrasa and modern) and parallel societies, on the other. He further discusses that there is a political struggle between religious establishments and the state over contemporary political developments, curriculum and textbook reforms, and education policies in general. Yukitoshi Matsumoto’s chapter, “Afghanistan: Adult Literacy in ‘Historical Moments’”, evaluates the decade-long, and failed, effort to promote adult literacy within the recent nation-building process. It aims to not only make some modest recommendations about future adult literacy efforts in the country, but also to identify some useful implications for wider nation-building/ development discourse at a time that demands “hard decisions”. As alternative ideologies such as “good governance” or “global market orthodoxy” promoted by “nation-builders” seem to be failing, Matsumoto argues that more thoughtful attention should be paid to the potential role of Islam within literacy/education and wider development efforts. Keiko Sakurai’s chapter, “Iran: Three-Dimensional Conflicts”, looks at Iranian education from the mid-nineteenth century to the present from three perspectives: a) institutional duality and rivalry between Islamic seminaries and state-controlled education; b) ideological rivalry over the issues of nationalism,

xx Introduction

as promoted by the Pahlavi regime (1925–79) and Islam, as promoted by the Islamic Republic of Iran (1979 onwards); and c) conflicts between competing goals and strategies, such as the issues of quantitative vs. qualitative development and gender equality. This three-way examination exposes the manner in which state-controlled Iranian education has been deeply enmeshed in politics throughout its history. Saeed Paivandi in his chapter, “Iran: The Islamization of the School”, writes about the effects of the establishment of the Islamic Republic on Iran’s educational system. Despite the gradual secularization of the school since the nineteenth century, the idea of associating ​​ Islam and modern education has been widely discussed over the decades. Iran’s 1979 Revolution opened the way to achieve an Islamic education and imbue all forms of knowledge with Islamic values. The process of Islamization of the school in Iran through multiple reforms undertaken after 1979 profoundly changed the Iranian curriculum. To understand the meaning of this, Paivandi analyzes two types of data: a) political and institutional reforms implemented after 1979; and b) the contents of various textbooks from primary school to high school (2007–8). The results of this analysis tend to emphasize the dominance of the Shiite ideology in educational discourse in Iran. To better illustrate the meaning of the Islamization of the school, the text attempts to question the image of women and minorities in textbooks. The curriculum seems largely to legitimize the state, a new power structure and the Shia paradigm in a post-revolutionary society and establish a discourse of mediated power and social control. Goli Rezai-Rashti provides a historical chronology and highlights women’s participation in higher education in the chapter “Iran: Women and Higher Education—Negotiating Tradition and Modernity”. Rezai-Rashti discusses the changing nature of gender relations in Iran and illustrates how access to higher education has created a productive space for women to navigate between tradition and modernity and challenge the existing discriminatory policies imposed on them since the revolution of 1979. In her chapter, “Kazakhstan: An Overview with Special Reference to Ethnic and Linguistic Dimensions”, Mukhtarova Shakira Mukashovna describes the history of national education in Kazakhstan in the context of the scientific attention of researchers. Indeed, the work of such researchers, and the archival materials produced, appeared to be the basis for understanding the historical development of ethnic components in education content in Kazakhstan. The new democratic course in independent Kazakhstan has created a new ideological aim: the spiritual revival of national cultural values. The national education



system, as well as non-formal and informal learning, is a key component in achievement of this aim. Rakhat Zholdoshalieva discusses the relationship between education and the labour market in her chapter, “Kyrgystan: Redefining Education and Labour Market Relations”. In its early stages of independence, Kyrgyzstan has experienced tremendous economic shocks and several political upheavals. The problematic relationship between education and the economy has been an area of ongoing debate and concern among scholars, policy makers, economists and citizens. Mainstream Western scholarship conceptualizes the relationship between education and the labour market quite differently from non-market economic societies. In her opinion, scholarship on education and society in Kyrgyzstan does not provide any detailed and longitudinal qualitative insights on the actual knowledge, skills and values imparted to students and how they are socialized to reproduce existing unequal structures of transition society and economy. In his chapter, “Pakistan: Target Revision in Education Policy”, Sajid Ali gives a historical chronology of the official education policies of the government of Pakistan since its formation on independence in 1947. He focuses mainly on the policy responses that deal with the issues of access and participation. Ali also highlights some of the projects that have been experiments to uplift the educational profile of the country, and discusses the reasons hampering the achievement of policy objectives, which have eventually made Pakistani education policy a continuous exercise of target revision. Maria Khwaja examines adolescent male wastage through a case study focused on an underdeveloped area of Karachi: “Pakistan: The Lost Boys—A Case Study”. She noted that in this area, called Orangi-town, the male population had far lower survival rates than the female population. This was unusual considering Pakistan’s poor performance in terms of female schooling. The interview-based case study focuses on examining theories explaining adolescent male disaffection from schooling. Four main issues are examined by Khwaja: poverty, school quality, school hierarchies and alternate masculinities. Economic difficulties and community atmosphere were prevalent in adult opinions about male disaffection, while boys cited economic difficulties as the primary cause. School quality was not mentioned by boys or parents but was determined as a link to disaffection because of school hierarchies in Pakistan and perceptions of social class. While global theories on disaffection and wastage treat variables independently, all seemed intertwined with each other and with issues of class/ethnic bias and political

xxii Introduction

affiliations. This case showed that each variable proved insufficient to explain male disaffection and dropout on its own but was necessarily enmeshed with other variables. Mah-E-Rukh Ahmed investigates three important issues in girls’ primary schools in Pakistan in her chapter, “Pakistan: Girls” Education and the Core Challenges of Primary Education’. The chapter reveals three key issues: teacher absenteeism, inappropriate methods of instruction, and student wastage, which are pertinent to the quality of primary schooling. The effective delivery of primary education in Pakistan has been hampered not only by teacher absenteeism and the traditional methods of instruction employed in the classroom, but also by wastage. Ahmed describes how the root of the female education problem lies at the primary level. Absenteeism of teachers is frequent, particularly in rural areas, mainly due to cultural barriers, frequent transfers, financial constraints and poor supervision. These all exacerbate wastage. The quality of teacher education and training is also very low, and there are severe inadequacies in the significant area of teacher education. Low participation at the primary level keeps many females from reaching higher education. Girls suffer a double handicap through both gender discrimination and poverty. Naureen Durrani’s chapter, “Pakistan: Curriculum and the Construction of National Citizens”, offers an account of the ways curriculum texts and school practices use identity and difference in constructing students’ national identities in Pakistan. She investigates the interaction of Pakistani national identity with religion, gender and ethnicity and examines the implications of these interactions for social cohesion, tolerance of diversity, and power relations. The chapter examines the curriculum holistically through a) offering an analysis of curriculum policy and texts; b) by observing how teachers interpret the curriculum and the texts in class; and c) how students use curricular content and school experiences in making sense of themselves as Pakistani. Durrani suggests that in the Pakistani curriculum texts, national identity is constructed on the basis of Islamic unity and religious difference, through consistent reference to conflict and the military, the marginalization of women and internal difference. While it forges unity among the diverse ethnic groups comprising Pakistan, it also produces essentialist identities with serious implications for social cohesion, tolerance for diversity, and gender relations. Sarfaroz Niyozov and Juma Bulbulov’s chapter, “Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities”, discusses the educational situation in



post-Soviet Tajikistan. Tajikistan has come a long way in reforming its education while maintaining some of the key features of the Soviet system, such as its extensive infrastructure and egalitarian focus. Education in Tajikistan is caught in the conflicting and complimentary challenges of building a nation state and joining the global neo-liberal economy. The handling of the enormous challenges of reform requires not only openness to international ideas and investments, but also development of local capacities in all education fields. This is necessary in order to critically and strategically engage the purposes and processes of reform, the structure of foreign aid and the constraints on reform through limited resources and conceptual capacities and skills. Maral Meredova in her chapter, “Turkmenistan: Reforming the Education System”, presents the descriptive story of education development in Turkmenistan. Prior to 1991, as a part of the Soviet Union, Turkmenistan’s education system was the same as that of other Soviet countries. After gaining independence, there have been radical changes in education that have played an important role in the overall level of development. Education reform was initiated with the adoption of the Law of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic “On Language”, on 24 May 1990. This Act has secured the Turkmen language as the state language. In addition, Turkmenistan adopted the new Latin alphabet. Reforms were carried out extending educational opportunity in terms of the number of years it applied to. A new stage of radical reforms was launched in 2007 which has revised and improved the laws relating to education. For example, the number of secondary schools and universities were increased, and in order to have the capability of adopting new programmes and interstate agreements, Turkmen graduates received more opportunities to study in foreign universities. The final contributor, Laliya Yakhyaeva, focuses on current-day matters in formal and informal education in her chapter, “Uzbekistan: An Overview”. Uzbekistan’s Soviet past and specific situation after 20 years of independence still remains a politically painful and academically underexamined subject, resulting in major gaps in the historical narrative of the society. Yakhyaeva generates the most-asked questions or most-discussed issues relating to education in Uzbekistan today, and also considers how the government of a newly independent nation quickly embarked upon reviewing and revising pre-Soviet and Soviet history, relating to the current political agenda. She also examines Soviet and post-Soviet formal and informal education and challenges and approaches in gender issues, as well as military and Islamic education, and the problem of educated youth unemployment.

xxiv Introduction

References Wikipedia. Central Asia. (17 August 2012). McFedries, Paul (2001). Stans. (28 July 2012).

Notes 1 The Silk Road was the trading route between China and the West. The route took its name from the commodity most in demand in Europe from China during the Roman period. 2 This is based on the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world’s largest religions. 3 Buddhism is a religion indigenous to the Indian subcontinent (India and Pakistan) that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha. 4 Nowruz is referred to as the “Persian New Year” and is celebrated and observed by Iranian peoples and the related cultural continent. It has spread to many other parts of the world, including parts of Central Asia, South Asia, the Caucasus and northwestern China.


Afghanistan: Formal Education—A Contested Terrain Spogmai-Akseer

Introduction In Afghanistan, formal education has generated controversy from the very beginning when it was first introduced in the early 1900s. Competing ideologies, a weak central government and various foreign influences are some of the major causes of this controversy. Many Afghans, particularly those living in rural areas, and women and girls specifically, have not been able to benefit positively from educational developments in their whole lives. This chapter examines some of the tensions that have risen whenever attempts were made by the state to formalize and expand education. Specifically, the chapter looks closely at the relations between education reforms and foreign influences, and how Afghans have experienced them, particularly women and girls since they have often been at the centre of this discontent. In the last 30 years, violent conflicts have destroyed the little development that had occurred in the country, leaving the government even more dependent on foreign aid and support. It is important to look closely at what has happened since 2001, by first understanding how and why formal education has generated controversy amongst so many Afghans. Specifically an examination of higher education, along with the author’s observations from her interviews with university students in Kabul and Nangarhar province will also be discussed in order to provide further understanding of how educational development efforts have materialized post-2001 and experienced by Afghan female students presently pursuing higher education. Afghanistan is a poor, underdeveloped country, home to over 30 million people of various ethnicities and linguistic backgrounds. Over 85 per cent of this population continues to live in remote and rugged terrains that are often


Education in West Central Asia

very difficult to access due to lack of roads and transportation, and also because of the weather. As an agricultural economy, most Afghans have traditionally lived off of their land without affinity to the state or its services. Advances that have taken place in urban areas have mostly not changed rural life (Samady, 2001). Literacy in particular is something the country has struggled with for decades and has never risen above 25 pre cent for males or females (Matsumoto, 2008). Yet despite these challenges, at the turn of the twentieth century, the Afghan state was beginning to recognize the importance of educational development. Particularly, the larger geopolitical changes that were taking place during this time in other parts of the world were influencing Afghanistan’s diplomatic and cultural relations with foreign countries like Turkey, Germany and France (Samady, 2001). It was these relations that set the foundations for the development of formal education in Afghanistan. Since the introduction of formal education at the turn of the twentieth century, tensions and controversy have followed. Specifically, reforms towards changing the status of women and girls, by providing them with educational and other rights, marked the beginning of a battle that continues to rage over conceptions of a woman’s “proper” place in Afghan society. This continues to be a highly politicized issue central to current development efforts. Another controversial issue facing educational development has been the state’s dependency on and admiration for Western models of education, viewed by many as un-Afghan and un-Islamic (Jones, 2009). In many of the violent conflicts Afghanistan has experienced, educational institutions were explicitly targeted as a form of protest against the state’s dependency on a foreign power. Thus, educational reforms have come to serve as a battleground for various ideologies, each asserting its claim over the future of the nation and its people. In his study of the development of modern education in Afghanistan, Saif Samady (2001) writes that “There is no contradiction between Afghan cultural values and modernity” (p. 7), and that under conditions of peace and appropriate education policies, a modern system can be developed in the context of national values and heritage (ibid). He goes on to state that even during war, and under conditions of poverty and despair, Afghans have shown a keen interest in the education of their children. Thus while raising issues of contestation in the development of formal education in Afghanistan, the intention in this paper is not to show that there is a total rejection of formal institutions of learning amongst Afghans, but rather that the manner in which such institutions have been created and experienced have raised questions about their legitimacy

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resulting in alienation, contradictions (in terms of actual benefits) and rejection. This continues to be the case as Afghanistan has once again made itself open to foreign aid and assistance in rebuilding the education sector. In war-affected contexts like Afghanistan, education is seen as having the potential to invigorate war-torn economies and cultivate peaceful postconflict civil relations which can help foster societal reconciliation (Maclure and Denov, 2009). Moreover, Pigozzi (1999) and Seitz (2004) assert that schools have the potential to address and transform fundamental social inequities and injustices. Similar ideas are raised by Bush and Saltarelli (2000), who differentiate between the positives and negatives emerging out of education in conflict-affected areas. Some of the positive outcomes, according to them, include increasing aid and attention, and a curriculum that emphasizes peace and tolerance towards others. Negative outcomes of education include uneven distribution of education, its use as a weapon of cultural repression, its manipulation as a weapon of war and the explicit teaching of hating others. Afghanistan has experienced many of these outcomes, and is presently experiencing some positives as aid and attention continue to be provided, particularly for the needs of women and girls. However, as Matsumoto (2008) warns, most of the positive outcomes of education post-2001 are seen in terms of economic returns. Moreover, the Afghan state seems not to have learned its lesson as it continues its dependency on foreign models of educational development rather than reflecting the needs of its people (Karlsson and Mansory, 2007). In order to understand the present situation, it is important to first look at the development of formal education, particularly major reforms under King Amanullah, who is remembered by Afghans as the father of modernization and formal education in Afghanistan. The second period of major reforms occurred under the Soviet-installed communist regime of the 1970s and 1980s. The chapter will also discuss foreign influences on education during the 1980s and 1990s, specifically America’s funding of “jihadi” textbooks to aid the Mujahideen’s resistance against the Soviets during the Soviet–Afghan war. Finally, the chapter will look at educational development post-2001, which marks another symbolic period in the development process. The paper will focus specifically on the development of Higher Education (HE) to highlight how foreign aid translates into policy changes in educational development, and how these may impact on Afghans. The author will discuss briefly her observations and highlight key preliminary findings from her visit to five different universities and interviews with university students in Afghanistan.


Education in West Central Asia

Informal and Islamic Education Long before modern education was introduced to Afghanistan, informal or traditional and Islamic education existed throughout the country. These informal learning environments were important for the development of new skills in children, knowledge about religion and traditions, as well as other values and beliefs about life and the community (Karlsson and Mansory, 2007). Through the use of poetry and stories, for example, children were taught personal responsibility towards human beings and society, as well as virtues like honesty, kindness and respect. They were also taught to fight against power and superiority and oppression, and for women against male domination (ibid.). Islamic education commenced with the arrival of Islam in the seventh century, much like it did in other Muslim countries. Almost every village and city in Afghanistan has had at least one mosque, where children (pre-school boys and girls), would go to learn the basics of Islamic knowledge. These schools were community based and therefore the community took the responsibility to look after them financially, including providing a salary to the teacher (ibid.). Some of these schools were non-formal whereas some were formal, taking place in a specific context, using texts and led by teachers who were recognized for their expertise in Islamic knowledge. The formal contexts were usually limited to boys, who were often exposed to vocational education as well, including bookkeeping and calligraphy (ibid.). Through these types of education, boys and girls learned about gender roles, and boys also learned to take part in the community. Both forms have been prevalent throughout Afghanistan for centuries, and continue to exist today alongside formal institutions of learning. Samady (2001) explains that these types of learning were supported by parents, communities and religious and tribal leaders, reflecting the traditional and Islamic character of Afghan society.

Formal Education The Afghan monarchy’s reforms During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, threats from European powers, as well as Russia and Britain, pressurized the Afghan kingdom to protect itself culturally and militarily. However, its educational system at that time did not have the capacity to meet these needs. Neither traditional nor Islamic

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education was teaching secular and/or scientific subjects which were required for modernization and development to take place (Shirazi, 2008). By 1901, 98 per cent of the Afghan population was considered illiterate (Gregorian, 1969, p. 184). King Amanullah’s father had attempted to solve this problem by introducing schools that implemented models based on Anglo-Indian, Turkish and French practices; however, these schools were limited to a small percentage of (wealthy elite) children in the cities. The establishment of the first secondary school (for boys) in 1903 marks the beginning of modern (Western style) education in Afghanistan (Samady, 2001, p. 26). In 1919 when Afghanistan gained independence from Britain, the social and political situation had become favourable for initiating the development of modern education, and King Amanullah wasted no time taking advantage of it (ibid.). Thus in 1921, the first girls’ school was established, and in 1922, the first Minister of Education was appointed. Through its relations with countries such as Turkey, France and Germany, foreign teachers and expertise were brought into Afghanistan, and both male and female students were provided with opportunities to further their studies abroad. The education system incorporated Western educational systems by following the same grading structure, school hours, student assessment and semesters, as well as subjects (Karlsson and Mansory, 2007). The King’s ambitious plans also included explicit attempts to change existing gender roles for the better. For example, he provided females with opportunities to visit foreign countries for further study, and at home banned forced marriages and dowries and also increased the legal age of marriage to 16 for girls and 18 for boys (Gregorian, 1969). These changes were new, ambitious and part of the King’s rapidly modernizing plans for Afghanistan. But the Afghan state lacked the resources needed for such reforms, thus it turned to Western nations for scientific and technological knowledge (Shirazi, 2008). It is important to note that most of these developments were limited to Kabul and a number of other cities. Nonetheless, tensions were rising between powerful religious leaders, tribal forces and the small modernizing elite who supported the King. It was King Amanullah’s introduction of a certification system and a proficiency system for Islamic teachers that led to strong opposition from mostly conservative religious leaders (Karlsson and Mansory, 2007). Moreover the type of education he was introducing was seen as too steeped in Western values and models that appealed only to a small group of urbanized elites. For example, besides importing French and German curriculum models, school uniforms were also imported (ibid.). The rest of the population felt at odds with these efforts which were considered contradictory to their values and beliefs;


Education in West Central Asia

in particular, the inclusion of girls and women (and sending them abroad for further study) was strongly disliked. Ghulam Ahmad Eqbal (1978) argues that King Amanullah’s modernization was experienced more like “westernization”, emphasized by the King’s dressing in Western clothes (p. 31). Moreover, the King’s attitude towards Islamic education, neither progressive nor modern, alienated many Afghans from what he was attempting to achieve. Thus the resistance against him became very strong and in 1929 he abdicated and was forced into exile. After this, reform efforts were slow but the demand for formal education was growing in the country. In 1931, primary education was made compulsory for all Afghan children, placing it under the control of the state. Traditional non-formal systems continued to operate independently, though some were incorporated into the formal system. In the 1950s, the Afghan state focused on expansion and improvement of educational policy. Thus it worked with internal resources (including many Afghan specialists who had returned from studying abroad), as well as bilateral and multilateral technical assistance funds and loans from the international community (Samady, 2001). It published its first educational development plan in 1956 which focused specifically on improving primary education throughout the country. Enrolment for both sexes has increased every year, and were especially high during the 1980s under the communist regime (which will be explained further below). It is important to note, however, that most of these developments were limited to urban centres; very few opportunities existed, especially for girls, in the countryside (Karlsson and Mansory, 2007). From the 1930s until the 1970s, increasing demands for formal schools put Afghanistan under severe financial pressure, and as a result it continued its dependency on countries like Germany, France, the United States and Russia. Shirazi (2008) argues that the development of formal education has been given particular attention by the United States and the Soviet Union, both of whom were attracted to the country’s strategic location and therefore used educational and development assistance as opportunities to promote their respective ideological goals. After World War Two, with the decline of European colonization and growing geopolitical tensions between the USA and Soviet Union, the two countries used economic and social aid to win influence and also check the power of the opposing side (ibid.). Thus Afghanistan became a battleground for Cold War rivalry in development. In the 1960s the support that the USA provided was focused mostly on curriculum development and teacher training. The Teachers’ College at Columbia University, for example, worked for over

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25 years to reform and modernize education through teacher training and curriculum development and social changes that were market-friendly (Shirazi, 2008). Other countries, including France, the Soviet Union and Germany, provided financial assistance that focused on improving the universities (Jones, 2007). This provided opportunities for students from remote parts of the country to come to the cities for higher education; they were particularly drawn because the state provided free residence and tuition to all students regardless of their background. This greatly increased student enrolment, particularly at the tertiary level. Many of these students (60 per cent at Kabul University) had parents with little or no formal education. Thus while education offered opportunities to students, it also widened the gap between the modern culture of the cities and traditional ways that many of the students had come from. Moreover, the country was unable to absorb the increasing number of university graduates, as jobs were limited and difficult to obtain (Rubin, 2002). The prosperity that was promised through education failed to materialize for many graduates. These realities, Rubin (ibid.) argues, made it easier for students to accept foreign ideologies. This became evident as the modern education system also produced revolutionaries who were influenced by various movements taking place in neighbouring countries, including Islamic and communist (Karlsson and Mansory, 2007). Ghulam Ahmad Eqbal (1978) explains that the state had long feared threats from universities, particularly the newly educated students’ demands for autonomy. As a result, in the 1940s and 1950s it tried to control such opposition by invading campuses and punishing students who were against the government. Eqbal goes on to state that “campus invasions by government tanks and machine guns, assassination of static leaders by students, demonstrations, imprisonment and other socio-political activities of this nature became a part of educational experience for the government and the students” (p. 4). Formal educational institutions, according to Eqbal, served the political objectives of the ruling elites, rather than focusing on developing the knowledge skills and competencies that were necessary for the development of Afghans and their country. There is little research published on the experiences of formal education in the daily lives of students; however, what is evident is that the development of formal education has not been a smooth process, nor a very effective and successful one for a majority of the population. As enrolment grew, so did tensions and resistance towards the state’s reforms, particularly their


Education in West Central Asia

dependency on foreign models of development. Even the ministers and other key education specialists that were selected between 1950s and 1970s were trained in Western universities and adopted a European style of education with regard to curricula, examinations and school regulations (Samady, 2001). These reforming years gave rise to discontent among many Afghans towards the state. This discontent was materialized in the overthrow of the monarchy in 1973, marking the beginning of communist influence on educational reforms in Afghanistan. The late 1970s and 1980s saw greater Soviet influence, as education models not only reflected Soviet systems, but also were a key instrument in promoting communist ideology in Afghanistan.

Soviet-backed reforms The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in 1978, marking the beginning of a communist regime. Babrak Karmal was declared leader of the party with the help of Soviet power, including 80,000 Soviet troops (Goodson, 2001). Because certain opportunities already existed in the cities, including employment and educational opportunities for women and girls, the PDPA’s agenda of expanding modernization was at first welcomed by many city dwellers. There was a sudden increase in enrolment during this period, which in 1980 peaked at its highest ever at over 1.1 million students at primary level, and over 1.2 million at secondary level. Unlike previous efforts which were concentrated on urban centres, the PDPA made reforms in the countryside a priority. Specifically they wanted to eradicate illiteracy in the country and used force and intimidation to achieve these goals. For example, literacy courses were created in the countryside that encouraged and in some cases forced men and women to attend (Moghadam, 2002). The courses enforced a pro-communist agenda that was in opposition to the daily life experience and traditions of the rural population. The regime also tried to remove Islamic content from modern education although it did not interfere directly in the traditional forms of Islamic schools that existed in the country. However, the teachers and students who attended these schools were looked down upon as “backward” (Karlsson and Mansory, 2007). Samady (2001) writes that “The formation of a communist government in a nation of devout Muslims, with their tradition and values threatened, faced strong opposition by the majority of the people” (p. 69). Their reforms were seen as colonial and exploitative, and as a result many rejected state schools in the 1980s as a way of rejecting communist propaganda (Jones, 2009).

Afghanistan: Formal Education—A Contested Terrain


Many Afghans who rejected the new government’s reforms left the country, with a great number fleeing to Pakistan and other neighbouring countries as refugees. Here the battle over Afghanistan between two superpowers reached new levels. As the Soviet-backed regime continued to implement radical changes throughout the country, the United States seized the opportunity to support the resistance movement that was forming amongst refugees in Pakistan. In 1980 the United States was providing $30 million a year in aid to Afghan refugees; from 1986 to 1989, this amount had increased to $600 million per year (Shirazi, 2008, p. 201). This money was used to purchase mass amounts of personal weapons, making Afghanistan one of the highest recipients of such weapons in the world (Rubin, 2002). It was also used to fund the creation of radicalized madrassas which indoctrinated students to become jihadist warriors against the Soviets (Coulson, 2004). The United States (along with some other European NGOs) provided assistance for education and curriculum textbook development to the Mujahideen (meaning “freedom fighters”) who were engaged in the battle against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Whereas in the past the United States had designed and implemented a curriculum that emphasized Islam’s compatibility with Western philosophies (Shirazi, 2008), now they were emphasizing a “pedagogy of violence” (Nef, 2003) which emphasized “Islam as sword” (Shirazi, 2008). Over 15 million copies of these “resistance textbooks” were created to inculcate Islamic militancy and prepare students for war. They were used mostly in elementary schools between 1986 and 1992, though copies were still found circulating in 2002 (Jones, 2007). The schools that used these textbooks were attended mostly by refugee orphans and others who were displaced by the war in Afghanistan. Many of these children would grow up to form the Taliban, who would gain international attention for their violent and radical interpretation of Islam, as well their violation of basic human rights in Afghanistan (Rashid, 2001). By the time the Soviet troops had withdrawn from Afghanistan in 1992, the country was almost completely destitute. Most of the social and economic infrastructure had been completely destroyed. Over two-thirds of schools were destroyed, many specifically targeted by the Mujahideen who saw them as an extension of the pro-communist government. Civil wars continued after 1992, forcing many urban dwellers to flee as refugees (Karlsson and Mansory, 2007). The total number of male and female students and teachers dropped considerably during this period. When the Taliban came to power, their interest in education was weak, though they did focus on Islamic education. During their rule, however, girls’ schools were official banned, specifically in the cities (though


Education in West Central Asia

some informal Islamic schools were still active for them in the countryside). The percentage of primary school-aged children who had access to formal education during this time was estimated to be between 10 and 15 per cent (Rugh, 1998).

Post-2001 reforms: a new beginning? In 2001, NATO forces advanced into Afghanistan. Since then, billions of dollars have poured into the country from various international donors, organizations and other sources. The money continues to be allocated towards the rebuilding of the country’s various sectors. The Ministry of Education (MoE) is responsible for delivering both formal education (which includes general education, Islamic education, teacher education, technical and vocational education and community-based education) and informal education (which includes literacy training for adults and out of school children). The Ministry has stated that “Education is both a prerequisite for economic development and an essential building block in national reconciliation and peace-building efforts” (MoE, 2011, p. 2). The report goes on to state that since 2001, the demand for education has increased sevenfold, placing significant pressures on the current system. As of January 2011 there were 7 million children enrolled in schools, of which girls accounted for 37 per cent, compared to 1 million students in 2004. However, this percentage only represents 58 per cent of the total school-age population, with 15% classified as “permanently absent” (MoE, 2011). Other challenges include high repetition and dropout rates, a limited uptake in pursuing further studies and a poor labour market. It is important to note that the Ministry has also raised concern over its limited authority over donor activity in providing educational support to Afghans. The Ministry writes: One of the problems in planning education in Afghanistan is that almost 80 percent of education sector activities are off budget. While most donors claim that their programs are on plan, the fact remains that the MoE has little authority over a great deal of donor activity. In the provinces, for example, Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTS) carry out a lot of education-related activities (especially construction) with little coordination with the central Ministry of Education. These activities are either not an integral part of the NESP [National Education Strategic Plan] or not focused on the MoE’s annual priorities. (MoE, 2011, p. 5)

These concerns of the MoE raise a number of issues for the current development of education. First, bypassing the government and providing assistance that may

Afghanistan: Formal Education—A Contested Terrain


be repetitive or not a priority, according to the MoE, weakens its role within the country and increases the risk of misuse of limited funds. Second, the fact that PRTs, who are military personnel, are carrying on development work in Afghanistan exemplifies the politicized nature of humanitarian aid. This type of politicization is not new to Afghanistan. For decades, concern has been raised over the use of aid as a political weapon to induce policy changes and to socialize the population towards accepting certain changes (see, for example, Carnoy, 1974; Watson, 1982; King, 1991; Novelli, 2010). Wang (1999) argues that the Cold War in particular has influenced which countries are considered worthy of receiving aid and which are not. Similarly, Novelli (2010) maintains that since 2001, education has become a battleground between various ideologies, leading to increasing dangers for educational personnel and students. Specifically the PRTs have made it difficult to differentiate between humanitarian workers and private security contractors who also dress in civilian attire, leading to increasing violence against aid workers in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Finally, a defining characteristic of the reconstruction and development efforts post-2001 has been the narrative of restoring the rights of women and girls (Khan, 2008). Much like in the past, women’s role within Afghan society became a topic of contesting ideologies. Novelli (2010) comments: Crucially for us, it appears that educational provision (particularly for girls) became a key discursive justification for the military intervention in Afghanistan, and educational progress as a means of demonstrating the success of the occupation. As a result, attacking education seems to be a key strategy of the Taliban with attacks on education in Afghanistan both widespread and increasing. (p. 457)

The education of women in particular has been criticized by some feminists as serving only to justify the occupation of Afghanistan rather than being a real attempt to improve women’s living conditions (Abu-Lughod, 2002; Hirschkind and Mahmood, 2002; Mohanty 2003). The Taliban’s ban on women’s and girls’ schooling, along with the wearing of the burqa under their regime, had become the focus of international efforts, ignoring other forms of violation such as the continuation of conflict, insecurity, militarization and poverty (Ayotte and Husain, 2005; Daulatzai, 2006; Yacoobi, 2008). In recent years, Taliban attacks on government-run schools have rapidly increased, as well as cases of violence against female students. According to Human Rights Watch (2006), the Taliban resist and attack formal schools because of: a) opposition to the government and its international supporters;


Education in West Central Asia

b) ideological opposition to education other than Islamic schools; and c) opposition to the authority of the central government comprised of various criminal groups. These views of the Taliban are not very different from the values and beliefs of many poor rural Afghans who continue to be live in isolation from the state’s development efforts. Moreover, these actions are reminiscent of the resistance movements of the past against previous reforming efforts. The current curriculum, in particular, continues to minimize the role of Islam, despite its centrality to the lives of most Afghans. For example, less than 13% of the curriculum is dedicated to Islamic studies (Jones, 2007). The 2003 curriculum framework, Jones (2007) argues, reflects the language of international writers when it states that the purpose of education is to “cultivate Afghan identity so that students will enforce and broaden Islamic vision and religious principles in a non-extremist way” (p. 21). Thus rather than utilizing Islam (central to the lives of most Afghans), in a way that could emphasize elements of peace, unity and justice, the current system is using foreign interpretations of the role of Islam in Afghan society. Moreover, by linking it to the larger politics of the war on terror, formal schools run the risk of exacerbating already existing problems, specifically inequalities.

Higher education post-2001 Higher Education (HE) developed in Afghanistan slowly and de facto with the establishment of the country’s first Faculty of Medicine in 1932. In the 1940s, the government focused on the expansion of secondary schools and the beginning of HE. During these years, the Faculty of Medicine was joined by other faculties including Law, Science and Letters. In 1946, these faculties formed the basis for Afghanistan’s first university (Kabul University). By 1960, there were 1700 students enrolled in universities, 157 of whom were girls (Chauhan, 2008). In 1968, the first Constitution of Universities was developed. Article (1) states: The principle objectives of the university are the preservation, dissemination and advancement of knowledge; strengthening personal and social responsibility in youth; and training youth to realize Islamic, national, legal and political values in order to serve Afghan society and mankind. (cited in Samady, 2001, p. 59)

Though the state was in control of HE, it had given every institution local autonomy. Many were supported through foreign partnerships, which influenced the structure, standards and curricula. To illustrate, Kabul Polytechnic Institute, which developed with the help of the Soviet Union, followed a

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Soviet-like pedagogy. In the long run, this created a dilemma for HE as there was no national conformity or policy, only diverse ideologies (ibid.). During the 1960s and 1970s, Afghanistan experienced a much greater demand for HE. Enrolment in 1975 was 12,260 students, 1680 of whom were girls (ibid.). The increasing demand for HE met with constraints including a shortage of trained faculty, inadequate facilities and resources and only a few years of development history. Attempts were also made to address some of these challenges. For example, in order to attract qualified faculty members, the government introduced regulations that encouraged research and publications. Opportunities were provided for travelling overseas to gain strong research and teaching experience. This addressed to some degree the problem of the poor qualifications of faculty members. Similarly, providing universities with the freedom to create their own curriculum and courses, based on the expertise of individual faculty members, was seen as a way of addressing each university’s individual needs. In 1977 the Ministry of Higher Education was established (MoHE), with the hope of better serving the rapidly increasing needs of HE. During this time, a seven-year economic and social development plan was launched. Specific attention was paid to rural populations who had traditionally not been able to benefit from HE. The enrolment of both males and females in higher education was increased from 476 to 10,700 between 1950 and 1995 (Samady, 2001). In 2002, UNESCO held a two-week meeting that was attended by officials from MoHE and UNESCO’s Institute for International Educational Development (IIEP). HE was understood as having the purpose “to advance knowledge and to transmit learning” (UNESCO, 2004, p. 6). Both groups felt that HE was currently not able to tap into the knowledge and ability of its people. They hoped for a “unified perspective” that would fundamentally reorient higher education to meet present and long-term needs, and create a national consensus on educational policy. In order to ensure the development of a national consensus on higher education policy, another two-week meeting was held in 2003, to collect data, diagnose the current status of HE and make recommendations for restructuring and rebuilding the whole HE system. In conjunction with other donors including the World Bank, the Strategic Action Plan was formed. The first part of this plan, called the Policy Document, determined the foundation and framework for HE (answering questions such as “What should be the institutional structure of HE?” and “Who should decide on the basic structure of HE?”). Part Two, the Action Plan Matrix, identified projects that were needed to implement policies and recommendations determined by Part One.

Education in West Central Asia


This Strategic Action Plan became a national policy and formed Afghanistan’s first Ministry of Higher Education Strategic Development Plan, in 2005. The plan identified five categories that needed to be improved between 2005 and 2013 (MoHE, 2005). These included: MM




Enhancement of quality in higher education (which includes faculty development, curriculum reform, facility development and quality assurance). Systematic reform and management improvement (including increase in institutional autonomy). Educational access (controlled access to public institutions, and encouragement of private higher education). Financing (possibility of charging students tuition, private and international aid sources).

Similarly, in 2001 the World Bank (WB) released a reconstruction report emphasizing its long-term commitment to the development of education. Priority was given to the private sector, as the WB felt that the “high cost of reconstruction and likely constraints on the availability of external funding mean that a private sector-oriented approach is called for” (World Bank, 2001, p. 18). Specifically, public–private partnerships were seen as effective solutions to ensuring services reached the people. Other solutions included bypassing the government and provide services through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN agencies or donor-controlled contractors. These policies have already taken place through WB’s Strengthening Higher Education Project (SHEP). Developed in 2005, SHEP is a $40 million project designed to help restore basic operational performance at a group of core universities (World Bank, 2005). SHEP consisted of two parts. It included the University Partnership Program, which received $7.5 million to create and strengthen the relationships of 11 local universities with foreign institutions (McFarlane et al., 2006). For example, Nangarhar University (Afghanistan’s second largest and oldest university), was partnered with San Diego State University (2008) for a three-year partnership that cost over $1.9 million. The purpose of this was to help Nangarhar University develop a bachelor’s programme in English. Some of the duties undertaken by San Diego State University included short-term intensive summer faculty development programmes at SDSU, expansion of the use of computers and the internet, and intensive English learning programmes for the faculty. It was hoped that this partnership would help Afghan universities with their curriculum development and improve facilities, fellowship and training programmes.

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Private education is another area that WB has strongly supported and participated in. Through their guidance, Afghanistan has allowed for the establishment of private universities for the first time in its history. Hill (2003) argues that since the 1980s, educational institutions around the world have been restructuring according to neo-liberal policies, those favouring privatization, deregulation and marketization. The WB has become a major player in influencing educational policy internationally along these lines (Torres and Schugurensky, 2002). However, these structural adjustment policies have been criticized for their lack of positive outcomes. Similarly, Collins and Rhoads’ (2008) study of the WB’s HE policies in Uganda and Thailand found that although HE in both countries received much needed resources through the WB, the end results have further exacerbated existing inequalities in both countries. Most of these changes have only recently been implemented in Afghanistan; thus it remains to be seen what outcomes it will have on HE in that country, and specifically how existing challenges will be met.

Interviewing Females in HE: Observations From the Field In 2011, the author travelled to Afghanistan to interview girls at five different universities, including both private and public, in two separate provinces. Between four and seven students were interviewed at each university, with a total of 26 interviews. The participants were between the ages of 18 and 50, and included women of various linguistic and ethnic backgrounds, as well belonging to various provinces (every participant identified herself as Muslim). The findings will be finalized as part of her doctoral research in 2012. Some preliminary findings, however, are worth noting here. First, girls felt positively about their HE pursuits, stating that it provided them with opportunities they would not otherwise have had. In particular, they were very happy with the support that their families, particularly their fathers and brothers, were providing them with. Many of the girls talked about their education as an empowering experience, but at the same time acknowledged respect for their Afghan culture. It is important to note that when talking about empowerment, tradition and opportunities, students at a prestigious private university varied considerably in their beliefs from students at a public university. At the private university, students talked about themselves as independent (as most worked for NGOs and were looking after their tuition on their own), and aspired to study abroad or work for foreign organizations.


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Education, particularly the kind of up-to-date curriculum that their institution was using, provided the students with opportunities not open to most students in Afghanistan. At the public university however, students focused more on making sure that what they did was always within boundaries and acceptable to their families. Second, Islam was brought up by every participant in some aspect, as something that was central to their lives. For many it was important to distinguish between Islam as they understood it within their culture, and how it had been presented to the outside world. Some students expressed dislike for the misuse of Islam both by foreigners and local leaders. They gave examples of the rights that Islam provides for women, and the misappropriation or denial of these rights by foreigners and local leaders. However, the more knowledge they had, the more they felt empowered. One participant, for example, was pursuing Kinesiology as a major; for her to be able to pursue such a non-traditional field, Islamic knowledge was very important, and she used this knowledge to challenge anyone who opposed her field of study. Finally, in terms of opportunity, the participants talked about the absolute importance of English in their lives. For many, knowing English had provided them with opportunities that they would otherwise never have had. For example, they were able to work and take care of their financial needs, as well as their families. At least five of the students were selected to travel overseas, for which they had to have a very good command of English. Some of the students mentioned their interest in pursuing graduate studies overseas, and their confidence or lack of it refelected how proficient they were in English. It is important to note that what the participants said was often not reflective of the changes that were taking place on their campuses. For example, at every university that was visited by the author, the presence of foreign assistance was evident. Sometimes the assistance offered was not in line with the needs of the university. For example, one university had received computers that were not yet being used, but some of the participants were concerned more with not having proper facilities (including a washroom for girls on campus); moreover they felt that computers would not be as accessible to them as the male students because there were no female teachers. Despite facing many challenges, however, students were optimistic about their learning. They did not feel the pursuit of education to be at odds with their beliefs, but they did acknowledge problems with the system and were hopeful that it would change.

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Conclusion The development of formal education has generated controversy from the beginning, mainly due to its favouritism for or dependency on foreign models of whichever countries were providing financial support at the time. As a poor centralized state, a vast majority of Afghans have traditionally felt alienated from the state’s reforms. Their alienation was particularly heightened when they felt that their values and beliefs were challenged and/or contradicted by the state’s efforts. This has created a rift between the state and the needs of its people. Moreover, as a poor nation with little control beyond the cities, the Afghan state has had little choice but to turn to foreign aid and support for educational development. Currently it has not only continued its use of foreign expertise but also implemented changes that have been considered problematic in other similar contexts. It remains to be seen how the new efforts will impact on wider Afghan society, particularly those who are most deprived, and how the challenges that currently face formal education will be handled.

References Abu-Lughod, L. (2002). “Do Muslim women really need saving? Anthropological reflections on cultural relativism and its others”. American Anthropologist, 104 (2): 783–70. Ayotte, K. J. and Husain, M. E. (2005). “Securing Afghan women: neocolonialism, epistemic violence, and the rhetoric of the veil”. NWSA Journal, 17 (2): 112–33. Bush, K. D. and Saltarelli, D. (2000). The two faces of education in ethnic conflict: towards a peacebuilding for children. Florence: Innocenti Research Centre, UNICEF. Carnoy, M. (1974). Education as cultural imperialism. New York: D. McKay Co. Chauhan, C. P. S. (2008). “Higher education: current status and future possibilities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka”. Analytical Reports in International Development, 2 (1): 29–48. Collins, C. S and Rhoads, R. A. (2008). “The World Bank and higher education in the developing world: the cases of Uganda and Thailand”. International Perspectives on Education and Society, 9: 177–221. Coulson, A. (2004). “Education and indoctrination in the Muslim world: Is there a problem? What can we do about it?” Policy Analysis 511. The Cato Institute. www. (26 January 2012). Daulatzai, A. (2006). “Acknowledging Afghanistan: Notes and queries on an occupation”. Cultural Dynamics, 18 (3): 293–311. Eqbal, A. E. (1978). A study of education and social changes in Afghanistan. Muncie, IN: Ball State University.


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Goodson, L. (2001). Afghanistan’s endless war: state failure, regional politics, and the rise of the Taliban. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. Gregorian, V. (1969). The emergence of modern Afghanistan: Politics of reform and modernization, 1881–1946. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Hill, D. (2003). “Global neo-liberalism, the deformation of education and resistance”. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 1 (1). php?pageID=article&articleID=7 (26 January 2012). Hirschkind, C. and Mahmood, S. (2002). “Feminism, the Taliban, and the politics of counter-insurgency”. Anthropological Quarterly, 75 (2): 339–54. Human Rights Watch (2006). Lessons in Terror: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan, 18 (6). Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch. reports/afghanistan0706.pdf (26 January 2012). Jones, A. (2007). “Reconstruction or containment: Perceptions of conflict, control and economy in Afghanistan five years on”. International Quarterly for Asian Studies, 38 (1–2): 7–24. —(2009). “Curriculum and civil society in Afghanistan”. Harvard Educational Review, 79 (1): 113–22. Karlsson, P. and Mansory, A. (2007). An Afghan Dilemma: education, gender and globalization in an Islamic Context. PhD thesis. Institute of International Education. Stockholm University. Khan, S. (2008). “Afghan women: the limits of colonial rescue”, in L. Riley. and C. T. Mohanty (ed.), Feminism and war: confronting US imperialism. London: Zed Books Ltd, pp. 161–78. King, K. (1991). Aid and Education in the developing world: the role of the donor agencies in educational analysis. Harlow: Longman. Maclure, R. and Denov, M. (2009). “Reconstruction versus transformation: post-war education and the struggle for gender equity in Sierra Leone”. International Journal of Educational Develoment, 29: 612–20. Matsumoto, Y. (2008). “Education for demilitarizing youth in post-conflict Afghanistan”. Research in Comparative and International Education, 3 (1): 65–78. Moghadam, V. M. (2002). “Patriarchy, the Taliban, and politics of public space in Afghanistan”. Women’s Studies International Forum, 25 (1): 19–31. Mohanty, C. T. (2003). Feminism without borders: decolonizing theory, practicing solidarity. London: Duke University Press. McFarlane, F. B. et al. (2006). Educational partnerships: the key to building sustainability and stability in countries of conflict. Afghanistan: Ministry of Higher Education. (26 January 2012). Ministry of Education (MoE) (2009). Education: Summary report 2008–2009. Report%201387.pdf (26 January 2012).

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—(2011), National Education Interim Plan 2011–13. attachments/076_The%20Interim%20Plan%20-%20Final%20version%2001.pdf (26 January 2012). Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) (2005). Strategic development plan: March 2005. (26 January 2012). Nef, J. (2003). “Terrorism and the pedagogy of violence: a critical analysis”, in W. Nelles (ed.), Comparative Education, Terrorism and Human Security: from critical pedagogy to peacebuilding? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 47–62. Novelli, M. (2010). “The new geopolitics of educational aid: from cold wars to Holy wars?” International Journal of Educational Development, 30: 453–59. Pigozzi, M. J. (1999). Education in emergencies and for reconstruction: A developmental approach. New York: UNICEF Working Paper Series, Programme Division, Education Section. Rashid, A. (2001). Taliban: the story of the Afghan warlord (2nd edn). London: Pan Books. Rubin, B. (2002). The Fragmentation of Afghanistan. State Formation and Collapse in the International System (2nd edn). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Rugh, A. B. (1998). Strategy for Afghan primary education: suggested next steps-future directions. Islamabad: UNICEF & Save the Children. Samady, S. (2001). Education and Afghan society in the twentieth century. Paris: UNESCO. San Diego State University (2008). Nangarhar University–San Diego State University partnership: A case study supported through the Strengthening Higher Education Program (SHEP). Afghanistan Ministry of Higher Education and the World Bank. (26 January 2012). Seitz, K. (2004). Education and conflict: The role of education in the creation, prevention and resolution of societal crisis–Consequences for Development Cooperation. Eschborn: GTZ. Shirazi, R. (2008). “Islamic education in Afghanistan: revisiting the United States”. CR: The New Centennial Review, 8 (1): 211–33. Torres, C. A. and Schugurensky, D. (2002). “The political economy of higher education in the era of neoliberal globalization: Latin America in comparative perspective”. Higher Education, 43 (4): 429–55. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) (2004). Strategic Action Plan for the Development of Higher Education in Afghanistan. Paris: The International Institute for Education Planning and Ministry of Higher Education Afghanistan. Afghanistan_higher_ education_strategic_plan.pdf (26 January 2012). Wang, T. Y. (1999). “US foreign aid and UN voting: an analysis of important issues”. International Studies Quarterly, 43 (1): 199–210. Watson, K. (1982). Education in the Third World. London: Croom Helm.


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World Bank (2001). Afghanistan: World Bank approach paper. http://siteresources. (26 January 2012). —(2005). Technical annex for a proposed grant in the amount of SDR 26.2 million (US$ 40 million equivalent) to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for a Strengthening Higher Education Program. WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2007/01/ 12/00031060720070112141547/Rendered/ PDF/T76550AF0idar2005000780101PUBLIC1ok.pdf (26 January 2012). Yacoobi, S. (2008). “Building a better future for Afghanistan through female education”, in M. Tembon and L. Fort (eds), Girls’ Education in the 21st Century: Gender equality, empowerment and economic growth. Washington, DC: World Bank, pp. 44–68.


Afghanistan: Religion, State and Education Yahia Baiza

Introduction Religion has always been an important element in history, society and individual lives. Regardless of a country’s political structure, system of governance, economic infrastructure and educational provision, the importance and impact of religion on social and cultural norms, relationships between communities and individual behaviour cannot be denied. Even in most secular societies, religion continues to shape people’s lives. In traditional societies, religion occupies a central position, and is more than a mere personal or communal set of beliefs. In Afghanistan, where society has progressively been modernizing in many ways, but has also been preserving a great deal of traditional character, religion has been one of the most powerful elements in shaping all domains and stages of life, from birth to death. This chapter distinguishes between “religion”, as a set of divine commands, laws and guidance revealed and proclaimed through the verses of the Qur’an, on the one hand, and political decisions, quest for political and ethnic supremacy, and, above all, personal and subjective interpretations by members of religious establishments, that is, religious scholars (ulama-ye dini), leaders and councils of religious scholars (shura-ye ulama-ye dini), on the other hand. This chapter analyzes the relation between religion, state and education in modern Afghanistan, with a focus on how far and to what extent religion and the state have influenced developments in education; and how recent debates and political developments in Afghanistan may affect the future provision of education. The relation between religion, state and education are discussed and explained through an analysis of the relation between religious establishments and the state in modern Afghanistan, which sets the scene for an analysis of the emergence and development of two parallel education systems (madrassa and modern); followed by the role and influence of religious establishments


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in contemporary political and educational developments, in curriculum and textbook reforms, and the political struggle for educational influence.

Religion and State in Modern Afghanistan Religion and state in Afghanistan have always had an intimate relationship. Unlike some secular countries with majority Muslim populations, such as the ex-Soviet Union’s Central Asian republics, Turkey, or Mali, Afghanistan has never adopted secularism as a fundamental principle of the modern state. Secularism in its “Western” definition and practice of separation between church and state, in a way that the former has no influence in the affairs of the latter, is a modern phenomenon. In most parts of the modern history of Afghanistan, religious establishments and political authorities were mutually dependent on each other. For instance, the traditional political legitimacy until the first military coup in July 1973, apart from a royal tribal lineage, also required religious confirmation, that is, blessing, from the religious establishments. Even in later periods, in order to achieve certain socio-political goals, political authorities in Afghanistan have often been in need of the religious and social support of religious establishments. Equally, in order to accomplish and implement their religious goals and universalize their interpretations of religion, the religious establishments needed the financial and political support of the state. The state has been responsible for defending the country against foreign aggression and maintaining political order and peace in the country, whereas the religious establishments have been in charge of safeguarding the country’s religious identity and overseeing the implementation of “correct” religious practices, teaching and education of the young generations. Thus religious establishments and the state in Afghanistan have never been separated from each other in the sense of the Western definition and practice of the separation of church and the state. By contrast, as shall be seen in the following discussion, religious establishments in Afghanistan validate, oversee and directly intervene and influence the course of politics and the behaviour of politicians. Much of the characteristics of contemporary politics, religion and education in Afghanistan are in one way or another a legacy of the events of the colonial era from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In modern times, particularly since the late nineteenth century, the relation between religion and state has been heavily influenced by the European colonial policies and system of governance. The Anglo-Russian strategic rivalry in Central Asia throughout

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the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries, which came to be termed the “Great Game”, had a significant effect on the relation between religion and state in Afghanistan. In order to protect its strategic, political and economic interests in South Asia, Britain attempted to colonize and then transform Afghanistan into a buffer zone between British India and Central Asia. However, after being defeated in the First (1839–42) and the Second (1878–80) Anglo-Afghan Wars, Britain changed its political and military strategies with respect to Afghanistan. The new strategy focused on creating an alliance with the Pashtun amirs in Afghanistan, rather than making a new war. The new alliance became a turning point in the modern history of Afghanistan, which changed the country in many ways, including the social relationships between different tribal, religious and linguistic groups in the country. With British support, the ruling family of the Pashtuns, enthroned by the British authorities in India, favoured the Pashtun element in their concept of the nation-state (Schetter, 2003a, p. 3, 2003b). In 1880, British Political Officer Sir Lepel Griffin, in the presence of a number of other British political and military officers and local dignitaries in Kabul enthroned Abdur Rahman (r. 1880–1901) on the throne of Kabul, and signed new deals that would secure British interests in India, in return for financial, political and military support (Sykes, 1940, II, p. 137; Ghobar, 1987, pp. 638–41). The new strategy changed the Anglo-Afghan War into an Anglo-Afghan Alliance, and Britain began to exploit the tribal differences between Pashtun and non-Pashtun groups in the country. The new alliance and political agreement enabled Abdur Rahman to end the tribal kingdom of Pashtun princes and chieftains, and then subjugate all other non-Pashtun groups across the country.1 As Britain was interested in transforming Afghanistan into a buffer state, she supported the Pashtun element in their notion of the modern “nation-state”, which led to the development of a modern “Pashtun-state” in Afghanistan. The latter was more favourable to Britain, because an autocratic ruler could keep the country at peace by force, as compared to dealing with a “nation-state”, where the “state” by definition belongs to the whole nation. By contrast, the “Pashtun-state” by its name and definition belonged to the “Pashtun” or “Afghan” tribe, and has been interested in safeguarding and promoting Pashtun interests in the country. Thus British support for the Pashtun elements in Afghanistan’s modern state paved the road for Afghanization or Pashtunization of Afghanistan—a process that has deeply divided the country on tribal, political, social and religious lines. The politics of Pashtunization of Afghanistan also exploited the tribal and religious divide between the Sunni majority and Shia minority. After ending


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the Pashtun tribal fiefdom, Amir Abdur Rahman focused on the subjugation of non-Pashtun groups, followed by the replacement of the local non-Pashtun populations in the central, western, northern and north-eastern parts of the country by the Pashtun tribesmen from the south. The Amir’s failure to silence and subjugate the Hazaras completely led him to call for a religious war (jihad)2 against the Hazaras, who are predominantly Shia (Ithna-ashari and Ismaili) Muslims. He sought the support of prominent Pashtun Sunni religious scholars, who issued a religious decree (fatwa) declaring the Shia Hazaras as infidels (kafirs) which made the jihad against them a religious obligation. In the final battle in Uruzgan, the resistance of the Hazaras was ultimately suppressed and they were brutally massacred in 1893–4, as the Amir’s Sunni Pashtun tribesmen and soldiers significantly outnumbered the Hazaras3. Until this point in the recent history of the country, all major ethnic groups in Afghanistan had cordial relations with one another, while their rivalry did not extend beyond a few raids on remote villages. Since the time of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznawi (r. 997–1030) in the medieval era, when he massacred Shia and mainly Shia Ismaili Muslims in India, Khurasan and Persia (Baiza, 2012), there had not been any direct statesponsored massacre of the minority Shia population by their majority Sunni countrymen. Abdur Rahman drastically changed the course of modern politics and the relationship between state, religion and society. All the succeeding governments and states until today bear strong features of Pashtun nationalism, state-sponsored tribal, religious and linguistic discrimination. Thus, as the “Pashtun-state” was founded through British military, political and financial support, the “Pashtun-state” and Pashtun nationalism have become dependent on foreign support and on political, economic, cultural and linguistic suppression of non-Pashtun groups in the country. However, the course of political developments, particularly over the course of more than 30 years, demonstrates that both “Pashtun-state” and Pashtun nationalism are becoming increasingly unsustainable. The future prosperity of the Pashtun and non-Pashtun population of the country, and the ideal of a peaceful Afghanistan, requires “nationalism” be abandoned as a primarily European concept that is not rooted in the historical, cultural and political tradition of the country and the region.4

Modern and Madrassa Education Systems and Parallel Societies If education plays a role in shaping society by influencing the mind of people, then the two parallel education systems of modern and madrassa in Afghanistan

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are not without an influence in the creation of parallel societies in Afghanistan. Within the madrassa education system, there was a further parallelism of statesponsored and privately funded Sunni religious education, while Afghanistan’s Shia Muslims added their private madrassas from the mid-1950s onwards. The influence of these two education systems in Afghanistan could be viewed as the emergence of two parallel societies as early as the 1920s. The modernist clique centred on king Amanullah (r. 1919–29) in the late 1910s and throughout the 1920s was the product of the first modern school, called Habibya, founded by, and named after, Amir Habibullah (r. 1901–19) in 1902–03. Those who opposed modern schools for boys and girls were mainly educated in madrassas inside Afghanistan or in the Deobandi and other religious colleges in India. This multiple form of parallelism continued throughout the subsequent decades to the present date. The formation of Islamist and leftist parties from the 1960s through to the 1980s, and their political activities since then, could be understood as a reflection of the existence of parallel societies in Afghanistan. The emergence of these political parties also demonstrated a rising dissatisfaction between the modernized urban middle class and the state, responsible for Pashtun nationalism, tribal, religious and linguistic oppression and discrimination against non-Pashtun groups in the country. Islamist parties established links with similar groups in the Middle East and Pakistan, while leftist groups, such as the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), created strong ties with the former Soviet Union. Consequently, these developments led to a bloodless military coup which ousted King Muhammad Zahir (r. 1933–73) and brought ex-Prime Minister Muhammad Daoud (1953–63) to power in July 1973. Five years later, the PDPA executed a military coup in April 1978, in which they overthrew Daoud’s government and ended a half-century rule by Muhammad Nadir’s family (1929–78). The PDPA, and its Marxist doctrine, represented the urbanized middle class struggle against all forms of oppression and discrimination. They became the unofficial voice of the middle class, mainly educated in the modern Western-style education system. By contrast, the Islamist parties, which came to prominence in the 1980s and the 1990s, represented the voice of the religious-oriented segment of society and those mainly educated in the traditional madrassa education system. Throughout the 1980s, the state as well as the resistance parties and their international allies heavily politicized both religion and education. The PDPA, supported by the Soviet Union, promoted socialist doctrines in the state schools and used school textbooks and teacher training programmes as a political channel to spread their political ideology.


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In a similar way, the Islamist parties, mainly those based in Pakistan, received support from the Middle East Arab countries and the USA and her allies. They printed their textbooks and used schools in refugee camps and in areas outside state control inside Afghanistan for the propagation of Islamist ideology and anti-Soviet Union and anti-PDPA propaganda. Both the madrassa and modern education systems became political channels for the development and spread of new layers of political and theological arguments, which further complicated the socio-political context and widened the gap between the two parallel systems of education and two parallel societies. The conflict in Afghanistan soon turned into a proxy war between the USSR and the USA, for which millions of people were killed, displaced internally, or migrated to the neighbouring countries, and further to Europe, North America and Australia. The resistance parties took over the government from the PDPA in April 1992, and inherited a country with enormous problems in all spheres of people’s lives. They did not face the question of legitimacy domestically and internationally, since all parties were looking for a peaceful settlement of the past conflict. However, instead of focusing on how to address the needs of people who had suffered for 14 years, they began to destroy their political legitimacy and credibility by fighting each other, causing further atrocities, and destroying the national infrastructure, including educational institutions. The Islamist parties had little understanding of modern Western-style infrastructure, including governance, political institutions, the economy and the education system, all of which were rapidly fragmented within four years of the Islamist rule (1992–96). In addition, the existence of parallel societies without any solidarity surfaced in the tribal and Sunni-Shia affiliation of the Islamist parties. The most shocking event of all was the massacre of thousands of the Hazara Shia population of Afshar, in western Kabul, by the Tajik-led government of Burhanuddin Rabbani (r. 1992–6) and his Defence Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud (d. 2001), in association with the Pashtun-led Interior Ministry of Abdur Rasoul Sayaf, leader of the Islamic Union Party (Hizb-e Etihad-e Islami). The civilian massacre was especially shocking for the people of Afghanistan, particularly for the residents of Kabul, who did not experienced anything of this nature in living memory. Education, both the madrassa and modern systems, had its influence, but was not the only factor. It was a total human atrocity, which was born out of years of conflict and decades of religious, tribal, political and linguistic division and discrimination. However, the conflict in Afghanistan was not solely a domestic struggle. Foreign intervention had a hand in the conflict and making it a deadlock. Apart from the USSR–USA proxy war, the rivalry between the Sunni

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kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Shia theocratic republic of Iran were the other two foreign elements. Eventually, the USA, the UK and Saudi Arabia developed a fast growing Pashtun movement in 1994, out of the existing Islamist parties, which came to be known as the Taliban, for which Pakistan took the role of a field mentor. The Taliban project was in many ways similar to the British support for Amir Abdur Rahman in the late nineteenth century. The Taliban (madrassa students) were given political, financial and military support to end the Pashtun fiefdom and then to suppress and subjugate the non-Pashtun groups across the country. Within two years, the Taliban achieved significant military success by gaining control of the southern provinces and then defeating the Tajik-led government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani and his Defence Minister Ahmad Shah Massud in Kabul in September 1996. The USA and the UK were primarily interested in the geopolitical and strategic control of Afghanistan, but were also interested in the energy resources of the Central Asian republics. Saudi Arabia was mainly interested in expanding its Wahabi interpretation of Islam in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Pakistan meanwhile was keen to install in Afghanistan a Pakistani-obedient or at least a Pakistani-friendly government so it could balance its power vis-a-vis India, on the one hand, and gain access to the Central Asia market, on the other. In this political venture, the Taliban pursued their political goals, which were deeply rooted in Pashtun nationalism. Their primary interest was in restoring the Pashtuns’ lost political dignity and supremacy; creating an absolute Pashtun-dominated government; and implementing a Wahabi interpretation of Islam with a mixture of Pashtun tribal customs and traditions. The education system and society from which the Taliban emerged was totally opposed to every sign of Western-style modernization, which had produced the urbanized middle class over the previous decades. The Taliban converted modern schools into madrassas; banned girls from schools beyond Grade 3 of primary level; forced Western institutions, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to leave the country; and dismissed women from all public and social services, except for a limited level of medical services in designated hospitals. Like their predecessors, the Taliban have also committed serious war crimes, including the massacre of Hazara and Shia populations of the country, and forcing them to convert to the Sunni sect of Islam. However, the Taliban’s failure to hand over Osama Bin Laden to the USA authorities, and other actions, turned the USA and the political climate against them. It was under this pretext that, on 10 October 2001, the United States initiated


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airstrikes, which was supported by a ground offensive by the only anti-Taliban front in the country, the Northern Alliance. Eventually, the Taliban left Kabul on 11/12 November 2001 (Baiza, 2009), by which one chapter of political turmoil, civil war, religious extremism and foreign intervention in the modern history of the country was closed and another one opened. A new beginning for education began in March 2002, when the post-Taliban government and the international community jointly supported the reconstruction and redevelopment of girls’ and boys’ education at all levels across the country. In the absence of a national constitution, education laws and an official national strategic programme for education, emergency educational strategies and programmes guided the recovery process until the new constitution (January 2004) clarified the state’s responsibility towards education, and the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) developed their strategic and action plans in 2004 and 2006 respectively. Thus the current developments in education, which are analyzed and explained in the following sections, are the result of the coordination of development programmes and cooperation between the state and international organizations and the people of Afghanistan, who have shown unprecedented enthusiasm for and commitment to education.

Religion in Contemporary Political and Educational Developments Religion occupies an important position in the contemporary national constitution of Afghanistan. Even though the post-Taliban era has been dominated by the presence of international community, international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society institutions and the government’s overwhelming dependency on foreign aid, religion remains strongly visible in national laws and various aspects of education. The national constitution declares that Afghanistan is an Islamic republic (jamhuri Islami), and an independent, unitary and indivisible state (Article 1); that Islam is the religion of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan; that followers of other religions are allowed to practise their religious rituals and ceremonies within the limits of the provisions of law (Article 2); and that no law can be passed contrary to the sacred beliefs, rules and religion of Islam (Article 3) (Ministry of Justice, 2004, p. 3). However, despite the fact that Afghanistan is declared an Islamic republic, religious law (shariah) is not the cornerstone of Afghanistan’s Islamic state. On

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the provision of education as the state’s responsibility, Article 17 of the national constitution declares that: The state shall adopt necessary measures for promotion of education in all levels, development of religious education, organising and improving the conditions of mosques, madrassas and religious centres. (Ministry of Justice, 2004, p. 9)

The above Article is further elaborated on in Articles 43–6 of the constitution. Article 43 declares that: Education is the right of all citizens of Afghanistan, which shall be provided up to bachelor’s degree, free of charge in [the] state’s educational institutions. The state is obliged to devise and implement effective programs for a balanced expansion of education all over Afghanistan, to provide compulsory intermediate level education, and provide the opportunity for teaching mother tongues [or native languages] in the areas where they are spoken. (Ministry of Justice, 2004, p. 21)

Furthermore, Article 44 obliges the state to devise and implement effective programmes for balancing education for women, improving education for nomads and eliminating illiteracy in the country. Article 45 declares that the state is responsible for the development of a unified national curriculum for education, based on the provisions of the sacred religion of Islam, national culture, and in accordance with academic principles. In addition, this Article also obliges the state to develop the curriculum of religious subjects on the basis of the Islamic sects existing in Afghanistan. Finally, Article 46 provides the broader framework for higher education, including the establishment of private higher education institutions (Ministry of Justice, 2004, pp. 22–3). In the new education law, religion occupies an important place. On the basis of the above articles, the MoE developed the first draft of the education law on 24 March 2005, the final draft of which was approved by the President and officially issued by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on 24 July 2008. Commitment to strengthening the Islamic spirit of students, upbringing children and youth as believing and useful members of society, strengthening the spirit of respect for Islamic values and the provision and development of Islamic education (Article 2) constitute fundamental parts of the national education law. The same Article, however, also commits to the provision of equal educational opportunities for all citizens of Afghanistan, strengthening the spirit of patriotism, honouring international conventions, such as human rights, women’s rights and democracy, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination in the light of Islamic values as fundamental parts of the education law. The education articles


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in the national constitution and the education law are then translated into practice through strategic and action plans for education, and the curriculum framework and accompanying textbooks.

Curriculum and Textbook Reforms The post-Taliban government inherited a totally fragmented, paralysed and disorganized educational institutions. In 2001, while the Taliban were still in power, multiple curricula and textbooks from previous eras were in use across the country. A senior member of the MoE’s curriculum and textbook department commented that: The [text] books were reviewed [superficially, as] we only removed repulsive and provocative words from them. Briefly speaking, the textbooks that are used [in schools] are from pre-1978, with very minor changes in them. When the new textbooks will be introduced, these problems will be solved, God Willing.5

The development of a unified national curriculum and accompanying textbooks has been one of the key challenges for the MoE. In addition to the circulation of many different types of textbooks that had been produced throughout the years of war and political turmoil, lack of coordination between different ministries with educational programmes added to the existing educational challenges. A senior civil servant at the MoE stated that: Currently, four ministries are responsible for the management of education. These are the ministries of education, higher education, religious affairs and labour and social affairs. The Ministry of Religious Affairs is responsible for pre-school education in mosques. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is responsible for pre-school education in nurseries and kindergartens. The Ministry of Education is responsible for general education [Grades 1–12]; and the Ministry of Higher Education is responsible for higher education services. Each of these ministries implements their own curriculum without coordinating the content of their curriculum and teaching programmes with one another.6

Since the post-Taliban government is composed of former Islamists, members of the PDPA and Western educated technocrats, it does bear some signs of Islamism, but the state is not an Islamist one. The signs of Islamist influence could be viewed in the school curriculum and textbooks. Religion remains a fundamental and integrated part of the national curriculum and the reformed

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textbooks in modern and madrassa education. Curriculum and textbook reforms began as early as 2002, with a focus on two key objectives: first, to introduce emergency changes in the existing curriculum and textbooks, in order to cater for the growing needs of schools, teachers and students; and second, to undertake an in-depth curriculum reform that would lead to the development of a new curriculum framework and accompanying textbooks with active learning methods. The MoE initiated textbook reforms in 2002 and, after three rounds of reforms, completed it in 2010 (MoE, 2010a, pp. 8, 75, 2010b, p. 18). The new curriculum framework, which has been developed by the MoE in cooperation with UNESCO and other international organizations, is based on Islamic principles, national values and modern educational standards (MoE, 2010a, pp. 8, 75), such as active learning methods, and centred on the students’ needs. The primary concepts of religion, such as God the creator of heavens and the earth and everything in between; worshipping of God; believing in Prophet Muhammad as the seal of all prophets; the Qur’an as the holy book of Islam; and the images of Mecca and mosque as holy spaces for religious gatherings (MoE, 2009a, pp. 119–21, 2009b, pp. 4–7) begin at Grade 1 of primary level. Theology as a school subject begins from Grade 3 of primary level and continues up to Grade 12 of higher secondary level. From primary 3 onwards, the MoE provides two parallel sets of religious textbooks for Sunni and Shia students.7 Following Article 45 of the national constitution, the curriculum of religious subjects is built on the basis of the Islamic sects existing in Afghanistan. Therefore, the new curriculum framework and syllabi for Grades 7–14 of madrassa education include two separate sets of curriculum and accompanying textbooks for both Hanafi and Jafari schools of jurisprudence (MoE, 2010b, p. 18). Thus, in addition to the existence of two parallel systems of education, the development and provision of two sets of religious textbooks for Sunni and Shia students contribute to the further segregation of students.

Religious Establishments and the State: A Political Struggle for Educational Influence Through most of the twentieth century, governments in Afghanistan welcomed a significant role by religious establishments in the social, political and educational affairs of the country. This intimate relationship between the state and religious establishments has been fluctuating over the past decade. Under the Islamic State of Afghanistan, and the Taliban regime, religious establishments


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dominated all aspects of state programmes and policies, mainly in education. In the current political context, religious establishments and the state have been competing for dominance and influence in education. During the years 2002 to 2005, religious conservative groups demanded that the government and the MoHE separate male and female students at higher education institutions. They viewed the socialization of young men and women to be against their interpretation of Islam. A former senior advisor to the Minister of Higher Education stated that, “the fundamentalists (bunyad-garayan) were exercising every type of pressure and were even issuing direct threats that male and female students should not study together”.8 Another senior civil servant at the MoHE commented: . . . in the beginning of the post-Taliban era, there was a clear separation between male and female students in classrooms. Male and female students were afraid to mix together and socialise with each other. This has gradually changed. Now they study together and observe the religious and cultural norms.9

Following the national constitution, the draft higher education law also stressed the elimination of barriers to girls’ higher education. Chapter 5, Article 5 of the law instructs the institutions of higher education to: . . . take necessary measures to eliminate barriers and deprivation against women in higher education in order to improve research in gender issues and ensure democracy for men and women in all spheres of education and society. (Wizarat-e Tahsilat-e Aali, 2004, p. 12)

The international community has been playing a significant role in promoting political, financial and educational support for education in Afghanistan, particularly for girls and women. International assistance in education has been instrumental in the realization of public enthusiasm for education. The number of students in general education has increased from 2.3 million in 2002 to 6.3 million (2.3 million girls and 4.03 million boys) in 2008 (MoE, 2009c, p. 14) and 6.5 million in 2009 (MoE, 2010b, p. 13).10 According to MoE’s announcement on its official webpage in January 2012, the total student enrolment in 2010 reached 8.39 million across the general education system (Grades 1–12) (MoE, 2012). However, deterioration of security is a major issue and it may challenge the retention rate, or further enrolment, of students, particularly female and particularly in rural areas. The role of religious establishments and their influence on education, particularly women’s education, may change in the coming years, especially with

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regard to the withdrawal of the allied forces in 2014, or a significant reduction of their level of participation in active military combat after 2014, which could lead to expansion of the Taliban’s or Taliban-minded ideology across the country. A change of political mood is already visible among the religious establishments. On 2 March 2012, six days before International Women’s Day (IWD), the National Religious Council of Afghanistan (Shura-ye Sartasari Ulama-ye Afghanistan), also known as the Religious Council (RC) (Shura-ye Ulama’), submitted a resolution to President Hamid Karzai. The resolution consisted of five Articles and focused on four broader themes: (i) the Quran burning incident at the American military base in Bagram,11 north of Kabul; (ii) the transfer of prisoners from American-controlled prisons to the government of Afghanistan (Articles 1–2); (iii) political reconciliation with the Taliban (Articles 3–4); and (iv) issues related to women’s life in public and private spheres (Article 5). The resolution included positive as well as negative elements, particularly with regard to women’s right and access to educational services.12 Sub-articles ix–xiii are less favourable towards women’s progress. They declare that women shall avoid mixing with foreign (beganah) men in various social arenas, such as educational institutions, markets, offices and other areas of life. Among other issues, in their interpretations of the Qur’an the RC’s declaration also demands women to observe the Qur’anic declaration of man’s superiority over woman, respect the principle of polygamy and avoid travelling without a religiously sanctioned legal companion (mahram-e sharayee) (Office of the President of the Republic of Afghanistan, 2012, pp. 1–2). Although the RC’s resolution does not currently have any legal force, its social and religious influence cannot be ignored in the mid- and long-term future. The level of controversy surrounding the above-mentioned resolution was compounded when President Hamid Karzai welcomed the resolution and supported the overall work of the RC, considering the resolution to be a positive support for women’s rights in Afghanistan. The questions to be asked are what political significance and practical implication the RC’s interpretation of religion and perception of education, and the President’s support for it, may have for women in Afghanistan; how far it may affect the life and education of women; why the resolution has been issued at this time; and why the President has supported it. The RC acts as an advisory body to the President, rather than as an executive, legislative or judicial institution. The state’s institutions are not obliged to follow the RC’s recommendations. Officially, the Office of the President, the educational ministries, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) and the Parliament have supported women’s freedom, rights to educational and


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social services, and political activities, as they declared in the national constitution. The President, the MoHE13 and the MoWA publically celebrated IWD on 8 March. President Hamid Karzai, attending the IWD event at the MoWA, stated that: . . . the national constitution allows women to have a full participation in the National Council [Parliament], Provincial Councils and in the government. The constitution was ratified by the religious scholars and tribal elders [in January 2004.] We have an increasing number of female students in higher education, and the number of female students studying abroad is on [the] increase. It is only through education that my brothers and sisters can learn about their mutual rights and can serve the country. I hope that boys and girls in Afghanistan will be educated and they shall study, study and study. (Hamid Karzai, 2012)

This statement is a clear rejection of the RC’s anti-women resolution which proposed restrictions on women’s education, social mobility and space in public and political institutions. In addition, President Karzai stressed that “we do support women’s rights in Afghanistan in every sense” (Hamid Karzai, 2012). Looking at the broader picture of recent political developments, the resolution was issued at a time when the Ministry of Culture and Information (MoCI) had also issued a warning to private TV channels to control the observance of the veil and the level of make-up worn by their female moderators, announcers, news readers, and so on, and to stop broadcasting foreign films, primarily Indian soap operas. In addition, the USA, the UK and the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have all increased their political activities to reconcile the Taliban with the government of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the USA and her allies are planning the handover of military operations to Afghanistan’s national army and preparing the withdrawal of their armed forces by 2014. Although the RC’s resolution does not have any direct legal implications, it does enjoy religious and social influence. The role and influence of religious establishments will change once again over the course of the coming years, particularly after the withdrawal of the US and allied forces from Afghanistan in 2014.

Conclusion This chapter has shown that religion has an intimate and yet volatile relationship with the state. distinguished distinction has been drawn between “religion” as

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a set of divine commands, laws and guidance revealed and proclaimed through the verses of the Qur’an, on the one hand, and political decisions, the quest for political and tribal supremacy, and, above all, personal and subjective interpretations of members of religious establishments, on the other hand. This chapter has also discussed and explained the role, influence and position of religion as a key influencing element in the modern and madrassa education systems. Based on what has been discussed in this chapter, it becomes clear that the influence of religious establishments on both modern and madrassa education in Afghanistan is undeniably strong. Ten years after intensive military, political and civilian engagement in various aspects of the reconstruction programmes across Afghanistan, significant progress has been achieved in different spheres of people’s lives, including the reconstruction of the political infrastructure, social and economic institutions and medical and educational facilities, providing a minimum level of security in many parts of the country. Despite all these achievements, much has to be accomplished before the USA and her allies withdraw or significantly reduce their level of participation in military combat and civilian programmes in Afghanistan after 2014. Although it is very unlikely that Afghanistan will follow a similar path to that of the post-Soviet Union’s withdrawal era, or flip into the Taliban era again, it is very likely that radical religious interpretations will occupy a more central position in Afghanistan, which in turn could influence education, particularly women’s right to education, and social and public services. Politicians in Afghanistan may need to rethink “nationalism”. Nationalism in Afghanistan did not lead to the creation of a “nation” or “nation-state”. By contrast, it divided the nation into “Pashtun” and “non-Pashtun” groups and failed to create the minimum level of unity. Equally, it failed to create a “nationstate”, which was one of the by-products of modern European nationalism. In contrast to the concept of “nation-state”, nationalism in Afghanistan produced “Pashtun-state”, which has evolved around the Pashtun interests, while the majority of the country’s population are non-Pashtuns. Thus before irreversible atrocities be inflicted on the country, nationalism in general, and “Pashtun nationalism” in particular, have to be rethought and a new political and national concept developed from the country’s historical, cultural, political and intellectual heritage. This chapter concludes that the relation between religion, state and education in Afghanistan is in a state of confusion and chaos, despite many reforms that have been carried out over the past years and attempts made to create a balanced


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and progressive education, based on Islamic values, international conventions and modern standards. This chapter recommends an urgent and thorough revision and rethinking of both madrassa and modern education. The current provision of education is very divisive, as it segregates students by their religious affiliation and continues to create parallel societies, which is not conducive to creating an educational ambience where students from different religious, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds can live and study harmoniously and build a peaceful future. Therefore, the existing parallel modern and madrassa systems of education, and segregation of students based on their Sunni and Shia backgrounds within the modern education system, require urgent and in-depth rethinking.

References Baiza, Y. (2009). Modern Education in Afghanistan, 1901-2006: Developments, Influences and Legacies. DPhil thesis, University of Oxford. —(2012). The Shi‘i Ismaili Hazaras of Afghanistan: Their History, Religious Rituals and Practices. London: Institute of Ismaili Studies (unpublished). —(forthcoming). Education in Afghanistan since 1901: Developments, Influences and Legacies. London: Routledge. Ghobar, G. M. (1987). Afghanistan dar Masir-e Tarikh [Afghanistan in the Course of History], Vol. I. Tehran: Markaz-e Nasharat-e Inqilab. Hamid Karzai (2012). “Matn-e Kamil-e Bayaniyah-ye Jalalat-Ma-ab Hamid Karzai Rayis-e Jamhur-e Islami Afghanistan dar Mahfil-e Tajili az Hashtom-e March Roz-e Jahani Zan” [“The Complete Text of the Speech of His Highness Hamid Karzai President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the Occasion of 8 March International Women’s Day”]. Markaz-e Itla‘at wa Rasana-hay Hukomat. http://www. (12 March 2012). Ministry of Education (MoE) (2009a). Dari: Sinf-e Awwal [Dari: Primary One]. Kabul: Department of Curriculum Development and Compilation of Textbooks, Ministry of Education. —(2009b). Dari: Sinf-e Dowom [Dari: Primary Two]. Kabul: Department of Curriculum Development and Compilation of Textbooks, Ministry of Education. —(2009c). 2008–2009 Education Summary Report. Kabul: General Directorate of Planning and Evaluation, EMIS Department, Ministry of Education. —(2010a). Draft National Education Strategic Plan for Afghanistan (2010–2014). Kabul: Department of Planning and Evaluation, Ministry of Education. —(2010b). Education for All and The Fast Track Initiative (FTI) Partnership, Draft Education Interim Plan. Kabul: Ministry of Education.

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—(2012). (28 January 2012). Ministry of Higher Education (2012). “Az Hashtom-e March Roz-e Jahani Zan, Imroz az Soye Wizarat-e Tahsilat-e ‘Ali Tajlil ba Amal Amad” [“The Ministry of Higher Education celebrated Eighth of March, the International Women’s Day”]. Wizarat-e Tahsilat-e ‘Ali Afghanistan. (13 March 2012). Ministry of Justice (MoJ) (2004). “Qanon-e Asasi Afghanistan” [“National Constitution of Afghanistan”]. Jaridah-e Rasmi (Official Gazette), Special Issue, 28 January, 818: 1–124. —(2008). “Qanon-e Ma‘arif ” [“Education Law”]. Jaridah-e Rasmi [Official Gazette], Special Issue, 24 July, 955: 1–56. Office of the President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2012). “Matn-e Kamil-e Musawibah-ye Shura’-ye Sartasari ‘Ulama’-ye Afghanistan” [“The Complete Text of the Resolution of the National Council of the Religious Scholars of Afghanistan”]. Daftar-e Riyasat Jamhuri Islami Afghanistan. (3 March 2012). Riyazi-Herawi, M. Y. (1990). “Ayn al-Wiqaya”. Ed. M. A. Fikrat-Herawi (ed.) Tehran: Bunyad-e Mawqufat-e Mahmud-e Afshar. Schetter, C. (2003a). Ethnizitaet und ethnische Konflikte in Afghanistan. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag. —(2003b). “Ethnicity and the Political Reconstruction in Afghanistan”, in Symposium on State Reconstruction and International Engagement in Afghanistan. Organized by the Centre for Development Research of the University of Bonn, and the Crisis States Programme, London School of Economics, from 30 May to 1 June 2003 at the Centre for Development Research (ZEF), Bonn, Germany. http://www. (10 March 2008). Sykes, P. (1940). A History of Afghanistan, Vols 1 and II, London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd. Wizarat-e Tahsilat-e Aali (2004). Pashnawis-e Qanoon-e Tahsilat-e Aali-ye Afghanistan [Draft Higher Education Law]. Kabul: Riyasat-e Nasharat-e Wizarat-e Tahsilat-e Aali, Jamhuri Islami Afghanistan.

Notes   1 For further details, see Baiza (forthcoming).   2 Amir Abdur Rahman asked the most prominent Sunni ulama of the time, namely Sayyed Muḥammad Kusaj, known as Sayyid Muhammad Mumtahin, and Sayyid Mahmud Qandahari to issue written verdicts, condemn and impose penance on the Hazaras and force them to convert to Sunni Islam (See, Riyazi-Herawi, (1990, pp. 208–28).

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  3 There are conflicting numbers on the size of the Hazara and Afghan fighters. RiyaziHerawi (1990, p. 228) states that the Hazaras’ fighters numbered 12,000, whereas the Afghans were more than 60,000 tribesmen and 30,000 soldiers.   4 For a detailed discussion on this subject, see Baiza (forthcoming).   5 Personal interview with a senior member of the curriculum and textbook department at the MoE, June 2005.   6 Personal interview with a senior civil servant at the MoE, June 2005.   7 The religious textbook for the Sunni Hanafi students is called Talim wa Tarbiya-ye Islami (Islamic Education), whereas the religious textbook for the Shia Ithna-ashari students is called Talim wa Tarbiya-ye Islami Madhab-e Jafari (Islamic Education for Jafari branch of Islam).   8 Personal interview with a former senior advisor to the Minister of Higher Education in Kabul (June 2005).   9 Personal interview with a senior civil servant at the Ministry of Higher Education in Kabul (June 2005). 10 The inclusion of students enrolled in private, community-based and cross-border schools (mainly in Pakistan and Iran), where the national curriculum and textbooks are taught, and students enrolled in literacy programmes, increases the total number of students for 2008 to 6.8 million (of which 2.5 million are female and 4.2 million are male) students (MoE, 2009c, p. 14). 11 The American military base in Bagram, north of Kabul, was accused of burning copies of the Qur’an on 21 February 2012. A similar incident in October 2009, in which NATO military forces in the province of Wardak, east of Kabul, were accused of burning copies of the Qur’an, caused protests and public unrest for several days across Afghanistan. 12 The positive elements that support women’s rights are articulated in sub-articles 1–6, which declare that, in accordance with the laws of Islam, women have the following rights: (i) ownership, possession and trade; (ii) inheritance; (iii) dowry (mahr); (iv) choosing one’s husband with consent and at a mature age and mind; (v) being treated with honour, dignity and as a free being like men; and (vi) not being treated as a material property (Office of the President of the Republic of Afghanistan, 2012, pp. 1–2). 13 See Ministry of Higher Education (2012).


Afghanistan: Adult Literacy in “Historical Moments” Yukitoshi Matsumoto

Introduction With most combat troops scheduled to leave Afghanistan by 2014, the USA announced its commitment to continuously support the country until it is able to stand on its own. Not without some irony, the announcement was made at a conference in Bonn, Germany, the exact site where a similar conference was held a decade before officially launching the multi-billion dollar nation-building process following the fall of the Taliban. It was back in 2001 that the then President, George W. Bush, also asked not just ordinary Afghans but the entire world to make the hard decisions vis-à-vis Afghanistan: “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.” Yet, after a full decade of pouring in huge sums of money to win the “hearts and minds” of Afghans, it is increasingly clear that most ordinary Afghans remain “neutral”. In their eyes, all leaders, foreign and domestic, seem to lack credibility and legitimacy. At the same time, however, given a decade of promises assuring them that “development” is right around the corner, most Afghans now feel a deep sense of “entitlement” rather than “commitment” (West, 2011). As a result, unlike the supposed choice between good and evil that Bush presented a decade ago, the hard decision both the “West” and Afghanistan now face is how far to compromise on or scale back earlier hopes, perhaps even to the point of simply leaving “behind a government which is just about good enough to survive” (Reuters, 2011c). Against this wider backdrop, this chapter examines and evaluates the decadelong effort to promote adult literacy within the recent nation-building process. It aims not only to make some modest recommendations about future adult


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literacy efforts in the country, but also to identify some useful implications for wider nation-building/development discourse during this current historical “moment”—a time that demands “hard decisions”. At a global level, although understanding of literacy has grown significantly thanks to the combined efforts of scholars and field practitioners, the achievements of previous adult literacy campaigns and programmes have been far from impressive. The only exceptions—the “success stories”—frequently cited widely by literatures are those campaigns or programmes that captured their respective “historical moments” (Archer and Cottingham, 1996, p. 152) and/or unfolded due to the “momentum of commitment” (Lind and Johnston, 1990). Citing the successful cases of Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Russia after “revolution”, Archer et al. (1996) among others maintain that when other processes of radical social change are taking place, “any literacy methodology might work, because it is the political context that is decisive” (p. 152). For Afghanistan, 11 September 2001 and the subsequent “war on terror” discourse arguably created precisely this “historical moment” and “momentum of commitment”. However, it is the contention of this chapter that such a politically opportune moment has failed to substantially mobilize ordinary people thus far: neither for adult literacy, nor for wider nation-building efforts. Collier (2007) proposes that it is entirely reasonable that post-conflict governments “should be . . . on probation for that first decade, placed under a set of rules that define the minimum acceptable progress before untrammelled sovereignty can be achieved” (p. 152). With Afghanistan’s probationary decade drawing to a close, President Karzai declared, at a conference in Kabul in 2010, the government’s “renewed commitment to a secure, prosperous, and democratic future” and announced a “Kabul Process” that was to be seen as a “final transition” towards “full Afghan ownership, responsibility and sovereignty” (Government of Afghanistan, 2010b, p. 5). Was this a new “moment of commitment” or simply a realization-cum-declaration that the one announced ten years previously has ended in failure? Is this a time to extend and deepen previous policy directions, or a time to rethink them completely? The current chapter examines these questions from realities on the ground—the micro-level—and attempts to show ways that, in this moment of “hard decision” making and transitions, the most promising approach may be a “hybrid” approach, both for adult literacy specifically and for wider nation-building efforts more generally.

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Literacy and Nation Building in Afghanistan The three-way relationship between literacy, nationalism and establishment of modern nation-states has been a long-standing topic of academic debate. On the one hand, early scholars on literacy such as Goody (1977) and Ong (1982) associated literacy with “modern mind”. This conceptualization implicitly introduced a comparison with a “savage mind” associated with “orality”, and argued that the transition to a literate society was a prerequisite for entering the modern world. Similarly, Abadzi (2003) in a recent paper for the World Bank emphasizes “abstract” and “decontextualized” thinking as distinct characteristics of “literates”, distinctive qualities needed to become a member of “imagined communities” (Anderson, 1983). These scholars claim that there is a fundamental difference in individual cognitive process between illiterates and literates, and that this difference is a decisive catalytic for traditional societies to become “modern” nations. On the other hand, in rejection of the simplistic dichotomy between literates and illiterates, Graff (1979) terms the aforementioned thinking as “literacy myths”. Similarly, Street (1993) criticized such dichotomous discourse as a “great divide”, which actually marginalizes those “illiterates” through crude and counterproductive stereotype. However, Graff (1979) has also examined literacy and the nation-state not through analyzing individual cognitive process but with reference to hegemony and power and the effects literacy has on individuals. In his book the “Literacy Myth”, Graff quotes Levi-Strauss: And when we consider the first use to which writing was put, it would seem quite clear that it was first and foremost connected with power: it was used for inventories, catalogues, censuses and instructions; in all instances, whether the aim was to keep a check on material possessions or human beings, it was the evidence of the power exercised by some men over other men and over worldly possessions. (Levi-Strauss quoted by Graff, 1979, p. 1)

Similarly, Street (1989), using Fishman’s (1986) distinction between “nationism” and “nationalism”, has pointed out the symbolic and instrumental importance of literacy particularly for new nations which began as geographical-political entities (nationism) but sought to later become socio-cultural and ideological units (nationalism). He suggests that in such cases “the illiterate represent a challenge and a threat to the very roots of the nation: they can not even read the orders that are continually set out via bureaucracies and state institutions” and thus “the pressure to become literate . . . is in reality a pressure to join the


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nation, to wave its flag, to speak its language and write its script to identify with its imagined community” (Street, 1993, p. 7). Thus, as Graff (1979) maintains, literacy is both “act and symbol” where literacy carries some instrumental benefits to those who possess it but its possession signifies “attributes other than the abilities of reading and writing” (p. 19), most significantly the attribute of being a member of a modern nation-state. The modern history of Afghanistan also confirms such scholarly understanding of the intimate relations between literacy and nation-state building. However, Afghanistan’s history also shows how literacy, as both a symbol and an act, has often been manipulated by different power brokers. Given its historical struggle to equip a traditional and highly diverse Afghan society (socio­ economically, racially, linguistically, ideologically) with the cognitive framework to envisage the nation, literacy has been of great importance in policy-making—from the royal government attempt at eradication of illiteracy as a part of its project to build a “modern” nation-state to the communist government’s ambitious, nationwide National Literacy Campaign in the 1980s as a means of indoctrination. Literacy has been inseparable from the project of constructing the “imagined” Afghan community. Old photographs of women’s literacy classes (probably taken around Kabul sometime in the 1980s), which was given to the author by staff members of the Literacy Department of Afghan Ministry of Education in 2005, revealed the stark contrast between a young literacy teacher (wearing skirt and without scarf) with older learners, is but one visible manifestation of the aspirations of youth aspiring to be modern when facing the previous generation that “lacked” both literacy and similar aspirations in their own youth. Interestingly, it often occurred to me that those who had witnessed literacy education efforts during three different regimes, i.e. Communist, Mujahidin and Taliban regime, looked back at the Communist era as a “golden age” of literacy. As educated young elites during the time, they perceived literacy as a symbol of modernity, a driving force to the modern nation-building. Yet for them, literacy lost much of its symbolic role in the post-Taliban nation-building process, in which nominal attention (and financial support) was paid by the government, donors, and Afghans (most of whom were still “illiterate”). Nevertheless, such efforts did not successfully mobilize the Afghan population, but rather alienated large swaths of that traditional rural society (Rubin, 2002; Matsumoto, 2011a). In the worst case, such literacy campaigns, particularly those aimed at women, resulted in (often violent) resistance within villages.

Afghanistan: Adult Literacy in “Historical Moments”


During the subsequent three decades of conflict, however, literacy was never an immediate concern of power holders in terms of nation-building efforts, but rather, education (of which literacy was one objective) was directed, often explicitly, towards instilling youth with violent ideologies to mobilize their support for ongoing conflict. This is exemplified by textbooks glorifying violence used in refugee camps to promote Islamic militancy against Soviet forces (Davis, 2002) and the dramatic increase of madrassas (Islamic theological schools) (Nolan, 2006), factors which eventually manufactured large numbers of young combatants in support of the Taliban. What can this history of failed attempts at nation building teach us today and what are the implications within the field of education and, more specifically, literacy? To answer this question, Giustozzi (2010a), a noted expert on Afghanistan, suggests two alternatives: “either developing a more flexible educational system, which adapts to the demands of the communities and abandons the top-down approach, or a renewed, strengthened push for centrally managed state education” (p. 2). For Giustozzi, nation-building is a top-down effort to “forge a single nation out of disparate communities that lack a sense of commitment to a country and a state” (p. 3), and education’s role within this type of nation building is essentially indoctrination. In other words, there needs to be a greater emphasis on the symbol rather than the act. However, as he further argues, the present mix of halfpursued, half-achieved ideological agendas and indoctrination attempts seems to be “enough to create opposition, but insufficient to achieve positive results” (p. 24). In stark contrast to this conceptualization, however, Sigsgaard (2011), in the paper published by UNESCO-IIEP, asserts that rather than using education as a tool of nation building, “education should remain as non-ideological as possible and be based in communities” (p. 48)—in other words, more act than symbol. Through equitable and non-ideological education provision, “the state might one day make itself relevant to its citizens” (ibid., p. 24). In other words, the attempt is to strip education of any “ideology”, sever any links with politics and simply deliver value-free instruction, literacy courses therein. Giustozzi’s suggestion is understandably controversial given the notoriously ideological manipulation of education in Afghan history. By contrast, the latter choice, which seems to be based on education as part of a social contract, seems to be more acceptable, particularly given that donors are highly influential in policy formulation in Afghanistan. In fact, UNESCO-IIEP has provided substantial support to the Ministry of Education’s National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) that pursues such a “value-free” line (UNESCO, 2011).


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The following section examines the implications of such divergent views of education, literacy and their connections to the current situation within the country. More specifically, it seeks to contrast recent policy pronouncements on literacy with events on the ground. It suggests that literacy interventions once seized the “historical moment” in mobilizing ordinary Afghans’ commitment, but failed to maintain that momentum—a result that may have created more harm than good.

Literacy and New Nation Building in Afghanistan Before examining the Afghan case, it is necessary to turn to one of a small handful of “successful cases” of literacy campaigns where the “momentum of commitment” was achieved in a post-conflict setting. Hammond (1998), in his study on the literacy campaign in El Salvador, points out that during the guerrilla insurgency in the anti-Samoza struggle, learning specific skills to fight must be integral, but besides such instrumental rationality, only the commitment to a transcendent ideal justifies the risk and raises the morale that sustains fighters in their unequal combat. In other words, El Salvador’s experience suggests that the mutually reinforcing effects of instrumentality and the ideological aspects of education, or a hybridity between symbol and act, is the key to mobilizing and uniting people in a postconflict nation-building process. The key question is: in Afghanistan to what degree have these dual aspects of education/literacy been fostered by different players? When I first arrived in Afghanistan in 2002, the sudden removal of the Taliban and the influx of aid had understandably created a type of euphoria among ordinary Afghans who had suffered almost three decades of war. As one former local commander put it, “For a long time, I have been protecting my village with guns. Now I want to help my village with my knowledge.” As the poetic rhetoric of from “guns” to “pens” suggests, education had become, in these earliest years, a powerful symbol of peace among wider populations. The huge success of UNICEF’s Back to School Campaign (at least in terms of the number of boys and girls physically back in schools) in the early reconstruction process owed a great deal to such euphoria and the symbolic allure of education. It is now well documented that education plays a symbolic role in restoring a sense of normalcy and healing psychological wounds during the aftermath of violent conflict, and it is also good for public relations among donors as “feel-good assistance” (Shirazi, 2008). The spillover of such symbolic effect was enough to motivate the aforementioned ex-soldiers and many young learners I interviewed in 2005, who said it was the very reason they were studying in adult literacy class:

Afghanistan: Adult Literacy in “Historical Moments”


Although I have never faced serious problem by illiteracy, I felt sorry and shame for myself when I saw other boys going to school. (16-year-old male learner in the village) I felt depressed every morning when I saw my younger sisters going to school. (17-year-old female learner in the city)

However, adult literacy was the “abandoned cousin” of educational aid in the international community (Matsumoto, 2006), and thus in Afghanistan these programmes were severely lacking in capacity, support and space to absorb the growing aspirations of those “lost generations”. In effect, adult literacy education unfortunately missed the opportunity to capture this highly significant overall political momentum during the earliest days of reconstruction. It was only in 2006 that due attention began to be given to adult literacy, at a time when the emphasis within the nation-building discourse was gradually shifting from emergency aid towards development. The first national literacy curriculum framework and new national literacy primer were developed through the UNESCO-led LAND Afghan project, and the UN joint programme for literacy was also launched at that time. Coincidentally, the same year also marked the end of euphoria when the most “secure” city, Kabul, suffered the most violent demonstration by frustrated Afghans, while the Taliban revival or insurgency gained force in some provinces. The ambivalent feeling of young Kabulis reveal the atmosphere of that transitioning period: I am not so optimistic about education. I believe in education is good . . . but when I look at the literacy teachers, they are educated but they are poor. I don’t think there is [a] big difference between literates and illiterates in terms of poverty. (young male learner in the city)

Ironically, but also very much in line with the mood of that time, a lesson at the end of the newly developed national literacy primer read:

Controlling Unnecessary Expectation Some people have very unrealistic expectations and when they fail to achieve what they expected it causes them mental stress. It is parents’ and teachers’ job to prevent children from unnecessary expectations and explain them the harms [sic] of such expectations. (Ministry of Education, 2006, Lesson 108)

As euphoria and the symbolic value of literacy has been disappearing among ordinary Afghans, the national policy discourse has continued to frame adult


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literacy within its “instrumental value” (Bown, 1993). It tends to view literacy as “technological skills” and assumes that imparting such “skills” would generate various social, cultural, political and economical benefits. The Afghanistan Millennium Development Goals (Government of Afghanistan, 2005) views literacy as a substantial contributor to several national development goals such as universal primary education (Goal 2), gender equality and women’s empowerment (Goal 3), reduction of infant mortality (Goal 4), combating disease such as HIV/AIDS (Goal 6), as well as enhancement of political participation. The Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) has further advanced such an instrumental view of literacy, and narrowed down instrumentality of literacy more specifically to adults’ needs to “function and succeed in a market economy” (Government of Afghanistan, 2008, p. 78). Such a conception of literacy is even more visible in the recent ANDS Prioritization and Implementation Plans (Government of Afghanistan, 2010a, 2010 b). Within PIP, “functional literacy” has become a mantra of sorts, and is associated with employability and productivity within a market economy. Educational policy that relates to literacy also seems to be moving in this technological/instrumental direction. The Afghan Education Law (2008) defines literacy simply as “reading, writing, and counting” in continuum to “practical, vocational, and professional skills” (Article 35). National educational papers such as the National Education Strategic Plan (MoE, 2010), the Needs Assessment for literacy (MoE, 2008), and the National Literacy Action Plan (MoE, 2009) adopt more nuanced conception of “functionality” and attempt to address broader human functions including critical thinking, citizenship and so on. However, its programmatic implication often returns to a narrow view by emphasizing the integration of literacy and vocational/skills development training in one way or another. Recent attempts at linking literacy skills with the Afghanistan National Qualification Framework (ANQF) seem to be a clear manifestation of such employment-related views of “functional literacy”. ANQF, encompassing all types of education and training in the country (including Islamic education), aims to specify learning outcomes (“knowledge”, “skills” and “competence”) for each qualification in a universally understood and accepted way, thereby helping learners to “make [an] informed decision about his/her qualification choices and to consider progression opportunities available to them” (National Qualifications Authority website). It also aims at facilitating learners “to explain to others what qualification they hold . . . which is very important when they are considering further learning, or applying for a job inside the country, or abroad” (ibid.).

Afghanistan: Adult Literacy in “Historical Moments”


The ANQF chart suggests eight levels of qualifications and specifies different job-related “characteristics” of knowledge, skills and attitude/competence from basic literacy at the bottom to a PhD at the top of its advancement pyramid. Through a quick perusal of these national policy papers, educational policy, at least that part related to literacy, seems to moving in an instrumental direction and thus towards the enactment of the “non-ideological” preference outlined in the UNESCO-IIEP document. However, in spite of the apparent “non-ideological” grounding, such approaches are neither as straightforward nor as unproblematic as they might first appear. As Cervero (1980, cited in Scribner, 1984) confirms, “it is not logically possible to define this universe of behaviors [which compose functional competence] without respect to a value position” (p. 163)—in other words “ideology”. ANQF seems to be a clear manifestation of such a value position with its hierarchical pyramid of knowledge, skills and competence: those who are nominally literate are characterized as being only appropriate for repetitive/routine work under direct/continuous supervision whereas those highly literate (PhD) at the top of pyramid are depicted almost as an ideal worker (critical, innovative, creative, IT savvy, and having strong commitment and leadership). The problem with such an image is that it not only excludes more than 70 per cent of the available Afghan workforce who lack even nominal literacy skills, but also ignores labour market realities in Afghanistan. In reality, the labour market in Afghanistan exhibits all the typical characteristics of a “less developed” economy (MRRD, 2009): it is dominated by the agricultural sector and performs poorly in providing productive employment and sustainable work (more than 90 per cent of jobs can be classified as vulnerable employment that does not ensure stable and sufficient income). Nevertheless, efforts on functional literacy or ANQF give the false impression that through progression of individual skills Afghanistan will eventually be responsive to “market demands” and be able to tap into the “knowledge economy”, producing/ profiting from “global markets”. Allais (2003) has pointed out a similar situation in the case of South Africa: its National Qualification Framework tends to be trapped in a similar neo-liberal economic agenda rather than its democratic agenda to transform the elitist and divided education/training system. However, as I argued in a previous article (Matsumoto, 2011b), such an “ideology” generated by development has already lost its credibility in current Afghanistan where drugs and bribes are the two largest income generators (UN Information Service, 2011). In response to the studies of Ferguson (2005) and Rappleye (2011), I analyzed growing discontent among the Afghan population (particularly youth) in which today’s “success” stories are increasingly seen as “proving the power, not


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of education and developmental uplift, but of luck, ruthlessness, or even criminality” (Ferguson, 2005, p. 16). Policy papers often depict illiterate Afghans as being ignorant of the benefits of literacy, and that their awareness of the importance of literacy needs to be raised “through the mass media, the religious ulema and school teachers” to “increase their motivation to participate in literacy courses” (MoE, 2010, p. 99). However, it is more likely the case that the collapse of this development-led ideology rather than instrumental rationality will be the decisive factor in lowering motivation among ordinary Afghans for literacy instruction. Implicitly recognizing this, the National Education Strategic Plan (MoE, 2010) has recently suggested “incentives” such as food to increase attendance at literacy courses. In fact, such “incentives” have increasingly become the norm in literacy efforts on the ground. However, compounded with weak coordination among different players and limited accessibility to the field (due to the deteriorating security situation), such incentives have created a number of serious, unintended consequences. In some villages that enjoy a better security situation and accessibility, several agencies have set up literacy classes. This allows learners (and teachers) to chose one (or a few) among literacy classes set up by, for example, UNICEF, UNESCO, UN-Habitat or NGOs depending on the various “incentives” those classes offer (such as food rations for learners, vocational training, better salaries for teachers, etc.). Yet, such a donor-led “turf battle” has not only wasted limited resources but also further strengthened the sense of “entitlement” rather than commitment among a lucky few, which in turn lowers the credibility of such efforts among the majority of “have nots”.

Learners’ Motivation: Islam as Asset or Liability? What then can motivate ordinary Afghans to genuinely participate in literacy programmes or to become literate? A small-scale survey for 800 literacy learners and focus group interviews with which I was involved in Bamiyan in 2009 and 2010 have shown some interesting results. After nine months of hard work (two hours a day, six days a week), whilst many learners show impressive progress in reading/writing/maths skills (measured by standardized paper assessment), survey results shows that the practicality of such newly acquired skills was marginal, at best. The interviewees consistently expressed the view that they utilized their new skills in their daily life or workplace (most male respondents were farmers) only to very limited degree. This was even more true among women, given their limited mobility outside the family circle. Even those women,

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who regularly go to market or other public places such as hospitals, seem to have a range of alternative strategies which compensate for their nominal literacy/ numeracy skills (typically taking their literate family members with them). Many respondents expressed a desire to read magazines and newspapers if they were more widely available and easier to read with their basic skills. Both for men and women, writing/reading a letter to their family and relatives (those living outside of Afghanistan) is the most often cited new literacy practice, although mobile phones have become the more common and easiest means of communication for them. In fact, these results are not very surprising given the still limited necessity for literacy, particularly in rural Afghan society. Nevertheless, almost all graduates I interviewed also said they experienced great changes in family and community relationship, male—female relationships and in improvement of health and sanitation as a result of the programme. They cited that these were the most important motivators for them to continue their struggle to become literate. Female participants, in particular, often expressed the sense of “empowerment” that literacy brought to them: Men treat the women differently now . . . I am old and I wanted to be on the Community Development Council (CDC) but my husband wouldn’t support it but now he accepts it and I am on the CDC. (village woman in her 40s) Before, we thought it was shame for men and women to sit together, but now we have the courage to sit and talk with them. (village woman in her 30s)

Although tangible achievements such as those cited above, are not very common, questionnaire survey results also revealed that more than 80 per cent reported an “increased sense of empowerment” and “self-confidence” as the most improved aspects of their life after nine months of literacy programmes. Most remarkably, however, almost 90 per cent of respondents attributed such a sense of empowerment and self-confidence to learning “religious subjects” at the literacy class and “strengthened religious belief ” through such learning. Rogers (2003, quoted by Robinson-Pant, 2008) usefully identifies three reasons why people are motivated to learn to read and write. Some adults want to acquire literacy skills for reasons related to social status (symbolic). Others want to learn literacy skills in order to accomplish a literacy tasks (instrumental). A third group pursue literacy skills for the opportunities these will provide (for example, to get a driving licence or “incentives”). As the results of surveys and interviews indicate, instrumentality motivation seems less significant for the learners. Opportunityrelated motivation is possible since the programme was expected to provide short-term skills development training for the selected few graduates of the literacy


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class. However, the results suggest that religion seems to be the most powerful motivator for the learners in this case. This at first seems rather unexpected. While Islam is one of the six themes within the literacy primer (along with “economy”, “health and environment”, “peace, security and human rights”, “agriculture and livestock” and “life skills”), the information the primer provides to the learners seems very limited. Nevertheless, how can such a sense of “religious empowerment” among many participants in adult literacy programmes be explained? It may be due to the “social desirability of responses” (Abadzi, 2003) or the “symbolic value” associated with religion, as suggest by ethnographic studies generally termed “New Literacy Studies”. One reason could be that religious subjects among others within the literacy primer seem to be the only topics that facilitate relatively “active” learning among participants. From my interviews and observation, one illustrative example is that participants who were Shiite Muslim actively contested religious content described in the primer which is largely based on the Sunni sect, the majority in Afghanistan. Such opportunities seems to be very rare given the “chalk and talk” learning approach normally adopted by nominally trained literacy facilitators/teachers. However, my intention here, being no more than “impressionistic” since the security situation prevents something more rigorous, is not to suggest a new perspective on such phenomena but rather to turn due attention to the role of Islam—an aspect of society which has been controversial at best or treated as “see no evil” (Shirazi, 2008) for a long time within development discourse in Afghanistan. Some point out that Islam is the only “cement that still keeps the Afghans together” (Karlsson and Mansoury, 2004) and has the potential to mobilize national unity in a fragmented Afghan society. However, within educational discourse, Islam tends to be treated as a “blindfold to democratic values and human rights ideals” (Shirazi, 2008, p. 213), particularly against the backdrop of the “war on terror”. This is largely because of the now notorious madrassas which have become a potent symbol as “hate factories” since the 9/11 attacks, evoking condemnation and fear among Western countries (Bergen and Pandey, 2006). Although none of the 19 hijackers were Taliban and most went through “secular” education rather than a madrassa, fear and suspicion of these so-called “weapons of mass instruction” (Bergen and Pandey, 2006; Coulson, 2004) have been wrongly extended to Islamic education as a whole and even Islamic teaching within general education. In Afghanistan, most donors express serious concerns about “religious” schools and education, and (financial and technical) contributions to this area have been negligible although “modernizing” and “moderating” Islamic education has been one of the priorities of the Ministry of Education.

Afghanistan: Adult Literacy in “Historical Moments”


Recently, some studies have turned their attention to potential roles both within education and wider nation building in Afghanistan. For example, Yazdi (2008) turns to a network of Turkish schools that has been operating for decades in tribal Pakistan’s impoverished Pashtun zones as a mean to “Islamic education built on modern principles of inclusion and tolerance”. Karlsson and Mansoury (2004) also suggest the complementary (rather than conflictual) role Islam can play in modern education. Importantly, Shirazi (2008) pointed out that support for Islamic education has historically been a US foreign policy tool in Afghanistan by identifying a distinct period in which American support for education has cast Islam as “a social force compatible with the goals of economic progress and modernity” (p. 213). According to Shirazi’s study, beginning in the 1950s, American educational consultants helped design and implement a education system in Afghanistan that emphasized the compatibility of Islam with “Western” philosophies and sought to harmonize Western thought with Islam in order to promote economic development and social change along free-market-friendly lines. Such understanding of Islam as an “asset” rather than “liability” in education in such early days is not only impressive but such a hybridity of Islam and West also gives us a fresh insight on the now stagnant nation-building processes in Afghanistan.

Conclusion While there has been substantial progress in some sectors such as education during the past decade, the current status of Afghanistan is far from promising: a deteriorating security situation, rampant corruption, poor governance, and aid-dependent unsustainable economic growth. In effect, the Berlin-based Transparency International ranks Afghanistan as the second most corrupt country after Somalia out of the 178 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index 2010. Similarly, the Fund for Peace ranks Afghanistan at the seventh of 177 countries in its Failed State Index 2011, highlighting the highest dependency on external intervention and the lowest level of state legitimacy. It is in this context that “Afghanization” is now widely embraced at the highest levels. Yet beneath such a catchy phrase, there seems to be a typical fingerpointing battle between the two sides. From the Afghan government side, there is a recognition of the failure of the donor-driven nation-building process, thus “the start of the Kabul Process represents a turning point” from the past when “programs were largely prepared and implemented by international cooperation partners”, and an optimism that “now the Afghan Government . . . have the


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leadership and institutional capabilities to realize the full benefits of a National Priority Program approach” (Government of Afghanistan, 2010a, p. 4). On the other hand, “Afghanization” might be convenient for US and others in allowing them to exit “without losing face”. It is interesting to note that some four decades ago President Nixon used a strikingly similar phrase, “Vietnamization” (Sheehan, 1988) to shift the responsibility for a failed war onto the local population. While there is no point in arguing which side deserves to bear the blame for the current situation, it is more pressing to ask: what are the hard decisions Afghans now have to make for their future? It seems that “hard decisions” tend to be translated into pragmatic compromises both in policy discourse and on the ground. For example, the Ministry of Education allowed certain parts of school textbooks to be ignored or even have certain pages torn out of the books based on local decisions (Giustozzi, 2010a). According to the author’s experiences, similar arrangements with the Taliban are in fact a prerequisite for starting literacy classes in previously Taliban-controlled areas. The government’s recent plea that female TV news presenters avoid heavy make-up and wear a headscarf to observe Islamic and cultural ethics has sparked suspicion that the directive was designed to impress the Taliban (Reuters, 2012). In the meantime, a surprise announcement of the opening of a political office in Qatar might suggest that the Taliban are is also attempting to “impress” the other side by demonstrating the group’s willing to negotiate. Amid such developments, there are growing concerns as to what lengths such “pragmatic compromise” can be extended. Here, rather than being as an asset, Islam seems to become a sort of common ground where such a pragmatic compromise might be negotiated and formulated. As Suhrke (2010) argues, whilst traditionally, religion and nationalism have been the main sources of legitimacy for Afghan regimes and the Afghan state, neither can serve to legitimize the post-Taliban Afghanistan nation-building venture where “the government is financed by and allied to the West, and where its Western allies are fighting other Afghans who have declared jihad to rid the country of the infidel foreign presence and its local clients” (p. 7). Thus nation builders (including the government, the Western aid community and the UN) must have developed an alternative legitimizing ideology: “good governance”, as Suhrke suggests, or perhaps “global market orthodoxy” as I described earlier in this chapter. However, unlike Islam and nationalism, such “imported” ideologies exert “no force merely by virtue of its ideational existence; it has to deliver” (p. 7). Looking at literacy efforts in Afghanistan, after a decade of failure to deliver, the prospects of mobilizing Afghanis on a large scale at this renewed historical “turning point” seem dim. But I suggest there is still hope. Of course, that is not to say that Islam is the “answer”, as this modest case study suggests. Economic

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growth is certainly necessary, which would definitely create the necessity to learn and use literacy. Afghanistan has recently been estimated to have $3 trillion worth of mineral reserves, including iron ore, copper, precious stones, oil, gas and gold, and recent billion dollar contracts for the huge Hajigak iron ore reserves is expected to bring billions of dollars in mining investment and thousands of new jobs to Afghanistan (Reuters, 2011b). Yet, economic development by these means of exploiting abundant natural resources does not necessarily guarantee a bright, peaceful or educated future. Rubin (2002) suggests that the term “rentier state” is particularly relevant to the history of recent conflicts in Afghanistan. However, Suhrke (2010) maintains that the massive aid inflows in post-Taliban Afghanistan further deepened this historic precedent, and that the current government is, in fact, more dependent upon international capital than previous Afghan regime. Revenues from natural resources could thus only further diminish incentives for the political elite to be accountable to its citizens, what Collier (2007) terms a “resource trap”. Thus, as I argued previously, if education is essentially “ideological” as opposed to the “secular” or “technical” education advocated by Western donors, more thoughtful attention needs to be paid to the potential role of Islam within literacy/education and wider development efforts. However, news of nationwide protests over the Koran burning (by an American pastor in Florida in 2011, and more recently at the USA-led Bagram airbase), which led to the unfortunate deaths of several UN workers and protesters (Reuters, 2011a) might further exacerbate the violent image of Islam in the non-Muslim world. Thus, I would like to conclude this chapter by referring to the little known but remarkable work of Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Departing from stereotypical images of Islam as a violent religion (and also the Pashtun’s violent culture such as “Pashtunwali”), Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890–1988), the leader of the Pashtun tribe in then northern India (today the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan) confirmed that Islam could be an asset or peace dividend to current stagnated nation-building efforts in Afghanistan. According to Johansen (1997) and Ozcelik and Ayse Dilek Ogretir (2010), despite imprisonment, inhumane treatment and frequent British attempts at intimidation, Abdul Ghaffar Khan organized the group known as the Khudai Khidmatgars (Servants of God). As a Muslim follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he emphasized the Qur’anic injunction that “He who forgives and is reconciled, his reward is with God” (Qur’an, 42:39, quoted by Johansen, 1997) and mobilized a non-violent social movement. Depicting Abdul Ghaffar Khan as a role model might be controversial, given the emerging trends of ethnic division (Giustozzi, 2010b) and sectarian violence against Shiite Muslims. However, his work, as Johansen (1997) suggests, give


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us an encouraging possibility of a different route; one that finds a middle path in debates between religious fanaticism and secular liberalism or pragmatic compromise, but also one inspiring for its religious faithfulness, bold action for change and non-violent approach.

References Abadzi, H. (2003). Improving Adult Literacy Outcomes: Lessons from Cognitive Research for Developing Countries. Washington, DC: World Bank. Allais, S. (2003). “The National Qualifications Framework in South Africa: a democratic project trapped in a neo-liberal paradigm?” Journal of education and work, 16, 3: 305–24. Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined Communities. London and New York: Verso. Archer, D. and Cottingham, S. (1996). “Action research report on reflect–The Experiences of Three REFLECT Pilot Projects in Uganda, Bangladesh, El Salvado”. Education Research Paper, 17. Bergen, P. and Pandey, S. (2006). “The madrassa scapegoat”. Washington Quarterly, 29, 2: 115–25. Bown, L. (1993). “Preparing the Future by Changing the Present” In T. Allsop and C. Brock (eds), Key Issues in Educational Development: Oxford Studies in Comparative Education, 3 (2): 109–29. Oxford: Triangle. Collier, P. (2007). The Bottom Billion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Coulson, A. (2004). “Education and indoctrination in the Muslim world. Is there a problem? What can we do about it?” Policy Analysis, 511: 1–36. Davis, C. (2002). “ ‘A’ is for Allah, ‘J’ is for Jihad”. World Policy Journal (Spring): 90–94. Ferguson, J. (2005). “Decomposing Modernity: history and hierarchy after development”, in A. Loomba, S. Kabul, M. Bunzi, A. M. Burton and J. Esty (eds), Postcolonial Studies and Beyond. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. 166–81. Fishman, J. (1968). “Nationality-Nationalism and Nation-Nationism”, in J. Fishamn, C. Ferguson and J. D. Gupta (eds), Language Problems of Developing Nations. New York: John Wiley and Sons, pp. 39–51. Giustozzi, A. (2010a). Nation-building is not for all: The politics of education in Afghanistan. Kabul: Afghanistan Analysts Network. —(2010b). Between Patronage and Rebellion: Student Politics in Afghanistan. Briefing Paper Series. Kabul: Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit. Goody, J. (1977). The Domestication of the Savage Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Government of Afghanistan (2005). Millennium Development Goals, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Country Report 2005: Vision 2020. Kabul: Government of Afghanistan.

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—(2008). Afghanistan National Development Strategy (1387–1391/2008–2013). Kabul: Government of Afghanistan. —(2010a). The Afghanistan National Development Strategy Prioritization and Implementation Plan (Mid 2010–Mid 2013), Volume 1. Kabul: Government of Afghanistan. —(2010b). The Afghanistan National Development Strategy Prioritization and Implementation Plan (Mid 2010–Mid 2013), Volume 2. Kabul: Government of Afghanistan. Graff, H. (1979). The Literacy Myth: Literacy and Social Structure in the Nineteenth Century City. New York and London: Academic Press. Hammond, J. L. (1998). Fighting to Learn: Popular education and guerrilla war in El Salvador. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Johansen, C. (1997). “Radical Islam and Nonviolence: A Case Study of Religious Empowerment and Constraint among Pashtuns”. Journal of Peace Research, 34, 1 (February): 53–71. Karlsson, P. and Mansoury, A. (2004). Islamic and Modern Education in Afghanistan– Conflictual or Complementary? Stockholm: Institute of International Education Stockholm University. Lind, A. and Johnston, A. (1990). Adult Literacy in the Third World: A Review of Objectives and Strategies. Stockholm: Swedish Agency for International Development Cooperation Matsumoto, Y. (2006). Educational Dimensions of Nation-building Within Afghanistan: The Imperative of Adult Literacy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. —(2011a). “UNESCO Kabul’s capacity development work in literacy: An irreconcilable dilemma?” in M. Sigsgaard (ed.), On the Road to Resilience: Capacity Development with the Ministry of Education in Afghanistan. Paris: UNESCO-IIEP. —(2011b). “Young Afghans in ‘transition’: towards Afghanisation, exit or violence?” Conflict, Security and Development, 11, 5: 555–78. Ministry of Education (MoE) (2006). National Basic Literacy Primer. Kabul: Ministry of Education. —(2008). Education Law. Kabul: Ministry of Education. —(2008). Needs Assessment for literacy. Kabul: Ministry of Education. —(2009). National Literacy Action Plan. Kabul: Ministry of Education. —(2010). National Education Strategic Plan (1389–1393). Kabul: Ministry of Education. Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) (2009). National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment 2007/2008. A profile of Afghanistan. Kabul: Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development. National Qualifications Authority. Nolan, L. (2006). Afghanistan, Education, and the Formation of the Taliban. MA thesis, Tufts University, Medford, USA. Ong, W. J. (1982). Orality and Literacy, The Technologizing of the Word. New York: Methuen.


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Ozcelik, S. and Ayse Dilek Ogretir, A. D. (2010). “Islamic Peace Paradigm and Islamic Peace Education: The Study of Islamic Nonviolence in Post-September 11 World”. Journal of Globalization for the Common Good. Rappleye, J. (2011). “Different Presumptions about Progress, Divergent Prescriptions for Peace: connections between conflict, ‘development’ and education in Nepal”, in J. Paulson (ed.), Education, Conflict and Development. Oxford: Symposium Books, pp. 59–98. Reuters (2011a). Karzai urges calm as six die in Afghan Koran protests. 22 February. —(2011b). Afghanistan awards 3 blocks at Hajigak to Indian group. 28 November. —(2011c). Afghanistan’s allies pledge to stay for long haul. 6 December. —(2012). Afghan govt asks for headscarves, less make-up on TV. 15 February. Robinson-Pant, A. (2008). “Why Literacy Matters: Exploring A Policy Perspective on Literacies, Identities and Social Change”. Journal of Development Studies, 44, 6: 779–96. Rubin, B. (2002). The Fragmentation of Afghanistan. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Scribner, S. (1984). “Literacy in three metaphors”. American Journal of Education, 93: 6–21. Sheehan, N. (1988). A bright shining lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. New York: Random House. Shirazi, R. (2008). “Islamic Education in Afghanistan: Revisiting the United States’ Role”. New Centennial Review, 8, 1: 211–33. Suhrke, A. (2010). The Case for a Light Footprint: The international project in Afghanistan. The Anthony Hyman Memorial Lecture, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Sigsgaard, M. (ed.) (2011). On the Road to Resilience: Capacity Development with the Ministry of Education in Afghanistan. Paris: UNESCO-IIEP. Street, B. (1989). Literacy, Nationalism, and Assessment. New York: Literacy Center, Teachers College, Columbia University. —(1993). “Introduction: the new literacy studies”, in B. V. Street (ed.), Literacy in Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–21. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) (2011). EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011: The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education. Paris: UNESCO. UN Information Service (2011). “Antonio Maria Costa, ‘Drain the Swamp of Corruption in Afghanistan’, Says UNODC”. 19 January. West, B. (2011). The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan. New York: Random House. Yazdi, H. (2008). Education and Literacy in Afghanistan: Lessons of History and Prospects for Change. (15 December 2011).


Iran: Three-Dimensional Conflicts Keiko Sakurai

Introduction The history of Iranian education is marked by institutional duality, ideological conflict and competing strategies and goals. The introduction of the modern system in the mid-nineteenth century challenged the monopoly of knowledge long held by Islamic seminaries. By the first half of the twentieth century, statecontrolled education based on the European model had become mainstream, overshadowing the Islamic seminary system. However, the financially independent seminaries successfully maintained their autonomy from the state and revitalized themselves after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, producing a majority of the political elite. This institutional duality is a distinctive feature of the Iranian education system. Ideological rivalry between Islam and nationalism constitutes another key characteristic of Iranian education. The Pahlavi regime (1925–79) advocated nationalism, particularly emphasizing the glory of pre-Islamic Persian empires, but tried to minimize the influence of Islam, especially in the public sphere. Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic (1979 to the present), at least in the first decade of its existence, denounced nationalism as an alien ideology and tried to unify the population under the banner of Islam. Throughout the history of Iranian education, competing goals and strategies have substantially impacted the course of educational development. Particularly important have been issues of qualitative development, quality improvement and gender equality. Focusing on these three dimensions, this chapter provides an overview of the development of modern education and its relation to the seminary in Iran.


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Institutional Duality The introduction of state-controlled education Until the introduction of the modern system, Iranian education had been monopolized by clerics specializing in the religious sciences. Children were instructed in basic literacy, numeracy and religious education, including recitation of the Qur’an in Arabic, in a private institution known as a maktab. Girls and boys studied together until the age of nine or ten, after which girls had to study in a separate place with female instructors (Dustkah and Yagmaʾi, 2011). Boys who sought further schooling entered a madrasa, to study the religious sciences. Only those who wished to become scholars entered the Shi’ite Islamic seminary, known as the howzeh-ye ‘elmiyyeh, which was found in cities such as Qom, Isfahan and Mashhad in Iran, and Najaf and Karbara in Iraq. The seminary was a residential theological college run by various religious endowments. The clerical monopoly on education was challenged in 1851 by the establishment of Dar al-Fonun (the Academy of Applied Sciences), modelled after French polytechnics. The founder of Dar al-Fonun, Amir Kabir (1807–52), the chief minister to Naser al-Din Shah (r. 1848–96) of the Qajar dynasty (1779–1925), invited instructors from European countries such as France and Austria to train military officers, physicians and technocrats in Iran. Some of the graduates of Dar al-Fonun were sent to Europe for further study, later playing an important role in introducing modern sciences and ideas to Iran (Ringer, 2001, pp. 67–94). Following Dar al-Fonun, modern educational institutions such as the School of Political Science (1899), the College of Agriculture at Karaj (1902), the School of Fine Arts (1911), the Boys’ Normal School (1918) and the School of Law (1921) were established to produce government officers, professionals and teachers (Arasteh, 1969, pp. 32–4). The development of primary education trailed behind, beginning in the late nineteenth century on a private initiative. The Society of Education (Anjoman-e Ma‘aref), which was organized in 1898 and played a vital role in promoting primary education, was often condemned by clerics as anti-Islamic (Ringer, 2001, pp. 187–94). The legal framework for modern education was established by Articles 18 and 19 of the Supplementary Constitutional Law of 1907, which prescribed government responsibility for establishing and funding schools to be administered through the Ministry of Science and Arts (later the Ministry of

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Iran: Three-Dimensional Conflicts


Education). The Fundamental Law of Education in 1911 made primary education compulsory, while the Supreme Council of Education, established in 1921, promoted centralized administration (Menashri, 1992, pp. 76–9; Arasteh, 1969, pp. 222–33). These laws enabled the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, Reza Shah (r. 1925–41), to develop a state-controlled education system that comprised six years each of primary (dabestan) and secondary (dabirestan) schooling. In 1935, Tehran University was inaugurated as the first Iranian university, quickly becoming the leading institution for higher learning and a major source of bureaucrats and experts. Five years after its establishment, Tehran University accepted its first female students (Menashri, 1992, pp. 108, 143–54). Reza Shah, who dreamed of transforming Iran into a secular state, introduced various measures to exclude clerical influence from public affairs, including education, and tried to confine their activities to the domain of personal status and religious rituals (ibadat). A further challenge to the clerical monopoly was the creation of the Faculty of Theology in Tehran University, providing an alternative source of religious education (Akhavi, 1980, pp. 23, 38). In August 1941, the allied powers Britain and the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Iran. Reza Shah was forced to abdicate, and his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (r. 1941–79), was crowned as the second king of the Pahlavi dynasty. The construction of state universities in major provincial cities such as Tabriz (1947), Mashhad (1949), Shiraz (1949), Isfahan (1950) and Ahvaz (1955) followed in the wake of World War Two. Rising primary school enrolment boosted that of secondary schools, and subsequently, the number of university applicants. An increase in oil revenue, especially from the oil boom of 1973, enabled the government to open new universities, in both Tehran and the provincial cities, in order to accommodate the growing number of applicants, and to offer scholarships to underprivileged students. During the reign of Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, the total number of students in college and university grew from 3367 in 1941–2 to 154,215 in 1976–7 (Menashri, 1992, p. 216). Meanwhile, in 1975 there were approximately 10,350 students enrolled at Iranian seminaries (Fischer, 1980, p. 77).

Re-emergence of seminaries Quantitative development across the system made modern education the mainstream. The maktab had declined in prominence, and the seminary was no longer regarded as the highest seat of learning. Yet this marginalization did


Education in West Central Asia

not lead to the integration of the seminary into the state-controlled education system, and it maintained traditional styles of management and teaching, remaining the sole institution to train jurisprudential authorities (mujtahid) and continuing to monopolize the interpretation of Islamic law. Ayatollah Borujerdi (1875–1961), a Qom-based cleric who was regarded as the highest Shi’ite jurisprudent authority (marja‘al-taqlid) after 1947, prohibited clerical involvement in politics, a measure that helped to avert a direct confrontation between the seminary and the government. The death of Borujerdi in 1961 and the beginning of the White Revolution, a reform programme initiated by the monarch in 1963, were pivotal in the relationship between the Pahlavi regime and the seminary system. In 1963, Ayatollah Khomeini (1902–89), later to become the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, openly criticized the Pahlavi monarch’s autocratic rule and dependency on the United States, and was arrested as a result. His arrest led to a confrontation between the regime and the seminaries, and Khomeini was exiled in 1964 (Momen, 1985, pp. 255–6). In spite of political attempts to control seminary affairs, religious endowments and alms enabled continued financial independence, and Khomeini successfully disseminated his criticism against the monarch from his exile in the Iraqi Shi’ite centre of Najaf. The relative independence of the seminaries was crucial in mobilizing the anti-Pahlavi movements that eventually overthrew the regime. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic, issued in 1980, defined the “government of jurisprudent authority” (velayat-e faqih), a doctrine developed by Ayatollah Khomeini, as the fundamental structure of the Islamic Republic, and important public offices were consequently occupied by clerics, the product of a seminary education. Interestingly, the emergence of the theocratic regime did not end the institutional duality of education, and, ironically, the new, clerical leaders found the state-controlled education system an easier target than the seminaries for remodelling. Although Khomeini proclaimed that the Islamic state would subsidize seminaries, most opted for financial independence (Sakurai, 2011, p. 37). As a result, the state utilized not the seminary, but the modern education system, to inculcate its ideology and mobilize the youth in the subsequent war against Iraq (1980–8). A drastic change was also implemented in the universities. In response to Ayatollah Khomeini’s speech, “The Meaning of Cultural Revolution” (April 1980), the Headquarters of the Cultural Revolution (reorganized into the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council in 1984, as the highest authority in educational affairs) was established to implement Islamization (Khomeini, 1985, 295–9). All universities were closed down

Iran: Three-Dimensional Conflicts


in June 1980, and both faculty and students, especially left-wing supporters defying the consolidation of clerical rule, were expelled. Clerics were mobilized to revise the curriculum and textbooks, especially those of the humanities and social sciences, to reflect Islamic values, thus increasing clerical influence in university affairs (Entessar 1984, pp. 55–62; Levers, 2006, pp. 159–61). The extension of state power over seminary affairs was implemented by Ayatollah Khamenei, who succeeded to the position of the supreme leader of the state in 1989, after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini. Ayatollah Khamenei established the High Council of Seminaries and put pressure on seminaries to accept its supervision. The purpose of this council was to apply a unified system of management and a standardized curriculum and examination. The council organized the Management Centre for Qom Seminaries, in order to transform the traditional seminary education, which had consisted of “preliminaries” (moqadamat), a middle level course called “texts” (satuh), and the most advanced course, “beyond texts” (dars-e kharej), into a university-style education system. The other remarkable change was the provision of official seminary education for women. The first official seminary for women, Jamiat al-Zahra, was established in 1984 by the sanction of Ayatollah Khomeini. The popularity of Jamiat al-Zahra prompted many more, raising the total number of seminaries to 320 by 2011. In contrast to male seminaries, whose goal is to train mujtahid, women’s seminaries aim at training educators and propagandists to disseminate the official ideology of the Islamic Republic. Women’s seminaries were also placed under the supervision of High Council of Seminaries, and adopted the university-style education system, in which students could obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree, a measure allowing them to proceed to postgraduate courses in universities, or obtain jobs in education. The adoption of the university system in seminaries, together with the Islamization of the university curriculum, lowered the barriers between seminaries and universities, and facilitated the interchange of personnel. Though male dominance over the seminary system remained intact, the increasing number of seminary-educated women reinforced pluralism, if not democratization, in the religious sphere. The systematic acceptance of overseas students into seminaries is also a post-revolutionary phenomenon. In 1986, the International Centre for Islamic Studies was founded to facilitate overseas recruitment and develop courses, including Persian language training, suitable for non-Iranian students. This centre became al-Mustafa International University, a university-style seminary for non-Iranian students, in 2008 (Sakurai, 2011, pp. 36–43).


Education in West Central Asia

Bridging the gap Though institutional duality persists, the government has attempted to bridge the gap between the two systems of education, through the “seminary and university” programme. Since the Cultural Revolution, clerics have engaged in the Islamization of universities, becoming deeply involved in the preparation of curriculum and textbooks and the appointment of staff. Meanwhile, Islamic seminaries now include modern subjects, such as the social sciences, English and IT, and sometimes host visiting university lecturers. University students are encouraged to participate in seminary classes, and seminary students are encouraged to obtain university degrees in order to increase their employability. To facilitate seminarians to obtain university degrees, new institutions, such as Mofid University (founded by Ayatollah Musavi Ardebili in 1989) and Baqir al-‘Ulum University (founded by the Islamic Propagation Office of the Qom Seminaries in 1992, recognized as a university in 2003), were established in Qom. In 1983, Imam Sadiq University was opened in Tehran by Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani as a university that aims to unite seminary and academic education, by teaching both at the same time. Like traditional seminaries, Imam Sadiq University is financially independent and is one of the most important suppliers of the elites in the Islamic Republic. Such institutions blur the distinction between seminary and university, and facilitate the engagement of clerics in non-clerical works.

Ideological Rivalry Pre-Islamic civilization and nationalism Iranian education has long been involved in politics. “Knowledge is power” was the motto on the cover of state-prescribed textbooks printed during the reign of Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. After the Islamic Revolution, this was superseded by “Education is a belief ”. “Knowledge is power” is a quotation from the national epic by Ferdowsi (940–1020), The Book of Kings (shah-nameh), which relates the stories of heroic kings from the mythical age through to the Sasanid dynasty (226–651). Due to its exemplary Persian, minimal Arabic borrowings and heroic tales, the Pahlavi regime regarded The Book of Kings as the ideal text through which to teach a nationalism based on the glory of pre-Islamic Persian emperors, and therefore episodes from this work were introduced into school textbooks (Sakurai, 1999).

Iran: Three-Dimensional Conflicts


The goal of state-controlled education was to create a secular state after the example of the West. The Persian language was considered instrumental to the unification of the “Persian” people, despite the fact that Iran is a multi-ethnic and multilingual country. Persian became the language of instruction, even in regions populated by linguistic minorities. In 1935, the Academy for the Persian Language (farhangestan-e zaban-e Iran) was established to facilitate “purging the Persian language of inappropriate foreign words” (Jazayeri, 1999), and this newly purified Persian was disseminated throughout government-controlled schools. Despite strong resistance, the Ministry of Education opened the Physical Education Bureau in 1928 in order to promote physical education in schools, but the actual development began after the establishment of the National Society of Physical Education in 1934. Large-scale athletic and scout meetings have been held on various occasions since the mid-1930s, as national events attended by ministers, military officers, members of the royal family and even the monarch himself, becoming an important means of cultivating patriotism and loyalty to the monarch (Koyagi, 2009, pp. 1671–2). Muhammad Reza Pahlavi strengthened this policy. In 1963, the Organization for Iranian School Textbooks (sazman-e ketabha-ye darsi-ye Iran) was established to publish standard textbooks under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. The publication and nationwide distribution of state-prescribed textbooks, enabled through the Franklin Book Program, began for primary schools in 1966 and for junior secondary schools in 1971. School textbooks displayed pictures of the Pahlavi monarch and his family on facing pages, becoming a powerful medium for the glorification of the pre-Islamic Persian emperors and the monarch’s authority as their successor.

Islam as an ideology The success of the Islamic Revolution and the establishment of the “government of jurisprudent authority” generated dramatic changes in Iranian education. Islam became regarded as the ideological alternative to capitalism and socialism, and the state-controlled education system became the chief institution for training an ideologically committed youth. In order to reconstruct society in accordance with Islamic ideology, the government instigated the “purification” and “Islamization” of schools and curricula, on the grounds that education in the Pahlavi era had alienated students from Islamic values, producing a “westoxicated” (gharbzadeh) youth that blindly admired Western values. (Al-e Ahmad, 1983)


Education in West Central Asia

The first and most important transformation was the abolition of co-education in 1979, in accordance with Islamic gender norm, which minimizes contact between the sexes. All schools, from primary to secondary, were segregated by 1982, with the sole exception of boys’ primary schools, where female teachers are still allowed to teach. Along with gender segregation, a headscarf and long garment became obligatory for all female teachers and students. The changes in curricula and textbooks were thorough. The revision of textbooks, especially in the humanities, social sciences and religion, was launched immediately after the revolution, in order to reflect the ideology of the Islamic Republic. The pre-Islamic kings were replaced by exemplary stories about the Prophet Mohammad and his descendents, especially the Twelve Shi’ite Imams. Any topics or materials that might evoke admiration of the Pahlavi monarch or the pre-Islamic emperors was carefully eliminated and replaced by materials that celebrated the spirit of self-sacrifice and revolutionary zeal, and denounced nationalism as anti-Islamic. It is noteworthy that the intention was to transform society into an “Islamized society”, marked by a politicized Islam that governed both private and public life, strict enforcement of religious law and the rule of religio-political authorities (Mehran, 1989, 1990, 2003; Nafisi 1992). To ensure the dedication of school teachers to Islamic ideology, some were labelled “westoxicated” and forced into resignation or re-education. Article 12 of the Constitution guarantees precedence to Twelver Shi’ism, and, accordingly, the Shi’ite worldview is reflected in all aspects of education. Despite the provision of separate religious textbooks to officially recognize religious minorities, namely Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, these depict only the commonalities of the monotheistic religions and deliberately avoid any mention of dissimilarity among them as well as between Muslims and non-Muslims (Mehran, 2007, p. 103). Celebration of religio-political events is an essential component of postrevolutionary school life. Students are instructed in the ideals of the Islamic Revolution, the authority of the supreme leader of the state, the spirit of self-sacrifice, and the historical and contemporary enemies of Iran, through activities such as morning assembly, art, the recitation of verses from the Qur’an and other religious texts, dramatic performance and processions. It is the responsibility of discipline instructors (morabbiyan-e parvareshi) appointed in every school since the revolution to implement programmes in commemoration of the Iranian Revolution (22 Bahman), Islamic Republic Day (12 Farvardin), Khomeini’s death-day (14 Khordad), the revolt of Khordad 15, the Nationalization of the Oil Industry (29 Esfand), “students’ day” (ruz-e

Iran: Three-Dimensional Conflicts


daneshamuz, 13 Aban), National Teachers’ Day (12 Ordibehest), Qods Day (Last Friday of Ramadan), the Martyrdom of the third Shi’ite imam (ashura), Ghadir Khumm (the appointment of the first imam by the Prophet Mohammad), the anniversary of the Shi’ite imams’ deaths, the birthday of the twelfth imam, and many others. Out-of-school activities such as camping and visiting important sites have also become increasingly popular over the past two decades. Among these, visiting the battlefields of Iran–Iraq war (rayhan-e nur) has become a unique programme for transmitting the experiences of war to the younger generation. The Feast of Puberty (jashin-e taqrif), for nine-year-old girls, became a characteristic ceremony at girls’ primary schools in post-revolutionary Iran, indicating that girls have reached puberty in Islamic law and are thus ready to assume ritual obligations, such as daily prayer, and fasting during Ramadan. Students participate in the ceremony with a veil (chador) of white or a light colour, and thereafter begin learning how to offer prayer properly. Although these events are ostensibly religious, it has become increasingly clear that many schools have an inclination to nationalism, mixed with a Shi’ite identity that differentiates Iran from its Sunni neighbours. This can even be observed in a revised textbook published in the mid-1990s, which introduced Ferdowsi as the author of a great, national epic, who depicted the Iranian character and the human ideal.

Competing Goals: Priorities and Strategies Education for all: quantitative development Both the Pahlavi and the Islamic regimes admitted that quantitative development in education was politically and economically instrumental in creating a modern state. However, both regimes agonized over how to allocate limited resources among competing demands. During the Reza Shah era, there was the strong belief that basic education should be prioritized, but this principle was challenged by the rising demand for higher education. Thus, despite Reza Shah’s support for primary education, the budget was unevenly allocated to benefit higher education with concomitant effects on growth (Menashri, 1992, pp. 116–18). An important transformation took place in the reign of Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. In 1943, compulsory education was established for the first six years


Education in West Central Asia

of schooling (Menashri, 1992, p. 173). This law was intended to actualize the promise originally proclaimed in the Fundamental Law of Education in 1911. The Third Development Plan (1962–8), which included the first comprehensive education plan in Iran, stated that priority should be given to primary education and that 50% of the budget was to be distributed to primary education and literacy programmes. It also denied any plan to increase the number of universities (Plan Organization Division of Economic Affairs, 1961, pp. 89–91). In order to maximize primary school enrolment, the duration of primary education was reduced from six years to five, and a three-year intermediate programme, called a “guidance” (rahnamayi) course, was introduced in order to channel more students into vocational or technical high schools, thereby addressing the labour shortage as well as alleviating the competition for university admission. However, this measure was challenged by the popularity of university education, and it ultimately proved unsuccessful. Following the changes in primary and intermediate education, the high school curriculum was extended to four years, and the new 5-3-4 system was phased in from 1966. In keeping with these structural changes, compulsory education was extended in 1974 to include intermediate schooling (Menashri, 1992, p. 184). Another important measure in this period was the introduction of the Literacy Corps, initiated through the White Revolution in 1963. The Literacy Corps conscripted high school graduates, both men and women, as literacy instructors in the villages for teaching children between the ages of six and 12. This programme facilitated basic education in remote areas, although the achievement rate was far from satisfactory (Sabahi, 2001, pp. 191–2) The illiteracy rate above 15 years old dropped from 67.2 per cent for males and 87.8 per cent for females in 1966 to 44.2 per cent for males and 53 per cent for females in 1979. Although priority had been given to primary education in the first half of the 1960s, the balance tipped in favour of higher education in 1967, when the Ministry of Science and Higher Education was created to supervise the tertiary sector. The growing power of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education soon overshadowed the Ministry of Education, which had been assigned to supervise pre-tertiary education. During the 1970s, the growing pressure for higher education resulted in the emergence of new universities and colleges, mostly in the private sector, but demand continued to exceed supply, and the stagnation of the higher education system prompted Iranian youth to study abroad. The growth in university enrolment in the 1970s diversified the student demographic, and encouraged the upward social mobility of students from

Iran: Three-Dimensional Conflicts


low-income families. However the rich—poor gap remained wide, and the lack of a meritocratic employment system aggravated the frustration of university graduates without the personal connections to help them secure employment (Menashri, 1992, pp. 257–68). Ironically, it was the university students who had benefited from the expansion of higher education during the Pahlavi era and who became active participants in the anti-monarchy movement that eventually overthrew the Pahlavi regime (Hamdhaidari, 2008, pp. 17, 25). Upholding social justice as a revolutionary ideal, the Islamic republic tried to respond to the need for education by providing opportunities for people officially recognized as deprived (mostazafin). Shortly after the revolution, the Literacy Corps was replaced by the Literacy Movement Organization, which organized classes for both men and women nationwide, helping people excluded from education, including linguistic minorities, to acquire Persian literacy. The role of the Construction Crusades (Jihad-e Sazandegi), responsible for building infrastructure, including schools, was also significant. The creation of boarding schools and tribal schools further promoted education in rural areas. Throughout the country, boarding schools at intermediate and high school level were established for both sexes, in order to accommodate children living in remote areas. Tribal tent schools for pastoral nomads were first organized in the mid-1950s and can now be found in ten of the provinces where pastoral nomads live (Shahshahani, 1995, p. 146). The destruction of cities, and the physical and mental damage to students caused by the Iran–Iraq war, was a major obstacle to educational development during the 1980s. It was under such circumstances that the “martyr school” (madrase-ye shahed) was introduced in 1986. Martyr schools offer primary and secondary schooling for the children of martyrs and seriously handicapped veterans. In 1990, the “war veterans’ school” (madrase-ye isargaran) was established to provide secondary education for volunteer war veterans, handicapped veterans and war captives whose education had been interrupted by the war. Meanwhile, in ordinary government schools, instruction in two shifts became common, due to the lack of facilities and the escalating population. However, the gross primary enrolment ratios reached more than 100% for both boys and girls by 1990, and this boosted the gross enrolment ratio in secondary schools from 56 per cent in 1991 to 84 per cent in 1996 (UNESCO online statistics) In 1992, high school education was reduced to three years, and a certificate of high school graduation (diploma) was issued upon completion. In addition, high schools provided three different courses: academic, technical and vocational, and apprenticeship training. Those who wanted to sit the university


Education in West Central Asia

entrance examination had to attend a one-year preparation course (pishdaneshgahi). This structural alteration was intended to guide more students into the technical and vocational track and to restrict the number applying for university. However, just as before, a deep-rooted prejudice toward manual labour defeated this policy, which failed not only in channelling more students into the technical and vocational track but also in discouraging them from sitting university entrance examinations. In contrast to primary and secondary education, quantitative growth in higher education was restricted until the mid-2000s, and university entrance examinations remained fiercely competitive. During the closure of universities in the course of the Cultural Revolution, the government re-evaluated the entrance examination, and new criteria were introduced. First, a preferential quota was established to facilitate the enrolment of socioeconomically disadvantaged students. This policy was not free from political undertones, since it was believed that such people were more religious and more supportive of the Islamic republic than those from wealthy backgrounds who had been exposed to Western influence during the pre-revolutionary period. A further quota was provided for supporters of the Islamic Revolution and Iran—Iraq war, including the children of martyrs, disabled veterans, war prisoner taken by Iraq, and volunteers in the Literacy Movement and Construction Crusade. Finally, those who had passed the written examination were, until 1988, obliged to submit to an investigation of their moral and political record, to screen applicants for antirepublic or anti-revolution tendencies. Parallel to the introduction of the quota system, two measures were taken to minimize migration from rural to urban areas. The first was to meet local demand by opening higher education institutes in marginalized provinces, such as Payam-e Nur, a distant-learning government university founded in 1987. The second was to give preference to students who applied to universities close to home, so that the student body became predominantly local. Despite the effectiveness of these measures in raising the percentage of students continuing into tertiary education in marginalized provinces, they were subject to the criticism that they encouraged the overdistribution of university place to less competent applicants, since the test scores of applicants from underdeveloped regions were in general lower than those from urban areas (Sakurai, 2004, pp. 387–405). Demand for higher education increased again in the mid-1990s, when the baby boomer generation reached 18 years old. Crucial for meeting this demand was Islamic Azad University (IAU), a private university established by the clerical leaders in 1982. Admitted as an official “non-profit” university in

Iran: Three-Dimensional Conflicts


1987, IAU expanded rapidly, absorbing the students who, although excluded from government universities, could afford to pay tuition. IAU now has about 400 campuses across the country, including some in remote areas. In 2008–09, enrolment at government higher education institutes was about 1,920,000 (58.2 per cent female), while that of IAU was about 1,400,000 (41 per cent female) (Statistical Centre of Iran, 2008–9). Another alternative to full-time, government universities is Payam-e Nur, which offers less expensive tuition than IAU and has 485 centres across the country, providing post-secondary education up to doctoral level. Payam-e Nur experienced unprecedented growth during the mid-2000s, under the slogan of “higher education for all”, enrolment jumping from about 380,000 in 2005 to 1,200,000 in 2010. These initiatives enabled the quantitative growth of Iranian education: gross tertiary enrolment ratios grew from 3 per cent (male 4 per cent, female 2 per cent) in 1970 to 10 per cent (male 14 per cent, female 6 per cent) in 1990, 18 per cent (male 19 per cent, female 16 per cent) in 2000, and 37 per cent (male 35 per cent, female 38 per cent) in 2009, showing unmistakably that the 2000s witnessed the universalization of higher education (UNESCO online statistics). The Iranian population grew from about 10 million in the early 1900s to 86 million in 2010. A further challenge for the government has been the overrepresentation of young people, especially the baby boomer generation, born between 1982 and 1991, which constitute 25 per cent of the current population. In these circumstances, the gross primary enrolment ratios of 100 per cent, and gross secondary enrolment ratios of 84 per cent (male 86 per cent, female 81 per cent) in 2009 marked a significant achievement (UNESCO Online statistics).

Education for differentiation: quality improvement In contrast to the government’s interest in standardized education programmes and political mobilization, individual schools and teachers, especially in the private sector, have sought to differentiate themselves through the quality of their education. Relatively high during the reign of Reza Shah (38 per cent primary, 66 per cent secondary in 1924–5, and 22 per cent primary, 38 per cent secondary in 1940–1), the percentage of private primary schools declined dramatically under Muhammad Reza Pahlavi (9 per cent primary, 18 per cent in secondary in 1975–6), due to the rapid expansion of government schools (Birask, 2011). Nevertheless, private schools continued to attract children from wealthy, urban families by maintaining a high quality of education, and many of the elite were the product of prestigious private schools. Following the revolution,


Education in West Central Asia

Mohammad Ali Rajai, the Minister of Education, proposed the dissolution of private schools, a measure officially passed by Islamic Revolutionary Council in June 1980, with the aim of strengthening government supervision and realizing the goal of free primary and intermediate level education, as prescribed in Article 30 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, this ideal was soon confronted by two serious problems: the Iran—Iraq war and demographic explosion. Furthermore, a loophole in the resolution regarding private schools enabled most to continue operating and maintain high educational standards by collecting expenses on the pretext of parental “donations”. The Ministry of Education, which was responsible for the resolution, was obliged through its own financial difficulties to overlook the phenomenon. Despite the fact that the educational budget had consistently increased, the war with Iraq, rampant inflation and the population explosion had diminished the amount of money actually available per student. A shortage of school buildings, classrooms and qualified teachers, especially for girls’ schools, created long waiting lists for primary school admission. With the increasing quagmire of the war and the influx of rural inhabitants into urban areas, the educational situation deteriorated significantly in the 1980s. Revolutionary ideals were obliged to compromise with reality, and pre-tertiary private schools were officially readmitted as “non-profit schools” in 1989. This decision was justified by claims that tuition paid by wealthy families was indispensible for providing free education for the poor, and that this was in fact the proper way to redress the wealth divide. Accordingly, the General Office of Non-profit Schools was formed under the supervision of the Ministry of Education in order to support persons wanting to open private schools, by helping with practicalities, such as finding and appropriating land and acquiring a bank loan (Sakurai, 1996). The number of private schools has steadily increased since 1988, and in 2007–8, approximately 8 per cent of intermediate, 15 per cent of academic high schools and 30 per cent of university preparatory course were private (Ministry of Education, 2007–8, p. 21). The mobilization of private resources widened the qualitative gap between private and state education. Private schools in wealthy neighbourhoods are often equipped with superior sports and swimming facilities, theatres, libraries, laboratories, computer rooms and workshops, and offer a wider variety of extra-curricular activities. One notable divergence from Western schools is the lack of a music room, since music is not part of the school curriculum, due to the discouragement of the clerics. Private schools in post-revolutionary Iran, as earlier, have been a major supplier of elites, offering a more promising path for admission into prestigious universities.

Iran: Three-Dimensional Conflicts


Though few in number, a new category of secondary school, called the “government model school” (madrase-ye nemume-ye dowlati), was introduced in 1986 in order to offer a high standard education to academically competent students in disadvantaged areas. Yet another, the “school for gifted students” (madrase-ye tizhushan), which accepts only students with the highest GPA, was introduced in 1976 by the National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents (sazman-e melli-ye parvaresh-e est’dadha-ye derakhshan), and then reintroduced in 1987, accepting students through nationwide entrance examinations. The relation between state and private education is different at the tertiary level. During the Pahlavi era, there were, in addition to government universities, several prestigious private institutions, such as Pahlavi University (founded in 1946 and transformed during the 1960s into an American-style university, through the assistance of the University of Pennsylvania), Melli University (1959) and Aryamehr University of Technology (1965). Although these universities were nationalized during the Cultural Revolution and renamed as Shiraz University, Shahid Beheshti University and Sharif University of Technology respectively, they successfully maintained their educational standards and prestige. Despite the tendency to grant greater prestige to government universities, the reputation of IAU has recently improved, with a concomitant increase in its popularity. Since the mid-2000s, the number of private universities has increased, due to the government policy of facilitating private investment in higher education. Nevertheless, most remain smaller and less competent than IAU. Iran has a long history of sending students abroad, which has been seen, particularly since the early nineteenth century, as an effective way of differentiating oneself from competitors. The oil boom of the mid-1970s increased the number of Iranian students, particularly from the middle class, at Western universities, especially in the United States, which replaced France as the destination of choice after World War Two. In 1978–9, the number of Iranian students enrolled in the US was more than 45,000, accounting for 17 of the foreign student population in American universities (Torbat, 2002, p. 277). Even after the Islamic Revolution, interest in foreign study did not decline. The closure of universities during the Cultural Revolution and the eruption of the Iran–Iraq war encouraged the youth to study abroad, despite government opposition. The end of war did not halt the trend, and numbers have only increased, many leaving the country for further education after obtaining an initial degree at a domestic university.


Education in West Central Asia

The most recent attempt to meet the demand is the creation of international universities, where instruction is in English. Sharif University of Technology and Tehran University opened international campuses in the mid-2000s, on Kish Island, a free trade zone, in order to attract foreign students. Student–teacher interactions shape the form of education, and daily efforts for the improvement of education take place in the classroom. Iranian schools use a centralized management system, in which the success of a school depends on its principal. A capable principal can negotiate with the Ministry of Education for experienced teachers, and will mobilize parents in educational activities. Although government schools charge no tuition, their ability to offer high quality education depends on the provision of equipment, books, laboratories and extra-curricular activities, which are often funded by parents’ donations. Schools in affluent neighbourhoods, therefore, generally outperform those in underprivileged areas. There is a clear division of labour between teachers and school administrators. Primary school teachers at government schools teach a wide range of subjects, but are not responsible for administrative work, leaving school once classes finish. From intermediate level education onward, students are taught by a subject specialist, who often teaches part-time in multiple schools. Consultation in academic as well as personal matters is the responsibility of the school counsellor, and schools with sufficient funds can hire additional teachers and counsellors. Iranian school culture is characterized by fierce student competition. Test scores are of paramount importance, and obtaining a full score is often the most important objective in studying. Honours students are praised by teachers, and their pictures posted on classroom or corridor walls. Students’ behaviour (enzebat) and religious observances are also evaluated, and it is common for a teacher to offer a reward (emtiyaz), for high test results, good behaviour and proper religious observances, often in the form of coupons that can be exchanged for small items, such as toys or stationery, displayed in school corridors. This methodology is popular across the country and seen as an effective way to motivate students. However, the emphasis on test scores has been criticized as placing excessive pressure on students, and from the late-2000s onward, the Ministry of Education began to substitute score-based with descriptive-based school records in the lower classes of primary schools, in order to alleviate the competition. Another practice that has been subject to criticism is rote memorization of textbooks, which is indispensable for obtaining high test scores under the present system. Some urban

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schools, especially private, facilitate critical thinking, discussion, group projects and social activities, yet this has not yet become common in ordinary schools. Fierce competition creates a culture of disproportionate emphasis on academic credentials, wherein a degree is not simply a route to employment but a “label” that ascribes social value; furthermore, as the number of graduates increases, so does the demand for postgraduate qualifications.

Education for gender equality Although the famous adage from the hadith states that “seeking knowledge is [the] duty of Muslim males and females”, women’s access to education was limited to the maktab or private tutoring until the late nineteenth century. Since then, women’s enrolment has steadily increased, although the gender gap has noticeably diminished only recently, in part as a result of the post-revolutionary Islamization of education. Even though strict gender segregation in schools initially delayed the provision of girls’ schools taught by female teachers, the policy has gradually proved to have a positive effect, especially for girls whose parents are reluctant to send their daughter to co-educational schools. During the 1990s, the combination of government efforts to mobilize girls for the consolidation of the Islamic republic, and parents’ willingness to send their daughters to schools run by female teachers, steadily reduced the gender gap in primary school enrolment. The gross primary enrolment ratio of girls rose from 70 per cent in 1975 to 108 per cent in 2009 (UNESCO Online statistics). The Literacy Movement, which contributed to alleviating adult illiteracy, had a particular impact on married women. In accordance with the pronouncement of Ayatollah Beheshti, an influential ideologue of the Islamic Revolution, that literacy classes offered fertile ground for disseminating Islamic and revolutionary messages, the Literacy Movement was chiefly political in aim, and classes were held in gender-segregated locations, with special consideration for women’s convenience. These measures facilitated female participation and further increased the demand for female literacy teachers: in 2008–09, the percentage of female literacy teachers reached 86 per cent (Mehran, 1992, 1999; Statistical Centre of Iran, 2008–9). In tandem with the increasing gross enrolment ratio of girls in primary education, the secondary gross enrolment ratio of all programmes has also risen, from 32 per cent (male 54 per cent) in 1975 to 81 per cent in 2009 (male 86 per cent), and women’s enrolment in university preparatory courses now exceeds


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that of men (61.5 per cent in 2008–09). In 1998, for the first time in the history of Iran, women comprised 51 per cent of the successful candidates of the entrance examination for government universities (konkur), and this trend continues. As an unintentional result of government policy, female tertiary education has now become a universal phenomenon in contemporary Iran. Female undergraduates exceed male in departments that include medicine, science and the arts, although there are still more postgraduate men than women, suggesting the character of women’s presence in higher education. There are several reasons why women pursue higher education: the gender-segregation policy has improved the job prospects of university-educated women; and since Iranian families generally grant more freedom to sons than daughters, becoming a university student is often the only way for women to enjoy freedom, delay marriage, experience a co-educational environment and gain social prestige. Even though most female graduates are unable to pursue a profession, studies suggest that they believe university has changed their lives for the better (Shavarini, 2005, 2006; Hegland, 2009; Rezai-Rashti, 2011). Men, meanwhile, seem to find less advantage in attending university if it will not improve their employment prospects. Compulsory military service has also discouraged male applicants, as men are often reluctant to sit the university entrance examination after their military service. In the late 2000s, the government implemented policies to reverse these trends, restricting female entrance to government universities by introducing a preferential quota, first in medical universities in 2007 and then across the board in 2008. There has also been restriction of university co-education since 2011, on the grounds that a mixed-gender environment is incongruent with the Islamic norm. The content of state-prescribed textbooks also reflects the Islamic gender norm. Ayatollah Mutahhari (1920–79), who was very influential in gender policy, stated that Islam “has observed the principle of equality between man and woman, but it is opposed to the uniformity of their rights” (Mutahhari 1982). Most of the women represented in the textbooks are depicted as mothers, while professional women seldom appear. Strikingly, however, women are still encouraged to participate in public activities, toward the creation of an Islamized society (Higgins and Shoar-Ghaffari, 1991; Ferdows, 1995; Mehran, 2003).

Conclusion Despite their ideological differences, both the Pahlavi and the Islamic regime expanded education within the limits of strict state control, allowing seminaries

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to operate outside the framework of the state-controlled education system. At the same time, both regimes prioritized their political agenda over socioeconomic considerations, thereby hindering the fruit of educational growth. Overemphasis on ideological commitment has generated intolerance and an authoritarian culture in educational environments, and the failure to establish a meritocratic society has discouraged those students who have benefitted from the expansion of the education system. Nevertheless, the universalization of basic education and the expansion of secondary and tertiary education has facilitated social mobility and enhanced students’ ability to think for themselves. Ever since the establishment of the state-controlled education system, the Iranian government, whether Pahlavi or Islamic, has tried to enforce its control through education; yet the people of Iran have striven to utilize education for the benefit of both society and themselves.

References Akhavi, S. (1980). Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran. New York: State University of New York Press. Al-e Ahmad, Jalal (1983). Occidentosis: A Plague from the West [Gharbzadegi]. Trans. R. Campbell. Berkeley, CA: Mizan Press. Arasteh, A. R. (1969). Education and Social Awakening in Iran 1850–1968. Leiden: E.J. Brill. Birask, A. (2011). “Education xi. Private Schools and Educational Groups”. Online Encyclopædia Iranica. Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. government/constitution.html Dustkah, J. and Yagmaʾi, Eqbal (2011). “Education iii. The Traditional Elementary School”. Online Encyclopædia Iranica. Entessar, N. (1984). “Educational Reforms in Iran: Cultural Revolution or Anti-Intellectualism?” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, 8, 1: 47–64. Ferdows, A. K. (1995). “Gender Roles in Iranian Public School Textbooks”, in Elizabeth Warnock Fernea (ed.), Children in the Muslim Middle East. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Fischer, M. J. M. (1980). Iran from Religious Dispute to Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Hamdhaidari, S. (2008). “Education during the reign of the Pahlavi Dynasty in Iran (1941–1979)”. Teaching in Higher Education, 13, 1: 17–28. Hegland, M. E. (2009). “Educating Young Women: Culture, Conflict and New Identities in an Iranian Village”. Iranian Studies, 42, 1: 45–79.

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Higgins, Patricia J. and Shoar-Ghaffari, Pirouz (1991). “Sex-Role Socialization in Iranian Textbooks”. NWSA Journal, 3, 2: 213–32. Jazayeri, M. A. (1999). “Farhangestan”. Online Encyclopædia Iranica. http://www. Khomeini, Imam (1985). Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations. Trans. Hamid Algar. Berkeley, CA: Mizan Press. Koyagi, M. (2009). “Moulding Future Soldiers and Mothers of the Iranian Nation: Gender and Physical Education under Reza Shah, 1921–41”. International Journal of the History of Sport, 26, 11: 1668–96. Levers, L. Z. (2006). “Ideology and Change in Iranian Education”, in Rosarii Griffin (ed.), Education in the Muslim World. Oxford: Symposium Books. Mehran, G. (1989). “Socialization of Schoolchildren in the Islamic Republic of Iran". Iranian Studies: 35–50. —(1990). “Ideology and Education in the Islamic Republic of Iran". Compare: 53–65. —(1992). “Social Implications of Literacy in Iran”. Comparative Education Review, 36, 2: 194–211. —(1999). “Lifelong Learning: New Opportunities for Women in a Muslim Country [Iran]”. Comparative Education, 32, 2: 201–15. —(2003). “The paradox of tradition and modernity in female education in the Islamic Republic of Iran". Comparative Education Review, 47, 3: 269–86. —(2007). “Religious Education of Muslim and Non-Muslim Schoolchildren in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, in Colin Brock and Lila Zia Levers (eds), Aspects of Education in the Middle East and North Africa. Oxford: Symposium Books. Menashri, D. (1992). Education and the Making of Modern Iran, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Ministry of Education (2007–8). Educational Statistics 1386/87, 2007/8. Tehran: Ministry of Education (in Persian). Momen, M. (1985). An Introduction to Shi’i Islam. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Mutahhari, Ayatullah Murtada (1982). Woman and her Rights. Trans. M. A. Ansari. Nafisi, R. (1992). “Education and the Culture of Politics in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, in K. Farsoun and M. Mashayekhi (eds), Iran: Political Culture in the Islamic Republic. London: Routledge. Plan Organization Division of Economic Affairs (1961). Outline of the Third Plan 1341–1346. Tehran: Division of Economic Affairs. Rezai-Rashti, G. M. (2011). “Exploring Women’s Experience of Higher Education and the Changing Nature of Gender Relations in Iran”, in Roksana Bahranutashand and Eric Hooglund (eds), Gender in Contemporary Iran: Pushing the Boundaries. Oxford: Routledge. Ringer, M. M. (2001). Education, Religion, and the Discourse of Cultural Reform in Qajar Iran. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers.

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Sabahi, S. F. (2001). “The Literacy Corps in Pahlavi Iran (1963–1979): Political, Social and Literary Implications”. Cahiers d’Etudes sur la Méditerranée Orientale et le monde Turco-Iranien, 31: 191–220. Sakurai, K. (1996). “Iran”s Educational Policy toward the Nonprofit Schools’. Journal of Sophia Asia Studies, 14: 145–59 (in Japanese). —(1999). School Textbooks as a Media of Revolutionary Iran. Tokyo: Iwanami Publisher (in Japanese). —(2004). “University entrance examination and the making of an Islamic society in Iran: a study of the post-revolutionary Iranian approach to konkur”. Iranian Studies, 37, 3: 385–406. —(2011). “Women’s Empowerment and Iranian-style Seminaries in Iran and Pakistan”, in Keiko Sakurai and Fariba Adelkhah (eds), The Moral Economy of the Madrasa, Islam and Education Today. Oxford: Routledge. Shahshahani, S. (1995). “Tribal Schools of Iran: Sedentarization through Education”. Nomadic Peoples, 36, 37: 145–56. Shavarini, M. K. (2005). “The Feminization of Iranian Higher Education”. International Review of Education, 51, 4: 329–47. —(2006). “Wearing the veil to college: The paradox of higher education in the lives of Iranian women”. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 38: 189–211. Statistical Centre of Iran (2008–09). Iran Statistical Year Book 1387. Tehran: Statistical Centre of Iran (in Persian). Torbat, A. E. (2002). “The Brain Drain from Iran to the United States”. Middle East Journal, 56, 2: 272–95. UNESCO Online Statistics.


Iran: The Islamization of the School Saeed Paivandi

Introduction The advent of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) following the 1979 Revolution represents an important turning point for the Iranian education system. The newly installed IRI quickly pursued its main objective of establishing an Islamist state by reforming major institutions such as the judicial and education systems. These institutional reforms can be seen as a movement to transform Shi’a Islam to a relevant source of political power and social control. The Islamization (islami kardan) of the school was thus perceived as an urgent priority bringing this institution into the service of the revolution. Iran’s 1979 Revolution has imposed thereby a real break in education to a country that had been ruled by a more or less secular system since the Constitutional Revolution in 1906. This chapter attempts a historical reading of the relationship between school and religion in the Iranian context since the nineteenth century, focusing on the experience of the Islamization of the educational system after 1979. The idea is to examine how the Islamists perceived modern schools in Iran before 1979 and the various axes of the reforms undertaken by the IRI. The focus is particularly on education policy and the content of textbooks.

The Birth of the Modern School in Iran In a historical content, the modern school in Iran was born in the mid-nineteenth century, a period characterized by the decline of traditional institutions. Despite having a rich tradition in education, Iran’s old education institutions (maktab and madrassa) were unable to adapt themselves to the social, scientific and educational changes of modern times. The discourse of the modern school in


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Iran has always been associated with socioeconomic progress. Referring to the school model developed in Europe, proponents of this thinking were looking for a school whose mission was primarily to reduce underdevelopment and promote modern culture. Before the development ofa modern education in Iran children, received their early education in the maktab. Over the centuries, the maktab became a widespread institution that provided basic education to a large number of children (girls and boys). Under the tutelage of a mulla (clerical teacher or his wife) or an educated person, pupils learned the Qur’an and sacred texts, religious and moral lessons and sometimes literature and writing. The madrassa was another traditional type of establishment institutionalized in the late eleventh century (Makdisi, 1981). Between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries several madrassas (schools) were created in major Persian cities (Shiʿite and Sunni). The Safavids (1501–1722) declared Shiʿism the official religion of Persia in the early sixteenth century, and from that time on the number of Shiʿite madrassas increased rapidly. Compared to the maktab, the madrassa was like a theological school, a type of institution at a higher level. In its historical evolution, the madrassa became the main training centre of the Shi’ite clergy (Naraghi, 1992). The core of the madrassa curriculum are the religious sciences (ʿolūm-e naqlī), based on the Qur’an and traditions from the Prophet and the imams, and Islamic law (feqh) and theology (kalām) (Makdisi, 1981). Despite a brilliant past, the maktab and the madrassa no longer corresponded to the emerging needs of a modern society in education. The agony of traditional education in this period was a direct consequence of social stagnation and the successive political crises of Iranian society from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. However, unlike the majority of peoples in the Middle East, Iran was never colonized by Western countries and has not experienced the colonial school. The contact between Iran and other countries in the region and Europe led to the development of an acute awareness of the importance of modern education in achieving economic and technical progress. In the nineteenth century, reformists began to talk about “new education” or the “new school” (madrassa djadid), to distinguish it from the “old school”. The new education was at the centre of Iran’s modern discourse and became the symbol of progress during this critical phase of the country’s history (Kardan, 1957). Four movements seem to have played a role in the birth of the modern school in Iran during the Qajar dynasty (1785–1925). For young Iranians, studying abroad was one of the first contacts with European education. In 1811, Prince ʿAbbās Mīrzā (1785–1833), a reformist

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personality, sent two young men to study in England to learn the “new sciences”, followed by five more in 1815 (studying engineering, medicine and military technology). Although this initiative did not involve a significant number of students, it played an important symbolic role for Iranians in discovering the modern institutions and educational systems in Europe. Among the second group were Mirza Ṣaleḥ Shirazi, who wrote the first detailed document about a parliamentary system published in Iran and in 1836 issued the first Persian printed book and newspaper (Arian, 1978). After these first pioneering experiments, dozens of young Iranians chose to pursue their higher studies in France, England or other European countries throughout the nineteenth century. Upon returning to Iran, some of these graduates trained in Europe were directly involved in developing the network of new schools and higher education. The second movement consists of missionary schools founded by religious minorities that were the first experiments with modern education in Iran from the 1830s. The first modern school (the American Boys’ School) was established in 1834 in Urmia (Azerbaijan province, north-west Iran) by Justin Perkins (1805–65), an American Lutheran. This school graduated seven students the first year and 30 the following year. The first school for girls, under the direction of Mrs Grant, was established in 1838 with only four pupils, increasing to 40 several months later (Kardan, 1957). American schools offered a five-year curriculum with the following subjects: English, Persian, Turkish, mathematics, history and geography. Five years after the creation of the first American school, Father Eugène Boré (1809–78) created the first French school in Tabriz (Azerbaijan) in 1839. The Lazarists founded two schools in Tehran—St Louis and Jeanne d’Arc—which enrolled both Christian and Muslim children. According to H. Nategh, the number of learners in these schools (girls and boys) was 516 in 1841 and 1143 in 1842 (1996, p. 164). Missionary schools, which were often also open to children from Muslim families, became a new experience in the cultural and educational environment of the time. Missionary schools, “despite their religious goals, allowed the Persians to understand the organizational structure of modern education” (Kardan, 1957, p. 46). Compared to traditional education, the curriculum of missionary schools introduced several major innovations: the introduction of new subjects such as foreign languages​​, science or geography, a new temporality (the organization of the day, week and school year), the distribution of pupils in level classes, the implementation of new teaching methods and the use of modern teaching materials (Paivandi, 2006).

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The third movement was initiated by reformist political figures who were aware of their country’s weakness compared with the West, particularly in the military and technological fields. They wanted to lead the country towards development and were largely interested in modern education. Historically, the traditional educational institutions were independent and the state did not interfere in the field of education. It was not until the early nineteenth century that some politicians became interested in education. A perceived need to provide instruction in subjects that were not part of the traditional religious curriculum, such as the new sciences, European languages, accounting, military science and technology, led to the creation of the first government school (“polytechnic college”) in 1851 (Dar-Alfonoun) by Amīr Kabīr (1807–52), chief minister to Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1831–96, Shah of Persia). Despite an obvious lack of experience, a first curriculum was established and a structure of examinations and grades was created inspired by European models. Subjects like mathematics, geography, history and French were taught by European and Persian teachers. Following the creation of Dar-Alfonoun, public and private initiatives doubled their efforts (Adamiyat, 1975). The fourth movement was developed by the new civil society and the emerging urban social classes for whom the modernization of education had become a pressing demand. The need for modern education had been felt even among some of the Shi’ite reformist clergy. The arrival of foreigners in Iran travelling to the Ottoman Empire, the Caucasus, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia and especially Europe greatly helped foster an appreciation of the huge gap that existed between European education and traditional education in Iran. The journals and books published by Iranian intellectuals tried to mobilize public opinion in favour of the modern school and the great need for educational reform. Private initiatives in this period played a determining role in the establishment of the first modern school networks in major cities. The Society or Council of Education (Anjoman-e-Maʿaref), founded in 1898 in order to promote modern education in Iran, was an example. This society tried to open and develop new schools for training an educated class; to promote scientific publication; to create public libraries; and to organize classes for adults. This type of initiative helped create a network of private modern schools on the eve of the Constitutional Revolution of 1906. The pioneers of the modern school carefully tried to avoid a direct conflict with religious conservatives and upholders of traditional education. Their approach was to integrate religious education as a compulsory subject in the curriculum of the new school.

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These compromises aimed to assist the entry of the clergy into this process and encourage them to participate in the development of the modern school. Teachers in the first modern schools included clergy and a few of these schools were founded by them. However, the hard-line clergy remained sceptical and opposed to the idea of the new secular school, considering it as the end of their monopoly of education. The development of new schools imposed a duality in education, two different sectors coexisting: traditional schools and modern schools. The new schools were run by foreign missionaries, private Iranians and the government. This separation of the religious institution and the school was confirmed by the new constitution (1906). Reducing the influence of the religious institutions did not mean opposition with religion or the end of God because secular school offered a compulsory moral and religious instruction. During the Constitutional Revolution (1905–7), a number of reformists proposed the establishment of a nationwide, public, primary school system. The new constitution after the Revolution of 1906 provided for freedom of education, emphasized education as compulsory for all children and institutionalized the role of the state in the field of education. During the first period of the twentieth century progress in opening new schools was steady but slow. According to Naraghi, by the end of the Qajar dynasty (1925) there were approximately 3300 government schools with a total enrolment of about 110,000 students (1992). The real development of the modern and secular education system was achieved during the Pahlavi era (1925–79). The Ministry of Education was given responsibility for regulating all public and private schools and providing a uniform curriculum for primary and secondary education (Menashri, 1992). Thus the traditional sector of education declined substantially. The maktab gradually disappeared and the madrassa focused on religious studies and the training of clergy.

Islamist Critique of Modern Education Since the birth of the first new schools, the religious authorities (ʿolamāʾ) remained suspicious towards modern secular education, fearing that it would undermine traditional religious values. They conceived the irreversible rise of the new school as a serious threat to their power in an area in which they had traditionally held a monopoly. They also were afraid of depriving religious teachers of an important source of income. In general, religious conservatism

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perceived the new school as part of the overall project of the “Westernization” of Iranian society. The Iranian clergy of this time did not all react the same way. Some of the clergy joined the project of the modern school while trying to rescue religious education and instill a significant place for Islamic values in the educational activities of the new school. Thus, the emerging education system integrated a mandatory religious education (learning the Qur’an and religious instruction) in its formal curriculum, a peaceful coexistence between secular sciences and religious knowledge (Naraghi, 1992; Paivandi, 2006). However, most religious hardliners remained fiercely opposed to the idea of a new school, viewing it as “foreign body” in Iran. They perceived the new school as a global project that was “subversive” or a “cultural conspiracy” aimed at undermining “Islamic society” (Kardan, 1957). Islamic discourse of this time excluded non-Islamic forms of knowledge. The lack of involvement of the state in education opened the way for religious conservatives to organize their actions against the new schools. There have been a large number of witnesses that attest to the violence suffered by teachers and students of the modern school during the early stages of the establishment of the system (Paivandi, 2006). The Constitutional Revolution of 1906 was the turning point in the history of modern education in Iran. Opponents of the new school were often those who did not accept the constitution. With the defeat of the conservatives, the balance of power changed and direct opposition against the modern school gradually declined. The modernization of Iran, based on nationalism, also targeted the marginalization of the religious institution. The education system signified a foundation for new political power, a new national identity—one that was modern and less and less traditional. A major feature of this education was the rebirth of the pre-Islamic period of Iranian civilization which reduced the weight of Islam in Iranian culture (Menashri, 1992). The centralized state could silence Islamist criticism and break the resistance of conservative Shi’ite clerics. The authoritarian modernization destroyed all hopes of a critical dialogue between the new education and traditional institutions. Islamist opposition against the modern school became passive and invisible, like fire beneath the ashes. From the 1950s we begin to observe the emergence of a new Islamist movement criticizing the modern school. The new Islamist tendencies in the 1950s and 1960s no longer overtly opposed the modern education system, as had been the case during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906. These movements accepted the modern education system but criticized

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its Western inclination and policies (Paivandi, 2006). The new critical trend developed into two distinct fields: the first was interested in the creation of a new kind of private Islamic school; the second movement, which was more intellectual, sought to explore an alternative educational paradigm. From 1945 to 1979, several private schools were founded by activists and informal Islamist groups. These alternative schools served as a model for Islamist groups that sought to reconcile Islam with the modern education system. Bazargan, a leading figure of the moderate Islamist movement and Prime Minister after the 1979 Revolution, was behind the creation of one of these “alternative” institutions in the 1960s. This type of school proposed a supplementary Islamic education outside the formal curriculum. The idea was to promote Islamic values and culture ​​in school. Some pioneering schools, such as Kamal and Alavi, played an important role in the preparation of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Young people trained in these schools became activists of the Islamist movements during the revolutionary 1970s (Naraghi, 1992). Another new phenomenon after the 1960s was the development of a critical debate on the relevance of the modern school and the influence of Western models. This intellectual movement was mainly initiated by Muslim academics and personalities like Ali Shariati (1933–77), Jalal Al-Ahmad (1923–69) and Morteza Motahari (1920–79). The new Islamist discourse sought to reintroduce Islamic values ​​to modern education and oppose the influence of Western culture. Jalal Al-Ahmad, essayist and Iranian intellectual, began criticizing the education system in the 1960s. The work of Al-Ahmad, published in 1962, entitled “Occidentality”, reflects the mentality of emerging Islamist movements from this period which considered the West to be the cause of all the misfortunes of their country and those of the Third World. A chapter of his book is devoted to education and universities considered by the author as Westernized institutions. For him, the university was influenced by the West with the goal of “training men in occidentality” (Al-Ahmad, 1988, p. 131). Al-Ahmad thought that the curriculum had “no indications of tradition, no trace of the past culture, no teaching in ethics or philosophy, no links between yesterday and tomorrow, between home and school, between East and West” (1988, p. 132). He sharply criticized scholars who had studied in Europe and the United States and proposed to send students to India and Japan instead. In this book, Al-Ahmad, “pleaded against Westernization in Iran” (Nikpay, 2001, p. 88), and identified the West as the enemy of man. Ali Shariati was probably one of the few contemporary thinkers in Iran who attempted to explore an alternative school that integrated the Islamic


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tradition. Criticisms from Shariati (1983) were aimed at the philosophy of modern education, its positivism and scientism. Shariati argued that since “The Enlightenment” and “The Age of Reason”, the ethical and spiritual aspects of the school have disappeared in the name of science, rationality and individual freedom. Shariati (1983) was seduced by a medieval system of education that was motivated by the desire to learn and a quest for meaning, and proposed a return to the source. Thus, he criticized the promoters of the new school for ignoring the rich tradition of education in Iran and Islam and for following the European models. In his historical analysis, Shariati attempted to demonstrate the relevance and coherence of the early educational experiences of Islam and the medieval institutions. He interpreted Islamic tradition as an ideological system that could offer equality and social justice. According to Shariati, the place given to knowledge led Muslims to consider education as a civic and religious duty. He was an admirer of the desire to learn, intrinsic motivation and educational immersion. Through education, the child should internalize a sense of collective responsibility and a moral commitment. According to Shariati (1983), the science of that time had a soul, introduced by the teacher and the learner in the learning process (p. 502). For Shariati, the modern school was a mould which offered the same content for everyone. In this universal and rational model, the man was forgotten, overwhelmed by bureaucratic and organizational considerations. The author particularly appreciated the organizational arrangements of traditional institutions such as the absence of obligation and of the constraints that allowed the construction of an intrinsic relation to education. Shariati noted flexible practices in traditional schools in relation to the age of pupils, the school calendar and the daily or annual planning. According to the author, the “maktab did not look at the date of birth, the most important thing was the motivation of a pupil and his desire to learn and to study” (1983, p. 435). Shariati’s thought represented an idealistic, critical and revolutionary perspective. His position on education stemmed from his overall philosophy based on the social and revolutionary role of Islam. This identity discourse on education was based on a religious identity that searched for cultural safety and dreamed of an enchanted world or an idealized education. The reproach against secular schools developed in a historical context characterized by the popularity of criticism of the West and Third World ideas. This is the time of the identity debate that sought to rehabilitate endogenous cultural resources and community values​​. The return to Islam dominated some

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identity discourses of that time. The Iranian school was a favourite target of these criticisms, haunted by the spectre of the West. The exclusive, idealized Islam of Shariati could turn into an ideology that is coercive, anti-spiritual and anti-critical. Similarly, it can become reductive, targeting solely the Shi’ite in a multi-religious country. So what happens to the others such as Sunnis, or other religious minorities, the secular or atheists? What would tolerance or freedom mean for those who do not adhere to this vision of Islam? The relevance of the educational ideas and criticisms of modern education developed by Islamist intellectuals or the Shi’ite clergy did not become the subject of much debate before the 1979 Revolution. For an objective response, Iranian society had to wait until the revolution, and eventually witnessed the effective development of an Islamic school.

Islamization of the Educational System The revolution did not itself have a clear agenda about education. However, the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) quickly made the reformation of education a priority. The discourse that dominated the first stage of the revolution had several objectives through the Islamization of education: to promote Islamic culture, to control the “influence” of Western culture, and to educate a new individual Muslim imbued with revolutionary culture. For the IRI, these objectives would have to lead the country to endogenous economic and scientific development (Mehran, 1990; Mohsenpour, 1988; Shorish, 1988). But beyond this “educational” discourse, there was also the agenda of using ​​ education as a means of social control. These new perspectives indicate a major change in the principal trends of Iran’s education. The situation seemed to be reversed from the experience of the late nineteenth century, as Islam came back strongly to school. What is currently referred to as the Islamization of education was gradually implemented through diverse reforms during the revolutionary years (Mehran, 1998; Zarean, 1998). The first steps toward Islamization were political and ideological: to dismiss teachers opposed to the revolution to ensure that only those who were loyal to the new political order remained in the schools; to impose a number of prohibitions on pupils, especially girls (wearing of a veil became mandatory and segregation of the sexes was carried out as much as possible); to introduce a set of religious practices such as collective prayer; and


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to organize political and religious propaganda events. Another major reform in 1979 was the creation of a new authority within each school, entitled “Educational Affairs” (Omour Tarbiyati), responsible for instilling Islamic culture in students and shaping their minds (Paivandi, 2006; Mohammadi, 2004). With these initial reforms the process of the desecularization of the Iranian education system was begun. The Cultural Revolution (enqelab-e farhangi) triggered in 1980 played a determining role in the acceleration of ideological and religious reforms. Nearly 18 months after the revolution, the government closed all universities and nominated a committee, the Headquarters of the Cultural Revolution (Setad-e enqelab-e farhangi), to prepare a curriculum reform in accordance with “Islamic values” (Mehran, 1990). Even though the Cultural Revolution had initially taken aim only at higher education, it revived the debate about the meaning of Islamization of the entire education system. In 1987, the Parliament adopted a law, considered the most important document in instituting major reforms in Iran’s education system. The law emphasized an ideological framework for schools based mainly on Shi’ite values which were presented as the religion of the state, the representative of the sacred order on earth. For the law (1987), the most “sacred” mission of the school is to educate the new Muslim to become “a virtuous believer, conscientious, and engaged in the service of the Islamic society” (Paivandi, 2006). The first important point made by the 1987 legislation is the priority given to the ethical and religious development in education and school activities. According to Article 4, in Islamic education “purification takes precedence over training”. In the chapter related to the objectives of education, the first article of the orientation law emphasizes “the promotion and reinforcement of religious and spiritual foundations through teaching the principles and laws of Shi’ite Islam” (Safi, 2000) The second article delineates 14 main objectives for the education system, of which nine directly address religious, ideological, ethical and political issues. The same article specifies the role assumed by the education system in shaping students politically and ensuring their adherence to the Islamic Revolution. Post-revolutionary reforms that contributed to the transformation of the education system in Iran targeted five major fields: The most important reform since 1979 involved the systematic change of textbooks and the meticulous selection of academic knowledge to achieve the cultural and ideological purposes of school. The “Islamization” of textbooks consisted of adapting academic knowledge to the “rules” and “values” of the Shi’ite and to the political vision of the Islamic state (Paivandi, 2006). Thus, geography, history,

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literature, civic education, social sciences, religion and language textbooks no longer resembled those used before 1979. As Nahid (1993–4), Shorish (1988), Mehran (1990), Taleghani (1994), Paivandi (1995, 1998, 2006), Meyer (1984), Zarean (1998), Bartsch (2005) and Groiss and Toobian (2007) have stated, all the textbooks follow the strict course of reinforcing the religious and political character in education. Another important field of Islamic reform in Iran involves the training and selection of teachers. The current policies stress the need to build a teaching corps that would be faithful to the values of the Islamic Revolution and permeated with moral Islamic virtues. To train future teachers​​, the Ministry of Education completely reorganized the faculties of education with a rigorous selection procedure at the entrance stage and a large dose of Islamic education and religious practice in programmes. For the recruitment examination, the Ministry offices impose a religious knowledge test on candidates from all disciplines. A significant change in the curriculum was the focus on courses related to religious education. The Arabic language (as the language of the Qur’an), which had disappeared from the national curriculum since the 1970s, was reintegrated. Teaching the Qur’an and increasing time spent on religious courses were other important changes. In a comparative study, N. Moussapour (1999, p. 107) asserts that time spent on religious education increased after 1979: on average, 12.7 per cent of school time is spent on religious teaching, compared to 9.4 per cent in 1966. The most significant increase is in primary school: 17 per cent in 1994, compared to 11 per cent in 1966. Before the revolution, high schools spent 5.5 per cent of their time on religious education, but in 1990 that figure rose to 11 per cent (Gooya, 1999). However, these numbers do not take into account the religious topics present in other subjects (Persian language studies, history, social sciences, Arabic, for example). Once this factor is taken into account, it can be estimated that 24 per cent of primary and 26 per cent of secondary school time is devoted to religious education (Paivandi, 2006). For example, the Persian language studies textbook has numerous religious lessons (biographies of religious figures, religious topics, historical events, etc.). The political and religious socialization of children is not limited to the curriculum. A set of extra-curricular activities are also planned to consolidate their adherence to the official culture. An ethnographic study conducted in Iran shows that the school organizes more than 100 political and religious events (the days of God) during a school year, including anniversaries of the birth and death of religious figures, ceremonies of mourning martyrs or political demonstrations (Mohammadi, 2004).


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Standpoints of Textbooks The importance of recurrent changes made to ​​ textbooks in the process of the Islamization of schools has been highlighted. To better understand the content and meaning of these changes, we must refer to the discourse of these manuals from an analysis grid based on several themes.1 This grid can, for example, be based on the place of religion or the image of women and men in textbooks. Discussing the world from a religious perspective and perceiving and encountering social phenomena and individual issues from the Shi’ite-Islamic viewpoint are perhaps the most important characteristics of Iranian textbooks. Islam appears as a fully-fledged universal social and spiritual discourse which is not time- or place-specific and which has eternal credibility. The education system seems to seek a form of “divine” and “sacred” legitimacy about the essence of its discourse. The direct consequence of this orientation is the dominant presence of religious themes in textbooks (Paivandi, 2008). Topics about religion, Islamic history, ethical principles, religious practices and other topics related to Islam are not just presented in religious textbooks. Social studies, history, Persian language and science (to a lesser extent) textbooks also discuss religious, Islamic and political issues either directly, by insinuation, or by using metaphors. One book that plays an active role in discussing religious and political issues is the Persian language text which is the most important subject during elementary school and junior high school. In these textbooks, certain subjects are connected with religious topics and the Islamic Revolution. The results of a statistical analysis of 412 lessons from these books show that religious subjects are widely present. Religion in general (God, the prophets and religious and historical personalities) and Islamic topics appear in 38 per cent of the lessons. The topics of 50 lessons (out of 412) on poetry, literary subjects and classical Persian literature are about God. An additional 65 lessons discuss the Prophet of Islam, Shi’ite imams and other historical and contemporary Islamic personalities, while nine lessons mention the prophets of other religions. The statistical analysis of the images shows a strong and consistent presence of religious and ideological themes. Of the 3115 images analyzed, 645 were those of well-known individuals (religious, cultural, political, social and scientific personalities). Most of these images depict personalities from post-1900 Iranian political history and religious figures. In keeping with Islamic tradition, textbooks avoid having images of the Prophet and the imams. However, despite this fact, 147 religious personalities and 102 saints are depicted (approximately one out of every three).

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The social studies textbooks of all grades discuss a number of social (e.g. family, social groups and socialization) and political topics (e.g. different political systems) with Islamic viewpoints. Grades 4 and 5 social studies textbooks discuss the prophets, the advent of Islam, the Prophet Mohammad’s life, the battles fought by the Prophet, the mosque, ommat (the community of Muslims), the prerequisites for becoming an Islamic leader, revelation, different rituals and rules of Islam, and the people’s responsibility in an Islamic society. History textbooks analyze the transformation of human society through the lens of religions and religious movements. A consequence of this viewpoint is that opinions on historic events are formed based on their connection with religion and religious timelines. The transformation of the history of human society is written in the form of a constant struggle between sacred “Truth” and the enemies of the “divine order”. Religious historic personalities (prophets, imams) and clergy have a more omnipotent presence in historic events covered and, as representatives of absolute and eternal “Truth,” spearhead the fight against “falsehood”. This attitude towards Iranian history is a good example of the contradictions inherent in an ideological worldview. The first instance is the depiction of the Arab invasion of Iran in the beginning of Islam and the disintegration of Iran’s ancient civilization. The textbooks present the historic defeat of the Sassanid Empire by Muslim Arab invaders and the end of an important period of ancient Iranian civilization from a positive angle and remain silent on the subject of the resulting destruction, managing to depict it as a form of victory for Iran. “By accepting Islam, the Iranian people, who had grown tired of injustice and suppression at the hands of the Sassanid kings and who had heard Islam’s message of justice and deliverance from suppression, began a new era” (Ministry of Education, 2006a). An important product of this approach is the large-scale mixing of religious beliefs with scientific and secular knowledge. The “sacred” is mixed with the “profane” in the curriculum consistently. The coexistence of these two phenomena signifies a belief in the connection and unity of different fields of knowledge. One of the fundamental characteristics of modern education is the independence of the experimental sciences and “non-religious” fields of knowledge from religious subjects. This separation is particularly important because the methodology and epistemology of these two fields are not similar and their development and transformations are very different. In the Grade 7 Qur’anic studies textbook (Ministry of Education, 2006b), a lesson dedicated to scientific explanation of space travel concludes, “You may find it interesting to know that the Holy Qur’an spoke of the problem of shortage of oxygen in high altitudes and the resulting shortness of breath about 1,400 years ago.”


Education in West Central Asia

The presence of religious themes in textbooks, and the focus on Shia tradition, has an important impact on the image and status of both sexes and religious minorities. Three principles present in the discourse of the textbooks allow us to better understand the position of both sexes in the curriculum (Paivandi, 2008). In the curriculum, men and women are not equal. Not only is this inequality clearly expressed in the lessons, but the curriculum also seeks to justify it within religious frameworks. The legal and social equality of men and women is not mentioned in any lesson. Men and women have assigned gender roles in their social and private lives and are presented as two different social groups who complement one another and have specific gender roles. Men are clearly the “superior sex” and women are the “second sex”. Women are not depicted as purely traditional and limited to the house and the boundaries of family life. In comparison with the position of modern women—who have rights equal to men in all contexts—we are faced with a de-modernized image of women. Women are not completely separated from traditional culture but they have not taken on the characteristics of the emancipated women of modern society. The statistical analysis of 3115 images reveals vast differences between the presence of men and women in textbooks. Women are present in only 37 per cent of the images and appear more in group photos. The presence of men and women is related to the age of the persons in the images. Women are depicted in photos with lower age groups and the number of images of women decreases considerably in photos with higher age groups, especially those over 18 years of age. The absence of women in male-dominated places is noticeable in images related to work, the military, social environments, images depicting only one person, and in portraits of historical, cultural, political and scientific personalities, and so on. Conversely, women have a stronger presence in home and neighbourhood images. It is interesting to note that images of women and girls alone are always found in an interior home setting. The simultaneous presence of men and women in images is relevant to understanding the extent of gender separation in all environments. Men and women are only present together in 18 per cent of the images, while 63 per cent of the images depict only male subjects (men and boys) and only 19 per cent of the images depict only female subjects (women and girls). The analysis of images based on the two variables of “subject” and “mixing of the two genders” confirms the statistical trend mentioned above. The concurrent presence of the two genders occurs more in images of family and social and religious contexts. Images depicting only women and girls occur mainly in

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connection with the subjects of family, education, daily life and pastimes. As observed earlier, the images in the textbooks reflect this trend towards gender difference. Of the 1147 images in which women are present, only in 79 cases (7 per cent) are the images related to the subjects of work and profession (as opposed to 360 images depicting men at work). Of course, this important difference is not treated silently. The subjects of the textbooks even explain the gender separation of roles in the labour market from social and religious standpoints: “Usually, the father works outside the home. He has the duty to provide food, clothing, and other necessities for his wife and children. In some families the mother works outside the home, as well” (Ministry of Education, 2006c). In the 412 Persian language lessons comprising all grades, 386 cultural, scientific, political, social and religious personalities are mentioned, and only 7 per cent of those are women. There is little mention of women in the biographies of well-known personalities: it is as though history, literature and society itself are male domains and, with several exceptions, everything is based on a male-dominated order. Discussing the presence of women is important from educational and sociological standpoints. The personalities presented can influence male and female students in their socialization process. In practice, the lack of contemporary female personalities who can represent the new position of women in Iranian and world society means contributing to the students’ education from a male cultural perspective and reproducing traditional behavioural models. In the view of those who planned these topics, this may have been the very reason for this gender censorship Another problematic issue in textbooks is the case of “minorities”. Iran is a nation with multiple ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious minorities. The analysis of the textbooks reveals the existence of different identities: Islamic, national and local. These three identities are in coexistence with one another but do not have equal importance. Islamism, like other ideologies, does not limit itself to the geographic boundaries of one country and believes it has a universal credibility. The concept of Islamic community or “ommat”2 is highlighted in textbooks. This notion goes beyond the borders of Iran and includes all the Muslims of the world. Another point that receives attention in Islamic internationalism and is discussed in connection with the Islamist discourse is the vision of the establishment of a supranational and global Islamic government. This vision is raised as part of the Islamist agenda. There are many references to the universal government of Shia based on a belief in the manifestation of the Twelfth Imam, who—as believed by the Twelver Shi’ites—has been absent since


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ad 874. Universal Islamic identity is also set forth in the form of the repetition of certain terms, which concern the world’s Muslim community . The recognition of some of these minorities is manifested in two specific forms: a) certain non-religious subjects, such as history, Persian language and social studies, the existence of these minorities in Iran is mentioned; b) officially recognized religious minorities receive separate religious instruction and textbooks, and do not follow the general religious course (for Shi’ites). But not all minorities have the same status Regarding the attitudes towards the followers of non-Shi’ite religions, three categories of religious minority in Iran are identified. The first group is the large Sunni minority, which, in terms of numbers, is ahead of the next group by a large margin. The Sunnis’ historical-religious characteristics separate them from the rest. As an officially recognized minority, Sunnis receive religious instruction especially designed for them. However, what makes them special compared to other minorities is the historical connection between Shi’ites and Sunnis. The Shi’ite sect came about because of a process of historical tension and competition with the Sunnis, who comprise the majority of the Muslim population in the world. Important historical Shi’ite figures and their lives are mentioned on numerous occasions but the textbooks avoid mentioning similar cases or topics for Sunnis. The biggest issue with the Sunnis is that the contents of several textbooks (social sciences, Persian language and others) are radically opposed to their tradition. The extensive presence of religious topics with a Shi’ite bent in non-religious textbooks (e.g. Persian language, history and social studies) add to the complexity of the relationship between the Shi’ites and the Sunnis and makes the relationships with other religious minorities difficult as well. One of these differences is the belief in the manifestation of the Twelfth Imam and the establishment of a world government by the Shi’ites. In other words, the unity between Sunnis and Shi’ites must come from the government and take place based on the superiority of Shi’ism and its beliefs and traditions. The second group comprises the officially recognized minorities, including Zoroastrians, Christians (Armenians and Assyrians) and Jews. The members of these minorities receive a specially designed religious education. Similarly, these “recognized” minorities are forced to learn topics in non-religious textbooks that do not correspond to their beliefs. The third category of minorities is comprised of groups not formally recognized by Shi’ite government and with whom even hostile encounters have taken place, namely, the followers of the Bahá’í religion. The Bahá’í religion is referred to as a “manufactured sect” and the Bahá’ís are accused of being tools in the

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hands of foreign superpowers. A lesson entitled “Sect-Building by Colonialism” in the Grade 8 history textbook (Ministry of Education, 2006d) makes such assertions about the Bahá’ís and the founding of their religion. Besides the Bahá’ís, other officially unrecognized religious minorities exist whose religions are for the most part related to specific branches of Islam (Shi’ite or Sunni), such as Sufism. These groups are completely ignored. Finally, people who do not have a specific religion or sect, or who only have a superficial and marginal connection with religious rituals, must be mentioned. Not believing in a specific religion is considered either impossible or a form of “abnormality”. Connection with one of the officially recognized religions is the norm. Those who do not fit into these official religious classifications are thought to be suffering from a form of “deviance”. The term “kafar” (heathen) applies to a person who is the enemy of religion or “a person who denies the existence of God or creates rivals or partners for God or does not accept the mission of the prophets” ( Ministry of Education, 2006e). In this passage a heathen is called “nadjes” (impure) and, along with human excrement or feces, corpses of animals, dogs, pigs and alcoholic beverages, and so on, is considered one of the ten examples of “nedjasat” (things considered intrinsically impure).

Conclusion The Islamization of schooling in Iran after 1979 is an important break with the secular education system of the second half of the nineteenth century. In comparative perspective, the process of Islamization was an atypical experience at international level. While in many countries the school increasingly chooses an approach of “teaching about religion”, Iran appears to focus on “teaching from religion”. Numerous reforms introduced since 1979 have completely changed the curriculum and orientation of the Iranian school. The idea was to remove the pre-revolutionary patterns of education, purge school and university curricula of Western influence and put emphasis on an alternative education based on the tradition and values ​​of the Shia. The post-revolutionary educational reforms can also be seen as an educational paradigm change in Iran from primary school to university. This important reform is not a simple return to tradition, but rather a traditional response to modernity. The Islamic Republic of Iran has the ambition to reconcile science with Islamic traditional values on order to ​​ allow the modern sciences and religious knowledge to coexist.


Education in West Central Asia

The most important feature of this school is mono-confessional orientation. The Iranian curriculum is founded on Shia beliefs and on the philosophy of a cultural identity with its eternal truths and dogmas. All ethical and moral perceptions are derived from the Shia, which gives them “worth and meaning;” and are presented as timeless and unmistakable truths. Despite its seemingly religious and spiritual appearance, the Islamic school constitutes an eminently political project. Education in the revolutionary context should play a pivotal role in the development of Islamic culture and the promotion of the political and cultural aims of the IRI. The main additional goal of the curriculum has been to shape students’ behaviour according to Islamic tenets. In the background, Islamization tries to establish a discourse linking the state and religion in a power structure. With the state being responsible for the provision of textbooks and curricula for all Iranian pupils, the mono-confessional conception of the curriculum can lead to indoctrination and an ideological vision of education. In fact, the dependency relationship between changes in school culture and political power is a theme often discussed in social sciences research. Michel Foucault (1980) uses the notion of “knowledge-power” because power is always linked to knowledge and vice versa. He thinks that each society has its regime of truth which is “the type of discourse it accepts and makes function as True” (Foucault, 1980). According to Foucault, truth can be defined as a “system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation, and operation of statements” (1980, p. 33). In his perspective, knowledge and submissiveness are intimately related when education tends to become an instrument of “social control” and domination (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1970). Foucault analyzes the link between power and knowledge to explain how political power attempts to develop techniques and procedures to transmit and inculcate values and knowledge considered to be true and legitimate. To function, a mechanism of power must be deployed according to procedures, tools, means and goals that can be validated in more or less coherent systems of knowledge. Foucault emphasizes the role of the educational system which is “a means of maintaining or modifying the appropriateness of discourses with the knowledge and power they bring with them” (1971, p. 46). A discourse can be an instrument of power or an effect of power. A social order tends to mediate its power and control through institutions like the education system and elites who say “what counts as True” (Foucault, 1982). For a social order or political discourse, the education system and school knowledge hold therefore a function of control and domination. Thus, the Truth advocated

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by the education system is established through a discourse of power that is legitimized and relayed. Power and knowledge are not two entities that suppress and abuse each other, but a “nexus” allowing an appreciation of what is the acceptability of a system. In his analysis of the curriculum from a sociological perspective, Basil Bernstein states that “The way a society selects, classifies, distributes, transmits and evaluates educational knowledge reflects both the distribution of power and the principles of social control” (Bernstein, 1971, p. 43). Islamization can be seen as a volition to establish a new discourse of truth with its political, cultural and social dimensions, as A. Talbani shows in the case of the Islamization of schools in Pakistan (1996). Religion and the sacred are used to legitimize academic discourse. While textbooks systematically refer to the Qur’an or the sacred texts of the Shia tradition, it is to give a divine legitimacy to school discourse. The Qur’an is mentioned even in scientific books as a primary source of knowledge from Muslim culture. Through its discourse on the place of religion, cultural independence, resistance to the West or the importance of moral values​​, the curriculum seems to be in perfect agreement with the IRI’s agenda. From a purely educational perspective, men and women found in Iranian textbooks are the “ideal types” of a social system that seeks to bring the citizens through education without recognizing cultural diversity and individual autonomy. One worldview can mean no scrutiny, no doubt, no questioning. The key issue when a curriculum is based on one religious view is the place of “other”, those who do not share the same perspective, those who build another worldview from their biography and their own subjectivity. Similarly, the issue of critical thought and how school knowledge allows the learner to build her or his intellectual autonomy pose a real problem in a monolithic curriculum. How can free thought be realized in such a prescribed curriculum? School is a major component of education, the training of the critical spirit and open subjectivity in future citizens and therefore of intercultural dialogue in each society. Education lays the foundation for a culture of tolerance and an open identity to other. A rigid Islamization can become a monologue and lead to the construction of a closed identity and intolerant attitude to other. Iran, like all contemporary societies, is increasingly marked by the development of a métis identity (Shayegan, 2012), much more uncertain and floating, and a diversified religiosity (Khosrokhavar, Nikpey, 2008). In this perspective, individual identity is socially constructed and is less a “given”.


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Kazemiour, S. (1998). “General Survey of Modern Education”, in E. Yarshater, Encyclopaedia Iranica. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda. Khosrokhavar, F. (1993). L’Utopie Sacrifiée. Sociologie de la révolution iranienne. Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques. Khosrokhavar, F. and Nikpey, A. (2008). Avoir vingt ans au pays des ayatollahs. Paris: Robert Laffont. Khosrokhavar, F. and Roy, O. (1999). Comment sortir d’une révolution religieuse? Paris: Le Seuil. Lê Thânh, Khôi, (1995). Education et Civilisations. Sociétés d’hier. Paris: Nathan/ UNESCO. Makdisi, G. (1981). The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Mehran, G. (1990). “Ideology and Education in the Islamic Republic of Iran”. Compare, 20, 1: 53–65. —(1998). “Education in Postrevolutionnry Persia: 1979–1991”, in E. Yarshater, Encyclopaedia Iranica. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda. Menashri, D. (1992). Education and the Making of Modern Iran. Ithaca, NY, and London: Cornell University Press. Meyer, L. (1984). L’analyse des manuels de l’enseignement social par rapport à ceux de l’époque du shah. Paris, pp. 265–74. Ministry of Education (2006a). Grade 6 History Textbook. Teheran: Ministry of Education, p. 73. —(2006b). Qur’anic Studies Textbook. Teheran: Ministry of Education, p. 37. —(2006c). Grade 4 Social Studies Textbook. Teheran: Ministry of Education, pp. 112–13. —(2006d). Grade 8 History Textbook. Teheran: Ministry of Education, p. 37. —(2006e). Religious Studies Textbook. Teheran: Ministry of Education, p. 83. Mohammadi, I. (2004). Le rôle de l’école dans la recomposition de l’identité des jeunes Kurdes dans la République Islamique d’Iran. PhD thesis, EHESS, Paris. Mohsenpour, B. (1988). “Philosophy of Education in Postrevolutionary Iran”. Comparative Education Review, 32, 1: 76–86. Monadi, M. (1997). Attitudes des parents iraniens face à l’école. Thèse de 3° cycle. Université Paris VIII. Moussapour, N. (1999). “Ravand tahavolat onsor zaman dar barnamehai darsi maghta ebtedai” [“Evolution of factor of time in the primary school curriculum in Iran”]. Faslnamah talim va tarbiyat [Quarterly Reveiw of Education], 57 : 97–116, 1378 (in Persian). Nahid, S. (1993–94). “L’analyse comparative des manels scolaires francais et iranians cycle primaire”. Education Comparee (AFEC-Sevres), 33–4. Naraghi, E. (1992). Enseignement et changements sociaux en Iran du VII° au XX° siècle. Paris: MSH. Nasr, S. H. (1979). Sciences et savoir en islam. Paris: Sindbad. —(1987). Tradilional lslam in the Modern World. London: KPI.


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Nategh, H. (1996). Karnameh farangi [The French in Persia]. Paris: Khavaran (in Persian). Nikpey, A. (2001). Politique et religion en Iran contemporain. Naissance d’une institution. Paris: L’Harmattan. Paivandi, S. (1995). “Existe-t-il un modele islamique de l’education? Le cas de l’Iran”. Clloque international de l’AFEC a Sevres, Modeles, transferts et echanges d’experiences en education. —(1998). “L’individu dans les manuels scolaires en Iran”. CEMOTI, 26: 219–34. —(2005). “La religion d’Etat à l’école. L’expérience de l’islamisation de l’école en Iran”. Journal des anthropologues, 100–1: 183–212. —(2006). Islam et éducation en Iran. Echec de l’islamisation de l’école en Iran. Paris: L’Harmattan. —(2008). Discrimination and Intolerance in Iran’s Textbooks. Washington, DC: Freedom House. Piaget, J. (1997). L’éducation morale à l’école. Paris: Anthropos. Reboul, O. (1992). Les valeurs en éducation. Paris: PUF. Ringer, M. M. (2001). Education, Religion, and the Discourse of Cultural Reform in Qajar Iran. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda. Sadig, I. (1931). Modern Persia and her Educational System. New York: Colombia University Press. Safi, A. (2000). Sazman va ghavanin amouzesh va parvaresh Iran [The organization and the laws of the Iranian education system]. Tehran: SAMT (in Persian). Shariati, A. (1983). Ravesh shenakhat eslam [Approach to know Islam]. Tehran: Chapakhsh, p. 1362 (in Persian). Shayegan, D. (1996). Le regard mutilé. Paris: Editions de l’Aube. —(2012). La conscience métisse. Paris: Albin Michel. Shorish, M. (1988). “The Islamic Revolution and Education in Iran”. Comparative Education Review, 32, 1: 58–75. Talbani, A. (1996). “Pedagogy, Power, and Discourse: Transformation of Islamic Education”. Comparative Education Review, 40, 1: 66–82. Talegani, M. (1994). Portrayal of women in text book before and after revolution. Tehran: UNESCO, p. 1373 (in Persian). Young, M. F. D. (ed.) (1971). Knowledge and control: New Directions for the Sociology of Education. London and New York: Collier-Macmillan. Zarean, M. J. (1998). Islamic Values and Their Reflection in the Iranian Elementary Textbooks: Islamization in Post-Revolutionary Iran. Montreal: McGill University Press.

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Notes   1 This section is based on the results of a search of 95 textbooks in Iran carried out in 2008. This research concentrates on the compulsory textbooks (2006–7) used by the majority of Iranian students, including five years of elementary school, three years of middle school, and the first, second and third years of high school. The methodology required three types of analysis: statistical analysis of 3115 pictures from all the textbooks to demonstrate gender differences. Quantitative analysis includes 412 lessons of Persian language studies textbooks, and qualitative analysis of 95 textbooks (11,000 pages) to select relevant sections for the study of the Image of “other” (Paivandi, 2008).   2 The term ommat is a Qur’anic concept, which is applied to the community of Muslims and which has been in use since the time of the Prophet of Islam. Unlike the concept of nation, the term ommat is not concerned with geographical locations.


Iran: Women and Higher Education— Negotiating Tradition and Modernity Goli M. Rezai-Rashti

This chapter focuses on women’s participation in higher education and discusses the changing nature of gender relations in Iran. It argues that access to higher education has created a productive space for women to navigate between tradition and modernity and challenge the existing discriminatory policies imposed on them since the revolution of 1979. This chapter is part of a larger qualitative research project dealing with the participation of women in higher education in Iran.1

Introduction Feminists have long advocated the significance of access to education for women and argued that education has the potential to change gender relations albeit from different ideological and theoretical perspectives (Acker, 1987; Arnot, David and Weiner 1999). They believed that education could provide the possibilities for economic independence and would raise women’s social awareness about unequal gender relations. The earlier concerns of feminists were over issues of access, teacher training and the promotion of “good practice” that they would argue will result in attitudinal changes among teachers and students (Weiner, 1994). They have also paid particular attention to the dynamics of classroom interactions and the necessity of moving beyond access issues and changing the dynamics of gender relations and pedagogical approaches in the classrooms. In general, there was an attempt to value women’s knowledge and experiences and to integrate them into the school curriculum. There has been considerable critique of the education system for its reproduction of gender


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inequality and the construction of knowledge that has been argued to privilege men within the academy (Harding, 1991; Weiler, 1988; Weiner, 1994; Arnot, 1991). In recent years those concerned with the issue of women and education have directed criticism to a more structural foundation of education and argued that there needs to be a rethinking of gender relations that require not only recognition of gender differences but also an interrogation and reconfiguration of gender relations. This conceptualization of gender as relations, and not as fixed categories, has encouraged research on masculinity in the field of the sociology of education (Connell, 1995). As Connell (2009, p. 10) asserts, “The key is to move from a focus on difference to a focus on relations. Gender is, above all, a matter of the social relations within which individuals and groups act.” Thus, in this chapter, I will look at the impact of higher education on changing the nature of gender relations in Iran. The main question is how is the participation of women in higher education changing the nature of gender relations in Iran? The advocacy for women’s education has a long history in Iran. Najmabadi’s research (1998a) on the historical development of education for girls and women examines the early idea of women’s education in the writing of the reformers of the nineteenth century when they travelled to Europe. She argues that access to education for women has been shaped historically by a combination of both modernist and Islamist discourses surrounding the role of women and their responsibilities as mothers and wives (modern and modest). She asserts that during this period the notion of being a mother and wife changed from its pre-modern concept. During the Constitutional Revolution, women’s education was given special importance. In 1911, there were proposals for opening five elementary schools for girls to be subsidized by the government.2 Najmabadi discusses the emergence of the new discourse of educated motherhood and nationhood in the constitutionalist journal which emphasized the importance of education for women: It is evident that the progress and prosperity of every country and nation are dependent in general on [the] science and knowledge of men and particular on the education of women . . . If our women [pardagian–the veiled ones] are not educated, how can they take proper care of our newborn? Who are the hope of our dear homeland? How can they know the correct rules of nursing a child, that is, the three ways of natural nursing, artificial feeding and the proper combination of both? (p. 106)

Najmabadi (1998a) asserts that the role of mother and wife shifted significantly in the twentieth century and it is erroneous to read the call for women’s

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education as the reinforcement of their traditional role. She further argues that women’s education entailed “two conflicting notions: one disciplinary, the other emancipatory” (p. 113). These conflicting notions enabled women’s presence in the nation possible and desirable but at the same time has regulated their presence in a productive way. Abu-Lughod (1998) takes up a similar line of argument in her discussion of the situation of women in the Middle East. She also rejects the notion of “retraditionalization” and argues that “the Islamist call for women to return to their roles as wives and mothers does not represent anything resembling what could be considered ‘tradition’ ”; she further asserts that these roles (as mothers and wives) were fundamentally altered in twentieth century. This is more evident in Najmabadi’s (2000) discussion of Islam, modernity and secularism in the political context of contemporary Iran. She argues that thinking about Islam as a binary opposite of modernity and secularism blocks any possibility for the formation of alliances and productive engagement in political processes. She discusses the emergence of the reform movement both from within the Islamist movement and also from outside political initiative that is organized by the post-1979 generation. According to Najmabadi, this resistance has created a productive space for all political groups including the secular forces. Drawing on the historical specificity of Iranian nationalism, feminism, modernity and secularism, Najmabadi persuasively argues that: . . . thinking about Islam as [the] antithesis of modernity and secularism forecloses the possibilities of recognizing these emergences and working for these reconfiguration; it blocks off [the] formation of alliances; it continues to produce Islam as exclusive of secularism, democracy, and feminism, as a pollutant of these projects; and it continues the work of constituting each as the edge at which meaning would collapse for the other. (2000, p. 41)

It is in this context that we should look at the impact of higher education on women in Iran. It may not be sufficient or perhaps simplistic to argue that women’s access to higher education has created a sector of unemployed housewives (Shavarini, 2006). We have to look at women’s access to education in the context of these complexities and the interplay between modernity, secularism and Islam. Women have been actively participating in these negotiations and challenging some of these discriminatory policies.


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Context The increasing participation of women in higher education is a global phenomenon.3 In Iran, since the 1990s, women’s participation in higher education has grown significantly. Based on official statistics, more than 60 per cent of university admissions at undergraduate levels are women. This increased participation of women in higher education is a phenomenon that drew attention to the contradictory policy development. On the one hand women’s access to higher education increased significantly while at the same time several discriminatory policies related to marriage, divorce and other family legal issues were enforced. The Islamic Revolution in 1979 and some of the legal, political and social changes in the lives of Iranian women did generate considerable research. Until the early 1990s, most studies of women after the Islamic Revolution, including those of secular feminists (Afshar, 1985), focused on the negative aspects of these changes with little attention directed to some of the dynamic and unexpected developments affecting the presence of women in almost all aspects of life. As Najmabadi (1998b) argues, despite discriminatory legal changes in Iran after the Islamic Revolution, women have an unmistakable presence: Almost two decades after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, against the deepest fears of many secular feminist activists of the revolution, not only have women not disappeared from public life, but they have an unmistakable presence in practically every field of artistic activities. It will be tempting for a secular feminist to claim that Iranian women have achieved all this despite the Islamic Republic, against the Islamic Republic, and even against Islam as the dominant discourse in the country. (p. 59)

There are several interpretations for this unexpected increase in women’s participation. Najmabadi argues that the Islamic revolution brought women’s issues to the forefront. This was especially significant for those women who supported and sympathized with Islam and the Islamic Revolution.4 According to Paidar (1996), the Islamic Republic’s policies on women’s education, employment and political participation were designed to reinforce women’s continuing support for the revolution, thereby creating an image of stability internally and internationally. However, the policies were based on the premise that women’s participation outside the home would be countered with legal changes reinforcing the family (e.g. abolition of the Family Protection Law). Mir-Hosseini (1999) discusses the development of a set of complex circumstances after the revolution that made women’s public participation more feasible.

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According to her, “paradoxically, the enforcement of hijab [head cover and loose clothing] became a catalyst here: by making public space morally correct in the eyes of traditionalist families, it legitimized women’s public presence” (p. 7). In other words, imposing the hijab allowed more women to participate publicly and freely because the public space became viewed as safe, “sanitized” for all women and no longer corrupt. In line with Najmabadi, Mir-Hosseini also discusses the important role of those who were sympathetic to the Islamic Revolution yet helped to create a feminist rereading of Sharia texts (ibid.). Discussion in women’s journals (such as Zanan), women’s groups and associations brought some of the patriarchal biases of Sharia laws into focus and made the reinterpretation and rereading of the text necessary. This helped form a new gender consciousness and made the new discourses about women possible. The understanding of these complex dynamics is significant for the assessment of women’s achievement in higher education in post-revolutionary Iran. Mehran (2003) believes that the interplay of tradition and modernity within a revolutionary context created a productive space in which women were able to become active participants in the educational terrain. She questions whether the Iranian educational system has been able to create its ideal female citizen: Could one conclude by saying that the Islamic Republic has failed to create the ideal female citizen–the New Muslim Woman? A more accurate assessment, in my opinion, would be to say that Iranian women have used the paradox of tradition and modernity to serve their own purpose, which is none other than empowerment. (p. 286)

Keddie (2000) argues that the reforms undertaken by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (the previous regime), along with the contradictory policies of Khomeini’s revolutionary regime, had a clear impact on the presence of women in Iranian society. Women were encouraged to participate in public life and have access to education but at the same time the enforcement of hijab and the annulment of the Family Protection Law meant returning to polygamy, reviving temporary marriage, free divorce for men, and child custody to fathers and their families. This created a situation strongly resisted by the women’s press and women parliamentarians. Since the late 1980s Islamic feminists were able to advocate for a range of women’s rights more openly and successfully, managing to encourage policy-makers to revise earlier restrictions on women’s legal rights, though still within an Islamic framework. The area of education was the most successful issue on which Islamic feminists has campaigned. The most noted


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achievement was the lifting of restrictions placed on women in terms of accessing engineering, agriculture and several related fields in universities. It is important then to challenge the stereotypical and generally accepted binaries of traditional/modern in the discussion of women and education in Iran. Access to education for women has been shaped historically by a combination of both modernist and Islamic discourses surrounding the role of women and their responsibilities as mothers and wives (modern and modest). Najmabadi (1998a) argues that the role of mother and wife shifted significantly in the twentieth century and it is erroneous to read the call for women’s education as the reinforcement of their traditional role. She further argues that women’s education entailed “two conflicting notions: one disciplinary, the other emancipatory” (p. 113). These conflicting notions made women’s presence in the nation possible and desirable but at the same time has regulated their presence in a productive way.

Post-1979 With the Islamic Revolution of 1979, there have been significant changes in the lives of Iranian women and men. The universities were shut down for three years. The Islamic government introduced policies to change textbooks and the curriculum materials to reflect the Islamic values. Also, compulsory veiling for women was introduced and the Family Protection Law was repealed. Women were prevented from entering several fields of study at university, such as geology, mining and agrarian science. The reform introduced by the Islamic government could be divided into the following three distinct phases (RezaiRashti and Moghadam, 2011).

The ideological phase (1979–89) The government removed the secular discourse that had been established by the previous regime and replaced it with an Islamic discourse. They tried to dismantle the symbols, institutions and mores of the Pahlavi regime (Farhai, 1998). In fact, most policies were actually formulated through a variety of ad hoc initiatives by a range of stakeholders in power, many with conflicting views (Paidar, 1996, p. 61). The first phase focused on defining and regulating what was seen as a proper representation of Muslim women (i.e. women’s appearance, behaviour and activities). During the eight-year war with Iraq, women became active in the

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public domain, serving in war maintenance and nursing. Women who lost their husbands in the war gained custody rights and received government funds for their children even after they remarried. Following the war and the death of Khomeini in 1989, a new phase in the Iranian socioeconomic and political system emerged. This phase started with the institutionalization and development of the Islamic state. With the election of President Rafsanjani a new era began in which free education, free health care, low income and cooperative housing started to erode (Bahramitash, 2003, p. 235). The Islamic Republic’s first five-year plan was launched in 1990. It promoted the neo-liberal policies of privatization, deregulation, the modernization of the Tehran stock exchange and reintegration into the world economy: The clear message throughout the bureaucracy began to be: balanced economic growth and national development cannot take place in a situation of uncontrolled population growth and economic, social, cultural marginalization of women. Shifts in gender policy also began to occur in areas of women and law and women and agriculture. After a decade of encouraging women from entering law profession, the Iranian state reversed itself and deemed it disadvantageous to draw upon their experience and education. (Farhai, 1998, pp. 5–6)

The reform phase In May 1997, President Khatami was elected by a large margin and with the overwhelming support of Iranian women and youth. Political factions started to emerge and the government became more heterogeneous with various groups leaning towards the conception of democratic participation and women’s issues. During Khatami’s first term in office, a woman became vice-president for environmental affairs and several other women became deputy ministers (Farhai, 1998). Khatami’s reform, as Tazmini argues, was intended to be a gradual evolution and development of the existing system rather than a radical shake-up of the system. It is important to note Khatami’s accommodation of historical experiences of Western/Islam/modernity in the reform movement (Tazmini, 2009). Tazmini points out the following: Between 1997 and 2005, Iran saw evolutionary social changes that unfolded at the Measured pace; however, this process neither imitated the west nor followed a rigid interpretation of the Islamic past. In fact Khatami’s rhetoric accommodated historical, local and national experience with an acknowledgement of the accomplishment of western civilization. (p. 5)


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The neo-conservative phase The subsequent era, however, brought the reform movement to an end. The Ahmadinejad period is characterized by a neo-fundamentalist approach to women’s issues, including government concerns over their increased enrolment in university. Ahmadinejad promised to purge liberal and feminist professors and those in the social sciences and humanities who were affiliated with the reform movement. In 2009, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution5 established a “Special Council for the Development and Promotion of Humanities” and appointed seven humanities scholars to oversee Islamization of the disciplines.6

Educational Policies The underlying focus of education in the Islamic Republic, particularly at the outset, was the commitment to the development of an Islamic person. The High Council of Education laid out religious and spiritual goals first, followed by scientific and cultural, social, political and economic goals. The key roles and responsibilities for women were seen as motherhood and the care and upbringing of children; while for men, to provide economic support and represent the family in other institutions (Higgins and Shoar-Ghaffari, 1994, p. 20). Given these ascribed roles, men and women’s education would be different: While the Constitution of the Islamic Republic establishes the government’s responsibility for providing free education for all citizens up to the secondary level (Article 30), in discussing the rights of women the constitution specifies that these rights will be assured ‘in conformity with Islamic criteria’. (Article 21, ibid., p. 21)

Several interviews and speeches by Ayatollah Khomeini reveal his unequivocal acknowledgement of women’s role in the revolution and pays at least lip service to their freedom, their critical role in family and society, and their achievement in higher education, as long as no one “wants to do something against chastity or harmful to the nation” (Khomeini, 1982, p. 98). In his words: Women have more right than men over this [revolutionary] movement . . . Women must [be] involve[d] in the fundamental aspects of the country. Just as you had a fundamental role in the movement you must also have a share in the victory . . . The country belongs to you. God willing, you must reconstruct the country . . . Woman must have a say in her fate.

Iran: Women and Higher Education—Negotiating Tradition and Modernity 111 The era of suppression wanted to turn our fighting women into disgraced beings, but it was God’s will. They wanted to treat women like an object, like a commodity. But Islam has involved and involves women, like men, in every aspect of life. All people of Iran, whether men or women, must reconstruct this ruin which they have left us. (ibid., p. 99)

The essence of his criticism was that during the previous regime, women were actually oppressed and encouraged to be treated as objects, rather than active subjects for themselves, their families and society. “It is woman who, with her correct education, produces humanity, who, with her correct education, cultivates the country” (ibid., p. 101). The second phase of the Islamic Republic’s policies towards women’s education was a marked change. The Women’s Social and Cultural Council that was responsible for studying the legal, social and economic problems of women after numerous meetings and seminars that included university presidents and cabinet ministers, and in response to international pressure, lifted all restrictions on women entering any fields of study in the universities (Boozari, 2001). More recently, women’s admission to universities accounts for more than 60 per cent of the total student population at the undergraduate level. Since the 1990s, there has been a significant increase in women at all levels in universities. The participation of women in all fields of study is also significant. Although the rate of participation in the technical and engineering fields was much less than that of men (although three times more than the previous decade), women did well in all fields of basic sciences, arts and medicine. The proportion of women doubled in most fields and there was, indeed, a feminization in some fields, including the sciences and medicine. Most dramatic was the increase of women in agriculture and veterinary sciences (from 2.5 per cent to 51.1 per cent) and in technical and engineering subjects (from 6.6 per cent to 20.9 per cent). In general, women were dominating not only the traditionally female-intensive field of the humanities and the arts but also the sciences and medicine. According to an official report (Government of Iran, 2004, p. 19), the percentage of female compared to male students in tertiary education increased from 37.4 per cent in 1990 to 110.5 per cent in 2002. More women also completed degrees, and their share of degrees at various levels increased. Women’s share of bachelor’s degrees in 2003–04 was nearly 50 per cent; their share of master’s degrees was 27 per cent; and their share of doctorates was 24 per cent (Rezai-Rashti and Moghadam, 2011). The female share of the total is 46.5 per cent. At master’s and PhD level it is 24–27 per cent; for professional doctorates it is 41.6 per cent.


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The participation of women shows a significant shift in the gendered structures of the academy. The distribution of female students in the fields of sciences, agriculture and medicine indicate a clear change and does not reflect the historical pattern of gendered disciplines (except in engineering). This pattern is also in contrast to the statistics from developed countries such as Canada which show that the increasing presence of women in higher education institutions did not shift the gendered nature of the academy. As Drakich and Stewart (2007) assert: Women crossed the magical threshold of 50% in 1988 not to accolades but to concerns of equity for men and feminization of universities. Eighteen years later, women continue to enter universities in large numbers, but their numbers have not produced a significant shift in the gendered structures of the academy. (p. 6)

It is also important to note that the distribution of women and men admitted to universities closely corresponds to the percentage of applications to universities. The main objectives of this research is to investigate how women and men perceive this increased participation of women and what they think about their future, family and employment and how this increasing participation of women is affecting the dynamics of male–female relationships and the nature of the gender regime in Iranian society.

Methodological Considerations This chapter is based on interviews with students in five universities in Iran. The aim in conducting this research was to produce further information about women’s and men’s views of their participation and experience in higher education as a basis for examining questions of agency, gender relations and participation in Iranian society. It also involves their perception of employment opportunities, relationships and attitudes toward marriage. Male students were interviewed in order to show the significance of gender relations as well as the relational aspects of gender regimes in Iran. In total, 51 interviews were conducted (individual and focus group). The research used a qualitative case study method. Patton argues that individual cases “selected purposefully . . . [p]ermit inquiry into and understanding of a phenomenon in-depth” (Patton, 2002, p. 46) He further argues that the “logic and power of purposeful sampling derive from the emphasis on in-depth understanding. This leads to selecting information-rich cases for study in-depth” (ibid., p. 46).

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In addition, Creswell (2007) argues that “we use qualitative research to develop theories when partial or inadequate theories exist for certain populations and samples or existing theories do not adequately capture the complexity of the problem we are explaining” (p. 40). Stake (2000) states that “Case studies are of value for refining theory and suggesting complexities for further investigation, as well as helping to establish the limits of generalizability” (p. 448). It is important to state that the political climate in Iran has not been conducive to research, especially in the fields of humanities and social sciences. This research also encountered several challenges in the initial phases of obtaining permission and in terms of ethical considerations. In fact, without having an Iranian collaborator and establishing a cohesive network of professionals in several institutions, this research would have not been possible. This connection was important in order to have access to universities and students. I had also accepted invitations by several faculty members to be a guest lecturer in university classes and was involved in several panel discussions. In addition, being an Iranian who speaks the language and is familiar with the culture and university system was certainly an asset in conducting this research. The research covered several universities with institutional variations. For example, these included one technical and engineering university, an all-female university, two universities with a women’s studies programme, and a university with a medical education programme.

Findings The findings of this research suggest that there are some significant changes in the lives of men and women and the nature of gender relations in Iran. One of the main findings of the research is that there is a need to focus more attention on the significance of gender relations and the tension and negotiation of women with tradition and modernity. Issues of masculinity and femininity were discussed repeatedly by the participants in this study. It seems that access to higher education is gradually transforming the nature of gender relations in Iran. In this section, there will be several examples of these changes discussed by the participants.

The question of choice Women who were interviewed discussed their admission to universities and the institutions of higher education because of their own interests and also a


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lack of choice in trying to obtain good jobs with a high school diploma. They stated predominantly that their admission to universities makes them more employable and will improve their earning potential, social status and the possibility of accessing better positions, while as high school graduates the only position open to them would be secretarial work which is badly paid and not valued. Most students indicated that there are more positions open to men. For example, a man can work as a taxi driver, in a factory and/or construction site, as a security guard, or in a restaurant. Some indicated that sometimes the employer does not hire women because they know that women’s authority might be challenged by male employees: There are jobs like, for example, supervising or managing a restaurant. It is not necessary to be a man to be able to perform these jobs. But they prefer to hire men because they think other employees in the restaurant would not accept women’s authority and would challenge them.

A male PhD student asserted that “there are not enough incentives for boys to come to university because after completing their education they might not be able to obtain employment or they may end up in jobs that do not pay well”; while for women, it is not so important to think about employment because traditionally men are obligated to support their family financially. For example, this student stated that as a high school maths teacher, he was earning much less than a person with a high school diploma who works in a trade. He had a lot of negative comments about working as a teacher because of its low financial rewards. One of the female students discussed the reasons why her brothers did not go to university and got involved in trades and family business: My brothers did not go to university because they thought if they go to university they have to spend 10 years of their lives studying. Just to obtain a BA or BSc degree . . . they cannot find employment and for this reason they are in trades and work in our private/family business.

Issues of masculinity and femininity were discussed both by women and men as an important indicator of men’s lack of interest and desire to gain a university education. Most participants argued that the lack of choice for women encouraged them to gain a university education while for men there are more options: For boys there is a lot of entertainment in our society and it prevents them from studying while for girls, there are only a few options. For girls, many of them

Iran: Women and Higher Education—Negotiating Tradition and Modernity 115 love to study, but there are also some who study because they have nothing else to do. I have seen these kinds of people.

Social class and access to university education Several graduate students talked about their access to higher education because of their own interests. Their families’ lack of education, wealth and/ or conservative ideas did not prevent them from accessing university education. As Hamid, a male student, asserts: My parents are not educated. My parents gave me some financial support when I was in high school. Their financial support was helpful, but they could not provide me with much intellectual or moral support. I found the way all by myself.

This clearly corresponds to Mehran’s (2009) observation that after the revolution an increasing number of women from the lower-middle class and some with rural origins became increasingly visible in the public sphere. In fact, the process of revolution had widened the circle of women who have left their marginalized existence. It has opened the door for women other than the formerly empowered members of [the] urban elite whose high levels of education, wealth and family status had enabled them to break through many visible and invisible ceilings that kept their lower-class sisters ‘in their proper place’. (p. 547)

Higher education and gender relations All the participants interviewed discussed the positive impact of attending higher education institutions. They believed that universities are creating an environment that raises male and female consciousness and an opportunity to meet each other which would not have been possible in any other social situation. Women in general discussed how the university created a safe space for them to become more confident. This is especially true for those women who performed well academically: I think there is no difference between women and men. I experienced this myself. When I came to university, I was staying away from interacting with men at first but gradually because I was a very good student during my Bachelor degree, my confidence was improved and this affected my relationships. Now, I don’t see any difference between men and women and I can become friends with them and feel comfortable and equal.


Education in West Central Asia

One of the male students in the engineering field, Hamid, talked about how the relationship between men and women is changing and how women’s increased participation in university is having a positive impact on men’s attitudes towards women: For our generation, we are starting to believe in women’s abilities . . . For example although in my department there are 75% men and only 25% women, in the last few years I have noticed that some of the girls are far superior in terms of their intelligence . . . Girls are making more effort and the best student in our faculty is a woman with the highest mark in our class of fourth-year engineering.

Education, marriage and change of gender relations One of the main aims of this research was to explore the impact of higher education on men and women’s lives. Further, it sought to understand how they see their future in terms of employment, marriage and having children. An important phenomenon is the increase in the age of marriage for women. Many men and women believed that because of cultural norms, highly educated women have difficulty getting married. This is because men traditionally have been more educated and had better earning power. With the significant increase in the percentage of women with higher education degrees, they argued that men are hesitant to be involved with women with degrees in higher education because it is uncommon for men and they do not want to be equal or inferior to their partners. For example, Meena, a 42-year-old university professor who was just promoted to the rank of full professor, explained: While I was studying towards my Bachelor degree I had many proposals for marriage. After entering the Master’s degree the number of proposals decreased and by the time I entered PhD programme, it became non-existent.

Leila, who is in the PhD programme and married to someone who just entered a doctoral programme, also believed that this is becoming an issue for both men and women. It is not only men who do not intend to marry someone more educated but women themselves are also reluctant to marry someone with a lesser education. She described her own situation: I wanted my husband to be accepted in the PhD programme. He wanted it too. We both liked it . . . One of my conditions for the marriage was for him to get accepted. I wanted my husband to be at the same level of education.

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Another female student in the graduate programme discussed her anxiety as she was gaining more education: The more education I had, the more worried I was getting. First of all, there would be fewer cases of men who would propose to me. Some men might even be afraid to approach. I think men have trouble being involved with someone who has higher education than them. It rarely happens.

A female student discussed her observation of other female graduate students’ views living in the same university dormitory: Higher education definitely has an impact on marriage. Now, most of the female students that I see in the dormitory have this problem. They are single and they are feeling hopeless. They do not think about marriage anymore because they don’t think they would ever be able to find someone suitable. Many of these women do not accept anyone with a lower level of education than what they are obtaining.

These examples clearly show the changing nature of gender relations because of women’s increased participation in higher education.

Mehrieh Mehrieh is a price that is normally specified in the marriage contract and is payable to the woman by the man after the consummation of the marriage. The woman can claim her Mehrieh any time during the marriage, but traditionally, woman’s Mehrieh was paid upon divorce. Mehrieh has now become one of the most prominent issues within gender relations. Prior to the revolution, Mehrieh was rejected by many young educated women as a sign of their modernity. In recent years, many educated women now ask for a very high amount of Mehrieh. The findings of this research show that the use of Mehrieh should not be seen as a sign of a return to tradition but, as one of the participants put it, “a modern phenomenon” that enables women to minimize the impact of discriminatory family laws that were established after the Islamic Revolution. Two female professors discussed the rise of Mehrieh in relation to discriminatory laws in the country. One of the faculty members described it as a “historical revenge”. Because women were historically oppressed, Mehrieh provided the opportunity to seek vengeance. She asserted that: This is dangerous. I think women are playing a game in order to change the family law. If we want women to stop this game, we have to change the law. For


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example, these days, there is the possibility of pre-nuptial agreements which gives women the right to divorce, dividing the property, housing and others . . . But an educated woman usually does not see it at their level to fight for these rights before marriage. She fights for high Mehrieh. I think she should fight for her legal rights.

Many participants in the research discussed the discriminatory laws after the revolution as the main cause of increasing Mehrieh. For example, one of the female participants recounted: My family wanted a very high Mehrieh. For example, my brother’s wife had a dowry of 714 gold coins. My brother was asking a higher Mehrieh for me and his argument was that his own wife who is a high school graduate was given 714 gold coins, while his sister (me) with a doctorate should ask for at least 2000 gold coins. I had to intervene and tell them I don’t want to have a high Mehrieh and we settled for 750 gold coins.

In this case, one can see that there is a relationship between Mehrieh and education. She discussed her financial security and her lack of interest in getting into a debate about the amount of her Mehrieh. Another female professor also indicated that although the discriminatory laws created a situation in which women were asking for a high dowry, there is a sense that this has become normalized and institutionalized and now is a source of competition among families: It is also competition among families (cheshm ham cheshmi). For example, if my cousin has this much Mehrieh, I should have the same or more.

One female participant, who was married and divorced and had a personal experience of the family laws, was a strong supporter of Mehrieh for women. She discussed the importance of Mehrieh in the context of present family laws in Iran: For myself, I am a strong believer . . . [in] Mehrieh for women. Mehrieh should not be seen in the traditional sense. In this country women cannot negotiate their civil and legal rights through legal means. I was married for five years and found out that I could not live with my husband any longer. We discussed divorce but he said no. My Mehrieh was 1370 gold coins (Sekeh Azadi). I threatened that I would litigate for my Mehrieh. This was the only way that I could secure my divorce. I am absolutely sure that because of this high Mehrieh he agreed to divorce.

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Listening to the voice of women, it appears that culture is both a problem but also a solution. It certainly shows a sense of agency at least among educated middle-class women. The Mehrieh has provided a productive cultural means by which women have been able to claim their legal and civil rights that had not been granted to them by the constitution of the Islamic Republic. It is interesting to note the views of male respondents. Most male students that were interviewed discussed Mehrieh as a means of competition among girls and their families. They rarely acknowledged that the family laws were discriminatory towards women. Hamid mentioned that “Unlike what is in our religion and tradition, the Mehrieh has been misused. This is becoming a tool in women’s hands to further control men. This makes women more powerful and it can lead to the oppression of men.” When asked if the discriminatory laws lay at the heart of the matter, he responded: I don’t know much about these laws. I cannot give you my opinion. But it appears that women are just in competition (cheshm ham cheshmi) over the Mehrieh.

Conclusion The findings of this research show that men and women’s relationships are going through some fundamental changes. Women’s participation in higher education is changing their expectations, making them more aware of inequalities and affecting their ideas about marriage and family. They are becoming more conscious about their rights as women and actively participating in changing their social landscape. They are constantly negotiating or bargaining between tradition and modernity. They are also discovering that the only tool to achieve this transformation is through their participation in higher education which will provide the possibility of better employment and providing them with the necessary means to challenge tradition and negotiate in new ways. Men who were interviewed seem to have anxieties about the current state of gender relations. On the one hand, there is a desire to interact with more educated women, but on the other hand, they are anxious about losing their authority in the family and competing in a labour market where jobs are scarce.


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References Abu-Lughod, L. (ed.) (1998). Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Acker, S. (1987). Teachers, Gender and Education. London: Falmer Press. Afshar, H. (1985). “Women, state and ideology in Iran”. Third World Quarterly, 7, 2: 256–73. Arnot, M. (1991). “Equity and Democracy: a decade of struggle over education”. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 12, 4: 447–66. Arnot, M., David, M. and Weiner, G. (1999). Closing the gender gap: Postwar education and social change. London: Polity Press. Bahramitash, R. (2003). “Revolution, Islamization, and Women’s Employment in Iran”. Brown Journal of World Affairs, IX, 2: 229–41. Boozari, S. (2001). “Jaygahe zanan dar amoozesh aly az didgahe ammar” [“Development of women’s participation in higher education”]. Cultural and Social Studies, Women Studies 2, 2: 93–113. Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities: knowledge, power and social change. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches (2nd edn). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Drakich, J. and Stewart, P. (2007). “Forty years later how are university women doing?” Academic Matters: 6–9. Farhai, F. (1998), “The contending discourses on women in Iran”. Third World Resurgence: 94. (11 September 2000). Government of Iran (2004). Islamic Republic of Iran. Tehran: Government of Iran, p. 19. Harding, S. (1991). Whose science? Whose knowledge? Thinking from women’s lives. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Higgins, P, J. and Shoar-Ghaffari, P. (1994). In the eye of the storm: women in post-revolutionary Iran. London: I.B. Tauris, pp. 19–43. Keddie, N. (2000). “Women in Iran since 79”. Social Research, 67, 2. Khomeini, Imam (1982). “The Question of Women (A Selection of Interviews and Speeches)”, in A. Tabari and N. Yeganeh, In the Shadow of Islam. London: Zed Press, pp. 98–103. Mehran, G. (2003). “The paradox of tradition and modernity in female education in the Islamic Republic of Iran”. Comparative Education Review, 47, 3: 269–86. —(2009). “Doing and undoing gender: Female higher education in the Islamic Republic of Iran”. International Review of Education, 55: 541–59. Mir-Hosseini, Z. (1999). Islam and gender: The religious debate in contemporary Iran. London: I.B. Tauris. Najmabadi, A. (1998a). “Crafting an educated housewife in Iran”, in L. Lughod (ed.), Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp. 91–125.

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—(1998b). “Feminism in an Islamic Republic: Years of hardship, years of growth”, in Y. Haddad and J. Esposito (eds), Islam, Gender, and Social Change. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 59–84. —(2000). “Unveiling Feminism”. Social Text, 18, 3: 29–45. Nozaki, Y., Aranha, R., Fix-Dominguez, R. and Nakajima, Y. (2009). “Gender gap and women’s participation in higher education: views from Japan, Mongolia, and India”, in A. W. Wiseman and D. P. Baker (eds), International Perspectives on Education and Society, Vol 10, Gender Equality and Education from International and Comparative Perspectives. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing. Paidar, P. (1996). “Feminism and Islam in Iran”, in D. Kandiyoti (ed.), Gendering the Middle East. London: I.B. Tauris, pp. 51–68. Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd edn). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Rezai-Rashti, M. G. and Moghadam, V. M. (2011). “Women and higher education in Iran: What are the implications for employment and the ‘marriage market’?”. International Review of Education, 57, 3–4: 419–41. Shavarini, M. (2006). “Wearing the veil to College: The Paradox of higher Education in the Lives of Iranian Women”. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 38: 189–211. Stake, R. E. (2000). “Case studies”, in N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln (eds), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd edn). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, pp. 435–54. Tazmini, G. (2009). Khatami’s Iran: The Islamic Republic and the turbulent path to reform. London and New York: I.B. Tauris. Weiler, K. (1988). Women teaching for change. South Hadley, MA: Bergen & Garvey Publishers. Weiner, Gaby (1994). Feminism and Education. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Notes   1 The research project has been supported by the Social Sciences Research Council of Canada (410-2006-1426).   2 Until then the dominant way of schooling for girls and boys were traditional maktabs or home tutoring.   3 For example, Nozaki, Aranha, Fix, Dominguez and Nakajima (2009) argue that ‘one of the most significant worldwide transformations in education over the past several decades has been the drastic increase in women’s access to colleges and universities’ (p. 217).   4 Prior to the revolution, the ‘women question’ was mostly subsumed within political and economic issues. The priority was changes to the structural condition before dealing with women’s issues. This is especially true among the leftist group.


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  5 The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution was formed in 1984 to replace the Cultural Revolution Headquarters. Following a decree by Imam Khomeini, the Council was responsible for the planning of cultural policies for the universities on the basis of Islamic teaching, the selection of committed professors, and other issues relevant to the Islamic Revolution.   6 See (17 December 2010).


Kazakhstan: An Overviewwith Special Reference to Ethnic and Linguistic Dimensions Mukhtarova Shakira Mukashovna

Introduction The Republic of Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, is the ninth largest (by land area) country in the world and the largest landlocked country; its territory of 2,727,300 square kilometres (1,053,000 square miles) is larger than Western Europe (ASRK, 2005; CIA, 2007). It has a population of 16.6 million (2011 estimate), of which 46 per cent is rural and 54 per cent is urban. Kazakhstan has the 62nd largest population in the world, though its population density is less than six people per square kilometre (15 per square mile) (National Census, 2009). While located primarily in Asia, a small portion is located west of the Urals in Eastern Europe (MSN Encarta, 2009). Ethnic Kazakhs, a mix of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes who migrated into the region in the thirteenth century, were rarely united as a single nation. The area was conquered by Russia in the eighteenth century, and Kazakhstan became a Soviet republic in 1936 (CIA, 2012). Kazakhstan declared itself an independent country on 16 December 1991, the last Soviet republic to do so. Since independence, Kazakhstan has pursued a balanced foreign policy and worked to develop its economy, which is larger than those of all the other Central Asian states, largely due to the country’s vast natural resources. Kazakhstan’s economy has largely recovered from the global financial crisis of 2008, and GDP had increased 7 per cent year-on-year by 2011 (CIA, 2012). In 2010, Kazakhstan ranked 66th out of 169 countries in the UN Human Development Index (HDI) and has been included in the high human development category according to the 2010 Human Development Report. Compared to the previous year, Kazakhstan moved up 16 positions from 82nd place. The improvement was due to an increase in GDP per capita income and life expectancy.


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Kazakhstan is divided into 14 provinces, which are subdivided into districts. According to the 2009 Census, 70.2 per cent of the population is Muslim, 26.6 per cent Christian, 0.1 per cent Buddhists, 0.2 per cent others, and 2.8 per cent non-believers. According to the constitution, Kazakhstan is a secular state and guarantees religious freedom by Article 39, which states, that “Human rights and freedom shall not be restricted in any way.”

Education System in Kazakhstan The education system in Kazakhstan was strongly influenced by the Russian and Soviet education systems. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Czarist government attempted to Westernize the Kazakh education system by sponsoring Russian-language schools and gymnasiums and encouraging the Kazakh elite to study at Russian universities. Reform of education, training and human resource development is an integral part of the transition to a democratic society and a market economy. Kazakhstan has made progress in all these areas since reform began in 1990. There was a big challenge to the Ministry of Education and Science to meet the needs of both the new economy and society in view of scarce financial and human resources. The Education Law, adopted in 1992, established the new principles and objectives of education, the basic principles of which are: a) the equality of citizens in their right to receive education; b) diversification of educational institutions in terms of ownership, direction of activities, forms of education and training; c) continuity in the process of education; d) the scientific and secular character and ecological orientation of education in state educational institutions; and d) democracy in the management of the education system (Article 3). According to the Law of Education there are following levels of education: preschool, secondary, vocational and technical secondary, higher and postgraduate education. Access to primary and secondary education is high in Kazakhstan. The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan protects the right to access kindergarten (Article 30) and provides every citizen with the right to receive free pre-school education. The adult literacy rate in Kazakhstan is 99.5 per cent: male 99.8 per cent, and female 99.3 per cent. Children typically begin pre-school education at age five. In 2004, according to statistics, 100 pre-school centres were working in the country and 135,856 children were enrolled in these centres. Primary and secondary education in Kazakhstan is compulsory for all citizens. It begins at age six and runs from years 1 to 5. All primary schools are

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state-owned with constitutionally protected rights. Primary school education is free to all citizens and residents of Kazakhstan. The curriculum of primary schools is established by the Ministry of Education, and textbooks are given by the government to all schools and students. Secondary education is divided into two parts: lower secondary and higher secondary. Students continue in lower secondary school from Year 5 to Year 9. Normally a student in Year 8 is 14–15 years old. The curriculum is a general education curriculum including the subjects first language, literature, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and a foreign language. In higher secondary school there are three tracks available. Students are free to choose any one track. The first track provides general education covering a variety of subjects to Grades 10–11. The other two tracks are for vocational education. Initial vocational education is provided by training schools and lycées, and secondary vocational education is provided by colleges and trade schools. There are two types of higher education in Kazakhstan: a) universities that focus entirely on teaching and do not engage in research; and b) universities that focus more heavily on research but take on students as well. The second type of university tends to prepare students for professional or scientific careers, as opposed to academic job paths. There are four levels of higher education in Kazakhstan: a) a four-year bachelor’s degree; b) a five-year specialist degree; c) a two-year master’s degree; and d) a five-year doctoral degree. The universities in Kazakhstan are fully centralized. The government is currently pursuing a programme to adopt a credit system that would allow students to study more easily internationally, and to add the possibility of a curriculum with electives and student-selected programmes.

Teacher Training and Multi-ethnic Education in Kazakhstan in the 1920s and 1930s The ethnic factor in education was, and remains, a key issue in the cohesion of any national system of provision. “National” schools always play the role of leader in the mediation of relations within the state. The beginnings of multiethnic education in this region were outlined in a resolution of the People’s Commissariat of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) on 31 October 1918 “about schools of ethnic minorities”. To all nations within the federation was given the right to open schools and institutions using their mother tongue as the language of instruction (LOI).


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The necessity of establishing national schools in the first years of Soviet power is illustrated by the ethnic structure of Kazakhstan according to the census of 1926: 3,627,612 Kazakh; 1,275,055 Russian; 129,399 Uzbek; 860,201 Ukrainian; 79,758 Tatar; 51,094 German; 27,327 Mordvinian; 25,584 Belorussian; 10,200 Kirgiz; 8455 Dungan and other nationalities. In total in Kazakhstan in 1926 there were 6,198,467 people, representing 85 nationalities. (Data is taken from census of 1926 of Kazakhstan with its old borders without Kara-Kalpak: Central State Archives of Republic of Kazakhstan, F. 81. Op .3. D. 106. L. 16.) In accordance with the desire for cohesive relations between ethnic groups in Kazakhstan, in the 1924–5 academic year 192 national schools were operative which included the Kazakh, Russian, German, Tatar, Uzbek, Dungan and Uigur cultures (Central State Archives of Republic of Kazakhstan, F. P-81. Op. 1. D. 933. L. 17). By 2009, one can find evidence that schools were distributed the following way by language of instruction (LOI): Russian language, 1183 schools; Kazakh language, 649; Uzbek language, 33; German language, 24; Estonian language, 2; Uigur language, 3. In addition there were also bilingual schools: Russian/Tatar, 7; Russian/Kazakh, 78; Russian/Uzbek, 2; Russian/German, 4; Kazakh/Uzbek, 2 (Kunantaeva, 1998). The development of national schools was followed by a Soviet “localization policy” which was applied all over the USSR. Studying the language of the Kazakh nation as a native nation by representatives of other nations was the basis of this policy, which also provided for the development of the mother tongue. Besides the mother language, other ethnic components in the curricular content of national schools included history, geography, culture and other special features of the object nation. Thereby, elements of national pedagogy enriched the content of learning and reinforced the ethnic identity of pupils. All this was carried out in the difficult, sometimes contradictory, arrangement of the national education system in the republic under the oversight of the USSR as it developed under Lenin and then Stalin. Madin (1972), in The Development of Educational Thought in Kazakhstan during the Soviet Period, noted that the development of Kazakh schools met with many difficulties in connection with the distinctive national and everyday peculiarities of the Kazakh people. Common difficulties in establishing and working of national schools included: poor pedagogical and methodological provision in relation to learning in the pupil’s mother tongue; poor material resources; lack of national (Kazakh) teaching personnel. Such a situation existed not only in Kazakhstan but

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throughout the whole territory of the USSR, within which nearly 150 indigenous languages existed. The realization of Lenin’s national policy of building on national schools, the main principle was strict execution of instructions and resolutions from the central USSR authority while also taking into account local cultures.

In a resolution dated 11 December 1931, the plenary session of the Nationalities Committee of the RSFSR mentioned success in establishing national schools while imposing compulsory primary education in all cities and industrial centres within a seven-year timescale. By this time, teaching and learning in primary schools was taking place in 70 languages. As was mentioned in the resolution, it was the beginning of a period of completion of imposing general compulsory education throughout the territory of the USSR, except for the nations of the north. Despite all the achievements of national schools in achieving literacy and teaching in the mother language, the 1931 report also described grave shortcomings, stating that: Studying in the national school doesn’t provide enough knowledge and fails to solve the problem of training of competent people for technical secondary schools and institutes, who master the basics of disciplines (physics, chemistry, mathematics, mother language, geography and others). Important shortcomings in the work of national schools include the following: not enough localization policy; poor pedagogical qualifications of many national schoolteachers; not enough provision . . . [of] communistic textbooks and the methodological literature in mother languages of pupils; lack of specific differentiated direction from public education bodies regarding certain nationalities. (Central State Archive of the RK. F. 81. Op. 3. D. 106. L. 25)

High demands were made, especially in cases connected with communist ideology and the polytechnical focus of educational content. In these conditions the development of an ethnic component was tightly connected with the problem of training teachers to operate within both national and federal paradigms. The system of national pedagogical schools in Kazakhstan includes seven educational institutions, for Uighur, Korean, Ukranian, German and Uzbek nationalities. In a resolution on the report of the Kazakh Public Committee of Education dated from 15 to 19 August 1931, it was stated that there was evident improvement in the educational service of nationalities of the KSSR, and mentioned especially achievements in the training of personnel for national schools. A Ukranian pedagogical school was established, with relations with


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the pedagogical faculty of Ukraine. Special oriental national schools had been founded in Dzharkent; Uzbec departments in Almaty; Kara-Kalpak pedagogical schools; German and Tatar departments in Petropavlovsk; Russian and Kazakh pedagogical schools; and Dunghan schools. The Latin alphabet was developed for eastern nationalities of the KSSR (Central State Archive of the RK. F. 81. Op. 3. D. 106. L. 31). In the training of the national pedagogical personnel of Kazakhstan in the 1920s and 1930s massive assistance was rendered by various institutes in the RSFSR. Some sources on public education in Kazakhstan give statistical data on sending groups of Kazakhstan youth to Moscow, Leningrad, Saratov, Kazan and Tashkent for study. Special reservation for students who wanted to enter national schools played a big role in the training of the national personnel of the union republics and existed until 1934. Furthermore this reservation was structured with a division into districts of pedagogical institutions which served native national autonomous republics and was not territorially integrated in terms of national minorities in districts. In a list of pedagogical institutes of the RSFSR, secured for Kazakhstan, were included Astrakhan, Saratov, Kuibishev, Sverdlov, Omsk and Tomsk (Central State Archive of the RK. F. 81. Op. 3. D. 842. L. 4-5). In October 1928 the first pedagogical institute was established in Kazakhstan, to which in 1935 was given the name of the outstanding Kazakh visionary Abai Kunanbaya. Public education in Urda (Bukeevsky), Tashkent, Orenburg (later transferred to Kzyl Orda) and the Kazakh institute of enlightenment in Verniy played a preparatory role in the organization of the first higher educational institution in Kazakhstan, but these sites were only partially claimed as institutions of higher education because of poor organizational conditions, small numbers of students, insufficient personnel and other difficulties. The Kazakh Pedagogical Institute, named after Abai (now Kazakh National Pedagogical University named after Abai), has rendered great service in preparing pedagogic personnel and in the development of national culture in the republic. In this institute worked great pioneers and visionaries, including M. Auezov, S. Seyfullin, A. Baytursinov, S. Mukanov, Kh. Dosmukhamedov, S. Asfendiyarov, Sh. Alzhanov and M. Karatayev. During just five years of work, 285 teachers graduated from this institute. Since 1932 special pedagogical departments have been formed with groups of school and pre-school specialists. The first graduations from the Kazakh Pedagogical Institute (1931) numbered 150 teachers with higher education qualifications. However, in that period of rapidly growing demand for national pedagogical personnel, the Kazakh Pedagogical Institute

Kazakhstan: An Overview


was unable to provide all schools with teachers. Consequently in March 1932 the Ural Pedagogical Institute was opened, and in 1935–6 pedagogical institutes were established in Aktyubinsk, Almaty, Kustanay, Karaganda and Petropavlovsk. In early 1934 there occurred a significant event in the cultural life of Kazakhstan, namely the opening of the Kazakh State University named after S. M. Kirov, which comprised the following faculties: mathematics, biology, chemistry and, later, philology. Correspondence teacher training organized by the Kazakh Republican Institute of Advanced Training of Education Personnel was also significant during this period. The 1930–1 report of the Kazakh Pedagogical Institute stated: In syllabuses, received from [the] Public Committee of Education, were made amendments about inclusion in syllabuses [sic] disciplines of Kazakhstan destination such as: 1) Kazakh language and Methods of Kazakh Language, 2) History of Kazakh people, 3) Economics of Kazakhstan, 4) Kazakh literature, 5) Oriental literature, 6) Turkish literature. These amendments made in syllabuses were confirmed by [the] Public Committee of Education of [the] Federation. (Central State Archive of the RK. F.1142. Op. 1. S. 4. L. 20)

In the syllabuses of the Kazakh Pedagogical Institute of 1933 the notion of “mother tongue” was applied to all faculties. An explanatory note for the Syllabus of the Russian Language and Literature Department stated that “Studying national language has as its aim to introduce students to languages of other systems. . .Studying national languages will give a more established basis for methodological conclusions and also help prepare future teachers in case . . . they will teach people of another nation” (Central State Archive of the RK. F. 1142. Op. 1. D. 7. L. 55). So in a list of special subjects for the Kazakh section of the Kazakh language and literature department were included the Turkish language, the literature of Turkic nations of the USSR and literature of the East abroad (Central State Archive of the RK. F. 1142. Op. 1. D. 7. L. 123) At the so-called centre, efforts were also being made at this time to accommodate learning about the cultures of the constituent republics of the USSR. For example, in the history faculty of Leningrad Historical, Philosophy and Linguistic Institute in the 1932–33 academic year, the languages and literatures of the “Soviet East” (Tajik, Uzbek, Kurd, Kirghiz, Turkmen) were studied within the following disciplines: the native languages of USSR nations and the history of USSR nations. (Central State Archive of the RK. F. 1142. Op. 1. D. 10. L. 4) These efforts at the level of higher education, and especially the formation of the teaching force, were intended to reach down to the level of primary and


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secondary schools. For example, a Resolution of the All-union Communist Party, dated 25 August 1932, concerned syllabuses in primary school and the further promotion of the ethnic component in the content of learning in national schools. In this document it was considered to be necessary to “bring in syllabuses on social science, geography and history, important knowledge connected with national cultures of USSR nations, their literature, art, history, development” (Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1963). By March 1933 there was a defined list of textbooks to be written for each nationality, including ABC books, grammar books, reading books, literature books for primary schools, and Russian language textbooks for any nationality or groups of nationalities. These were “stable textbooks” for common schools that did not accept distortion to contain data on the history of any particular ASSR, autonomous region and minorities within nations. This was the notion of “Territorial Textbooks for Primary School”, containing information about a given territory. The use of such territorial books in teaching subjects was intended to supplement and concretize the material of stable textbooks. For example, any territorial book on natural science had to contain information about local topography, climate, plants, insects, animals and other components of the environment. Most of the authors of these stable books for Kazakh schools were scholars and students of the Kazakh Pedagogical Institute at Kazakh State University, a key institution guiding the strong focus on Kazakh culture in school education. For example, in 1930 S. Mukanov together with B. Maylin produced a Reading Book on Kazakh Literature and also co-edited with K. Bekghozhin a Reading Book on Kazakh Literature for school pupils. There were a number of other authors of such texts at this time, while S. Bokayev was involved in writing and translating textbooks on mathematics. Some established texts from Russia and elsewhere were translated into the Kazakh language. Attempts at this time to switch to a Latin script caused considerable controversy., A. Baytursinov warned about these difficulties. Comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the Latin and Arab languages, he opposed the transfer of the Kazakh written language to Latin script, prompting his opponents to call him a “public enemy”, and causing him to be repressed. However, in spite of such difficulties in establishing a multi-ethnic education in Kazakhstan, it was a period of prosperity for national cultures and languages and the development of national intellectuals. It was also a key period in the foundation of formal education in Kazakhstan which helped the nation to cope with the subsequent trials and tribulations of the remainder of the Soviet period.

Kazakhstan: An Overview


Development of the Ethnic Component of Kazakhstan Education During the Soviet Period (Mid-1930s–Late 1980s) A critical moment in establishing the primary and secondary schools of Kazakhstan was a resolution of May 1934. By this resolution a single type of school with a single curriculum, common textbooks and principles of teaching and upbringing of the younger generation was established all over the Soviet Union. By 1937 a sharp decline was evident in the number of schools for national minorities in Kazakhstan. This occurred against a background of repression and gradual erosion of the existing system of multinational education. The strong tide of Stalin’s repression targeted national pedagogical intellectuals. Many of them were accused of nationalism, subversive activity when studying the Russian language, and especially establishing national schools as seats of bourgeois national and anti-Soviet influence on children. By early 1938 the Communist Party adopted a resolution to transform national schools into ordinary educational institutions of the Soviet type, with the exception of some primary Uigur, Uzbek and Tajik schools situated in places of concentration of these nationalities such as the South Kazakhstan oblast (Central State Archive of the RK. F. 1692. Op. 1. D. 137. L. 36). From March 1938 the Russian language was inserted into the school curriculum as well as in further and higher education. Everywhere, including non-formal education and the media, the Russian language spread so as to dominate social communication, supplanting the language of the native nation of Kazakhstan and its internal ethnic minorities. Textbooks underwent a process of Russification. Subjects with ethno-regional components such as local history and geography were extracted from school courses, and there was a reduction in the hours allocated to the study of the mother tongue. A similar metamorphosis happened in pedagogical institutions. For example, in the curricula of the Kazakh Pedagogical Institute, specifically the Faculty of Language and Literature, the specialty “Russian Language and Literature” element became dominant, with study of the Kazakh language and literature much reduced, and by 1941 almost neglected altogether. This is evidenced in the archives. (Central State Archive of the RK. F. 1142. Op. 1. D. 42. L. 1; Central State Archive of the RK. F. 1142. Op. 1. D. 88. L. 32). Such Soviet centralization, together with the “Russification” of curricular content, led to the loss of local historical memory and a rejection of the traditions of the nationalities of Kazakhstan. It was a form of “ethnic cleansing”. The ideology of the Communist Party became the core of organized learning. It was


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alien, almost abstract, since it did not originate from the national individuality of the many cultures of the Soviet Union, but rather was mere ideology. Against the background of cruel repression and persecution of scientists and cultural workers, began an offensive on the ethnic individuality of the Kazakh nation. A resolution of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Kazakhstan, dated February 1947, spoke of the “bad political mistake in the work of the Institute of Language and Literature of the Academy of Science of the Kazakh SSR”, with accusations of political perversions of a nationalistic character in works devoted to the problems of the past (Bolshevik Kazakhstan, 1947). This process continued into the 1950s in great detail, so that even individual poems were branded reactionary, including the works of Er Sayin, Edige and Karabek Batyr (Central State Archive of the RK. F. 2. Op. 1. A . 543. L. 42-43). The first Kazakh holder of a doctorate in history, E. B. Bekmakhanov, became a victim of this persecution after he had produced his monograph on Kazakhstan in the 20–40s of the 19th Century in 1947. The “scientific” views of Bekmakhanov were denounced as a development of the conception of bourgeois nationalists, politically harmful, ignoring party resolutions on ideological questions (Kozibayev, 1990, p. 89). Thus even in historical facts, supposed ideological motives were supposed to be hidden, recording and interpreting the national spirit of the Kazakh people. Despite such an adverse, even dangerous, political situation, some national intellectuals continued to rediscover and create a fund of scholarship by studying national culture, history and other components of Kazakh identity and of minorities within what was then the Kazakh SSR. Others promoted the work of previous Kazakh scientists, including A. Sembayev, A. Sitdykov, S. Balaubayev, T. Tazhibayev and K. Zharykbayev, while the theme of Kazakh—Russian unity was developed in the work of K. Berzhanov (1965). There were years of stagnation, but it is possible to trace the development and establishment of higher pedagogical education in Kazakhstan on the basis of analyses of the archives on the history of the development of the teacher training system and materials that provide evidence about the growth rate of higher educational institutions involved with teacher training (Berzhanov, 1965; Rustemov, 1985; Seytaliev, 1996). These show a significant increase of activity during the twentieth century despite the aforementioned restrictions, including a crisis in the 1990s. At that time the closing of pedagogical institutes was a poorly thought through policy that was reversed in the early years after the millennium. So, in the Republic of Kazakhstan today there are a number

Kazakhstan: An Overview


of successful and advanced institutions for teacher training such as Pavlodar State Pedagogical Institute, Semipalatinsk State Pedagogical Institute and Aktyubinsk State Pedagogical Institute. One problem that has taken a long time to rectify is the legacy of the “Russification” of Kazakh schools prior to 1990 which adversely affected the teaching of the Kazak language and its employment as the language of instruction. This is a legacy with deep roots going down to the mid-1930s when the prevalence of the Russian language in these years noticeably excluded the Kazakh language from the formal educational sphere, affecting some 700 Kazakh schools (Kadysova, 1999). Analyses of the study documents and other archives relating to the higher educational institutions also provide evidence about the reduction to a minimum of ethnic components in the content of higher pedagogical education in the 1960s and 1970s–80s. Increased ethno-cultural demands eventually prevailed and now many outstanding contributors to the advancement of Kazakhstan are mentioned in curricula and texts. This applies to the minority ethnicities as well as to the majority Kazakhs. Such liberal developments also extended to the main languages of other groups, and of other former Soviet republics and Eastern European satellite states, especially Ukrainian and Polish. Indeed contacts with Ukraine assisted in the study of Polish, its main neighbouring language to the west. From this period on, the teaching of German, English and French has advanced. This has all been carried out under the influence of internationalization and globalization. Bu it must be acknowledged that the influence of Soviet hegemony prior to 1990 was not entirely negative. We must do justice to the Soviet system of international and civil patriotic education which formed a steady social and psychological cast of consciousness, self-conscious and belonging in a troubled international context including the Second World War and the subsequent Cold War. Then the break-up of the Union led to the fragmentation of its system of ideological upbringing that was Russian-dominated. That is well described by Bronfenbrenner (1970) in his classic comparative study of upbringing in the USA and USSR. The coming of independence for the former republics of the Soviet federation was preceded by gradual changes in various areas of life in all the nascent states. In the 1970s and 1980s, alongside some persistent and restrictive legacies of Russian domination, the redevelopment of sciences such as ethnography, ethno-psychology and ethno-pedagogy began to occur. This was partly on the basis of scientific creations of scientists in the context of the declining Soviet


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Union itself (Porshnev, 1979; Bromley, 1983; Drobizheva, 1985; Volkov, 1974; Gashimov, 1970; Khanbikov, 1967). Such progressive academics influenced research on problems of international relations and ethno-psychology and ethno-pedagogy, and the history of pedagogy of the constituent republics, including Kazakhstan. Here a science school was opened focusing on theories of nationhood and international relations (Dzhandildin, 1971). In studies of the methodological problems of ethno-psychology, major contributions were made by psychologists Dzhandildin (1971), Dzhunusov (1990) and Mukanov (1980). Their ideas were developed further by Zharikbaev and Kaliev (1995) and Elikbayev (1991). Among the first works that were devoted to the problems of upbringing and education in Kazakh national pedagogy were the theses of Orshibekov, on the Ideas of Moral Education in the Kazakh Oral Folk Art (1973), and Muhambayeva (1974), on the National customs and traditions of the Kazakh people and their influence on the upbringing of children and youth. Scholars in related disciplines also began to focus on education. In December 1986, Kazakh youth demonstrated strongly for the national interests of individual people and the state. A tide of protest against enforced centralization spread to all the cities of Kazakhstan. It is now clear that the lack of an ethnic component in the content of education (especially in language, literature and history) appeared to be one of the sparks that fuelled the explosion of national consciousness among Kazakh youth. At the time, this outpouring of identity and demand for recognition was cruelly suppressed by a central authority in its death throes, but the breakthrough had begun, with education in the forefront.

Language and Education in Modern Kazakhstan Reform took place within a kind of missionary environment in the territory of Kazakhstan, including Russian intellectuals who understood the needs and wishes of the peoples of the country. Together with the introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet in the Kazakh language, it has been strengthened by the influence of the Russian language and its terminology. At last the Kazakh language was officially declared the “official language” of the new nation in the constitutions of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 1993 and 1995. This recognition played a dominant role in the strengthening of ethnic identity in the content of higher pedagogical education in the formative years of the new nation. This was the most intense period of development of an

Kazakhstan: An Overview


ethnic component in the content of higher pedagogical education. This factor contributed to the independence and sovereignty of the republic. The sovereign state has restored the Kazakh language to a central role in the identity of the nation. The language policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, enunciated in 1996, aimed at preserving ethnic harmony and stability, and determined the optimal model of the functional development of languages in the state. The “State Programme of Functioning and Development of Languages for 2001–2010” asserts that “the state assisted the languages of all diasporas living on the territory of Kazakhstan”. In order to promote national languages and cultures in the country, a system of “Sunday schools” has been created to teach their native languages to children and communities. As early as the 1999–2000 academic year, such Sunday schools have studied and promoted 14 mother languages, namely Korean, Hebrew, Ukrainian, Tatar, German, Turkish, Chechen, Uighur, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Chuvash, Polish, Kurdish and Dungan. At the present time in Kazakhstan there is a healthy diversity of languages, though the functional purposes of over a hundred local languages of ethnic groups in the country are uneven. Article 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan (1995) states that: (a) the state language of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the Kazakh language; (b) in state institutions and local administration bodies along with Kazakh, officially Russian language is also used; and (c) the state shall promote conditions for the study and development of the languages of all the people of Kazakhstan. Current pedagogical research defines the concept of “mother tongue” as “an organic mechanism of transmission over the centuries of experience of the people, the only way for an individual to join the age-old wisdom of the people, its culture and way of life” (Nauryzbai, 1997, p. 44). With the acquisition of sovereignty and the independence of the Kazakh language, a point has been reached where ethnicity and state functions coincide. The presence of the state language is an obligatory condition of the identity of the nation. Today the Kazakh language functions as a language of instruction and documentation in educational institutions and the world of work. In modern times in Kazakhstan there are more than 130 nations and nationalities, different cultures, languages, national philosophies and distinctive ways of doing things. According to Zhumasultanov (2005), the largest ethnic group in the country is Kazakh with 57.9 per cent of the population. Then come Russians, 26.7 per cent; Ukrainians, 3 per cent; Uzbeks, 2.8 per cent; Tatars1, 5 per cent; Uighurs, 1.5 per cent; Germans, 1.5 per cent; Koreans, 0.7 per cent; Belarusians, 0.6 per cent; Azeris, 0.6 per cent; and Turkish, 0.6 per


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cent. In addition, within the republic there are from 30,000 to 45,000 Tajiks, Chechens, Kurds, Poles and Dungan; from 10,000 to 20,000 Chuvash, Greeks, Mordovians, Kyrgizov, Armenians, Ingush, Moldovans and Bashkir; and from 5000 to 9000 Roma Georgians, Mari, Bulgarians, Lithuanians and Udmurt; and representatives of other nationalities and ethnic groups total some 5000 (Zhumasultanov, 2005). It is important to create the optimal conditions of inter-ethnic interaction in order to contribute to stability in the political, economic and spiritual spheres of development of Kazakhstan society. A conceptual model of ethnic and cultural education of the Republic of Kazakhstan sets strategic goals and objectives of a multicultural identity, oriented through the knowledge of their culture, of others, and the formation of a multilingual. Education is seen as a means of establishing national identity, and the realization of cultural and linguistic interests (Teacher of Kazakhstan, 1996). It is asserted that the “ethno-cultural identity of the people emerges from knowledge of events in its history, of loyalty to the established cultural values and the veneration of national heroes. The status of ethno-cultural identity is achieved through the socio-cultural sphere created by the people” (Teacher of Kazakhstan, 1996). The new democratic course in independent Kazakhstan has created a new ideological aim: the spiritual revival of national cultural values. The national education system, as well as non-formal and informal learning, is a key component in achievement of this aim.

References Agency of Statistics of the Republic of Kazakhstan (ASRK) (2005). Main Demographic Indicators. Republic of Kazakhstan Berzhanov K. B. (1965). The Russian–Kazakh commonwealth in education development: historical and pedagogical research. Alma-Ata, p. 342 (in Russian). Bolshevik Kazakhstan (1947). On the grave political mistakes in the work of the Institute of Language and Literature of Kazakh SSR, No. 1, pp. 48–52. Bromley Yu. V. (1983). Sketches of the ethnos theory. Moscow: Nauka, p. 412. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1970). Two Worlds of Childhood: US and USSR. New York: Simon and Schuster. Central State Archive of the RK. F. 1142. Op. 1. D. 42. L. 1. —F. 1142. Op. 1. D. 88. L. 32. —F. 1142. Op. 1. D. 7. L. 123. —F. 1142. Op. 1. D. 7. L. 55. —F. 1692. Op. 1. D. 137. L. 36.

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—F. 81. Op . 3. D. 106. L. 16. —F. 81. Op . 3. D. 106. L. 25. —F. 81. Op. 3. D. 842. L. 4-5. —F. P-81. Op 1. D. 933. L. 17. —F. 1142. Op. 1. S. 4. L. 20. —F. 81. Op. 3. D. 106. L. 31. —F. 1142. Op. 1. D. 10. L. 4. —F. 2. Op. 1. A .543. L. 42-43. CIA (2007). Kazakhstan. The World Factbook. CIA —(2012). Kazakhstan. The World Factbook. CIA Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1963). About culture, education and science. Moscow, p. 552. Drobizheva, L. M. (1985). “National consciousness: base of formation and sociocultural incentives of development”. Soviet ethnography, 5: 3–16. Dzhandildin, N. D. (1971). Nature of national psychology. Alma-Ata: Nauka, p. 304. Dzhunusov, M. S. (1990). Nationalism in various dimensions. Alma-Ata: Nauka, p. 197. Elikbayev, N. E. (1991). About national psychology of the Kazakh nation. Alma-Ata, p. 184. Gashimov, A. Sh. (1970). The Azerbaijani national pedagogies. Baku, p. 184. Kadysova, R. Z. (1999). The history of development of a multiethnic education in Kazakhstan: experiences and challenges (1985–1995). Abstract of a dissertation. Almaty, p. 30. Khanbikov, Ya. I. (1967). From the history of pedagogical thought. Kazan: Tatarskoe knizhnoe izdatelstvo. Korf, N. A. (1879). Russian elementary school. St. Petersburg, p. 215. Kozybayev, I. M. (1990). Historiography in Kazakhstan: Lessons of history. Alma-Ata: Rauan, p. 136. Kudaibergenova, Z. A. (1999). National and linguistic construction in Kazakhstan. (1946–1960): Abstract of dissertation of candidate of history science. Almaty, p. 30. Kunantaeva, K. (1998). Kazakhstan development of education (1917–1990). Almaty, p. 137. Madin, I. B. (1972). The Development of Educational Thought in Kazakhstan during the Soviet Period. Alma-Ata, p. 32. MSN Encarta (2009). Kazakhstan. Muhambayeva, A. K. H. (1974). National customs and traditions of the Kazakh people and their influence on the upbringing of children and youth. Abstract of dissertation of candidate of pedagogical science, p. 36. Mukanov M. M. (1980). Psychological research of mind in a historical and ethnic aspect. Thesis by a Doctor of Psychological Sciences. Moscow. National Census (2009). The Results of the National Population Census. Agency of Statistics of Republic of Kazakhstan. Nauryzbai, J. J. (1997). Scientific and Pedagogical Foundations of Ethnic and Cultural Education. Dissertation of candidate for doctor of pedagogical science. Almaty, p. 324.


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Orshibekov, I. (1973). Ideas of Moral Education in the Kazakh Oral Folk Art. Abstract of dissertation of candidate of pedagogical science. Moscow, p. 38. Porshnev, B. F. (1979). Social Psychology, and History (2nd edn). Moscow, p. 232. Rustemov, L. Z. (1985). Training of educators in the developed socialist society. Alma-Ata, p. 216. Seytaliev, K. B. (1996). Development of the higher pedagogical education in Kazakhstan (1920–1991). Almaty, p. 154. Teacher of Kazakhstan (1996). “The concept of ethno-cultural education in the Republic of Kazakhstan”. 14 August. The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan (1992). Almaty, p. 48. Volkov, G. N. (1974). Ethno-Pedagogies. Cheboksary, p. 362. Zharikbaev, C. B. and Kaliev, S. K. (1995). Anthology of educational thought of Kazakhstan. Almaty: Rauan, p. 512. Zhirkov, L. K. (1925). “To reform the alphabets of Oriental nations (the experience of a graphical analysis of the alphabets)”. New East, 10–11: 226–33. Zhumasultanov, T. J. (2005). The people of Kazakhstan: current state of population in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Almaty, p. 104.


Kyrgystan: Redefining Education and Labour Market Relations Rakhat Zholdoshalieva

Introduction Kyrgyzstan is a relatively small country with 5.4 million people in Central Asia, sharing borders with China in the east, Tajikistan in the south, Uzbekistan in the north and Kazakhstan in the west. It is a landlocked country with a 199,951 sq. km area, with highly mountainous terrain, and with only 6.5 per cent as arable land (CIA World Factbook, 2009). Kyrgyzstan became an independent state in 1991 after the official disintegration of the former Soviet Union. In its early stages of transition Kyrgyzstan has experienced tremendous economic shocks and several political upheavals (Gleason, 1997). The World Bank and other liberal market-driven international organizations, as well as several other countries, strongly applauded and supported the young Kyrgyz government in their attempts to transition towards a market-oriented economy and an aspiring democratic society. This made Kyrgyzstan clearly distinctive from other neighbouring Central Asian states (Abazov, 2004; Megoran, 2002; Anderson, 1999; Akiner, 1998). Anderson and Pomfret (2002) note that “The Kyrgyz Republic is one of the most liberal and rapidly reforming transition economies; one indicator is that, in July 1998, it became the first Soviet successor state to accede to the World Trade Organization” (p. 685). DeYoung (2008) highlights that “the West quickly focused upon Kyrgyzstan as the best hope for democracy and market economy reforms: not only had it been historically less well integrated into the former USSR, but also its new president had been an academic and not a lifetime communist” (p. 4). The transition period from Soviet central planning to a more marketoriented economy, and the choice of democracy as a political ideology, has not


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come without its damaging economic and social costs. Anderson and Pomfret (2002) emphasize that “The extent of change is unparalleled in the recent history of established market economies, where changes have been incremental rather than fundamental” (pp. 522–23). Kyrgyzstan, with its fragile poor economy, has suffered from economic crises, inflation, high unemployment, rapid decline in living standards, and other issues. Only in 1996 did Kyrgyzstan’s economy indicate recovery from crisis levels, but it is still considered vulnerable to external economic shocks, such as the Russian crisis in 1998 and global economic crisis in 2008. Despite its educated workforce, the population of Kyrgyzstan was not able to compete with Soviet education in the global labour markets (ADB, 2004). This chapter attempts to analyze relevant Western scholarship on the relationship between education, the economy and labour markets to understand this dynamic within the context of Kyrgyzstan. To explore it, I pose two, possibly three, questions. What is the relationship between education and labour markets in Kyrgyzstan? Has this relationship changed since the independence of Kyrgyzstan in 1991? If yes, how can this relationship be characterized: as a disjunction or a link of some type? First, I will engage in a discussion of the relevant theory.

Theories on the Relationship Between Education and the Economy The problematic relationship between education and the economy has been an area of ongoing debate and concern among scholars, policy makers, economists and citizens throughout the world. It is extremely complex and not yet understood. Nonetheless, the scholarship around education and labour market relations was conceptualized distinctively in most of the industrial capitalist, developing and underdeveloped economies from the societies with socialist ideologies. If Marxist critique of the relationship between education and the economy was picked up in the Western industrialized societies as an alternative explanatory analytical framework, such arguments and debates did not seem to be openly acknowledged in those socialist societies that officially declared themselves as egalitarian and workers’ states. In this section, I will generally outline several arguments in Western scholarship, from different theoretical perspectives, about this debate on the relationship between education and the economy. Generally, literature on the sociology of education identifies two major macrosociological points of departure on this issue: consensus and conflict theories.

Kyrgystan: Redefining Education and Labour Market Relations


Each provides a strong basis for further arguments on this relationship. Within a consensus paradigm, structural functionalism conceptualizes education as a social institution, which produces individuals with the necessary capabilities to meet the economy’s human power needs (Rosenbaum and Jones, 2006). Barton and Walker (1978) summarize Talcott Parsons, one of the key scholars of structural functionalist theory, by stating: He [Talcott Parsons] argues that the function of education, vis-à-vis the school, is to select and to allocate pupils for their roles in adult society. This process involves competition between pupils on what Parsons calls the ‘axiom of achievement’, which, more importantly, involves the preparation of individuals at both the cognitive and the attitudinal level to function adequately in the adult world. (p. 271)

In other words, this theory views the function of education as a socializing agent that educates the younger generation about fundamental societal principles, rules and norms. By performing this function, education reproduces a society and maintains the status quo. Individuals are obliged to trust the social institution of education in its capacity to sort them into predetermined functions and roles in the society. However, education has been criticized for its main function of social and economic reproduction falling short in another fundamental principle, that of meritocracy. Contrary to consensus theoretical paradigms, conflict theory attempts to expose the actual nature of the relationship between education and the economy. Among such arguments, Bowles and Gintis (1976), in their seminal work, Schooling in Capitalist America, reveal that there is a “correspondence between modern forms of capitalism, the functional requirements of the division of labour and modern forms of schooling”. Education systems in capitalist societies correspond with the economy through structures and processes. Bowles and Gintis (1976) noted that in the context of the US in the mid-1970s: ... the educational system serves to produce surpluses of skilled labour, thereby increasing the power of employers over workers ... The meritocratic orientation of the educational system promotes not its egalitarian function, but rather its integrative role. Education reproduces inequality by justifying privilege and attributing poverty to personal failure. (p. 114)

This correspondence is realized through structure, the content of education and its form, and reward and sanctions. Bowles and Gintis (2001) argue that “Schools socialize students to accept beliefs, values and forms of behaviour on


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the basis of authority rather than the students’ own critical judgement of their interests” (p. 17). Correspondence theory further strengthens the idea that knowledge is structured into disciplines and such structure reflects the division of labour in the larger society. Moreover, the widely held assumption of the importance of cognitive skills in educational outcomes has been critiqued as test scores alone were shown to have limited influence on labour market success. Rather, there is evidence that other behavioural and motivational traits seem to be at play in the success of obtaining prestigious jobs. Such traits may include perseverance, hard work and leadership as well as inclusion in and maintaining cultural and social networks. Bowles and Gintis (2001) argue that “The reward structure underlying the workings of the correspondence theory includes the close association between the personality and behavioural traits associated with getting good grades in school and the traits associated with garnering high supervisor rankings at work” (p. 19). More importantly, family socialization plays a distinctive role in reproducing such relations of education and the economy, which further exacerbates the socially reproductive, correspondent relationship. However, even amongst different conflict theorists, the correspondence principle has been debated and critiqued. Apple (1982), for example, argues that Bowles and Gintis’ correspondence principle underemphasizes the lived culture in schooling and calls for widening this analysis towards examining neglected aspects of the cultural reproduction of class relations. Bourdieu (1997) further proposes that school distributes and legitimates certain cultural capital, which is reflective of dominant class values in society, and that students from different socioeconomic backgrounds start their schooling with unequal educational opportunities. Parental decisions and their backgrounds are key determining factors in reproducing the values of certain cultural capital. According to Ball, Bowe and Gerwirtz (1997), families in the UK act either strategically, or accommodatively, as well as practically, depending on their class backgrounds, in their choice of schools and universities or colleges. In her work, Unequal Childhood, Lareau (2003) identified differential parental styles or involvement in the schooling of their children reflecting class distinctions, thus reproducing inequality from one generation to another. Moreover, we are living in the context of globalization, and greater human mobility, and in such a context, education has increasingly come to be considered as a commodity (Cayton-Kupiec, 2007; Small, 2005; Belfield, 2000). This in return encourages a family’s concerted investment in their children’s education, thus reflecting classdistinctive decision-making approaches and practices.

Kyrgystan: Redefining Education and Labour Market Relations


Livingstone and Sawchuk (2000) critiqued that the cultural deficit theory lacked awareness of the working-class type of cultural capital, and thus, misrecognized the importance of knowledge created by the subordinate groups from their everyday experiences and cultural contexts. In this regard, Livingstone and Sawchuk (2000) called for the inclusion of all types of learning—informal learning in particular—when examining relationship between education, labour markets and work. Livingstone and Sawchuk also raised fundamentally radical questions on the whole discourse around a need to change education to make youth fit into job markets. Instead, as they argued, the reforms were needed to change existing workplaces to be better able to accommodate an increased breadth and depth of actual knowledge and skills that results when informal learning is recognized as potentially contributing to the workplace/economy. Wotherspoon (2009), in his analysis of the relationship between work and education, identifies different, at times competing, goals and expectations of diverse stakeholders, which oftentimes is difficult for education to respond and satisfy. If employers expect education to produce the future workforce with specific skills and knowledge, educators themselves define the role of education to be much broader than just for employment. Governments believe that the education system should develop patriotic citizens as well as productive workers. Moreover, formal schooling has become a site for turning out cultural products where students are equated to clients and teachers to service providers. In general, the economic rationale of education competes with other expectations from education, such as developing morally upright citizens and common civic attributes; promoting social and environmental justice and multicultural understanding; and producing global citizens. Such competing demands of education further exacerbate the issues of the relationship between education and the labour market/economy, widening the complexity of the processes. Echoing what Bowles and Gintis argued earlier, Wotherspoon (2009) noted that there is a substantial degree of “correspondence” between educational structures and processes and economic productivity and work training. He argues that there are direct and indirect contributions from schooling to work, the economy and labour markets. Schooling directly sorts out students by granting credentials, allowing the screening of employable and unemployable future workers, while transmitting knowledge and skills, which are related to jobs or workplaces. Moreover, he also observed an apparent relationship between vocational education and work, whereas such a connection was not strongly noted in relation to higher education. Such criticisms about the discrepancy between higher education and labour markets relations have


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been focused on highly academic and abstract curricula. Moreover, schooling indirectly socializes students as “good workers” through its processes and structures. Students embody these expectations through their routine school activities, such as, for example, timetabling and recess. As such, students are socialized in relation to a hierarchy of authority, knowledge and power relationships, often through direct assessment, reward and punishment (Wotherspoon, 2009; Bowles and Gintis, 1976). Rosenbaum and Jones (2006) argue that education and labour markets relations are not direct, and definitely not mechanical. Rather, social relationships mediate between students and labour markets. Rosenbaum and Jones (2006) challenge the assumption which believes in the independence of markets from any kind of mediation. Similarly, according to them, education does not automatically become responsive to the needs of labour markets. By employing network theory, Rosenbaum and Jones (2006) note that it is through the networks and/or personal relations that labour markets and schools can be connected. Thus, in the societies without strong trust in each of these institutions, unequal opportunities and processes can further widen the gap between these institutions. Thus, the importance of networks between trusted individuals and institutions becomes obvious. Although Rosenbaum and Jones examine the role of high school teachers in mediating such connections and in acting as trusted reference persons for local labour markets in recruiting young disadvantaged people, such mediations can also reproduce class-distinctive occupations and types of works for these youth. Livingstone and Sawchuk (2000) argue that the challenge in today’s economic context is how to maximally recognize and assess all types of learning, including informal, and how to reform work or jobs instead of overemphasizing the need for educational reforms and overexpanding adult educational markets. Moreover, he argues that the current disputes around education and jobs are related to underemployment, unemployment and wasted talent and the inability of the economy to bring about reforms to accommodate, grow and make use of such human capacity. In a different socioeconomic and cultural context, such as the context of transition from a Soviet command economy and state education system— thus, state-controlled transition from education-to-work systems—to a market economy that is misleadingly understood to be independent from any kind of mediation, issues about the relevance of formal education to current labour market needs can raise critical questions for students, families and communities. And disjunction between education and labour markets then further

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increases the possibilities of social inequalities among different segments of society. We can now return to the case of Kyrgyzstan.

The Kyrgyz Education System: Purpose, Structure and Outcome Even after 20 years of independence, the legacy of former Soviet education remains as one of the strong features of the Kyrgyz education system. However, since its independence, Kyrgyzstan has attempted to bring about change and respond to the emerging issues within this system. Below is described the issues within each level of education, so later to better understand the peculiarities of disconnection between existing Kyrgyz formal schooling and labour markets within the conditions of post-Soviet transition. Although education and labour market relations are contextualized within post-secondary educational contexts, the analysis of each level of education in Kyrgyzstan helps to identify educational inequalities that cumulatively affect young people’s participation, the quality of engagement with formal educational institutions and formal labour markets and the transition from one to another.

Pre-primary education Pre-primary education in Kyrgyzstan is not compulsory. Menchini et al. (2009) note that traditionally rural Central Asian families keep their young children at home until the start of their formal primary education. Moreover, drastic cuts in public spending on pre-primary education resulted in a massive closure of kindergartens in rural as well as urban areas. Such a change has negatively impacted on enrolment in pre-primary education (Mertaugh, 2004; Anderson et al., 2004). Previously, during Soviet periods, kindergartens were attached to collective/state farms or factories and plants. It followed that privatization of these industries cut the funding sources of state support for kindergartens and forced them to depend on parental fees. Kyrgyz governments have failed to develop alternative funding schemes or approaches to invest in the early childhood education of the youngest age group. A National Statistics Committee Report (2011) on social trends within the Kyrgyz Republic between 2006 and 2010 reveals that the number of kindergartens increased 1.5 times, from 465 in 2006 to 691 in 2010. This increase was most marked in the rural areas. The credit was given to the efforts of


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international donor agencies, especially the Aga Khan Foundation which reconstructed several kindergartens and opened early childhood programmes in normal school buildings. This greater number of kindergartens meant an increase in the percentage of children enrolled, from 59.2 per cent in 2006 to 85.2 per cent in 2010. However, enrolment in urban areas is still five times greater than that for rural areas, thus making the urban—rural divide even sharper. It can be strongly argued that this unequal opportunity at the very start of their schooling provides the basis for overall poor educational attainment and learning experience through formal education for rural children, which may affect their future success in the labour markets of Kyrgyzstan and beyond.

Basic education and higher secondary education The basic first stage of education in Kyrgyzstan is compulsory, which includes primary (Grades 1–4) and lower secondary (Grades 5–9). The Kyrgyz government is constitutionally obliged to provide educational opportunities for all students irrespective of their backgrounds. Enrolment in basic education suffered from a decline in the early 1990s but has increased through a transition period of economic growth in Kyrgyzstan from the late 1990s (Tiuiundieva, 2006; UNICEF, 2007). However, government data on the growth in enrolment should be used with caution, as the actual enrolment and attendance can be lower than reported. Students from rural (agro-pastoral, agricultural, pastoral) and poor urban backgrounds, especially male, teenage and at the higher secondary level, do not regularly attend school (Zholdoshalieva and Shamatov, 2009). ICG’s report (2003) refers to a regular non-attendance in rural areas during harvesting and other agricultural activities that gets unreported and unaccounted in the official data on school enrolment. In reality, enrolment at this level has declined and continues to decline as mostly male, rural students who are from poor family backgrounds tend to discontinue their education in order to help their families in herding, farming, petty trading and construction. Some decide to enter professional technical schools or specialized secondary education colleges. However, there are no reliable empirical studies that explore the decisions of students and their parents as to whether to continue or discontinue transition to other levels of education or to formal/informal labour markets. Alarming evidence of educational inequalities include the results of the annual National Testing Scholarship examination (Drummond and DeYoung, 2004) and the International Survey on Learning Outcomes of OECD countries, PISA (Shamatov and Sainazarov, 2010). These findings not only indicate a

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generally poor quality of education in Kyrgyzstan, but also reveal growing inequalities in students’ learning outcomes by region, rural—urban disparity, south—north disparity, privately/publicly funded differences and by language of instruction (Russian/non-Russian). All affect students’ learning outcomes. A poor quality of educational experience, in addition to coupled with an almost collapsing public secondary education system and uncoordinated and chaotic reforms, may in the long run result in disjunction between education and labour markets, thus making youth education-to-work transitions even more problematic. Kyrgyz private school education is particularly interesting as most private institutions are initiated and funded either by foreigners, foreign governments or international organizations. However, few private secondary educational institutions are locally owned. At present, the number of private schools has increased from nil prior to 1991 to 55 in 2008 (National Statistical Committee, 2009). Moreover, privatization of basic education is closely associated with macro-structural state policies, which promote the philosophy that it is the market rather than social needs that is critical in the operation of society. Private schooling emerged in response to the needs of mostly urban professionals, politicians and a small but steadily increasing elite class, plus expatriates, in Kyrgyzistan. It also emerged to meet the demands of parents who were concerned over the deteriorating quality of public education, further widening the gap between those who can afford and those who cannot. Apart from these private schools, in general, secondary education is still predominantly public, but all schools still charge parents a certain amount of money. Some of the prestigious public schools have also created semi-private local educational financing strategies by offering fee-paying gymnasium classes to respond to deteriorating resources and material facilities in such schools. New or revalued subjects such as information technology, English, business studies and Russian became their “trademark” in offering fee paying options for those who can afford the cost. Moreover, urban-based middle class (usually professional class) and elite (business, public officials) families have also created the demand and need for private tutoring in perceived prestigious subjects and disciplines (Bagdasarov and Ivanov, 2009; Silova, 2009). Kyrgyz private schools have been praised for their broad, academic, diverse curricular and extracurricular programmes as well as distinctive ethos and values which seem to go hand in hand with a market-oriented society. Unlike private institutions, public schools have been widely criticized for poor quality education, deteriorating infrastructure and an inability to respond to the demands of local as well as


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regional and global markets. The content of the public school curriculum has been noted for its mismatch with modern market economies. The teaching and learning is mainly memorization of factual information and does not develop skills, dispositions and values consistent with a market-oriented economy and democratic citizenship (de la Sablonniere et al., 2009). Several reforms of public primary and secondary education on curriculum, textbook development, teacher training and retraining, infrastructure improvement, governance and others matters do not seem to have achieved quick and positive results. On the contrary, some state-derived reforms have exacerbated deteriorating conditions and contributed to the poor image of public education. One example is the widely critiqued policy on decentralization of education financing in which central government handed over financial responsibility to local administrations (Bobekova, 2007; Mertaugh, 2004; Weidman et al., 2004). Bobekova (2007) argues that this decentralization policy was not sufficiently well analyzed and debated prior to its implementation, which resulted in local governments failing to cover the cost of educational provision or even going into deficit. This was due to a lack of systematic and transparent taxation policies and of income-generating economic activities in some regions, districts and villages.

Professional vocational and specialized secondary education Officially, after their compulsory secondary education, students have three options. They can either go to professional technical schools (PTU—Professional’no technicheskoie uchilitshe; SPTU—sel’skoiye professional’no technicheskoie uchilitshe), to specialized, incomplete higher education (sredne-special’niye techkikumy/uchilitsche) or continue their complete secondary education. Professional technical schools’ governance, finance and monitoring is controlled by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection which was restructured in July of 2009 as the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Migration. It operates a highly centralized, inflexible approach to governance, which is then reflected in an inability to reform. As a result, it is unable to respond to labour market needs. The traditional Soviet transitory link between professional vocational, specialized secondary and industry/employment has become highly irrelevant due to Kyrgyzstan’s early economic shocks and changing economic and political system. Still, some may argue that the issues cab be linked to vocational and specialized education during the late 1960s in the former USSR (Reiter, 2006; Zajda, 1980). Tomiak’s (1983) edited book on Soviet

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education in the 1980s provided an elaborate review of sociological studies on student aspirations and social mobility in Soviet society. Such literature indicated the gap between ideal situations and the realities of the Soviet youth with particular reference to the urban Russian or European-origin nationalities of the USSR. Tomiak (1983) notes that “substantial discrepancies between young people’s plans for the future and their subsequent realisation in life in respect of both study and work depended upon the social background of pupils” (p. 245). Studies between the 1960s and 1980s revealed that the high aspirations of Soviet youth to get professional jobs continued to grow while the Soviet economy still required manual labour for its undeveloped industrialized regions (Tomiak, 1983). To address this discrepancy between the system and young people, Soviet educational policy-makers and economists introduced social regulatory processes through professionalization of formal secondary educational curricula, school youth organizations and family socialization, thus controlling individual interests and meeting the needs of the Soviet economy (Matthews, 1985; Tomiak, 1983; Grant, 1987). Such historical developments of secondary education, and the growing popularity of professional occupations, have contributed to the low prestige of Soviet vocational education in Kyrgyzstan. Oskarsson and Muscheidt (1996), Anderson et al. (2004) and the European Training Foundation (2009) noted that vocational education in independent Kyrgyzstan has lost its value even further in the new market setting. Anderson and Pomfret (2002) note that “in a market economy, general purpose is most valuable, while vocational training is relatively less valuable, than in centrally planned economies. The loss in value of vocational training was exacerbated by the specificity of Soviet training” (p. 685). Enrolment in vocational education declined drastically and it has not been able to regain the enrolment rate that was reported during the Soviet period (Oskarsson and Muscheidt, 1996; European Training Foundation, 2009). Moreover, it has been criticized for its highly gendered enrolment, as most of the students are male (mechanics and repairs, driving, construction, etc.), and if female students are enrolled they are likely to be in female-dominated specializations reinforcing the traditional sexual division of labour (cooking, tailoring, weaving, etc.). The skills and knowledge acquired in the professional technical schools are criticized as outdated, irrelevant, highly theoretical and not matching the change of labour markets and other economic developments in the country since its independence (Oskarsson and Muscheidt, 1996; European Training Foundation, 2009). Specialized secondary education, or uchilitsche/technikumy, in Kyrgyzstan continues to reflect the Soviet practice in which students are able to complete


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their secondary education to continue their higher education but also gain specialization to immediately enter the labour market. Governance, finance and monitoring is the responsibility of multiple ministries such as Education and Science, Health Care, Tourism and Sport, Culture, and Agriculture (Oskarsson and Muscheidt, 1996; European Training Foundation, 2009). Enrolment in specialized secondary education has been declining steadily, similar to the case of professional technical education. The specializations offered in these schools are in agriculture, primary school teaching, paramedics (including nursing), arts and cultural institution staff, and food processing. Due to the specificity of specializations, enrolment has been highly feminized. Specialized secondary colleges face similar criticism to that directed at professional technical schools . The outdated curriculum, lack of teacher training and retraining, deteriorating infrastructure, chronic shortage of resources and other issues make this level of education the least attractive sector for many young people. In both professional and specialized secondary education colleges and schools, reproduction of social stigma attached to low academic and manual work is a feature. The Soviet legacy of channelling academically poor and disciplinarily-problematic students into professional technical schools seems to have continued negative effects on enrolment and participation.

Higher education Higher education in Kyrgyzstan is argued to have responded more speedily to the demands of the newly shaped market-oriented economic needs. However, such a view falls short of critiquing the actual beneficiaries. Privatization has been a rapid and haphazard process at this level of education, as public universities compete with privately owned ones in their efforts to service the same pool of clients. It should be noted, however, that private universities and certain public universities, with their specific, prestigious departments, seem to draw their clients from different socioeconomic communities and groups. The number of universities has increased since 1991. New specializations were introduced, some of which are perceived to have higher economic returns, such as business, management, banking and accounting, international relations, law, and foreign languages. Thus, with the increase in the number of universities, the increase in higher education enrolment has been noted, but there are arguments that actual quality has declined. Kassymbekova (2005) and DeYoung (2008) argue that the Soviet legacy of the value and prestige of university education seems to influence the higher

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demand among the population. DeYoung’s (2008) observation is worth noting here: But unlike the American tradition of popular skepticism towards [the] intellectual elite, the Soviet heritage emphasized becoming a cultured person [kul’turnyi chelovek] irrespective of one’s profession or occupation . . . Soviet educational policy was (at least officially) diametrically opposed to tracking and streaming in general secondary education, as this was viewed [as] a bourgeois ploy to divide workers from intellectuals in capitalist countries. (p. 18)

Zajda (1980), however, argued that it is at the level of higher education that competition was more severe among Soviet youth. If that was so, I argue that the removal of tougher competition and the higher number of universities in the transition period should result in higher enrolments, but one should be cautious about equating wider access with equality of opportunity. The result seems to have been the stratification of disciplines according to the quality of education in these universities. Students mostly pay for their own study even if they are enrolled in public universities. Only a few students can be lucky in obtaining guaranteed funding at the public universities. Access to higher education is diversified in the existing structure but if students are capable of obtaining higher scores at the National Scholarship Examination at the end of Grade 11, then they are eligible for state tuition support, with a small stipend. Despite this, the government introduced a quota system in the distribution of 5,000 positions for undergraduate education among rural and urban, Russian and non-Russian medium of instruction school graduates. There is still evidence of how the very poor quality of public secondary schooling, mostly in rural areas, affects students’ achievements and scores in the test. The high level of corruption at the universities further damages the image of these institutions and lowers public trust in them even more. However, one should be wary of assuming that everyone who enrols is likely to complete their programme. In actual practice, there are students who have never attended any lectures, “bought” marks from their poorly paid professors and at times simply purchased a diploma of graduation in the “shadow market” of higher education. Even if some access is made possible for marginalized communities, it is restricted in terms of quality and involvement of the top institutions. The prestigious universities, such as the American University of Central Asia, Manas-Turk, Alatoo and Kyrgyz-Slavic, are believed to have greater economic returns than universities located in the regions. Departments such as agriculture and sports and some others seem to be the destination of children from poor


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backgrounds and who are perceived to have lower academic achievement in their secondary education. Kassymbekova (2005) notes the strategy succinctly: Working at an international organization as a lawyer, economist, or translator will almost certainly lead to a more lucrative career than would studies in agriculture. In this way, Kyrgyz students have become more like their Western counterparts, choosing subjects they see as most likely to lead to personal income growth. (p. 1)

She continues her argument by identifying the mismatch between the future needs of the labour market and the education available in the universities. The Kyrgyz economy is predominantly agrarian and the labour shortage is in this sector more than any other. However, some note that there is growing evidence of an underutilized labour force as well as devaluation of higher education in the current situation (Roberts et al., 2007). The quality of teaching in public higher education is not much different from teaching at public schools because of the slow reform process in curriculum development, the training of educators, making governance democratic and transparent, updating literature in the libraries, and infrastructure improvement. The teaching is highly abstract with little practical experience behind it. Some specializations do not have market value. Kyrgyzstan’s desire to join the Bologna agreement, which requires the country to comply with wider European standards of higher education, and with English as the language of instruction, seems to be counterproductive. Despite impressive levels of literacy among the adult as well as school-age population, the other qualitative aspects of education in Kyrgyzstan do not match up to the levels of human capital development the country needs.

Kyrgyzstan Labour Market Characteristics and Needs The largest economic sectors in Kyrgyzstan are agriculture (29 per cent of GDP), trade (18 per cent) and industry (13 per cent). With a labour force of 2.3 million and participation rate of 65.5 per cent in 2007 (Mogilevsky, 2008) and 64.2 per cent in 2010 (National Statistical Committee, 2011), there is a long way to go. Mogilevsky and Hasanov (2004) note that there are multiple impediments to economic growth in Kyrgyzstan, as it is relatively small in size, with a hostile geographic location and physical environment, does not have rich natural resources and is highly dependent on external aid. It has inherited educated human capital from the former USSR, and thus exhibits an extensive relatively

Kyrgystan: Redefining Education and Labour Market Relations


well educated and trained labour force. Some industries, mainly concentrated around the capital city, Bishkek, are involved in small machinery, textiles, food processing, cement, shoes, sawn logs, steel, refrigerators, furniture, electric motors, gold and rare emetals (Oskarsson and Muschedeit, 1996). Kyrgyzstan’s population is rural (65 per cent), mostly young (40 per cent) and of working age (50 per cent) (Mogilevsky, 2005) The initial shock of transition from the break-up of the USSR has resulted in high unemployment, underemployment and an increased share of informal employment and engagement in the subsistence economy (Esenaliev and Steiner, 2011; Bernabe and Kolev, 2005), especially in services, petty trading and subsistence farming. Babetskii et al. (2003), following Oskarsson and Mushedeit (1996), describe employment in different sectors in 1996 as being distributed according to trade, transport and services (39 per cent), agriculture and forestry (34 per cent), and industry and construction (27 per cent). The World Bank (2007) estimated in 2003 that more than half of total employment in rural Kyrgyzstan, and approximately 39 per cent in the urban areas, was informal. Recent data from the Ministry of Labour and Migration (2009) indicate that most demand for labour is in services, the construction of hotels and restaurants, trade, financial activities and real estate. The private sector seems active (62 per cent) as opposed to the public sector (38 per cent). Mogilevsky (2008) notes that due to slow progress in creating formal employment many citizens migrate to the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. Similar to many former USSR republics and countries of Eastern Europe, more than half of the unemployed have general secondary education, and in the case of Kyrgyzstan a significant number are highly and professionally/technically educated individuals. Mogilevsky (2005) noted that as Kyrgyzstan suffers from a lower demand for its labour force from its national and local labour markets, it becomes one of the major manual labour suppliers to Russia and Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan, although most of the Kyrgyz migrants are employed in small enterprises and farms (especially in tobacco farming), some are also self-employed in trade and work as hired manual labourers in addition to formal employment in professional jobs. However, huge numbers of Kyrgyz migrants in Moscow are employed in shadow labour markets with no legal and social protection. Mogilevsky (2005) also observes that, despite poor internal labour markets, Kyrgyzstan still attracts labour from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. The Uzbek and Tajik citizens work in the agriculture and construction sectors, further complicating the profile of the unregulated Kyrgyz national labour market and its performance.


Education in West Central Asia

A national report of the Kyrgyz Republic on adult education (National Report, 2008) stated that the share of employed with higher education was 69.7 per cent, and they were concentrated in state administration (50.2 per cent), real estate activities and service providers (58.4 per cent), financial activities (57.1 per cent), and production and distribution of electrical energy, gas and water (33.7 per cent). Those employed with secondary professional education were mainly reported to be in health protection/provision of social services (49.5 per cent), financial activities (57.1 per cent), and production and distribution of electrical energy, gas and water (33.7 per cent). By contrast, people with elementary professional education were in mineral resource industries (37.6 per cent), transport and communications (21.9 per cent), and the processing industry (18.9 per cent). A high concentration of those employed having only basic education were in agriculture and hunting (78.3 per cent), construction (67.3 per cent), hotels and restaurants (61.9 per cent), and household service provision (68.5 per cent). However, to put this in context, Mogilevsky (2008) argued that the informal economy represented 53 per cent of GDP as reported in 2006, as opposed to official employment which represented only 24.5 per cent. It seems that the government’s strategy has been passive in terms of creating formal jobs, seeing itself instead as having responsibility for providing macro-structural stability, important legislation and the provision of special care to highly vulnerable groups and individuals. Labour market needs in such a transitional economy, and the consequent expectations from the education system, need to be analyzed more in relation to specific sectors of the economy and regional disparities within Kyrgystan. There are some newly emerging sectors, such as tourism, and the reorganization of old sectors, such as agriculture. Dutz et al. (2001), when analyzing labour markets and mobility in the transition economies of Eastern Europe and former CIS countries, note that it is individuals who have developed their own strategies to cope with changes in the labour markets. Baum and Thompson (2007), while analyzing changes in the structure of tourism, have noted the need for the reconceptualization of professional college education, and call for the development of skills in food and drink manufacturing, office administration, IT systems, management and specialism in areas such as sports and leisure. In other words, they point out the mismatch between what the labour market requires and what education is producing. Moreover, Baum and Thompson (2007) note the gendered division of labour within the tourism sector in which women are predominantly employed in low or unskilled positions. Bakirova et al. (2007) noted the knowledge and skills that the local populations identified as essential to such communities. This report makes note of regional

Kyrgystan: Redefining Education and Labour Market Relations


specificity in the importance of certain skills and knowledge but also transferable skills and dispositions such as independent decision making, communication, team work, taking responsibility, efficiency, self-organization, presentation and leadership. Furthermore, knowledge and skills related to the legal system, household management, education and skills acquisition and transfer, working with international organizations and leading healthy lifestyles were also noted as important needs to be highlighted. These skills and knowledge are highly valued in market economies, while post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan still struggles to come to terms with the effects of the dissolution of the USSR. Kyrgyz citizens are no longer confined to the local and national labour markets within Kyrgyzstan. They now compete in regional and global labour markets as well.

Changes in Kyrgyz Education and Labour Markets Relations There are two arguments which could be put forward in analyzing education and labour markets relations in Kyrgyzstan. Several authors (Weidman et al. 2004; Mertaugh, 2004; Oskarsson and Muscheidt, 1996) identified very weak correspondence between these two structures and the Kyrgyz governments’ inaction in terms of playing play the role of mediating institution between the two. There are no strong mechanisms in Kyrgyzstan that mediate education-towork unlike more advanced capitalist societies. Some argue that the disconnect between the two is exacerbated due to a lack of information on labour market needs and actual experience of education-to-work transitions (Weidman et al. 2004; Phipps and Wolanin, 2001). Anderson and Pomfret (2002) summarize the effects of transition on employment in the labour markets in Kyrgyz society, arguing that “Replacement of the administered labour markets of the centrally planned economy by market forces increased inequality and also changed the reward pattern, although this effect is still moderated by location and to a diminishing extent by ethnicity” (p. 521). This cautions against educating and planning on the national scale. Different employment needs and related education and skills operate at all scales from local through regional to national and international. At the same time there are employment needs in relation to assisting those significant numbers of Kyrgyz people vulnerable to poverty (Bernabe and Kolev 2005). In confronting this dimension it should be remembered that within the limited formal employment opportunities it is the cultural capital in combination with social capital that are the decisive factors in labour market success for the youth of the country. Roberts et al. (2009) presented


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further findings on young people’s education-to-work transitions and intergenerational social mobility in post-Soviet Central Asia. Bishkek as a case study site for this project provided interesting insights into the influence of cultural capital in relation to accessing higher positions in the old sectors of the economy, such as construction, food and drink, engineering and other manufacturing activities, and in the new business sectors such as financial services and ICT. Moreover, social class origins affected labour market participation: Advantaged families can be inventive and they can resort to new tactics if old ways are frustrated. If access to academic secondary education is widened, advantaged families can gather their children in private schools or provide additional teaching thereby giving their children access to a broader curriculum. If access to higher education is widened, elite universities and subjects can be brought into existence. (p. 77)

Middle-class and elite parents seem to act strategically in their investment in children’s education by providing private tutoring, choosing private schooling rather than public schooling and investing in social network development. There is a strong need for analyzing this neglected aspect of labour market access, the “connections” or “social networks” principles which either make it possible for marginalized youth to access or miss the opportunity to be employed. Roberts et al. (2009) argue that “connections” theory was and would continue to be a widespread discourse among those who feel they were not given a due share in employment. Roberts et al. make the point that: They [youth] need to know why their careers are not progressing: their psychic well-being demands a plausible explanation, consistent with the preservation of self-esteem, of why they are marginalized, unemployed, or under-employed while others who are no more suitable or industrious occupy decent jobs, and similarly with young people whose careers are stagnating while others are forging ahead, maybe earning twice as much or more when they are no better qualified or otherwise worthy. (p. 75)

The explanation was based on their strong belief in the cultural capital principle in the labour market success of individuals in transition in unpredictable and high-risk societies like Kyrgyzstan. However, how such cultural capital came to play such an important role is neither analyzed in depth in their study nor in the studies on education and schooling in Kyrgyzstan. What kind of cultural capital is valued in this society is less well known and it requires further examination of education, schooling and family socialization of children to gain a meaningful understanding.

Kyrgystan: Redefining Education and Labour Market Relations


Conclusion There are competing arguments about the weak or strong correspondence between education and labour markets in Kyrgyzstan, in the context of which cultural capital, in combination with social capital, seems to determine the degree of the labour market success of Kyrgyz youth. The situation enables graduates from middle and elite socioeconomic backgrounds to equip themselves with particular cultural capital thus reproducing social inequalities of income and, more importantly, poverty. The current government policy of laissez-faire merely reproduces and deepens disparities that in turn create massive challenges for it to confront. The informal, “shadow” sectors of the economy are insufficient to deal with the needs of sustainability of the population even at present declining levels. What can education do to help resolve this? Research on education and society in Kyrgyzstan does not yet provide any detailed and longitudinal qualitative insights on the actual knowledge, skills and values imparted to the students and how they are socialized to reproduce existing unequal structures of a transitional society and economy. Comparative analysis of public and private schooling structures, processes and experiences could enrich and inform such debates.

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Menchini, L., Marnie, S. and Tiberti, L. (2009). Child well-being in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: A multi-dimensional approach. No. 2009-20. Florence: UNICEF, Innocenti Research Centre. Mertaugh, M. (2004). “Education in Central Asia, with particular reference to the Kyrgyz Republic”, in S. Heyneman and A. DeYoung (eds), The challenge of education in Central Asia. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Ministry of Migration and Labour (2009). (1 December 2009). Mogilevsky, R. (2005). Labour migration in the Kyrgyz Republic and its social and economic consequences. Beijing: Network of Asia-Pacific Schools and Institutes of Public Administration and Governance. CNAPSOPAG Annual Conference. —(2008). Labour market situation and policies in the Kyrgyz Republic. Bishkek: CASE (Center for Social and Economic Research) Kyrgyzstan. Mogilevsky, R. and Hasanov, R. (2004). “Economic growth in Kyrgyzstan”, in G. Ofer and R. Pomfret (eds), Economic growth in the CIS: Sources of long term growth. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited. National Report (2008). Adult education in the framework of preparation of the VI International Conference dedicated to Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) Bishkek. National Statistical Committee (2009). Population and Housing Census of the Kyrgyz Republic of 2009. National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic. http:// (1 December 2009). —(2011). Social tendencies of the Kyrgyz Republic between 2006–2010. Issue 7. Bishkek: NSC. Oskarsson, B. and Muscheidt, C. (1996). Vocational education and training in Kyrgyzstan: Managing educational reforms in an economy in transition. Turin: European Training Foundation. Reiter, H. (2006). The missing link: The transition from education to labour in the Soviet Union Revisited. European University Institute Working Paper SPS No. 2006/07. Florence: European University Institute. Roberts, K., Kamruzzaman, P and Tholen, J. (2009). “Young people’s education to work transitions and intergenerational social mobility in post Soviet Central Asia”. Young: Nordic Journal of Youth Research, 17, 1: 59–80. Roberts, K., Tholen, J, Kozamkulova, L., Abulgazieva, A. and Kurbanov, F. (2007). “Sources of and solutions to youth unemployment and employment problems in the new market economies: Evidence from Central Asia”. Journal of Central Asian and Caucasian Studies, 2, 4: 103–30. Rosenbaum, J and Jones, S. (2006). “Interactions between high schools and labour markets”, in M. Hallinan (ed.), Handbook of sociology of education. New York: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Salzmann, S. (2008). Migration for education: Studying abroad and return to the home. The example of Kyrgyz University graduates. Unpublished master’s thesis, University of Zurich.

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Pakistan: Target Revision in Education Policy Sajid Ali

Introduction From the very beginning, since independence in 1947, education policy in Pakistan has remained focused on increasing access and removing inequities. Numerous policies and plans have been prepared by the government with ambitious targets to achieve universal primary education, but success is hard to find. Currently Pakistan stands among those many countries which will fail the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set out for 2015. Just less than half of its population is still illiterate, with the rural and female population further disadvantaged. This chapter looks at the current situation of education in Pakistan, focusing particularly on access and inequities. It will then take a historical analysis of the official education policies of the government of Pakistan since 1947 targeted at increasing access and reducing inequities. The analysis will be divided into two major phases, which are then further subdivided. The two major phases are policies prior to 1990 and policies after 1990. The latter year marks the worldwide emphasis on education for all, which was significantly apparent in Pakistani education policies, and provides a useful historical point for analyzing the policies from the perspective of access and equity. The two phases are further subdivided based on major political developments in the country. The first phase is divided into 1947–71 and 1971–90. The second phase is divided into 1990–mid-2000s and mid-2000s to the present. In the later part of the chapter I will explain briefly about some of the projects that have been attempted to uplift the educational profile of the country. The concluding discussion will focus on the reasons hampering the achievement of policy objectives, which have eventually made Pakistani education policymaking a continuous exercise of target revision.


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The Context of Pakistan Pakistan as a new state came into being in 1947, gaining independence from the British Raj and separating from British India at the same time. It was divided into two wings—East and West Pakistan—until 1971 when the eastern wing separated to become Bangladesh. The current Pakistan is divided into four provinces: Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Punjab. Additional parts of the country include the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), GilgilBaltistan and Azad Kashmir; all these regions are federally administered. Geographically, Pakistan is located at a strategically important location, having India and China in the east and north-east, Afghanistan and Iran in the west and north-west, and the Arabian sea in the south. It is in close vicinity to the Central Asian states and Gulf region and an important member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Pakistan has experienced various forms of government throughout its history, whereby almost half the time since independence it has been controlled by direct or indirect military regimes. The current government that came into power through elections in 2008 will probably be the first democratic government to complete its five-year tenure. According to figures presented in the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2010–11, the estimated population is 177.1 million with an average growth rate of 2.07 per cent. Around 60 per cent of the population is within the range of 15–65 years. The average life expectancy estimated in 2010 was 67.2 years. Pakistan saw significant economic development during 2000–6, but then saw a sharp decline. The GDP growth rate during 2010–11 stood at 2.4 per cent according to Economic Survey of Pakistan 2010–11. The earthquake in 2005 and floods in 2010 along with political manoeuvring and the security situation have contributed to the declining GDP growth rate.

Status of Education in Pakistan Policies in general seem to be targeted towards the solution of problems (Dror, 1983), and education policies in Pakistan are no exception. Hence it is important to take an account of the basic features of education (focusing mainly on issues of access and equity) to see policy in perspective. An understanding of the current status of educational indicators will help us better appreciate the policies in preparation for subsequent discussion.

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The literacy rate of the population above ten years of age, with provincial and gender breakdown, have significant inequities in terms of gender across Pakistan (male, 69 per cent, and female, 46 per cent), and the most deprived are the females of Balochistan province (19 per cent) (PSLMS, 2010–11). Moreover, the growth rate of net primary enrolment over the past years is too slow to meet the targets of EFA by 2015. There is also a notable difference between various provinces and generally females are again disadvantaged (PSLMS, 2008–9). While enrolling children is a serious issue, keeping them in school has proven to be an even more difficult task in Pakistan, and there are continuous dropouts at each level. The difference between enrolment at primary and middle (ages 11–13) levels will give an indication of this issue. While the net enrolment rate at primary level in 2010–11 was 66 per cent, it was only 35 per cent for the middle level. Only 57 per cent of students who enter in class 1 reach up to class 5, and only 27 per cent remain by Grade 10. There are several factors contributing to this continuous wastage, including parental lack of interest and low educational profiles; lack of conducive learning environments; and lack of competent teachers. The education system has not been able to enrol all the school-age children despite the constitutional commitment that requires provision of free primary education to all. This commitment has been further enhanced in recent constitutional amendment (18th Constitutional Amendment), whereby the state should ensure free compulsory education of all children between the ages of five and 16. Furthermore, the education system carries several inequities in terms of gender, the rural—urban divide and socioeconomic class. There are disparities in terms of gender and rural—urban school enrolment showing that females are less likely to be enrolled compared to males, and rural populations are less likely to enroll in primary education compared to urban populations. The most disadvantaged segment of the population is rural female. A serious inequity exists in terms of socioeconomic class as well. The educational opportunities in both rural and urban areas are linked to the income class, whereby the higher income group is more likely to have attended school. A further investigation reveals that the quality of education that is imparted at different socioeconomic levels is also variable which is demonstrable through the existence of several kinds of schools. The upper class residing in affluent urban areas send their children to high-cost private schools offering O and A level programmes based on the UK. The poor segment of society can only afford to send their children to government schools. The poorest of the poor can only afford madrassas (religious schools) if they send their children for


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education at all. These differences in educational opportunities are later translated into the differences in opportunities for jobs, salaries and overall quality of life. Observing this trend, some educationalists refer to the Pakistani education system as promoting educational apartheid (Rahman, 2004). The educational census carried out by the Ministry of Education in 2005 shows that around 33 per cent of educational institutions, including all levels of education, are in the private sector and the trend seems to be rising, promoting further privatization of education. The relationship between income differentials and quality of education suggests that rising privatization of education may in fact further deepen class differences.

Policy Responses to Issues of Access and Participation The preceding discussion has tried to establish that the Pakistani education system faces serious challenges in terms of ensuring access for all its children, and that there exist serious inequities in the system in terms of gender, geographic disparity and socioeconomic class. This section covers the main segment of the discussion, namely the historical analysis of educational policies to see how they dealt with the issues of access and equity. In order to do that, this section is divided into two major subsections: policies prior to 1990 and policies after 1990. The year 1990 marked the important resolution of “Education for All” (EFA), the global slogan arising from the UNESCO conference in Jomtien in 1990, to which Pakistan was a signatory and which has seen a major emphasis on the achievement of EFA targets in the country. Since a major geo-political shift occurred in 1971 (the secession of East Pakistan), the first section is further subdivided into two phases: Phase I, from independence to separation (1947–71), and Phase II, from separation until Jomtien (1971–90).The second section is also subdivided into two phases; first, 1990–mid-2000s, and second, from mid-2000s to the present. To understand the educational policy context of Pakistan, we need to refer to three types of policy documents: a) the official educational policy documents issued by the Ministry of Education; b) Development Plans prepared by the Planning Commission; and c) reports of educational conferences, commissions and review groups. Since some of them developed simultaneously, a lack of alignment between them also indicates a lack of harmony among various domains of the government which eventually proved to be a major cause of implementation failure.

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Policy Developments 1947–90 Phase I (1947–71) No formal education policy was formulated in the initial years after independence due to some pressing issues like handling the problems of migration, resettlement, violence and building an infrastructure. However, as early as November 1947, the first Pakistan Educational Conference was convened to deliberate upon the educational issues. The conference mainly focused on setting broad educational goals and primarily emphasized the development of moral values as driven by Islamic ideology in the new generations. Several subcommittees concerning various sectors, like primary education, university education, and technical education, were set up and also forwarded their recommendations. Although the conference resolved to take initiatives towards ensuring compulsory primary education, the visible emphasis was on vocational, technical and higher education, as this was immediately required to develop the almost non-existing infrastructure for the country. In order to ensure equitable treatment to disadvantaged groups, the conference proposed establishing separate girls’ schools and providing scholarships for tribal students. It recommended surveys to assess the actual state of female education and education in tribal areas. A second education conference was held in 1951 to discuss the six-year education development plan. This was followed by a special National Commission set up in 1959. A number of annual development plans were prepared during the 1955–70 period, and the first formal education policy was formulated in 1970. The conferences, commission reports and plans emphasized moral and value development as major educational goals, and reflected an obvious bias in favour of higher and technical education as those were highly required for the nascent state’s economic development. The policies and plans also emphasized nation building and the use of Islamic symbolism to provide that basis. The issue of language also came to the fore, whereby Urdu was enforced as the national language, causing riots in East Pakistan where Bangla was the dominant language. Nevertheless, most of these policies agreed on introducing compulsory education initially up to primary level (Grade 5) but then gradually until elementary level (Grade 8). Although primary education was to be free, the public was asked to share the burden in the form of additional taxes and through other non-formal means, such as the provision of land and labour for the construction of schools. It is also evident that most of these


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policies continued revising their targets for access and participation in primary education enrolment and for the achievement of universal and compulsory primary education. The 1951 education conference set the target for achieving universal primary education in the next 20 years, that is, by 1971, unfortunately a target yet unrealized. The target was postponed from each plan to the next, demonstrating the inability of the government to achieve targets. Policy recommendations to address inequities in primary education were also proposed. For example, in order to improve girls’ access and retention, a strategy of employing female teachers and the establishing separate girls’ schools was regularly proposed. None of the targets for access and equity in primary education in different policies and plans could be achieved during this period. Instead, the targets were continuously revised in different policies.

Phase II (1971–90) East Pakistan separated from the rest of the country in 1971 following a severe conflict, resulting in the establishment of the new independent state of Bangladesh. West Pakistan then became Pakistan and this marked a shift in the politics and policies of the government. In education, two policies were proposed between 1971 and 1990, each by a different governments. The first was launched in 1972 covering the period up to 1980, and the second was launched in 1979. During the same period three five-year development plans were also launched. This phase is marked by strong policy directions. Initially the 1972 policy under the government of Zulfiqar Bhutto nationalized all public sector schools. The policy conceived education as the state’s primary responsibility, and equal access for all was emphasized. There were also visible shifts in educational policy in favour of primary education. Although the nationalization policy was targeted at improving access for all in an equitable way, it led to a deterioration of state schools and the quality of education because of the absence of a strong state structure for managing and supporting public education. In 1977 a military coup ousted the government. A new educational policy was presented in 1979 that was to guide educational planning for more than a decade. The policy had two distinct features: first, the Islamization of the curriculum, and second, the patronization of the indigenous institutions of mosques and mohallas. The mosque schools were proposed as a way of increasing access to primary and basic education particularly in disadvantaged and poor communities. The mohalla schools were expected to improve girls’

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access to education. The policy also initiated the provision of non-formal education to promote adult literacy, and the decentralization of educational administration to improve quality. A survey carried out in 1986 suggested that until that time, 21,983 mosque schools were established which were able to enrol 631,465 children (Afzal, 1988, p. 82). Another research study found that mosque schools had a positive impact on girls’ access to schooling in rural areas (Anderson and Chaudhry, 1989, p. 23). However, the innovation faced quite a number of problems related to administrative, social and religious environments that hindered the implementation of this strategy and achievement of quality education (Afzal, 1988, pp. 85–93). The policy guidelines promoted in 1979 continued to guide educational planning for the whole subsequent decade. The Fifth Five Year Plan (1978–83) began with a claim to mark “a fundamental reordering of national priorities in favour of primary education” (p. 147). The plan also targeted the development of mosque and mohalla schools. In addition, improvements in curricula, textbooks and teacher training were emphasized to improve the quality of education in the light of Islamic ideology. The Sixth and Seventh Five Year Plans (1983–88 and 1988–93, respectively) continued to promote the policy of Islamization and improvement in education as proposed by the 1979 education policy. An additional Iqra surcharge on imports was levied to finance educational development. Despite the government’s aim to achieve universal enrolment for boys by 1986–7 and for girls by 1992, in the event the targets could not be reached within the stipulated time. In fact, the 1992 education policy estimated that at that time the participation rate was 66.3 per cent (p. 81) which would hopefully be extended to 99.1 per cent by 2000. The utilization of the Iqra surcharge for an exclusively educational purpose was also questionable (Haq and Haq, 1998).

Policy Developments 1990–Present Phase I (1990–mid-2000s) The 1990s mark a very unstable political period in Pakistan with frequent changes of government and policy. The gravity of political problems can be assessed by the fact that between 1988 and 1999 eight prime ministers took office (including four caretaker prime ministers during interim periods). The continued political fiascos ultimately led to the military coup in 1999. Interestingly, this was also


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the time during which an increased number of social development projects were launched, most notable among them being the Social Action Plan (1992–2002). After 1999 the government remained relatively stable, and there was visible consistency and coherence among different government policies up to the mid-2000s including education sector reforms that began in 2001. Since 1990 we have had three formal education policies, an action plan for Education Sector Reform (ESR) and various development plans. All of these policies exhibit visible differences in language compared to their predecessors. For example, the concerns for meeting the targets of Education for All as set out at Jomtien (1990) and Dakar (2000), gender sensitive provisions, involvement of NGOs and emphasis on community participation and privatization are some of the prominent themes. The education policy of 1992 brought basic Education for All into sharp focus and gave it a prime importance compared to other educational sectors. The policy aimed at achieving a 99.1 per cent participation rate by 2000. It had a particular focus on improving literacy and for that purpose established the National Education and Training Commission (NETCOM), later renamed the Prime Minister Literacy Commission (PMLC) in 1995. The policy focused on improving the situation of females and disadvantaged rural populations to increase access and participation equitably through non-formal schooling provisions. Several other measures were suggested to improve access, including improvement of the quality of teaching through reformed teacher training; provision of mosque schools; and availability of more physical facilities and teachers. As a major strategy for improving access, participation and equity, the policy invited private sector inclusion, encouraged non-formal means of education provision and endorsed community participation in decision-making and educational management. The Eighth Five Year Plan (1993–8) followed the basic principles and main objectives set out in the 1992 educational policy. The plan proposed to increase participation of boys to 95.5 per cent and of girls to 81.6 per cent during the plan period until 1998. It proposed decentralization of educational management to district level in order to improve educational governance and efficiency with a view to achieving the targets set out in the policy. Although the education policy of 1992 was supposed to extend until 2002, a new education policy was launched in 1998 with much fervour. The National Education Policy—Iqra (meaning “to read”)—was designed for the period 1998–2010. The 1998 education policy mainly continued on the pattern of the 1992 policy, with its main targets being the eradication of illiteracy and achievement of Universal

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Primary Education and Education for All. The revised targets for participation rates were set at 90 per cent by 2002 and 105 per cent by 2010, at the same time halving the disparity between females and males. The major priorities remained non-formal education, community participation and inclusion of the private sector. The government in fact considered promulgating an Act of Compulsory Primary Education by 2004–5 to ensure 100 per cent enrolment at primary level for the relevant age group. However, this target was not achieved. After the change of government in 1999, a programme of reform was launched in different sectors including education. Instead of five-year plans, the government brought out the “Ten Year Perspective Development Plan” (2001–11), detailing a long-term development strategy. The education section of the plan proposes to increase the participation rate for males to 102 per cent in 2003–4 and for females to 101 per cent in 2011. In order to improve access and participation in an equitable way, various strategies were suggested (p. 140): adult literacy campaigns through a Special Task Force on Human Development; the establishment of non-formal schools; and the opening and upgrading of new and existing schools. The following strategies were suggested (p. 140): teacher training projects; the establishment of a National Education Assessment System and Education Testing Service; private sector involvement; and community participation. Along with this long-term strategy, the government also initiated the Education Sector Reform (ESR) for 2001–4, later revised as 2001–02–2005–06 (the first document is referred as ESR 2001 and second as ESR 2001–02 henceforth whenever any distinction is required). The ESR is considered an action plan following the 1998–2010 education policy launched by the previous government. The ESR has adopted a sector-wide approach and conceived education vis-à-vis other relevant sectors like health, poverty reduction, women development, science and technology, political decentralization and international commitments to achieving Universal Primary Education (UPE), Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Thus it proposes to integrate all educational programmes run under different ministries within the ESR (pp. 12–13). The main objectives of ESR were a) universal primary education; b) madaris mainstreaming; c) improvement of physical and human resources for increasing access; d) retention and participation; e) improvements in curricula, textbooks and examinations; f) promotion of public—private partnerships; and g) decentralization of educational administration to district level. The ESR set out to achieve 100 per cent gross enrolment by 2006 and improve the transition to middle level by increasing middle school enrolment to 55 per cent by the same time.


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The decentralization in education was generally seen positively as a first step. Through making the district the hub of educational activities, the governance system was improved. However, confusion prevailed because of unclear roles and responsibilities, overlapping administrative and political authorities and old habits of centralization among officials. On the quantitative side, doubts were already raised about Pakistan’s achievement of EFA targets by 2015 (Bruns, Mingat and Rakotomalala, 2005, p.178). During 1990–2000 the targets for UPE were set out in various policies. We must note that, despite the high targets set, no changes in the national budget for education came about, suggesting unrealistic assumptions by the government. Although the government claimed to increase the budget allocation for education sector to 4 per cent of GDP, this did not actually happen.

Phase II (mid-2000–present) The review for formulating a new education policy was begun towards the end of 2005. For this purpose an independent National Education Policy Review (NEPR) team consisting of consultants was formed and headed by Javed Hasan Aly. The team developed a comprehensive review programme consisting of various stages. For the very first time the team initiated dialogues based on Green Papers on various educational issues. Twenty-two such papers were created by the team, which generated serious debates and policy proposals from a cross-section of governmental and non-governmental organizations across Pakistan. At subsequent stages round tables on key themes were convened to generate policy options. The NEPR team transferred this huge consultative data into thematic papers and subsequently developed a White Paper towards the end of 2006. The outcome generated further serious debates and as a result a revised White Paper incorporating the comments was developed in February 2007. The White Paper is considered a quality document which genuinely tried to voice all the educational concerns and proposed viable solutions to the persistent educational problems (Ali, 2009). The extensive consultative process built a favourable response and ownership from various stakeholders of education in Pakistan. Unfortunately the government of Parvez Musharraf, which had initiated this process of review, encountered serious political difficulties that affected the policy process. It was earlier thought that the new policy would come out some time during 2007 but it could not be brought out until 2009 due to the

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political turmoil and change of government. Finally, the new education policy was approved by the Cabinet in August 2009. The National Education Policy 2009 is quite different in character to its predecessors. The policies until 1998 were written following the sectoral approach and proposed policy guidelines under the heads of primary education, secondary education, tertiary education, technical education, and so on. The key themes focused on were access, quality, and education governance. In terms of broadening access, the 2009 policy places greater emphasis on early childhood education and recognizes this stage as being from three to five years of age. The policy notes that the current net primary enrolment rate at the time of publication was 66 per cent and that there was a serious danger of missing the target of UPE by 2015. It reaffirmed that 100 per cent enrolment will be achieved by 2015. The policy alters the primary education stage to six to ten years of age, which had previously been five to nine years of age. It suggests that enrolment will be increased through creating incentives in the form of improving the physical environment of schools and also the provision of food. The policy overall recognizes that the government lacks the resources to improve facilities and provide incentives and thus seeks the support of the private sector and donor agencies. In terms of equity, the policy is cognizant of the fact that despite some positive developments inequities still exist, both in gender disparity and rural— urban imbalance. Rural girls are still the most disadvantaged.

Initiatives to Uplift the Profile of Access and Inequity In order to achieve different targets of education, governments initiated projects throughout the 1990s and beyond. Among the most prominent projects were a) the Girls’ Primary Education Project (GPEP, 1991–6); b) the Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP, 1989–99); c) the Social Action Programme (SAP, 1992–2002); and d) the Punjab Middle Schooling Project (PMSP, 1994–2000). All of these efforts, partially or totally funded by outside agencies, did make some contribution to the gradual improvement of the educational profile of Pakistan, but were limited by their specific focus and also by the problematic political context. Following the events of 9/11 and Pakistan’s involvement in the US-led war on terror, Pakistan received substantial USAID funds targeted at various aspects of educational development. The first programme was the Education Sector


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Reforms Assistance Programme (ESRA), which was launched to support the government in achieving the objectives set out under the Education Sector Reforms of the government of Pakistan in selected districts between 2001 and 2005. Further USAID-sponsored programmes included ED-LINKS (Links to Learning: Education Support to Pakistan), which is a five-year (2007–12) project. The total funding support under the progamme is around US$90 million. The project aims at improving the quality of teaching for in-service teachers along with provision of physical facilities, especially laboratories for science and ICT. Another project titled Pre-STEP (Pre-Service Teachers Education Program) has been in progress since 2008 and extends to 2013. This programme is supported by a USAID funding of US$75 million and aims to enhance the quality of pre-service teacher education. Whether these programmes, massive though they are, will make real progress in a country of 180 or more million people remains to be seen.

Discussion and Conclusion It is a sorry state for Pakistan that despite so many policies, plans and donorsupported programmes, the overall educational scenario is still quite bleak. A glimpse at the current education status has already been shared in the opening section of this chapter. The basic targets to achieve universal primary education have been continuously pushed back and it seems certain that the current target date of 2015 will also be missed. Reviewing various policies and plans gives a feeling that policy making in Pakistan is a continuous exercise of target revision as mentioned above. The National Education Policy 2009 makes the following points: There are two fundamental causes for the weak performance of the education sector: (i) lack of commitment to education–the commitment gap; and (ii) the implementation gap that has thwarted the application of policies. The two gaps are linked in practice: a lack of commitment leads to poor implementation, but the weak implementation presents problems of its own. (p. 7)

Reflecting on the failure of education policies in Pakistan, Ali (2006) listed the following factors as responsible for a lack of policy implementation: a) unclear or overambitious policy goals; b) lack of political commitment; c) ineffective governance structures; d) centralization; e) resource constraints; f) problems

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caused by foreign aid itself; and g) corruption at all levels in education, about which the NEP (2009) comments: Another type of implementation problem surfaces in the corruption that perverts the entire spectrum of the system. Anecdotes abound of education allocations systematically diverted to personal use at most levels of the allocation chain. Political influence and favouritism are believed to interfere in the allocation of resources to the Districts and schools, in recruitment, training and posting of teachers and school administrators that are not based on merit, in awarding of textbook contracts, and in the conduct of examinations and assessments. The pervasive nature of corruption reflects a deeper malaise where the service to the students and learners is not at the forefront of the thought and behaviour processes in operating the system. (p. 8)

It is also equally disappointing to see that even the donor-funded projects, which were supposed to be better financed and better supported technically, failed to uplift the education sector substantially. As early as 1992, Warwick, Reimers and McGinn, reflecting on their experience of the implementation of various educational innovations in Pakistan, identified four key areas that need to be kept in mind if implementation of innovations is to be successful: a) explicit attention to culture needs to be paid during project design and implementation; b) innovations need to be sensitive to the larger organizational structure of which they will eventually become part; c) for any innovation that is targeted to change teachers’ behaviour, first the teachers need to understand and buy into the purpose of and need for that innovation; and d) traditional education planning needs to pay serious attention to culture, field implementers, clients and politics. The fate of the most recent education policy in Pakistan, the NEP 2009, is already unclear after two years of its approval. In 2011, the government passed the 18th Constitutional Amendment, which devolves education to the provincial level. As a result, the federal education ministry is abolished, leaving the serious question of interprovincial coordination and implementation of policy unanswered. Although there was a symbolic presentation by the Prime Minister along with provincial Chief Ministers declaring NEP 2009 a policy to be followed by the provinces, anecdotal evidence suggests that it is not the case in practice. It seems likely that Pakistan will face another educational policy failure in the coming years.


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References Afzal, M. M. (1988). Some innovations for primary education (Casual Papers). Islamabad: Basic Research and Implementation in Developing Education Systems (BRIDGES) Project; Academy of Educational Planning and Management and Harvard Institue of International Development. Ali, S. (2006). “Why does policy fail? Understanding the problems of policy Implementation in Pakistan–a neuro-cognitive perspective”. International Studies in Educational Administration, 34, 1: 2–20. —(2009). Governing education policy in a globalising world–the sphere of authority of the Pakistani state. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh. Anderson, M. B., and Chaudhry, N. P. (1989). The impact of the mosque schools policy on girls’ access to education in Pakistan. Papers on Primary Education in Pakistan No. 7. Islamabad: Harvard University, BRIDGES Project and Academy of Educational Planning and Management. Bruns, B., Mingat, A., and Rakotomalala, R. (2005). Achieving universal primary education by 2015: a chance for every child. New Delhi: Manas Publications in collaboration with the World Bank. Dror, Y. (1983). “Basic concepts in policy studies”, in S. S. Nagel (ed.), Encyclopedia of policy studies. New York: Mercel Dekker, pp. 3–10. Federal SAP Secretariat (M&E Unit) (2001). SAP Statistics (1992–2000). Islamabad: Federal SAP Secretariat (M&E Unit) and Planning and Development Division. Haq, M., and Haq, K. (1998). Human development in South Asia 1998. Karachi: Oxford University Press. Jafri, R. (1998). “The Pakistan Experience”, in V. Ramachandran (ed.), Bridging the gap between intention and action: girls’ and women’s education in South-Asia. New Delhi: Asian-South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education UNESCO-PROAP, pp. 203–61. Ministry of Education (1970). The New Education Policy of the Government of Pakistan. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(1972). The Education Policy 1972–1980. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(1979). National Education Policy and Implementation Programme. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(1992). National Education Policy 1992. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(1998). National Education Policy: Iqra 1998–2010,. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(2002). Education Sector Reforms: Action Plan 2001–2004. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(2004). Education Sector Reforms: Action Plan 2001–02–2005–06. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(2009). National Education Policy 2009. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. National Planning Board (1957). The First Five Year Plan 1955–60. Karachi: Government of Pakistan.

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Planning Commission (1960). The Second Five Year Plan (1960–65). Karachi: Government of Pakistan. —(1965). The Third Five Year Plan (1965–70). Karachi: Government of Pakistan. —(1970). The Fourth Five Year Plan 1970–75. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(1978). The Fifth Five Year Plan 1978–83. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(1983). The Sixth Five Year Plan 1983–88. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(1988). Seventh Five Year Plan 1988–93 and Perspective Plan 1988–2003. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(1994). Eighth Five Year Plan (1993–98). Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. —(2001). Ten Year Perspective Development Plan 2001–11 and Three Year Development Programme 2001–04. Islamabad: Government of Pakistan. Rahman, T. (2004). Denizens of alien worlds: a study of education, inequality and polarization in Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press. Social Policy and Development Centre (1997). Review of the Social Action Programme (Research report). Karachi: Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC). Warwick, D. P., Reimers, F., and McGinn, N. (1992). “The implementation of educational innovations: lessons from Pakistan”. International Journal of Educational Development, 12, 4: 297–307


Pakistan: The Lost Boys—A Case Study Maria Khwaja

Introduction Pakistan presents a critical case in world politics particularly with its close ties to the war in Afghanistan and recent insurgent violence. The economic crisis and political conflicts that have classified Pakistan as a “fragile” (Davies, 2004) or “failed” state (Fund for Peace, 2009) have only increased international nervousness. Academic research is integral to understanding the current humanitarian issues, especially as the country is lagging in both poverty alleviation and basic literacy (Sen, 2001; World Bank, 2008). This chapter examines education in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and industrial hub with an estimated population of over 16 million (CDGK, 2007). The representative nature of Karachi’s volatile politics and ethnic population (CDGK, 2007) allow for observations applicable to larger Pakistan. It is notable that Karachi until recently was controlled by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM, a party founded in 1984 and predominantly serving the interests of the mohajir1 ethnic party. The MQM often runs into direct conflict with the PPP, or People’s Party of Pakistan, a predominantly Punjab-based party, and the ANP or local Pathan/Afghani party. On multiple visits the author encountered mass party demonstrations and targeted political assassinations on Karachi’s streets as the three dominant political parties and their aligned ethnic groups (Stewart, 2008) clashed over control in the city. While conducting research on women and education, the author noted that an area of Karachi, Orangi, represented a unique case as it departed notably from educational statistics on gender parity (UNESCO, 2008). Boys often loitered on the streets while girls stayed in coaching centres after hours to prepare for exams. In a political system fraught with ethnic tensions and religious fundamentalism, a critical mass of boys might be recruited into political or religious violence


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(Cairns, 1996; Heinsohn, 2007; Sommers, 2006). Additionally, young, uneducated men without dependents carried the highest likelihood of engagement with unrest particularly in a country and city known for violence2 (Collier, 2006). The author also noted that while enrolment and literacy were higher for males, survival rates were lower for boys (67 per cent) than girls (72 per cent) in primary overall (UNESCO, 2008). Dual concern for male dropout and possible ramifications for violence led the author to create a study examining the factors in dropout and disaffection in Orangi. To examine the phenomenon in detail, Orangi’s sample was narrowed to Sector 11, a community comprised largely of mohajirs and often subject to feuds from a neighbouring Afghan community. Rather than sensationalizing the case, the author believed that boys might be leaving school and displaying disaffection for reasons adhering to traditional theory while allowing for locale-specific variation. Normalization of the trend also allowed for possible implementation of programmes in ethnicallydiverse Orangi which could be expanded over Karachi, where boys were, as a whole, underperforming and leaving school before completion (UNESCO, 2008; Askari, 2009). The aid and expenditure on education in Pakistan (World Bank, 2008) had not appeared in Orangi, which functioned largely on low-fee private schools rather than government-funded institutions. Despite a MQM municipal pledge to create “Educational Development Centres” (CDGK, 2007), lack of government assistance in Orangi generated a unique ecological situation for educational innovation and implementation.

Methodology It is useful to define the terms “dropout” and “disaffection” as they are viewed as two distinct phenomena within this chapter. To align with the research question, “dropout” is defined as a boy who has left school voluntarily before the age of 18. Although the school-leaving age in Pakistan is ten (Constitution, 1973), 18 was chosen as the age necessary to achieve intermediate certification leading to tertiary education and employment qualifications. It should be noted that students must take matriculation examinations in Year 10 to achieve a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and intermediate examination in Year 12 to receive a Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC). “Disaffection”, for the purpose of this chapter, is defined as a lack of inclination to return to school or pursue continuing education. Young men may display disaffection in conversation or in their behaviour.

Pakistan: The Lost Boys—A Case Study


The purpose of this chapter is to explore in depth the reasons for adolescent male disaffection with the educational system in Orangi. Research questions are as follows: a) What factors contribute to male dropout?; b) What factors contribute to male disaffection?; c) Are factors largely internal to the schools or external societal factors?; d) Do factors fit into existing global frameworks related to adolescent male disaffection? The base of empirical research was an in-depth case study of ten boys. In this study, the “case” in question was both a geographic and social grouping. All such research was conducted within the confines of Sector 11 of Orangi-town, Karachi. The study of boys in Orangi presented a complex case of a patriarchal community in which boys were disaffected from the school system and girls gaining higher educational credentials. The level of ethnic and political violence within Orangi could also have been linked directly to the young men in question. As the author had worked previously in the Sector 11 area and was familiar with many of the female inhabitants and community leaders, it was feasible to add an ethnographic element to supplement interview data. This semi-ethnographic observation provided the necessary “sensitivity to the context” and helped clear “discrepancies between meanings as understood by the author and the target population” (Kirk and Miller, 1986). An established relationship with community members also allowed the author to utilize the jananewaale—or “mutual acquaintances”—method of sampling for data, thus causing the least disruption to the area and preserving ecological validity. This combination of opportunity and purposive sampling allowed the author to find boys who fitted the following criteria: a) between age 13 and 18; b) out of school; c) displaying or voicing disinterest in returning to school. Although the number of boys and families remained the same as originally intended, on the ground the author also interviewed two local imams who ran madrassa schools, the police chief, government officials in charge of Orangi-town, a local man who ran a taekwondo3 club in the streets, and the government school principal. Low-fee private (LFP) schools, the predominant form of education in the area, also provided data on enrolment for boys and girls over the course of three years. The richness of perspective gained from these interviews and the surprising breadth of data collected assisted triangulation and occurred only because of the ethnographic aspect of the research which necessitated the author embracing the community and its rituals. Undoubtedly in the Orangi study the data pool was too small and specific to generalize across even Karachi. However, the author espoused the view that


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this research would not be undertaken either to provide a basis for case-to-case generalization (Schofield, 2002; Guba and Lincoln, 1989) or to provide rich and informative data (Donmoyer, 2002). Instead, the author entered the study with conceptual frameworks of global male disaffection within which to eventually examine the data. This type of generalization is described by Yin as “analytic generalization”, or generalization from case study findings to theoretical propositions (1993). In the Orangi study, new theories were not formulated but, as Yin describes, the frameworks that exist for the phenomenon of global male disaffection were examined and if possible expanded (1993). According to Yin, case study authors should be able to broaden frameworks regardless of the type of study (1993). Flyvberg adds to the idea of “expanding” theory by detailing that case studies can be utilized not just for generating hypotheses but for hypothesis testing and theory building (2006). In Orangi, keeping in mind the unique situation, theories were applied and tested in relation to data. Analysis took place with the intent to expand or edit these existing theories.

Theoretical Frameworks Literature cites four major theories—poverty, school quality, school hierarchies and community norms—as possible causes for dropout. The former two have been extensively examined in developing and developed countries while the latter are less prevalent. Poverty surfaces as a direct cause for dropout by increasing the need for child labour and income generation within the family. Simply, a family requires income to sustain itself and all able members contribute to maximize earning potential. Subsistence-level poverty frequently results in couples producing many children to provide capital for the household (Fasih, 2007; Toor, 2005). These children consequently fail to attend school because of household income requirements. Boys in particular are more likely to work if they have younger siblings (Psacharopolous and Akabayashi, 1999; Toor, 2005; Buchmann and Hannum, 2001). In households living on a subsistence income, little insurance exists for abrupt interruptions in income from a lost job or injury, thus resulting in an even greater need for multiple income providers (Grootaert and Kanbur, 1995; Young Lives, 2006). Work in a factory or as an apprentice not only generates immediate income for families but also provides skills, in their view, for long-term economic security (Toor, 2005; Bowman, 2008).

Pakistan: The Lost Boys—A Case Study


In this scenario, disaffection results from the knowledge of imperfect markets and a tenuous link between education and employment. Theoretically, increased education, to a degree, should result in higher-paying jobs for those who remain in school (Apple, 2001; Psacharopolous, 1995; Hanushek and Wolfmann, 2007). The resulting concave earnings-to-education profile displays an economic incentive for poor families to educate children (Pritchett, 2001; Psacharopolous, 1995). The demand for educated labour, however, only exists when a country invests in technological change and generates employment (Hoeffler, 2008). Intergenerational mobility depends heavily on the level of industrialization and investment in the education sector (Buchmann and Hannum, 2001). Without policies creating this type of employment, children find income without qualifications and often in the informal sector (Psacharopolous, 1995; Grootaert and Kanbur, 1995; Kuepie et al., 2006). Banning child labour might even reduce the opportunity set for households when a “knowledge economy” and related demands for labour do not exist (Grootaert and Kanbur, 1995; Fasih, 2007). Education, the poor realize, does not “guard against unemployment and poverty” because the link between education and salary falters when markets are imperfect, especially in a system lacking trust operations (Kuepie et al., 2006; Sen, 2001). In Pakistan, when the only available primary schools are government-funded Urdu-medium schools, the rates of return slip even further because students do not acquire English language skills necessary for the job market (Asadullah, 2009). Simply put, the poor will not invest in a system when government investment to create returns for that system does not exist. Boys, even without the complex instruments of economic calculation, can conduct an informal cost-benefit analysis and determine that work is the sound economic decision. The second theory espoused in literature concerns school quality: literature posits that if schooling sufficiently serves a child’s needs, especially in developing countries where studies find school to be more important than the home environment (Buchmann and Hannum, 2001; Davies and Harber, 2006), then the child remains in school and re-enters the human capital equation. Consequently, dropout occurs when students see the differences in quality between schools and “act on them” (Hanushek et al., 2007). The author espoused the view that “quality” encompasses both the idea of “equity” as equal capabilities to access schooling and “equality” as equal outcomes (Johnson, 2009), although measurements of quality still vary within the research community (Quality Imperative, 2004). For the purpose of discussion, the definition of quality in this chapter will include only school effectiveness viewpoints. Therefore, when


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examining a classroom with negative inputs, such as overcrowding, poor facilities, cheating, and outdated teaching methods (Hanushek et al., 2007; Memon, 2007), it can be determined that it is a poor quality school. In this situation, Zone 2 or 5 exclusion from schooling potentially occurs (Lewin, 2007). Zone 2 includes children who drop out and do not return because of “low achievement, poor teaching, and feeling degraded” (Lewin, 2007). Zone 5 encompasses children who leave because of “loss of interest” and “low performance” in class (Lewin, 2007). A lack of relevance in the curriculum including “banking” methods leads to a child experiencing anomie towards a prescriptive system (Freire, 1970). Boys are therefore not only aware that substandard schooling will not improve their productivity but become culturally and economically disenfranchised from the system (Pritchett, 2001; Apple, 1996; Freire, 1970). Third, school hierarchies have been blamed for creating a “criminal underbelly” and “failing boys” in England (Tomlinson, 2005; Jackson, 1998). Theoretically, the streaming of children by tested ability, as in the grammar school system, or allowing a private sector to flourish, undermines egalitarianism and equitable opportunity. When boys perceive a difference in institutions, they become disaffected with their school and subsequently drop out. This theory has been covered in the developed world rather than developing countries. In the author’s opinion, an increased focus on the marketization of schooling in developing countries has begun to result in a similar phenomenon. The idea of marketizing schools works on principles of consumer demand and accountability (Apple, 2001; Tooley and Dixon, 2006). By nature exclusionary, institutions exhibit the concept of “wealth maximizing behaviour” by claiming “superior” education. This resonates with parents in the developed world, who contribute additional monetary investment to improve the quality of their child’s school (Riddell, 1997) in the form of relocation, vouchers or school fees. In developing countries, such as India, Nigeria, and Pakistan, low-fee private schools theoretically accountable to fee-paying consumers have “mushroomed” to fill crevices left by inadequate government facilities (Tooley, 2004). Arguably, low-fee private schools reflect “local conditions” and engage labour in a “cost-effective” manner (Andrabi et al., 2006; Tooley, 2004). The key to LFP schools is hiring as teachers young, unmarried women who supplement their household income thus reducing fee structures and lowering overheads (Andrabi et al., 2006). Heralded as the key to solving educational access in the developing world, LFP schools provide a marketized solution for educational availability and, in theory, expand at least universal primary education.

Pakistan: The Lost Boys—A Case Study


While ideally, schools would be accessible to any individuals who had the capacity to attend and would result in greater returns and incentives (Psacharopolous, 1996; Pritchett, 2001), in reality expanding supply may still favour the more affluent consumer by providing better options (Apple, 2001; Apple, 1996). Thus graduates of expensive private schools earn more than their counterparts (Asadullah, 2009) and investment in education yields a limited return. Consequently, a relative increase in education and literacy still coincides with continuing limited capabilities for young men (Sen, 2001). Given this equation, disaffection occurs because boys perceive their available schooling as inferior. Boys drop out because they feel unable to compete with expensive education and possibly become frustrated with the limited options. Finally, in developed countries a frequent reason cited for disaffection is the development of alternate masculinities that conflict with schooling. For the purpose of brevity it is sufficient to state that the combination of confused masculinities and economic powerlessness might result in an increased likelihood of violence and radicalism (Heinsohn, 2007) or in disenfranchisement and resistance to schooling. Boys become disaffected with education and drop out because their community fails to provide a functional masculine identity.

Presentation and Data Analysis When examining responses to research questions, the author grouped the 42 interviews into subsets based on categorizations. This allowed for a coherent understanding of relationships between groups and a filtering of themes running across groups. School personnel set the initial foundation for later interview themes. Groups were as follows: a) school personnel and two madrassa imams; b) government officials and police; c) parents, employers, community workers; and d) boys. All school officials agreed that male dropout was significant; all mentioned that it had increased in the last decade, and most could provide data to support their enrolment observations. The headmistress of Al-Fattah, an LFP school, insisted that “The parents have no control over their male children and they do not give them any time. They give them no curfews, they don’t check their bags and journals when they go home, they just let them watch TV” (March 2009). Boys, therefore, even if they were attending a school with fees, lacked home accountability. Common behaviours included shouting loudly at the teacher, texting on their mobile phones, stealing each other’s work and jostling desks.


Education in West Central Asia

“How can I control them,” she said, “when their parents cannot even control them?” (Decent, March 2009). Low expectations from parents also played a large role, according to school administrators, in reinforcing boys’ refusal to engage in education (Fattah, March 2009). “When parents see they don’t want to work [in school],” said a headmistress, “they just send them to the fan-making workshop or the embroidery workshop” (Decent, March 2009). One of two local madrassa teachers agreed, saying, “When a boy does not study and fails their exams, the parents just remove them and tell them to work” (March 2009). In addition to the issue of parental investment, the issue of kharaab mahawl4 —or bad atmosphere—was raised as contributing to a disaffection disease. “You see boys everywhere. Chewing gutka, spitting it on the streets, playing those snooker games at the shops, watching their cable TV, do their parents know where they are?” (Fattah, March 2009). Notably, media influence was grouped together with the problem of gutka, an addictive stimulant, which plagued the community despite it and other similar drugs5 being illegal. “Nashaa [any kind of high-inducing drug] is the worst factor here,” said one madrassa imam; “the small nashaa leads to the bigger nashaa, heroin” (Barelwi, March 2009). Significantly, a “bad atmosphere” in the eyes of school officials and madrassa heads meant the absence of appropriate “Islamic” behaviour, which would include seeking education—religious and otherwise—as a religious obligation in addition to an economic need. Although school officials also touched on political and ethnic problems in the community, the other major trend they presented was maashi masail, or economic difficulties. Maashi masail meant more than simply living in poverty; in fact, it encompassed the inability of the provider to provide, the need to finance weddings and other necessary expenditures, difficulties finding a job, inflation, and the inability to bribe. “They are more worried about their daily bread,” said one headmistress, “than coming to school” (Jinnah, March 2009). Often, the imam said, a deal was struck where two children would work and two would be educated from their siblings’ income (Islamiyya, March 2009). Many of the boys, after leaving school, worked as mechanics or at embroidery kaghkhane (workshops). It appeared that poverty as a stimulant for dropout superseded and might have caused parental neglect or disinterest and negative influences. Parents cited maashi masail as their predominant reason for pulling children out of school. “I have eleven children,” said one man, “and we do not have enough money to put them all in school or even feed them. The boy has to work” (Father 10, April 2009). School officials had indicated that parents had

Pakistan: The Lost Boys—A Case Study


low expectations of children; however, all six families interviewed insisted that they did not want their children to be jahil, a slur meaning “ignorant”, but could not help the circumstances of their families. Essentially, investing in education was too risky in a precarious economic situation and, parents repeated, education required a bribe or connections to result in employment. Notably, the headmaster of a government school added, “The government puts no tawajju [focus or emphasis] on education and there is so much corruption for employment” (March 2009). LFP school officials had also mentioned corruption in testing data and bribery for higher scores (Government, March 2009; Decent, March 2009). The immediacy of financial concerns for families, particularly rent, food, marriage and medical expenses, added to the air of “majboori”—a frequently repeated Urdu word that means a forced helplessness. Master Shahid, who employed many boys in his embroidery workshop and had left school at eight, noted that “Sometimes the boys have to ask for advances for their families of up to 50,000 rupees ($600) when they only make about a 1000 ($12) a week. Then they are trapped here, working off a debt for a wedding or medical bills because of majboori” (March 2009). Government and municipal officials from the MQM repeated the same word and highlighted political and ethnic issues related to access: “Unless one went to the top-performing grammar schools, few doors would be opened to a young man even with credentials unless he also had money for bribes and connections through jaanewaale” (Nazim, March 2009). Orangi’s lack of political clout in terms of employment opportunity was also mentioned by the municipal MP. The main thrust of all adults interviewed was that education remained in the hands of the powerful ethnic and political elite (MQM, April 2009). Until this divide could be remedied through support from abroad or from Islamabad’s government, the municipal officials felt it was, again, a majboori. When finally interviewing boys the author found a surprising commonality: the decision to leave school, for all boys, was made before age ten. When asked directly about the largest factor for leaving school, all boys apart from one who was not working said maashi masail. One boy, whose father was injured while doing construction work, said, “My father later died in a motorcycle accident,6 I had to go to work” (Boy 9, April 2009). Injuries abound in Orangi, especially among men who work in construction and manual labour jobs. Boys seemed to project, as a whole, that they were cognizant of their decision to leave education and had chosen to leave rather than been forced to by parents. One boy stated that “There are only two of us who can earn money, my older brother and I. My


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sister is getting married soon, we need money for that” (Boy 34, April 2009). Yet again, the word majboori was used to describe the situation. “I didn’t get the kind of help that rich kids get. I can’t get anywhere without bribes and my family doesn’t have enough money for me to stay in school,” one boy said. “It’s majboori. I had to leave” (Boy 26, March 2009). As posited, poverty caused dropout, but disaffection was caused, it seemed, by a number of intertwining factors before dropout. “Nobody wants not to study,” one boy said, “but nobody gets really upset if boys don’t study, either, we have to take care of our families” (Boy 11, March 2009). “I will educate him because it makes him better,” one father said, “and because I want him to be better, education is good, Islam says so, but he cannot do it right now because we need money” (Father 10, March 2009). Many of the boys interviewed were eldest sons and felt a responsibility to contribute to the family’s finances. Extreme inflation of food and rent costs also caused distress and depression in many men, and boys responded to a father’s joblessness or incapacitation by voluntarily leaving school (Boy 12, March 2009; Boy 9, March 2009; Boy 34, March 2009). One young man, at 20, had already been working 12 years and supporting a family of 12 after his father’s death (Fayyaz, April 2009). Some boys took on the role when an older brother refused, as in one case where the boy said, “I was in school, I loved it, but my brother didn’t want to study so I had to leave” (Boy 10, March 2009). When one sibling shirked his male responsibility, it was seldom reprimanded. Instead, because of financial exigency, another son was employed to remedy the situation. Economic problems so closely linked to social hierarchies made it nearly impossible for a boy to succeed via formal education. The majority of young men in Orangi attended low-fee public schools where, although headmasters and headmistresses declared altruistic intentions and seemed sincere (Decent, March 2009; Imran, March 2009), the author observed overcrowded classrooms, underqualified teachers and an irrelevant curriculum. Through observation, the author also noted that books used were outdated and rote memorization generally employed as the key instructional method. Often the teachers at LFPs were untrained young women of 16 helping their community and biding time until marriage. The lack of qualified teachers and lack of work by teachers in the government school where they were qualified led also to “no guidance” as one boy said, and “no prospects” (Boy 11, March 2009). In the end, parents and children opted for informal vocational education under a “master” at an embroidery workshop rather than the formal system provided by LFP and defunct government schools.

Pakistan: The Lost Boys—A Case Study


Poor quality and low expectations in schools reinforced by low expectations in the community contributed, in the author’s opinion, to the general disaffection towards the Orangi educational system.

Analysis of Theories in Relation to Data In the larger study, all four theoretical stands were tested and expanded in light of the data. For the purpose of brevity, however, this chapter will examine only poverty, school quality and school class. Notably, theories were not circumscribed as dictated in the literarture and, in reality, interwove to create complex motivations within Sector 11. In line with theory, dropout in Orangi was predominantly caused by poverty (Pritchett, 2001; Psacharopolous and Akabayashi, 1999; Apple, 2001). The term maashi masail, however, encompassed more than simple wealth deprivation. Orangi’s isolated locale and proximity to “gun battles” between Afghan and MQM affiliates decreased mobility (Barelwi, March 2009), clustering poverty by ethnic group (Toor, 2005). The political conflict, as it reinforces isolation, cannot be underestimated; indeed, on a later visit the author was trapped in Orangi for two days because all roads had been closed and Kalashnikov rifles were being shot into the air by men on motorcycles. “There aren’t proper jobs here in Orangi,” one father said. “There isn’t enough money for roti. The boys are working. I’m working. The women are working. There still isn’t enough” (Father 28, April, 2009). Boys were aware that due to politics and violence, without existing cultural capital in the form of jaanewaale or the ability to bribe, high paying jobs were unattainable (Boy 11, March, 2009). If poverty is viewed as capability deprivation rather than simple wealth deprivation (Sen, 2001; Saito, 2003), the situation of Orangi combined absence of political freedom with continous inflation, ethnic preference in employment, geographic isolation and lack of access to produce high relative and absolute poverty (Sen, 2001). Thus, impoverished parents determined the need for traditional human capital in Karachi’s economy, particularly in the informal sectors, and invested appropriately in vocation rather than school (Heyneman, 2003). Theoretically a child undertook a vocational “education” (Hoeffler, 2008), “learning” on the job and safeguarding parental investment (Bowman, 2008; Toor, 2005). Families did express a preference for keeping their child in school but viewed this as untenable (Father 10, March, 2009) when government policies failed to create the necessary demand for educated labour (Hoeffler, 2008; Psacharopolous,


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2008). Boys viewed themselves as physical capital to utilize for immediate benefit. Although employing eight- or nine-year-old boys is illegal in Pakistan, most boys interviewed began working at this age and pointed to the lack of enforcement and corruption in the police force (Boy 11, March 2009; Boy 34, March 2009). Without social safety nets (Siddiqi, 2006; Young Lives, 2006), circumstances such as a father’s injury, medical emergencies, political violence, or a sudden recession resulted in boys’ withdrawal from school and entrance into work (Boy 8, March 2009; Boy 10, March 2009; Boy 26, March 2009; Boy 34, March, 2009). The demand for educated teachers, however, represented a deviation from menial-labour-type human capital with girls being urged to attend school to increase their marketability both for work and marriage. Although larger Pakistan displayed an absence of girls in school (World Bank, 2008), females in Orangi were educated on their brothers’ salaries, not only for the respect of their in-laws but so that they were “clever enough to work” (Boy 10, April 2009). The LFP schools provided a constant demand for teachers, and families viewed teaching as an acceptable occupation for young women. The LFP schools, therefore, almost served an entirely different gender-oriented costbenefit equation wherein parents paid for educational advancement so that girls could provide suitable income and dowries. Disaffection, the author determined, functioned in a causal relationship to school dropout and related to issues of school quality, school class and the catalyst for dropout: poverty. Notably, aside from a critique of the government system, boys and the community did not cite in-school quality as a predominant reason for disaffection with the system. Five boys did mention that they did not remember school at all. Aside from a statement that “teachers don’t guide children” (Boy 26, March 2009) and a reference to the overcrowding of classrooms (Boy 8, March 2009), boys as a whole seemed unmoved by schooling. This led the author to wonder if boys had unknowingly been part of Zone 5 exclusion with an irrelevant curriculum and ineffective teaching. As mentioned, within schools the author noted outdated teaching methods and rote memorization. General inputs for effective education—good facilities, current materials, small class size—were discernibly absent (Heneveld and Craig, 1996; Johnson, 2008). Notably, the government school received all of these inputs and still produced substandard education (Government, March 2009). Although they did not identify low standards as contributing to their disinterest, boys did agree that quality in the LFP and government schools was far inferior to the quality of high-fee private schools. While LFP schools expanded

Pakistan: The Lost Boys—A Case Study


primary education in the neighbourhood, filling the gaps left by the defunct government school (Tooley, 2004), lack of qualifications in teachers (Andrabi et al., 2006; Tooley and Dixon, 2006), overcrowding and shabby conditions delivered a low-quality education compared to elite schools. Although teachers should theoretically be held accountable by parents because of fees (Tooley, 2004), as the headmistress of one school frankly noted that “Parents do not check their children’s notebooks, especially if they are working” (Fattah, March 2009). Community attitudes and reverence towards education might be responsible for this, with parents working and content with the “black box” of schooling (Samoff, 1996). Esteem for the educational profession, personal illiteracy and a respect for authoritarian schools may also have resulted in further hesitation by parents in questioning teaching techniques or headmasters. Heads seemed to believe that LFP schools were regulated only by parents who were either educated themselves or unusually invested in their child (Decent, March 2009; Jinnah, March 2009; Fattah, March 2009). Although LFP schools should have elevated personal capability for students (Tooley, 2004), in fact they only reproduced a convex rate of return trend (Khan, 2003). The question of equity still frustrated the debate as Orangi’s LFP schools unquestionably allowed access to education of far inferior quality (Johnson, 2008; Heneveld and Craig, 1996; Rahman, 2000). If equity is determined by capability to access depending on merit, then Karachi’s system is inherently inequitable (Johnson, 2008). This may be because education is deliberately maintained as a convex trend, therefore “gatekeeping for the elites” (Davies and Harber, 2006; MQM, March 2009) or because access is a causal relationship, thus preferring those with higher salaries for higher education (Hoeffler, 2008). Bracketing premium education for the affluent consumer exacerbates existing classes, reinforcing social inequalities in line with schooling inequalities (Apple, 2001; Stewart, 2008). Teaching quality, for example, is a predominant factor in effective schools (Hanushek et al., 2007). Quality is imperative in order to cultivate economic growth and a satisfactory rate of return (Siddiqi, 2006; Pritchett, 2001; Hoeffler, 2008). Many of the teachers in LFP schools were young women with good intentions but without qualifications or training (Decent, March 2009; Andrabi et al., 2006; Khan, 1996). While this maintained low costs, one madrassa imam was critical: “Ask one of these young men to write a sentence in English. They cannot. What are they learning?” (Barelwi, March 2009). Schooling did not engender the skills necessary for a labour market (Hoeffler, 2008). Widespread corruption, with parents and teachers assisting students in cheating to pass


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exams (Boy 26, March 2009), may also have undermined achievement in LFP schools, with boys internalizing success as a question of money or jaanewaale rather than personal effort. Providing levels of basic mass education may lower standards, as in developed countries (Johnson, 2008), or may simply result in poor education for the impoverished. Instead of reproduction via pedagogical power, society’s classes are reproduced through constraints on the consumers (Bourdieu and Passeron, 1990). In a system stipulating class, ethnicity, and location as necessary for success, boys questioned educational attempts because they were aware that their affluent counterparts would progress further (Boy 26, March 2009; Boy 34, April 2009; Boy 9, March 2009). Orangi’s population, as a university professor stated, were “labourers” or classified by location and ethnicity as those who work in menial jobs (Aziz, March 2009). Allowing them access to higher levels of education potentially disrupted the class system in Karachi and undermined the elite who engaged in “wealth-maximizing behaviour” with choices because education and class allowed them the opportunity (Sen, 2001; Alexander, 2008). In this system, despite the theoretical emphasis on decentralized systems, government responsibility for eliminating corruption and encouraging equity (Psacharopolous, 1995; Sen, 2001; Bowman, 2008) became negligible. Instead, LFP schools and the government invited the poor to invest in their own children. Lack of both parental accountability and government accountability in the form of subsidization, however, resulted in substandard schools and diminished returns. The school system therefore mirrored the economic system, with neither providing an “out” for Sector 11 inhabitants and creating further majboori. LFP schools increased education, but poor results in primary (Boy 11, March 2009) and refusal to sit for exams or class by age nine (Boy 12, March 2009; Boy 27, March 2009; Boy 36, April 2009) indicated that boys recognized the relative minimization of returns from a substandard school. Furthermore, boys adhered to a diluted version of the “Islamic” masculinity that the community provided. This resulted in low expectations from parents who viewed the role of wage-earner as the dominant characteristic of men. When boys of six or seven (Boy 8, March 2009; Boy 12, March 2009; Boy 34, March 2009) decided not to attend school due to lack of interest, all but two sets of parents showed only faint remonstrance because income generation was seen as the more important activity (Mother 25, March 2009; Boy 34, March 2009). Despite a focus in the hegemonic masculinity (Archer, 2003) on providing, however, parents and school officials seemed to intrinsically value education as an Islamic precept. Two LFP schools in Orangi added Qur’an memorization

Pakistan: The Lost Boys—A Case Study


and Islamiyat (Islamic history) to their standard English and mathematics curriculum in an effort to cater to consumer demand (Fattah, March 2009; Imran, March 2009). Education as a character-building, religious exercise conflicted with the need to provide via avenues of apprenticeship or bonded labour. While education as a human right (UNESCO, 2008) appears globally, education as a fundamental religious obligation is unique. The conflicting views of education led to a strange bipolar vision within the community and within the LFP schools and school officials. Parents engaged, with some guilt, in education as an economic endeavour while schools and officials provided education seemingly for character building and Islamic goals. It also appeared that the school officials, who were citing a lack of parental involvement, were actually highlighting a passive-aggressive tendency in parents who would try to fulfil their “Islamic” obligation by first placing the child in school and then swiftly pulling them out when they refused to learn—thus removing guilt. Notably, even an increase in educated women did not result in increased school attendance for boys (Psacharopolous, 1995). Widespread corruption, a defunct government system and inferior quality in LFP schools solidified community investment in employment and immediate income. Marriage and providing for family represented success in the Orangi model, particularly where this stability was jeopardized by frequent disruptions. The situation could be viewed as a locked, fatalistic model lacking any oppositional or resistive element (Freire, 1970; Giroux, 2001), inviting use of the Urdu majboori, which conveys a sense of powerlessness and prescription. The word majboori also invokes Freire’s idea of “existential weariness” in a population that has lost hope (Freire, 1970). Boys did, however, agree that if presented with an alternate system free of economic restrictions, they would return to school (Boy 26, March 2009; Boy 34, April 2009; Boy 12, March 2009; Boy 36, April 2009). “If I didn’t have to worry about money, if I could study free of work, and if the system were better, I would go back gladly,” one boy said (Boy 26, March 2009). If offered the freedom and political inclusiveness necessary to nullify the poverty trap (Sen, 2001; Collier, 2006), Orangi’s population may depart from theory significantly (Freire, 1970). Rather than seeking education simply to maximize wealth benefits and social class, parents would enrol their children into schools with Islamic curricula plus “modern” curricula to build character plus increase marketability (Fattah, March 2009; Father 28, March 2009; Patrinos, 2008). While dropout is caused by maashi masail and disaffection by the absence of properly equitable facilities, the desire to educate is embedded


Education in West Central Asia

deeply in the psyche of Sector 11’s population. Consequently, given a level of capability, opportunity and economic security, educational changes in Sector 11 would be quickly embraced and implemented without the cultural resistance of other areas in Karachi.

Conclusion Larger Orangi incorporates all major ethnic groups in Pakistan (Khan, 1996) and, through NGO cooperation with local communities, managed to evolve from a slum area without amenities to an underdeveloped area with running water and electricity. The community seems to struggle for economic stability and peaceful existence. In the author’s opinion, the usual variables such as poverty and school quality only capture fragments of Sector 11’s concerns in relation to educational development. All four theories examined in this chapter impact on male school attendance and survival, but rather than existing independently, they intertwine. While standard increased inputs, regulation and school-building offer foundations, the neglect of Islamic views on education and of the multiple factors surrounding poverty and LFP schools leave gaps in possible resolution. Decentralizing educational administration, as indicated in the Education Reform Plan, has created a wider gap in educational access, with boys unwilling to engage even in primary school (NRP, 2003). The government’s responsibility for establishing equity in educational access requires the development of coherent institutions, especially with regard to combating child labour (Hallack, 1990; NRP, 2003). Without a clear goal, the educational system may increase literacy but by heightening economic inequalities cause de facto and genedered alienation from the system (Hallack, 1990). Orangi as a whole, despite its ethnically representative nature, has interacted infrequently with foreign or domestic research communities. Through incorporating organic community values, utilizing the relative distaste for violence and factoring in the adaptive nature of Sector 11, a research community could uncover solutions to be implemented in other parts of Pakistan, both to halt the onslaught of violence and to more effectively provide basic educational rights and equity.

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References Alexander, K. (2008), “The Value of an Education”, in K. Alexander, Education and Economic Growth: investment and distribution of financial resources. Cambridge: Linton Atlantic Books, pp. 5–23. Andrabi, T., Das, J. and Khwaja, A. I. (2006). “A dime a day: the possibilities and limits of private schooling in Pakistan”. World Bank Policy Research, Working Paper 4066. Apple, M. (1996). Cultural Politics and Education. New York: Teachers’ College Press. —(2001). Educating the “Right” Way: markets, standards, god, and inequality. London: RoutledgeFalmer. Archer, L. (2003). Race, Masculinity, and Schooling: Muslim boys and education. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Asadullah, N. (2009). “Returns to private and public education in Bangladesh and Pakistan: a comparative analysis”. Journal of Asian Economics, 20: 77–86. Askari, S. (2009). Girls Outclass Boys in Matric Examination. The Nation. http:// Karachi/30-Jun-2009/Girls-outclass-boys-in-matric-examination (12 August 2009). Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J. (1990). Replication in Education and Society. London: Sage Publications. Bowman, M. (2008). “Education and Economic Growth”, in K. Alexander, Education and Economic Growth: investment and distribution of financial resources. Cambridge: Linton Atlantic Books, pp. 101–19. Buchmann, C. and Hannum, E. (2001). “Education and stratification in developing countries: a review of theories and research”. Annual Review Sociology, 27: 77–102. Cairns, E. (1996). Children and Political Violence. Oxford: Blackwell. City District Government Karachi (CDGK) (2007). Karachi Rising. Karachi: Haq Parast Leadership. Collier, P. (2006). The Bottom Billion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Davies, L. (2004). Education and Conflict: complexity and chaos. Oxford: Routledge. Davies, L. and Harber C. (2006). School Management and Effectiveness in Developing Countries: the post-bureaucratic school. London: Continuum. Donmoyer, R. (2002). “Generalizability and the Single-Case Study”, in M. Hammersley and R. Gomm, Case Study Method. London: Sage Publications, pp. 45–68. Fasih, T. (2007). “Analyzing the impact of legislation on child labor in Pakistan”. World Bank, Policy Research Working Paper 4399. Flyvbjerg, B. (2006). “Five misunderstandings about qualitative research”. Qualitative Inquiry, 12, 2: 219–45. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Penguin. Fund for Peace (2009). Failed States Index 2009. The Fund for Peace Foreign Policy. 99&Itemid=140 (15 August 2009).


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Giroux, H. (2001). Theory and Resistance in Education: towards a pedagogy for the opposition. London: Bergin & Garvey. Grootaert, C and Kanbur, R. (1995). “Child labour: an economic perspective”. International Labour Review, 134, 2: 187–203. Guba, E. and Lincoln, Y. (1989). Fourth Generation Evaluation. London: Sage Publications. Hallack, J. (1990). Investing in the Future: setting educational priorities in the developing world. Paris: UNESCO-IIEP. Hanushek, E., Lavy, V. and Hitomi, K. (2007). Do students care about school quality? Determinants of dropout behavior in developing countries. Working Paper. Hanushek, E. and Wolfmann, L. (2007). “The role of education quality in economic growth”. World Bank Policy, Working Research Paper 4122. Heinsohn, G. (2007). Battle of the Youth Bulge. The Weekly Standard. http://www. (10 August 2009). Heneveld, W. and Craig, C. (1996). Schools Count: World Bank project designs and the quality of primary education in sub-saharan Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank. Heyneman, S. (2003). “The history and problems in the making of education policy at the World Bank 1960–2000”. International Journal of Educational Development, 23: 315–37. Hoeffler, A. (2008). Macroeconomics and Education. Lecture, Oxford University, Conflict and Education Research Group, 5 November. International Development Association (2007). List of Fragile States 2007. World Bank. (15 August 2009). Jackson, D. (1998). “Breaking out of the binary trap: boys” underachievement, schooling, and gender relations’, in D. Epstein, D. et al. (1998), Failing Boys: issues in gender and achievement. Buckingham: Open University Press, pp. 77–96. Johnson, D. (2008). Education and Radicalisation. Working Paper, Oxford University. —(2009). Quality in Education. Lecture, Oxford University, 22 January. Khan, A. (1996). Orangi Pilot Project: reminiscences and reflections. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Khan, H. (2003). “Child labour in Pakistan and other developing countries”. Economic Theories–International Economic Relations, Department of Development Studies, Lahore. Khan, R. (2003). “Children in different activities: child schooling and child labour”. Pakistan Development Review, 42, 2: 137–60. Kirk, J. and Miller, M. (1986). Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research. London: Sage Publications. Kuepie, M, Nordman, C. J. and Roubaud, F. (2006). “Education and labour-market outcomes in sub-saharan West Africa”. Document de Travail DIAL, DT/2006-16. Lewin, K. (2007). “Diversity in convergence: access to education for all”. Compare, 37, 5: 577–99.

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Lincoln, Y. and Guba, E. (2002). “The Only Generalization is: there is not generalization”, in M. Hammersley and R. Gomm, Case Study Method. London: Sage Publications, pp. 27–44. Memon, G. (2007). “Education in Pakistan: the key issues, problems, and challenges”. Journal of Management and Social Sciences, 3, 1: 47–55. Orangi Pilot Project (2008). Orangi Town Boundaries. Orangi Pilot Project. http:// Boundaries.jpg (15 August 2009). National Report on Pakistan (NRP) (2003). National Plan of Action on Education for All: Pakistan (2001–2015). Islamabad: Government of Pakistan, Ministry of Education, p. 272. Patrinos, H. (2008). “Returns to Education: the gender perspective”, in M. Tembon and L. Fort (eds), Girls’ Edudcation in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: World Bank, pp. 53–64. Pritchett, L. (2001). “Where has all the education gone?” World Bank Economic Review, 15, 3: 367–91. Psacharopolous, G. (1995). The Profitability of Investment in Education: concepts and methods. Research Paper, December 2005. —(1996). “Designing education policy: a mini-primer on values, theories, and tools”. International Journal of Educational Development, 16, 3: 277–79. —(2008). “The Value of Investment in Education: theory, evidence, and policy”, in K. Alexander, Education and Economic Growth: investment and distribution of financial resources. Cambridge: Linton Atlantic Books, pp. 51–70. Psacharopolous, G. and Akabayashi, H. (1999). “The trade-off between child labour and human capital formation: a Tanzanian case study”. Journal of Development Studies, 35, 5: 120–40. Quality Imperative (2004). The Quality Imperative. Paris: UNESCO. Rahman, T. (2000). Unpleasant Essays: education and politics in Pakistan. Karachi: Vanguard. Riddell, A. (1997). “Assessing designs for school effectiveness research and school improvement in developing countries”. Comparative Education Review, 41, 2: 178–204. Saito, M. (2003). “Amartya Sen’s capability approach to education: a critical exploration”. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 37, 1: 17–33. Samoff, J. (1996). “Which priorities and strategies for education?” International Journal of Educational Development, 16, 3: 249–71. —(1998). Presentation, Institutionalizing International Influence. International Trends in Teacher Education Conference, Durban, South Africa, 20–22 July. Schofield, J. (2002). “Increasing the Generalizability of Qualitative Data”, in M. Hammersley and R. Gomm, Case Study Method. London: Sage, pp. 69–97. Seale, C. (1999). “Quality in qualitative research”. Qualitative Inquiry, 5: 465. Sen, A. (2001). Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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—(2006). Identity and Violence: the illusion of destiny. London: Penguin. Siddiqi, R. (2006). “The Pakistan economy: performances and challenges”. Muslim World, 96 (April): 251–68. Sommers, M. (2006). “Fearing Africa’s young men: the case of Rwanda”. World Bank Social Development Papers: Conflict and Reconstruction, 32. Stewart, F. (2008). Horizontal Inequalities. Lecture, Oxford University, Educational and Conflict Research Group, 15 October. Tomlinson, S. (2005). Education in a Post-Welfare Society. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Tooley, J. (2004). “Private education and education for all”. Economic Affairs, December: 4–7. Tooley, J. and Dixon, P. (2006). “‘De facto’ privatisation of education and the poor: implications from a study from sub-saharan Africa and India”. Compare, 36, 4: 443–62. —(2007). “Private Education for Low-Income Families: results from a global research project”, in S. Srivastava and G. Walford, Private Schooling in Less Economically Developed Countries: African and Asian perspectives. Oxford: Symposium, pp. 15–40. Toor, I. (2005). “Child labour’s link with literacy and poverty in Pakistan”. Lahore Journal of Economics, 10: 15–33. UNESCO (2008). Pakistan Education Statistics. UNESCO Institute of Statistics. http:// (1 August 2009). World Bank (2008). Pakistan: Education Expenditure. World Bank Education Expenditure Reports. (10 July 2009). Yin, R. (1993). Applications to Case Study Research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. Young Lives (2006). “Educational choices in Ethiopia: what determines whether poor children go to school?” Young Lives Policy Brief.

Notes  1 Mohajirs or Beharis, as they also call themselves, refer to a population of people indigenous to India who migrated to Pakistan during partition. They share Orangi with five other major ethnic groups: Sindhis, Balochis, Pathans/Afghanis, and Punjabis.   2 Karachi’s conflict, as defined by political and ethnic violence, is ongoing. Although it is predominantly ethnic, it is often disguised as political assassinations and generalized violence within particular zones of the city.   3 A Korean martial art

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  4 Literally ‘bad community’ or ‘atmosphere’ and relating to issues that can cause deterioration in a community or atmosphere, such as drugs and political violence. In the case of Orangi, it also refers to the influx of perceived negative media influence from India and America that go against traditional ‘Islamic’ norms.   5 All of these drugs are based in chewing tobacco and betel nut. They include pan, or tobacco wrapped in leaves, and gul, a mild stimulant form of tobacco.   6 Motorcycles in Karachi are not the large models of the developed world. They are the cheapest form of transportation in the city.


Pakistan: Girls’ Education and the Core Challenges of Primary Education Mah-E-Rukh Ahmed

Introduction At the birth of Pakistan, following partition from India in 1947, the new nation was thrown into the global arena. The condition of the country was extremely depressed at the time of independence, having inherited a weak infrastructure and rudimentary industrial sector comprising only 4 per cent of the economy. Its future status depended upon how well it would meet this international competition with the skills of its own people. At that time especially, the country needed a dynamic and progressive education system (UNESCO, 1990), but unfortunately, the rise and fall of different governments disrupted its educational development. Despite the intention laid down in the Constitution (1973), that primary education is free and compulsory for every child, no clear action was undertaken until the 1990s. The Ministry of Education (MoE) in 1990 began to launch a series of policies to improve the quality of universal primary education (UPE). The National Education Policy (NEP) of 1992 emphasized universal primary education but the NEP of 1998 recognized the continued underachievement of UPE in Pakistan and indicated future policy guidelines. The most recent NEP (2009) prioritized a response to two key concerns: a) low public participation; and b) poor quality of provision in this area. It set educational goals for them within a specified time frame. Nevertheless, despite all the claims of politicians and promises enclosed in national education policies to eliminate illiteracy and universalize primary education, progress towards literacy and enrolment targets has been very slow and rather disappointing. In terms of literacy rate, the ranking of Pakistan is 145 out of 186 countries (HDI, 2011) and its overall literacy rate, which was 57.4 per cent (for both sexes)


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in 2008–09, has increased to 57.7 per cent in 2009–10 (Economic Survey, 2011). The male literacy rate remained 69.3 per cent in 2008–09 and 69.5 per cent in 2009–10, while it increased from 44.7 to 45.2 per cent for females (Economic Survey, 2011; UNDP, 2011). Literacy remained higher in urban areas (73.2 per cent) than in rural areas (49.2 per cent) during 2009–10 (Economic Survey, 2011). Obviously, this low rate is a negative feature of a population of at least 180 million or more, while the birth rate is still increasing by 2.05 per cent per annum (CIA, 2011). With such a low literacy rate, it is extremely difficult for a nation to compete with countries that have universalized primary education. Indeed, a comparison of population growth and the rate of increase of literacy indicates that the literacy rate becomes in a sense meaningless because in absolute terms the number of illiterates is increasing (Isani and Virk, 2005). In Pakistan, public education is organized in five levels: a) primary (Grades 1 to 5); b) middle (Grades 6 to 8); c) high (Grades 9 and 10, culminating in matriculation); d) intermediate or higher secondary (Grades 11 and 12), leading to an F.A. diploma in arts or F.S. science; and e) university programmes leading to undergraduate and advanced degrees. Five years has been established as the period of primary school attendance. Multi-grade teaching is common, especially in rural primary schools, because of the small number of trained teachers, where a teacher has to teach three to six grades simultaneously. While evaluating the educational system of Pakistan, writers have propounded various theories as to what ails the system and how to revive it. A factor that has often been mentioned in various circles is the quality of primary schooling. Precise definitions of quality, however, vary according to the local educational contexts of different countries, and indeed regions within them. Despite growing global concern about the quality of education, “its crystallized definition is somewhat difficult” (Aspin and Chapman, 1994, p. 1). Nonetheless, the distinction between simply implementing educational programmes and the commitment to ensure that they produce the desired learner outcomes is being tested in a series of novel programmes around the world. The qualitative and quantitative expansion of education seems vital for living and working competitively in the twenty-first century. Strengthening the quality of education has become a global agenda in all educational stages, but more so at the primary level. Providing high-quality primary education is a major concern for developing countries such as Pakistan. The quality of basic education is important not only for preparing individuals for the subsequent educational stages but also to provide them with the necessary basic life skills (MoE, 2003). Qualitative aspects of primary education are responsible for poor learning outcomes as well

Pakistan: Girls’ Education and the Core Challenges of Primary Education


as the high wastage rate in Pakistan. Its public primary education curricula, syllabi, textbooks and methods of teaching do not meet the challenge of current pedagogical needs. The quality of public primary schools is also a cause for concern in terms of the teacher, specifically pupil ratio and teaching methods. The average teacher—student ratio in a primary class is 2:35 (MoE, 2007). In terms of such indices of quality, urban primary schools are better off than rural schools. The educational status of women in Pakistan is unacceptably low, in fact among the lowest in the world. A woman’s life in Pakistan does not form a homogeneous entity. Patriarchal structures are relatively stronger in the rural and tribal setting, where local customs establish male authority and power over women’s lives. On the other hand, women belonging to the upper and middle classes have increasingly greater access to education and employment opportunities and can assume greater control over their lives (MoE, 2006). Female education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is considered to be almost against social and traditional norms while the ongoing militancy added insult to injuries by depriving women of education, their inborn right. The Taliban have destroyed almost 1000 girls’ primary schools in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Swat and Malakund regions (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) as part of their design to imbue the youth with militant values. Swat offers a classic example of the Taliban’s application of their destructive vision, while 401 schools were destroyed in Swat in the past three years. Women are in general less literate than men worldwide. Only 88 adult women are considered literate for every 100 adult men, with much lower numbers in low-income countries such as Bangladesh (62 per 100 men) and Pakistan (57 per 100 men) (Global Monitoring Report, 2006). In Pakistan, 76 per cent of the female adult population is illiterate. Gender disparity in literacy is lower in urban areas, where female literacy is 16 per cent, as compared to 29 per cent in rural areas in 2004–5 (MoE, 2007). A visible gender gap exists as the educational attainment of girls is far lower than that of boys. According to an analysis conducted by the Ministry of Women Development, only 19 per cent of females have attained education up to the level of Secondary School Certificate (SSC), 8 per cent have the Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC), 5 per cent have the bachelor’s degree, only 1.4 per cent have a master’s degree, and only 3.74 per cent of women are employed in the various professions (cited in MoE, 2006). The research reported here is focused on three main issues and their impact on education delivered in primary schools in Pakistan: teacher absenteeism, outdated pedagogy and student dropout. The selection of these three aspects


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is significant because teachers, students and the medium of instruction are the three main pillars of establishing a school and an education system. Problems with any of these elements has an adverse effect on education. Previous studies attempting to explain the low level of educational development in primary education have pointed to a wide range of micro and macro social issues, from population growth, gender disparity, political instability and economic constraints to feudalism and a lack of human rights (Rehman, 2004). However, the issue of low quality primary education has not received adequate attention from researchers. The author illustrates below some very important issues based on fieldwork conducted in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the everyday work in 20 primary schools was closely examined. Major stakeholders and policy-makers are well aware of these issues, but to date have been unable to take effective measures to address them. In addition, the country is still not fulfilling the criteria of “Education for All” (EFA) as set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is vitally important to enable human resources to be developed that primary education planners attain their objectives and help the nation to progress more rapidly on the path to development.

Empirical Research Documentary analysis was carried out to obtain relevant information on current educational policies and practices in primary education. The empirical approach taken in this chapter is qualitative in nature. Data were gathered from two types of sources: interviews and observations. These are both commonly used in qualitative research, which is concerned with the relationship and the interaction between the researcher and the research participants in a given social context. This helps researchers to understand the world from participants’ viewpoints and elaborate or generate theory (Cohen et al., 2007). Qualitative data tends to provide researchers with rich descriptions of the “subjects” perspective and view of values, actions, processes, and events’ (Fairbrother, 2007, p. 43). Often, qualitative researchers use mixed methods to gain a thorough understanding of context. This study used a micro-approach, investigating the three main issues undermining the quality of girls’ primary education in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is one of four provinces in Pakistan and the one which registers a lower development than others regarding primary education. The 20 schools and two District Education Offices, within two districts, were chosen

Pakistan: Girls’ Education and the Core Challenges of Primary Education


on the basis of comparative geographical features; ten urban and ten rural primary schools. The 45 participants included two District Education Officers, four Assistant District Education Officers, ten primary school headteachers, 14 primary school teachers and 15 early school leavers. The interviews took an average of 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the detail in the answers. The findings from this study may be used to design a more in-depth study on a larger scale. Ethical aspects were considered throughout the study and pseudonyms were used to protect the identity of the participants.

Results This research examined three important interrelated issues which affect the quality of education in girls’ primary schools: absenteeism among female teachers, traditional teaching methods used for instruction, and the common phenomenon of student dropout among girls.

Teachers’ Absenteeism The problem of high levels of absenteeism among teachers has not been widely studied in a development context. In developed countries, the literature on provider absence is relatively small and has failed to produce many significant conclusions. For developing countries, there are some limited findings on the extent of absence from primary schools, but until recently they have been based on non-representative surveys or surveys that are representative only of particular regions (King et al., 1999). The question arises as to what factors discourage female teachers from continuing to work in remote and isolated rural areas. This chapter will now focus on the main reasons, such as transfers from rural to urban areas, lack of residence and transportation, lack of security, domestic responsibilities and lack of accountability.

Transfers of teachers The research reveals that teacher absenteeism seems to occur predominantly in rural schools with only one teacher. In such areas, local female teachers are often not available and those from outside the locality, brought in to fill the vacancies, are often absent or attempt to have themselves transferred back to their own regions or to urban schools near their homes. This often leaves the rural schools


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without vacancies, since their post travels with them to the new school (World Bank, 1996). UNESCO (2000) reported that: In these regions, local teachers are not available and non local teachers either remain absent or endeavour to have themselves transferred. A higher percentage of teachers with a few years of experience apply for transfers. This is because they accept posting in remote areas far from their residence at the time of initial appointment and later apply for transfer to either urban schools or schools located near their family homes. (

The absence of the teacher means closure of the school and withdrawal of students. This cycle of transfers is due to inappropriate residential facilities at their workplace, lack of transportation, economical constraints, lack of security in remote or tribal areas and teachers’ domestic responsibilities. Moreover, they have to bear extra expenditures while working away from home.

Lack of residential facilities and transportation There are many inconveniences related to accommodation and transportation. There is no proper accommodation available to the teachers in or out of the school in remote areas. Therefore, the majority of them commute from their homes to school every day, which is not only expensive but also dangerous. The majority of female headteachers and teachers said that they could not afford the extra expenditure of renting a house or of transportation costs on their meagre salaries. However, the government does not provide them with a remote-area allowance or basic facilities of safe accommodation. Some of them revealed that the place they were transferred to was very remote. Public transport was frequently not available and they could not afford the cost of private transport, which is ten times more than public transport. Hence, they had to wait at the bus stop for long periods of time in vulnerable situations. The travelling time varies for different places, from one hour to three hours. Travelling long distances is both time-consuming and, particularly for females on their own, risky. If they must travel to far-flung areas they do so in the company of a male relative or female colleague (Warwick et al., 1992).

Lack of security Living alone for female teachers in these remote areas is not possible due to practical difficulties and cultural unacceptability. The majority of families do not allow one female to live far from their homes due to the cultural norms or the risk of revenge culture. Warwick et al. (1992, p. 302) stated that, “given

Pakistan: Girls’ Education and the Core Challenges of Primary Education


the lawlessness in some parts of the country, concerns about safety are wellfounded”. Therefore, they needed to take a family member to live with them, which often could not be arranged. Almost all female teachers cannot find an appropriate and safe place to stay in the areas to which they are assigned. A teacher reported that she was transferred to a remote village, but unable to find a separate house in the village, decided to stay in the school premises. The school was some distance from the village and had no basic facilities or electricity. Also, the doors were not secure and she was unable to sleep soundly at night because she was frightened. Eventually, after three months, she applied for a transfer to her present school. Female teachers also face security concerns working in remote or clannish areas with less institutional (such as police) and family protection (Komatsu, 2008). The majority of headteachers and teachers who had been transferred to remote areas faced different kinds of harassment such as knocking on the doors or walls late at night, loud noises being made outside the house, and the receipt of indecent anonymous letters.

Domestic responsibilities All participants stated that their domestic duties and social problems made it less acceptable to live away from their families. This is because of the joint family system and the demands of married life. Female teachers are expected to share the responsibility for elderly parents, siblings, in-laws and young school-going children. A headteacher recounted a very sad story: “My son was disabled and he needed me most of the time. I was transferred to a place very far [away] in the mountains; it took more than two hours to get there. In this situation I had to stay there, because travelling every day was not possible. In my absence my son became seriously ill and due to lack of communication I couldn’t reach him in time and he passed away.” She burst into tears.

Lack of accountability All girls’ primary schools are supervised and monitored by external female supervisors. The function of these supervisors is to maintain administrative control over primary schools, for example, by regular inspection of the schools and checking the maintenance and repair of the buildings. Nevertheless, there is virtually no system of accountability for teachers, and this, of course, creates the problem of absenteeism mostly in rural areas, especially where female teachers have been appointed or transferred. There is no local authority to ensure that teachers attend schools and teach their students. In remote areas it is very common that teachers arrive late in the morning and leave the end of the school


Education in West Central Asia

day. The irresponsible attitude of field supervisory staff was evident, which make the teachers unconcerned about accountability. Apart from these factors, the lack of a systematic method of recruiting and transferring primary school teachers, meagre teacher salaries, health issues and politicization also contribute to teachers remaining at home. Consequently, these issues lead to teacher absenteeism and a high rate of student dropout (National Conference on Teacher Education, 2004; UNESCO, 2003). Clearly there is a need for more research in this area, but the presumption should be that while merely having a teacher in place is not sufficient in itself for students to learn, it is obviously necessary.

Anappropriate Methods of Instruction in the Classroom Educationists (e.g., Ball and Wilson, 1996; Lampert, 1985) have claimed that teaching is intellectually complex work because knowledge is dynamic and conditional, and learners construct knowledge in many diverse ways depending on their prior individual experiences and social locations (Nelson and Hammerman, 1996). Contrary to this view, however, “In Pakistan, teaching is basically viewed as the transmission of predetermined knowledge to students, and teachers are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that this happens in as uncontaminated a fashion as possible” (Ali, 2000, p. 117). Academic subjects are taught mainly by the intensive/model reading or lecture method. The knowledge and information are simply transferred from the head of the teacher to the heads of the students and this approach is often advocated in teacher training programmes, with detrimental consequences for school learning. Ali (2000) explained the common teaching style in most of the primary and secondary schools in Pakistan as follows: Both primary and secondary school teachers typically begin a lesson in most subjects by reading aloud from the textbook, and then have students take turns to read aloud extracts from the textbooks. The teachers then ‘explain’ the text and follow that by writing a few questions along with the answers on the blackboard, which the students copy into their notebooks. (p. 179)

Although teachers’ instructional styles in the primary schools of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have changed slightly in the past two decades, they continue to rely upon a narrow range of teaching techniques. These changes in method of instruction in primary education had been improved with the help of a Primary

Pakistan: Girls’ Education and the Core Challenges of Primary Education


Education Project-Improved Learning Environment (PEP-ILE) project during the late 1990s and early 2000s (MoE, 2003). It was observed that teachers who had worked with this project had changed their instructional style, but they are few. In the majority of primary schools the author visited, the teachers did all the reading from the textbook, explained what they read, wrote difficult words on the blackboard and asked the students whether they understood the explanation, and then asked them to do the homework. The Global Monitoring Report (2005) observes that Pakistan is among the group of countries that are far from achieving the Education for All (EFA) goals. One of the basic and fundamental reasons of this is severe shortcomings in the critical area of teacher education and training. The importance of teacher training cannot be underestimated. The better a teacher is trained, the better he or she can educate tomorrow’s generation. Teacher training does not just positively impact on teachers’ and students’ knowledge of subject matter but on teaching methods and different techniques of presentation as well, which are crucial in the teaching–learning process. The teaching methods and techniques used to share information can help children to stay in school, engage young students and encourage them to keep learning. A very high proportion of teachers at primary school level have no professional teaching qualification, many of them not being educated beyond secondary school level. The crucial role of the teacher in the educational process puts teachers’ education at the centre of the task, and the rapidly expanding system of education in Pakistan requires more trained teachers than are currently being produced by the formal teacher training system in the country (Kanu, 1996). Almost all village schools in Pakistan have only one teacher for two, three or more classes and unfortunately the method of multi-grade teaching is still not covered in teacher training institutions because the current curriculum does not include training on how to deal with multi-grade instruction. The courses are heavily theoretical, with little use of practical activities. The majority of teachers expressed the view that they learned textbook theories in training institutions rather than practical work. The duration of the pre-service teacher training course for primary teachers may be as little as one year, which is insufficient to become a quality teacher. According to the teachers, they spent only four weeks in primary classrooms during teaching practice under the guidance of their teachers, and during the remainder of the training year learned pedagogical theories and revised or learned from pupils’ textbooks the facts and information they would be imparting to their classes. Teachers who have not had powerful learning experiences in pre-service programmes acquire much of


Education in West Central Asia

their professional knowledge through experience in their own classrooms (Hargreaves and Goodson, 1996) and through the “folkways of teaching” they encounter in schools (Buchmann, 1987). Teachers in Pakistan have hardly any opportunity for systematic in-service training. “On-the-job training, monitoring and guidance are nearly non-existent” (MoE, 2003, p. 7). In 2002, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa launched a large-scale in-service programme in the teacher training institutes and terminated the pre-service training programme for three years (Government of NWFP, 2002, Item 4, Para 2). New methods and techniques for the improvement of teaching skills, such as micro-teaching and action research, were introduced to the teachers during the different stages of training. However, practical implementation of these techniques was not possible due to overcrowded classes, shortage of time in the timetable, less qualified teachers and insufficient knowledge about their usage. The ineffectiveness of this provision is illustrated by one interviewee who reported that she did not learn much from the course and could recall little or nothing of it. Another respondent said, “Theoretically, it was a good course but practically we could not apply it in our local environment and also have not had any follow-up.” To improve the quality of in-service training, the recent NEP (2009) recommends that in-service training programmes should cover a wide range of areas such as pedagogy and pedagogical knowledge; subject content knowledge; testing and assessment practices; multi-grade teaching; ICT and monitoring and evaluation. Regarding the above recommendations, hardly anything has been achieved three years after its approval, and it is a sad fact that the quality of teacher training programmes has an imbalance as they lack harmony with the school system (Ahmed, 2011). Poor quality teacher training coupled with an outdated curriculum and textbooks, and a dysfunctional institutional and organizational set-up, has resulted in low teacher motivation, absenteeism and a largely dissatisfied teaching force (Khan, 2004).

Primary School Student Dropout The most common phenomenon discussed was student dropout, or “wastage”. It was noted that the dropout rate is higher among girls than boys and increases at successive grades. The enrolment rate in primary school is high for boys, but less than one-half of girls attend school. The reasons given for the boys’ and girls’ dropout had much in common, but in the case of girls, social, cultural

Pakistan: Girls’ Education and the Core Challenges of Primary Education


and religious reasons were also mentioned. Girls’ participation rates at all levels are lower than those of boys. Moreover, dropout rates are higher in rural areas rather than in urban areas. One possible reason for the high rural dropout rate is the non-availability of girls’ schools in some villages, which often necessitates pupils travelling long distances to school. Poverty, conservatism and inadequate facilities have also played a large role in keeping the majority of children, and a disproportionate number of girls, out of school in Pakistan. The situation is particularly acute in rural areas, where the female dropout rate is 17.7 per cent for Class 5, in contrast to 7 per cent for urban areas (The NEWS, 3 November 2004). Of the 8.2 million out of school children, 5.9 million are girls. Only 57 per cent of primary-age girls attend school, compared with 89 per cent of boys. In rural areas, 5.5 million children remain out of school; 75 per cent of rural girls drop out at the primary school level and only 3 per cent of rural 12-year-old girls continue in school, compared with 18 per cent of boys that age (MoE, 2006). During 2004–5, the overall dropout rate was 45 per cent at primary school level (MoE, 2009). The population age group between five and nine years totalled 19 million, 6 million of whom were out of school (MoE, 2006). According to the Human Development Index (HDI) (2010), the net primary school enrolment ratio was 66 per cent (male 72 per cent, female 60 per cent) and gross enrolment rate was 91 per cent (male 97 per cent, female 83 per cent), which was lower than its neighbour countries Nepal (78 per cent) and Bangladesh (94 per cent) (UNICEF, 2009). The concern is to cater both for the almost 3.4 million children added to the population each year, of whom only half have access to basic education and the other half is never enrolled, and also for the half of the enrolled children who drop out before completing a basic five years of education. Currently 44 per cent of boys and 56 per cent of girls leave school before reaching the fifth grade. Male children attend an average of 3.8 years of school while female children receive an average of 1.3 years of schooling (MoE, 2006).

Causes of dropout High dropout and low participation at primary level may be attributed to various socioeconomic factors, but on an individual basis the reasons for dropping out vary (EFA, 2000). Key findings identified by the field research indicate that underlying causes may lie in economic constraints, gender disparity, family crises, geographical issues, teacher-related factors and lack of physical facilities.


Education in West Central Asia

Economic condition The low level of economic development of the country leads to low per capita income of the people. The government of Pakistan adopted the official poverty threshold in 1998–9 as Rs.670 per capita per month which rose to Rs.748 per month during 2000–1. In 2009, it was recorded as Rs.848.79, and in 2010–11 per capita per month income rose to Rs.1274. According to the caloric-based poverty definition, 28.2 per cent of people in Pakistan lived below the poverty line in 1998–9. Between 199293 and 2000–1, poverty increased by 5 percentage points to 32 per cent (Economic Survey, 2001–2 and 2002–3). The increase in poverty reflected the fact that per capita income grew by only slightly more than 1 per cent per year (World Bank, 2006). In 2005–6, it was calculated that 23.9 per cent of the population was living below the poverty line, while in 2007–8, this figure rose to 40 per cent and in rural areas it ranges between 45 per cent and 50 per cent (Government of Pakistan, 2008). Poverty, moreover, encompasses other dimensions, such as early mortality, high rates of disease and illiteracy, which relate to the extent to which the population has access to adequate health and education services. Consequently, the majority of children work to support their families and play the role of breadwinner because the poor families rely on each and every member to contribute to the family’s economic survival. “The economic factor is probably the most influential in adversely affecting female participation in education, especially in rural areas” (Brock and Cammish, 1997, p. 3). A 16-year-old girl, who is working as a babysitter, told the author, “My father was unemployed and we did not have enough money to buy books and school uniform. Therefore, I left the school in Grade 4 and found the job of babysitter. I am working here for the last four years and earning some money for my poor parents and siblings. I want my siblings to go to school.” Poverty and low per capita income prohibits many other girls like this from attending school.

Gender disparity To gain access to quality education is a difficult task for girls, for whom hurdles are greater and more frequently encountered. Girls are often deprived of their right to education because of their gender. Official statistics reveal that less than 31 per cent of the total primary student population is female. Furthermore, of the total female population of Pakistan aged five to 29 years, approximately 58 per cent never attended a school. To look behind the indicators of primary education, several data gathering methods were applied in the same sites of

Pakistan: Girls’ Education and the Core Challenges of Primary Education


Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A total of 6,555 households (Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2001–02) contributed baseline data on enrolment, dropout and associated individual household factors. The findings revealed that the dropout rate is higher among girls and that gender disparities interact strongly with other factors. School enrolment was 62 per cent for boys and 41 per cent for girls. The gender gap is prominent in rural areas, with enrolment rates of 70 per cent for boys and 45 per cent for girls compared with urban areas, where enrolment is 80 per cent for boys and 70 per cent for girls (IFUW, 2007). One early school leaver said, “My mother was ill and we are poor, my father is working in a car garage and could not afford to send me to school. Therefore, my parents asked me to stay at home and help to look after my siblings. Therefore, I left school and stay at home.”

Family crises Some very significant factors under this category were reported by early school leavers. First, many parents are uneducated and unconcerned about the education of their children, especially in rural areas. Second, there is a lack of communication between the members of family, especially where fathers are very strict and unwilling to consider their children’s problems. Third, children suffer financially, morally and socially due to the death of a parent at an early age. Fourth, there is a lack of discipline in family life, especially when the father figure is negligent or deceased. Finally, there is a trend of early marriage in rural areas, although this trend is gradually changing. More than 100 million children still either do not have access to schools or do not attend school due to their personal or family problems (Department for International Development, 2005). A dropout, who was working as a sweeper in a primary school, told the author that her mother had died when she was nine years old and her father was very strict and did not allow her to go to school. Therefore, she had left school in Grade 3. Such crises are often exacerbated by environmental disasters.

Geographical factors These include scattered population, the long distance between schools and homes, and poor communication facilities. One reason for the heavy dropout rate particularly among girls is inadequate access to schools, because only two-thirds of the villages have a school for girls within one kilometre of the village centre. Accessibility to a primary school within the village seems to contribute to about an 18 per cent increase in a girls’ primary school enrolment,


Education in West Central Asia

with a corresponding fall of about 16 per cent in the female primary school dropout rate (Swada and Lokshin, 2001). Natural calamities in hilly areas of Pakistan also keep the students, especially girls, and female teachers out of school. Earthquakes, heavy rains and related landslides often block the roads and paths in the valleys and disturb the system of transportation and communication, making it difficult for both students and teachers, especially female, to attend schools. For example, the devastating earthquake of October 2005 and heavy floods in 2010–11 caused unprecedented loss of life and destruction of property in Pakistan. The education sector has been one of the most severely affected by these catastrophes. Assessments of damage to the education sector indicate large-scale destruction of virtually all educational institutions at all levels of the education system within the affected areas. In the five affected districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 53 per cent of schools were destroyed or damaged due to the earthquake. According to conservative estimates, total damage to educational buildings, materials, furniture and equipment in the province was more than Rs.10 billion. The damage incurred is not confined to the infrastructure; classroom equipment and textbooks have also been destroyed (MoE, 2006).

Teacher-related factors There are a number of teacher-related factors that contribute to early dropout. One of the main problems is that the majority of teachers are not trained for multi-grade teaching as the concept is not recognized in the curriculum of teacher training programmes. Teachers are required to teach two or three classes together, but they do not know the real meaning of multi-grade teaching. Second, due to the unavailability of female teachers in rural areas, teachers from urban areas have been appointed, but these teachers hesitate to go to schools located in remote areas due to inadequate residential facilities, the high cost of transportation and for security reasons, as mentioned earlier. As a result, these rural schools are without teachers and students are kept out of school. According to a dropout, “We walked every day to our school, which was one mile away from our homes and waited for the teacher but she never came. We played there and went back then my mother asked me to stay at home and help her in the household. After that I didn’t go to school.” Third, children are scared of the teacher; for de facto corporal punishment exists in some girls’ primary schools (MoE, 2009).

Lack of physical facilities It was observed during the study that all the investigated primary schools were

Pakistan: Girls’ Education and the Core Challenges of Primary Education


lacking in physical facilities including buildings, furniture, mats and even basic necessities like blackboards, chalk and educational charts. The classes were overcrowded and often had very little space for the students to participate in curricular or co-curricular activities. Moreover, there was no proper ventilation system. The majority of urban schools had only one toilet for more than 200 or 300 pupils and its condition was very poor, with no water or proper arrangement for cleaning. Most rural girls’ primary schools suffer from a lack of facilities such as drinking water, electricity, boundary walls and latrines, which decreases the enrolment of students and recruitment of female teachers (Haq and Haq, 1998).

Discussion Education for All (EFA) has been a global issue ever since the 1990 World Conference on “Education for All” in Jomtien. Education for All refers to the global commitment to ensure that, by 2015, in Pakistan all children would complete primary education of good quality (UPE), and that gender disparity would be eliminated in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005 and no later than 2015 (Shah, 2003). This commitment would put pressure on the supply side, as schools and facilities for the huge intake would be required. An increase in access and completion at primary level would in turn place pressure on the middle/secondary schools to increase numbers to provide for the larger number of passing out students at the primary level. In line with these goals, the expansion of primary education in Pakistan over the last decade has been phenomenal, especially the establishment of many new primary schools in remote areas, with the net primary school enrolment increasing from 33 per cent in 1991 to 66 per cent in 2004 (UNDP, 2006). Although the government of Pakistan has taken many initiatives, such as the revision of national curricula, placement of graduate teachers at primary school level and production of quality textbooks, it still seems difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the 100 per cent target by 2015 at primary level. Nevertheless, Pakistan still faces some serious challenges in achieving the goal of EFA, including the quality of primary education, gender disparity and inadequate financial support for the education sector. Despite UNESCO’s recommendation for low-income countries to spend 4 per cent of their Gross National Product (GNP) on education, Pakistan falls short of that figure. Pakistan’s financial allocation for education falls between 2 per cent and 3 per cent (MoE, 2007). Moreover, government primary schools are lacking in physical facilities as well as high quality trained teachers.


Education in West Central Asia

The root cause of the female education problem lies at the family and primary levels. The low participation at the primary level prevents females from accessing secondary and higher education. Most girls are in a double bind, affected by both gender discrimination and poverty. Limited financial resources force families to prioritize their expenditure on education and give preference to sons. Girls’ education is a low priority, as parents think that girls will bring no economic benefit to the family and therefore should work at home. Cultural limitations are a major reason for the low participation rate of girls in Pakistan from primary to tertiary and professional education levels. School distance and poor facilities in schools, such as availability of toilets, separate toilets, and boundary walls for schools, are some other factors in the low participation and high rate of dropout of girl students. These socio-cultural conditions limit girls’ decision-making power, keep their awareness of their rights low, develop a poor self-concept and limit girls’ desires, hopes and ambitions. In contrast, girls’ education adds value to their work, increases their productivity and makes them less vulnerable to intra-family violence or outside harassment. Unfortunately, the level of educational development is very low in the primary sector. Pakistan is facing a low literacy rate, low enrolments and high dropouts. It is generally believed that the quality of education in the public sector schools has declined over the last few decades and is continuing to do so (NEAS, 2007). The primary education system in Pakistan faces the problems of service provision, such as unaffordable access, non-functioning schools and low quality. Although the number of primary schools and primary school teachers is the highest compared to other school stages in Pakistan, provision for primary schools is very poor (MoE, 2006). Primary school teacher education programmes are relics of the nineteenth-century normal school model. They neither provide broad general education necessary to promote effective communication skills, critical thinking and creative instructional leadership, nor cultivate in-depth content knowledge of language, arts, mathematical reasoning, social and natural sciences and cultural context (MoE, 2009). Out of 105 districts in Pakistan, 30 have a participation rate at primary level lower than 20 per cent, and only seven districts have more than 60 per cent. All districts of the two provinces Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have less than 60 per cent participation rate. The survival rate up to Grade 5 was only 49.7 per cent (MoE, 2006) and was increased to 72 per cent in 2008–9, while the repetition rate for each grade in primary schools is about 15.74 per cent (MoE, 2009). School infrastructure facilities are highly inadequate, especially in rural areas. In the public sector, around 40 per cent of schools are without

Pakistan: Girls’ Education and the Core Challenges of Primary Education


boundary walls, 36 per cent without drinking water facilities, 61 per cent without electricity, 39 per cent without sanitary facilities and 6 per cent without any buildings (Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2007–8).

Conclusion If this analysis is correct, a few things are needed. The first is to improve the quality of teacher education, Second, there is a need to improve the supervisory system at primary level. The highly bureaucratized policies are the main obstacle to this system of accountability. Third, mitigating out-of-school factors that contribute to high dropout rates require a wide range of policies and actions that focus on poverty reduction through income generation and other methods. Some other prominent factors which constrain improvement at the level of primary education are rapid population growth, limited resources, unequal distribution of wealth, internal inefficiency of the education system, lack of professionalism in teaching and lack of adequate political will. Fourth, there is a need to make decisions and find a political will to carry them through. Fifth, there is a need to address the low literacy rate in the population overall. Illiterate parents are a major constraint. There is a strong need to conduct more research on these problems in order to devise ways to improve the quality of girls’ primary education in Pakistan. Even if resources could be mobilized towards this end, the capacity to build and operate such a large number of schools, as well as adult education, in such a short time is a massive task (MoE, 2007).

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Nelson, B. and Hammerman, J. (1996). “Reconceptualizing teaching: moving towards the creation of intellectual communities of students, teachers and teacher educators”, in M. McLaughlin and I. Oberman (eds), Teacher Learning: new policies, new practices. New York: Teachers’ College Press. The NEWS; Daily Internet Edition (3 November 2004). 13 Million Children Not Enrolled In Primary Schools. State Bank Report. www.origin.dailynews. lk/2004/09/21/wor02.html-16k (January 2005). Rehman, T. (2004). Denizens of Alien Worlds: A Study of Education, Inequality and Polarisation in Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press. Shah, D. (2003). Decentralization in the Education System of Pakistan: Policies and Strategies. Islamabad: AEPAM, Ministry of Education, Government of Pakistan. Swada, Y. and Lokshin, M. (2001). Household schooling decisions in rural Pakistan. Policy Research Working Paper Series No. 2541. Washington, DC: World Bank. UNDP (2006). Human Development Report. New York: UNDP. —(2007–08). Human Development Report. New York: UNDP. —(2011). Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All. undp/.../human_developmentreport2011.htm (March 2012), p. 279. UNESCO (1990). The World Declaration on Education for All. Jomtien: UNESCO. —(2000). The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports–Pakistan. education/wef/.../pakistan/rapport_2_0.html - France (April 2010), p. 284. —(2003). Status of Teachers in Pakistan. Paris: UNESCO. UNESCO, Institute for Statistics (2011). UNICEF (2009). The State of the World’s Children. report.php (December 2009). Warwick, D. P., Reimers, F. and McGinn, N. (1992). “The Implementation of Educational Innovations: Lessons from Pakistan”. International Journal of Educational Development, 12, 4: 297–307. World Bank (1996). (December 2009). —(2006). Pakistan Country Overview 2006. EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/SOUTHASIAEXT/PAKISTAN EXTN/0,,contentMDK:2 0131431~menuPK:29 (August 2009). World Bank Group (1999). New Approaches to Education: The Northern Areas Community Schools Programme in Pakistan. Washington, DC: World Bank and Government of Pakistan.


Pakistan: Curriculum and the Construction of National Citizens Naureen Durrani

Introduction Mass state schooling with a “national” language and curriculum has been, and continues to be, used for constructing citizens and developing a cohesive national identity (Lall and Vickers, 2009). Pakistan is no exception to this. In this chapter, I explore the construction of “official” versions of Pakistani identity in selected standardized national curriculum texts and the ways pupils (and teachers) engage with and appropriate the political messages in the texts analyzed. Given that policy and practice in the education of citizens is shaped by a country’s overall context, the next section offers an overview of Pakistan’s historical, social and political context. This is followed by a discussion of the theoretical framework that links national identity to curriculum texts. A description of the empirical study is then provided. Findings are presented under three main headings: I first focus on the ways the dominant national identity constructed through Islam provides unity and domesticate ethnic identities; I then consider how Islam shapes the construction of the “other” of Pakistani Muslim self; finally, I look at the ways in which this dominant national imagination contributes to domestic conflicts and divisions and creates internal “others”. The conclusion offers a discussion of the implications of national identification for social cohesion in contemporary Pakistani society and global relations.

The Research Context The creation of Pakistan was an act of ideological imagination. Jinnah (1876– 1948), Pakistan’s founding father, succeeded in constructing Pakistan on the


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discourse of the “two-nation” theory which constructed the Indian Muslim nation as a completely different ideological entity from Hindus, thereby justifying the division of British India into two countries along religious lines. Though the struggle for Pakistan centred on religious difference, it was neither led by religious leaders nor was it a religious movement. It was a secularist nationalist demand by the Muslim League. Islam was the basis for the creation of Pakistan, but it was not expected to serve as the model of government. Jinnah made clear his commitment to secular democracy in Pakistan in his inaugural speech addressed to the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1948 (Jinnah, 1948). Religious homogeneity notwithstanding, Pakistan came into existence as an ethnically, linguistically and culturally diverse and unevenly developed state (Rashid and Shaheed, 1993). The ruling elites (constituting the Urdu speaking Mohajirs and Punjabis) failed to accommodate this diversity by developing a sense of justice and participation (Ahmed, 2002). They resorted to religious symbolism to counter economic discontent, political dissent and ethnic nationalism (Alavi, 1988). After Pakistan’s inception, dominant Punjabi and Mohajir groups united to impede parliamentary democracy to keep the threat of an elected government dominated by Bengalis at bay, which shifted power into the hands of the military (Stern, 2001). On four occasions the military directly assumed power and played with and rewrote the constitution, paradoxically in the name of paving the way for sustained democracy (Haqqani, 2005). All provinces, except Punjab, have seen secessionist movements. Pakistan lost its eastern wing to one such movement when Bangladesh was created in 1971 on the basis of linguistic and ethnic differences. After the creation of Bangladesh, the ruling elites considered ethnicity as the biggest threat to national integration and sovereignty, and therefore the state actively promoted national integration in which Islam was used as the unifying ideology to curb provincial and ethnic sentiments (Cohen, 2005). Emphasis on Islamic unity was also used against external insecurity and hostility created by Indian leaders, many of whom predicted the early collapse of Pakistan (Haqqani, 2004). Pakistan and India have had three full-scale wars, a series of skirmishes and an ongoing arms race. Given the basis of Pakistan’s existence in religion, the identity of a Muslim Pakistan could possibly be defined only with reference to a Hindu India (Chaturvedi, 2002). Since a perceived external threat facilitates nation building, a constant threat from India contributes towards national unity (Jaffrelot, 2002) and provides a justification for the dominance of the military over all other state institutions.

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Although all Pakistani governments, both military and democratic, have used Islam to define Pakistani identity, it was General Zia-ul-Haq who formally Islamized the country in the 1980s. His Islamization project strengthened a clerical elite, created sectarian groups in the polity and curtailed the rights of women and religious minorities. The Islamization of the polity also coincided with religious extremism which has its genesis in the Soviet–Afghan war. With the invasion of Afghanistan by the “godless” communists, the Pakistani military and the religious right formed a nexus (Shah, 2003). The jihad spawned an Islam that continues to cast a long shadow over Pakistan in the form of militant Islamic groups (Hussain, 2000). Following 11 September 2001, the operation of extremist militant groups in Pakistan have intensified to such an extent that the “war on terror” has now become a war of survival for Pakistan.

National Identity, Social Cohesion and Education National identity refers to how a political community imagines itself by constructing boundaries that mark the difference between the “self ” and the “other” (Özkirimli, 2005). Though objective criteria, such as language, race, or religion, may enter into particular national identities, nations are constituted discursively through imaginative ideological endeavour. This process, through which the nation is imagined (Anderson, 1991) and reconstructed over time, is called national identity (Zimmer, 2003). It provides an imaginary unity against other possible unities. Nations are not entirely homogenous and national identity has to compete with other identities such as ethnicity, religion, race, class and gender. National identity is hierarchical and rarely inclusive of all the groups residing within the territorial boundaries of the nation-state. Thus, different groups experience national identity differently because of their differential access to the state apparatus and resources (Durrani, 2008a). This also means that the representation of national identity is always contested and is subject to revision and change. Power is central to the construction and reproduction of national identities. National identities change with changes in the power structure in society, but the direction and strength of any change is limited by the geo-political factors and the cultural resources of the nation (Smith, 2000). National identities are reproduced and naturalized through state institutions—the family, the school, the workplace, the media and the army (Özkirimli, 2005)—and in everyday life (Billig, 1995). National identities are constantly performed and reconstituted through state rituals, official, cultural


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and religious ceremonies, sports, educational practices, and social interaction and everyday life (Edensor, 2002). National education is one of the most important institutions the state uses to promote a distinctive national identity (Gellner, 1983; Miller, 1995; Smith 1991). Through the promotion and teaching of the national language and history, students are led to imagine and construct the state as their natural homeland and themselves as members of a nation. Curriculum texts represent a key site where states engage in identity construction work (Tormey, 2006) and control the access of individuals to different types of discourses (Ball, 1990). The curriculum is contentious and the struggles over it include questions of “identity” and its representation (Pinar, 1993) and control of knowledge (Apple, 2004). Of the multiple texts through which identities are shaped, curriculum texts enjoy significant power because they provide an authoritative account of the “real” (Durrani, 2008a) and are a powerful source of information for students “as to what identity constructions are politically constituted as legitimate” (Tormey, 2006, p. 314). They not only come from a secure institutional location but young people are consistently and compulsorily exposed to them throughout their formative years. However, curriculum texts do not externally impose on the thought of individuals or inhabit it from inside (Foucault, 1986). Rather they enable teachers and pupils to work on themselves, to produce themselves in particular ways (Maguire et al., 2011). The history of the official school curriculum in Pakistan offers a good illustration of attempts by the state to use religion as a key marker of Pakistani identity in order to maintain national integration, manage issues of regionalism and seek legitimacy for the government’s ideology (Durrani, 2008a; Lall, 2008). After independence, an all Pakistan Education Conference was convened to reorganize the colonial education system. Fazlur Rahman, then Education Minister, placed training in religion before training for citizenship (Government of Pakistan, 1947). The Sharif Commission appointed by the Martial Law Government of Ayub Khan identified the imperative that education must assume responsibility for fostering national unity (Government of Pakistan, 1959). A National Bureau of Curricula and Syllabi and a National Textbook Board were set up (UNESCO, 1997); a uniform curriculum was developed and the government prescribed books from classes 1 to 12. Religious education was made compulsory at elementary level. History, geography and civics were merged into one subject— social studies—with the aim of providing citizenship education.

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Following the separation of East Pakistan, the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Government produced a new education policy in 1972 aiming to build national cohesion (Government of Pakistan, 1972). Under the Federal Supervision of Curricula and Textbooks and Maintenance of Standards of Education Act, 1976, of the constitution of Pakistan, the Curriculum Wing of the Federal Ministry of Education was authorized to review all textbooks with the right to amend/ delete/reject a part or the whole of any textbook. The four provincial textbook boards were given the responsibility to implement the national curriculum primarily through textbook production within their respective jurisdictions. Pakistan studies was introduced in classes 9 and 10 to develop patriotism and national unity. Islamiat was made a compulsory subject up to class 10 for Muslim students (Hayes, 1987). The Martial Law Government of General Zia-ul-Haq produced a new policy in 1979 which aimed to Islamize society and produce citizens as true practising Muslims. Islamiat and Pakistan studies were made compulsory at undergraduate level. Textbooks were revised and rewritten to Islamize the contents and purge them of any un-Islamic concepts. The policy stated: The highest priority would be given to the revision of the curricula with a view to reorganising the entire content around Islamic thought and giving education an ideological orientation so that Islamic ideology permeates the thinking of the younger generation and helps them with the necessary conviction and ability to refashion society according to Islamic tenets. (Government of Pakistan, 1979, p. 2)

Thus it is clear that education has been used as a key institution for national integration and the maintenance and development of ideological commitment. With such tight control over school knowledge, the state has been able to ensure the inclusion of its own version of social reality and the exclusion of counterhegemonic notions of reality (Saigol, 1995). Research into the representation of identities in Pakistani curriculum texts has been burgeoning (Aziz, 1993; Dean, 2005; Lall, 2008; Naseem, 2006; Nayyar and Salim, 2003; Rosser, 2003; Saigol, 1995; Zaidi, 2011), but is limited to textual analysis of curriculum texts. The analysis of texts alone cannot establish how the textbook is used and appropriated in teaching and learning. Teachers inevitably mediate and may transform the textbook material in the classroom (Jones et al., 1997). Similarly, because of social, cultural and demographic variables, each student interacts with the textbook differently, and as a result may accept, reject, modify and transform what they read and hear (Kalmus, 2004). A full understanding of the


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impact of textbooks on students’ identity formation therefore requires exploration of how texts are used and understood by teachers and students (Durrani, 2008a). The study outlined below sets out to fill this gap.

The Study The study comprised a textual analysis of curriculum texts and ethnographic case studies lasting approximately five months, commencing in September 2005 in four schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, former North West Frontier Province (NWFP). In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Pakhtun ethno-linguistic group forms an absolute majority, accounting for about two-thirds of the provincial population. Pakhtuns are well integrated into the federal state structure and market economy (Khan, 2003). They have businesses in all provinces (Ahmed, 2002) and are well represented among the religious elites and in the military and civil bureaucracy (Khan, 2003). Being the epicentre of conflict in the “war on terror”, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa offers a good case for studying the way education impacts on social cohesion and relations through identity construction. Within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the study took place in two schools from a rural (Kalu Khan, Swabi) and two from an urban (Peshawar) setting. Because of sex-segregated state schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one school in each setting was for boys and one for girls. In recognition of the gender segregation of Pakhtun society, the study was confined to the primary schools in order to facilitate access for the female researcher. The study focused on state schools because despite a growing private sector, the state schools receive the biggest proportion of school-age children.1 Moreover, unlike the state schools where the government tightly controls the curriculum, textbooks and teacher training, the private sector, including religious schools, is not strictly regulated (Durrani and Dunne, 2010). Within the schools, the data collection focused on Grade 5 (the last grade in primary school) teachers and students (aged 9–10 years). In total, 145 students participated in the study (rural girls = 36, rural boys = 35, urban girls = 36 and urban boys = 38). The national, religious and ethnic composition of the students was as follows: 142 were Pakistanis and three were Afghan refugees, 142 were Muslims and three were non-Muslims, 138 spoke Pushto, four spoke Hindko and three spoke Punjabi as their first language. Thus, an overwhelming majority of the students (95%) were Pakhtuns. Five teachers participated in the study, all of whom were Pakistani and Muslim; four spoke Pushto and one spoke Hindko as their first language.

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The curriculum texts I analyzed included the then National Education Policy and Grade 5 Social Studies National Curriculum draft and textbook. The textbook was produced by the NWFP Textbook Board and approved by the Federal Ministry of Education (Curriculum Wing). Social studies, which is a combination of history, geography and civics, is taught as a compulsory subject from Grade 4 onwards. The textbook was undated and is referenced as NWFP Textbook Board (undated) in the “Reference” section at the end of this chapter. The textbook was provided to schools by the then NWFP government free of cost and was used as the only text in state schools in the province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Textual analysis was complemented by an ethnographic approach. The enacted curriculum was studied through classroom observations and semistructured interviews with teachers. Students’ views were captured through two individual activities. In the first activity, they were asked to draw images of things they thought stood for and represented them as Pakistanis. In the second activity, they were asked to draw images representing non-Pakistanis. The ideas offered in the drawing activities were discussed and explored further in singlesex focus groups, guided by, though not limited to, a schedule. Twenty-nine discussions took place in total. A post-structuralist analysis of the construction of identity and the understanding of subjectivity, one’s sense of self and one’s way of understanding ones’ relations to the world, was adopted. The constitution of subjectivity is most effective when the subject positions which the individuals take up within particular discourses are fully identified by them with their interests; discourses thus regulate our behaviour by offering us the “normal” or “obvious” ways of being and forms of pleasure which go with them (Weedon, 1997). The analysis of data focused on the subject positions made available within the texts. Since meaning is constructed through language rather than being determined by the authors’ intention, the subjectivities offered in the curriculum were analyzed and compared with the positions taken up by the students (Durrani, 2008a; Durrani and Dunne, 2010). The analysis focused on different components of identities (nationality, religion, gender and ethnicity) and their intersections. Given that the interpretation of texts depends on the multiple subjectivities of the readers, my social identity and positionality as a Pakistani, Muslim, Pakhtun, middleclass woman impacted on my analysis of texts and data. Equally, my social identity was also interpreted by the participants, which generated a specific set of data.


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Pakistani Identity: Islam and National Unity The main marker that the curriculum uses to (re)produce identity and notions of being Pakistani is religion (Islam). The National Education Policy declares that the “ideology of Islam forms the genesis of the State of Pakistan. The country cannot survive and advance without placing the entire system of education on sound Islamic foundations” (Government of Pakistan, 1998, p. 2). The policy offers Islam as the basic framework for monitoring the social practices and controlling the evaluative beliefs of Pakistanis (on the functions of ideologies, see van Dijk, 1998) and thus establishes the hegemony of Islam as a discursive framework. The textbook uses Islam as the main signifier of Pakistani identity: Almost all of us are Muslims. We have one God and one Quran and we are all the Ummat [followers] of the Prophet (peace be upon him) of Allah . . . In Pakistan, Muslims have the same ways of worship, marriage, burial and religious celebrations everywhere. (Social studies textbook, pp. 61–2)

The metaphor of “oneness” serves to construct the nation as homogenous by ignoring all religious, ethnic, linguistic, regional and gender differences. The total dilution of Pakistani identity to Islam serves to deny acknowledgement of the multiple identities contained in Pakistan. Despite being a multi-ethnic nation-state, the national education policy marginalizes internal differences, particularly ethnic identity, to forge homogeneity, solidarity and unity through Islam. We are not a country founded on its territorial, linguistic, ethnic or racial identity. The only justification for our existence is our total commitment to Islam as our sole identity. (Government of Pakistan, 1998, p. 9)

This superimposition of Islam on Pakistani identity also resonated in the students’ voices. The images students drew to represent “us”, Pakistanis, included Islamic symbols, in addition to other images. Such symbols included the Qur’an, mosque, prayer mat, rosary, boys/men offering namaz (the ritualistic obligatory prayer that Muslims offer five times a day at set times), duah (a prayer/wish with both hands joined and raised), Kalima (the verse—“there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger”), calligraphy of Allah, and subhan Allah (praise be to Allah). Similarly, students’ initial and spontaneous self-identification revealed that more students (34 per cent) identified themselves as Muslims compared to as Pakistani (24 per cent). Likewise, students across the schools employed Islamic

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symbols and discourse in expressing their sense of pride as a Pakistani (all names are pseudonyms). Jamila (Rural Girl (RG)): We’re followers of the Prophet. Shumaila (Urban Girl (UG)): We go to madrassa and offer prayers. I learn the Qur’an there. Kamran (Rural Boy (RB)): We live our life according to Islam. Zafar (Urban Boy (UB)): We’re Muslims. Everyone is afraid of us–we have the power of kalima.

The students’ definitions of “Pakistani” overlapped with their perceptions of “Muslim”, both of which were seen as complete adherence to Islamic rituals. This bonding of national and religious identities seems successful in taming ethnic identities. Self-identification on an ethnic basis—as Pakhtun—was low. Only 9% of the students, all boys, identified themselves as Pakhtuns. Students’ definitions of Pakhtun identity were heavily associated with Islam. This is how they articulated pride in their ethnic (Pakhtun) identity: Salma (RG): We [Pakhtuns] recite our Qur’an and offer our prayers regularly. Mehreen (UG): Pakhtuns observe purdah. Kashif (RB): Pakhtuns live a good life. Zaman (UB): We [Pakhtuns] offer prayers five times a day.

The students’ identifications as Pakhtuns strongly overlapped with their sense of being Pakistani, both of which were described in terms of a conservative form of Muslimness and in terms of Islamic rituals and practices. This effectively conflated and mutually reinforced their ethnic, national and religious identities. Given that Islam plays a central role in Pakhtun life and identity (Ahmed, 1980; Barth, 1969) and that Pakhtuns practise a conservative form of Islam (Cohen, 2005), it appears that ethnic identity, class and geographical proximity and ethnic connection to Afghanistan may have strengthened the curricular impact.

Pakistani Identity and the External “Other” The curriculum uses Islam as the chief marker that forms the boundary between Pakistanis and “others”, particularly by referring to the “two-nation theory”. Syed Ahmad Khan said that Muslims and Hindus were two separate nations. Later on the same ideology became the basis of the creation of Pakistan. (Social studies textbook, p. 120)


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Likewise, the teachers emphasized the construction of Pakistani identity in opposition to Hindu India. When asked which textbook lessons were effective from the point of view of inculcating national identity, an urban female teacher said that the efficacy of textbooks depends on effective teacher discussion: “Students develop hatred for Hindus when I tell them the differences between Muslim and Hindu women”. The students, when asked to draw images of “them”—non-Pakistanis—predominantly drew images of Hindus as the “other”, characterized in negative ways. These images included idols, barbaric images of Hindus fighting one another, people with horns on their heads, bindi (the decorative mark that Hindu women wear on their foreheads), tilak (a mark on the forehead worn by Hindu men), the Indian flag, Indian currency and temples. Some students from all the schools also construed the USA as the “other” by drawing images of the US flag, President Bush and the US dollar bill. Another mechanism for maintaining the boundary between the Pakistani Muslim self and the non-Muslim “other” is the glorification of the military. The social studies textbook describes different wars that took place between Hindus and Muslims at various points in history before and after the partition of India. These wars are narrated using religious imagery which naturalizes religious nationalism and jihad. Religious discourse heightens the emotional investment in the war and projects Islam as a key identifier for Pakistanis. When India tried to forcefully capture Kashmir, the people of Kashmir rebelled against this armed aggression. The Pakistani mujahideen also went to help their Kashmiri brothers [sic]. (Social studies textbook, p. 10)

The wars with India construct a national(istic) past, portraying the army as the chief pillar of Pakistani identity. Furthermore, the myth of an ever looming enemy, India, ready to harm Pakistan, is created, which fosters national insecurity and represents the army as the defender and protector of Islam, the nation and national land. While teachers observed that the military was over-represented in the textbook icons, they represented the military as a central symbol of national identity in the classrooms. The students, too, identified the military as integral to Pakistani identity, but in a gendered way. The images students drew to represent “us”—Pakistanis—were highly gendered. The boys from both localities drew a vast range of military/war images including the sword, guns, tanks, missiles, rocket launchers, atomic bombs, Pakistan army helicopters and soldiers and Nishan-e-Haider (Pakistan’s highest military award ). In contrast, girls did not draw any war images with the exception of a gun drawn by a rural girl.

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All the students expressed national insecurity related the non-Muslim “other”—India and the US—leading them to defend the build-up of arms and venerate the army. However, the boys not only articulated this threat strongly but also expressed ways to deal with the enemy: Jehangir (UB): We need a strong army and weapons to defend ourselves from India and America.

The depiction of national-religious “others” in essentialized ways developed religious intolerance, glorified the military and secured its centrality to the preservation of Pakistan in ways that encouraged external conflict. The students’ gendered images and discussions were important, too, as they indicated certain tensions and fissures in the representation of Pakistani national unity.

National Identity and Internal “Others” The representation of national unity through imagining the Pakistani nation solely on religious grounds creates tensions between Muslim and Pakistani nationhood and constructs internal “others”.

Conceptual tensions between Muslim and Pakistani nationhood The overwhelming association of Islamic identity with Pakistani identity creates tensions and contradictions between religious and national identity because religious identity is extra-territorial and national identity requires identification with a particular geographical place (Durrani, 2007, 2008b; Miller 1995). The curriculum and textbooks represent Pakistan as an Islamic state and equate Pakistanis with Muslims. The curriculum description includes among the objectives of teaching a lesson on “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan”, “[To] enhance feelings of patriotism, self-reliance, and service to humanity and devotion to Muslim brotherhood [sic]”. The list of concepts to be taught includes “Jihad”, the contents include the “need for the security of Pakistan and Islam”, and the means of evaluating the learning outcomes include “To judge their [students’] spirits while making speeches on Jihad, Muslim History and Culture” (Government of Pakistan, 2002, p. 35). All textbook heroes are Muslims and many of them are praised for their pan-Islamism. Muslims are represented as one nation where the stronger members help the weaker members militarily: “[Jamal-ud-Din Afghani] wanted to unite Muslims of the whole world under one flag . . . and to


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do away with the distinctions based on nation and nationality” (Social studies textbook, p. 121). The curriculum thus occasionally presents the Muslim nation and the Pakistani nation as the same and often privileges the former over the latter. While, by and large, the students’ Muslim identity strengthened their national identity, occasionally tensions emerged between Muslim and Pakistani nationhood. In a focus group, urban girls discussed whether there had been any occasions when they thought Pakistan was in the wrong. A girl with a red face, clenched teeth and shaky voice said: “Pakistan is killing the Taliban. It’s shameful.” Here tensions were apparent between loyalty to Islam and loyalty to Pakistan. The emphasis on Muslim nationhood over Pakistani nationhood projected by the official curriculum was internalized by this student.

Religion and exclusion The curriculum uses Islam to demarcate in-groups and out-groups in Pakistan. By defining membership of the Pakistani nation solely on religious grounds, the curriculum effectively excludes non-Muslim Pakistanis from national identity. There is not a single non-Muslim Pakistani included in the textbook heroes. Rather, all non-Muslims are portrayed as evil, anti-Muslim and the “enemy”. The curriculum defines the Pakistani national identity in contradictory terms resulting from the simultaneous use of the rhetoric of universalism and difference. The social studies textbook first defines national identity in inclusive terms: According to our new constitution . . . [e]veryone has religious freedom. Even the minority sects which live in Pakistan are given complete rights. (Social studies textbook, p. 80)

The next paragraph of the same lesson contradicts this discourse of inclusivity: “It is compulsory for the president and prime minister of the country to be Muslim” (Social studies textbook, p. 80). In the context of these contradictory curriculum messages, when asked whether students questioned the equality of religious minorities in Pakistan, a teacher responded that the students “have no critical sense and believe what they are told”. Discussions with the students indicated that, as with the curriculum and textbooks, they defined Pakistanis solely in terms of religion. The tensions between religion, national belonging and citizenship were evident across the

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schools even in the presence of non-Muslim students in the group. The students denied that non-Muslims were part of the nation, despite acknowledging them as citizens of Pakistan.

Pakistani Muslim outsiders In addition to portraying Pakistanis as Muslims, the curriculum also constructs “good” and “bad” Muslims and by extension “good” and “bad” Pakistanis. An eternal struggle between the righteous and the impious is portrayed through which “bad Muslims” are constituted as internal enemies: “He [Aurangzeb] hated and weakened un-Islamic customs, festivals and hobbies” (Social studies textbook, pp. 114–15). This can seriously hamper social cohesion and national harmony because Pakistani Muslims practise Islam in different ways. Moreover, in suggesting that adherence to Islam is the only way of being a “good” Pakistani, the curriculum and textbooks fail to nurture civicmindedness and critical consciousness about contemporary issues as integral to being a Pakistani. Likewise, for the students, adherence to Islam was the boundary that separated “good” Pakistanis from “bad” Pakistanis. “Bad” Pakistanis were identified as those who: Sundas (RG): . . . don’t send their kids to mosques. Sameena (RG): . . . run away from religion. Maria (UG): . . . don’t recite the Qur’an. Faisal (RB): . . . show laziness in offering prayers.

Once again, Pakhtun identity by appropriating conservative versions of Islam results in the conflation of religious, national and ethnic identities. Such perceptions about fellow Pakistani Muslims are detrimental to national cohesion and can accentuate the existing cultural divisions in society.

Gender and nation National icons are central to the construction of national identities (Durrani, 2008b). Given the centrality of religion and the military in the public performance of Pakistani identity that I discussed in the earlier sections, it is hardly surprising to find a gender hierarchy in the textbook in which women are subordinated. Because conflict and the military are the recurring themes in the historical narratives, out of a total of 17 textbook icons only two are women.


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Eleven textbook icons are praised for their participation in conflict or for mobilizing Muslims to fight against their non-Muslim enemies. Narration of selected historical episodes tends to construct all Muslims as one nation and portray military heroism and the readiness to fight in the name of religion as integral to being a Muslim. Even religious scholars are praised for unifying the Muslim nation against the antagonistic non-Muslim enemy. The remaining four male icons include three political leaders, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817–98), Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938) and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who were vital in making Islam a marker of the political identity of British Muslims, and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). The two female icons are admired for their service and “obedience” to their husbands and the upbringing of their children. Within the curriculum texts, the dominant association of Pakistani identity with the military and readiness to fight has left females largely absent from the historical narrative and only recognized in service to men: Hazrat Fatima used to do all her household chores herself ... In obedience and love of her husband, in the bringing up of her sons and daughters and in the worship of Allah, she presented a role model for the women of the Muslim world. (Social Studies textbook, p. 109)

Although all the teachers acknowledged the under-representation of females in the textbook, the classroom observations provided limited evidence that they were using these critical insights when teaching the gendered textbook messages. In focus groups, the students were asked to name their favourite textbook icon. Twenty-two students (15 per cent) could not make up their mind. The “icon students” identified most with Jinnah (overall 30 per cent; 26 per cent girls and 33 per cent boys). After Jinnah, most boys chose icons represented in conflict (21 per cent), a further 11 per cent chose a military hero from the Urdu textbook and only a small number (4 per cent) selected a female icon. By contrast, many girls (44 per cent) chose a female icon and only 14 per cent chose icons associated with conflict. The students’ responses reflect gendered national iconography. The dominant association of the military with Pakistani identity constructs the Pakistani nation as highly gendered, where men are portrayed as the defenders of the nation and women are subordinated and portrayed only in relation to men. Students’ identification with textbook heroes was similarly gendered.

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Conclusion This xhapter has observed striking similarities between the ways curriculum and students constructed identities and difference. The curriculum uses Islam to create boundaries between Pakistanis and the “other”, in order to promote unity and coherence among the diverse ethnic and cultural groups that comprise Pakistan. The students’ discourses revealed a deep embeddedness of Islam in their identifications. Only a very small proportion of students identified themselves on ethnic grounds, suggesting that the discursive production of national unity through Islam and the consequent marginalization of ethnic identities within the curriculum are also appropriated by students. The promotion of national unity by subsuming Pakistani identity totally within Islamic identity results in consequences that are counterproductive to national unity. The students identified with the larger nation of Islam rather than the Pakistani nation in all situations where the two were perceived as distinct. They also identified any Pakistanis who differed from the “normal” and “obvious” ways of being Pakistani as the “other”. These internal enemies included non-Muslims and Muslims who do not practise Islamic rituals regularly and whose social practices were considered un-Islamic. Gender was another boundary of internal “others”. Directing a singular Islamic identity in opposition to all other identities undermines its unifying potential in an ethnically and culturally plural Pakistan, in which Islam is practised in different ways. The subjectivities offered in the curriculum and the subject positions taken up by the students serve the interests of religious leaders, the military and men, and marginalize and silence the interests of women, non-Muslims and civil society. Thus, the overemphasis on Islam and the failure to validate the range of multiple and diverse identities within Pakistan have serious implications for social cohesion, equitable social relations and peaceful coexistence between the various groups in Pakistan. A singular national identity based on Islam also has implications for international relations. The curriculum texts I analyzed use Islam to draw boundaries between the Pakistani and the “other” by constructing Hindus/India as the “other”. Likewise, the students identified Hindus as the “other”. In addition, some students from all schools also identified the USA as the “other” and perceived it as a threat to Pakistan, Muslims and Islam. Since there is no mention of the USA in the curriculum, this perception might be attributed to influences outside the official curriculum texts that relate to Pakistan’s geo-political situation at the time of fieldwork and wider cultural forces.


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The strong overlaps between the textbook representations and the students’ ideas have to be understood in the context of several other factors. Not only did religious conflict dominate the early days of Pakistan as an independent state, but Pakistan has a history of trauma, partition of the self and major wars with India. The coexistence between the national and ethnic identification is significant too. Given that the study was located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the predominantly Pakhtun students constructed their ethnic identity mostly in terms of a conservative form of Islam in ways that did not contest the national-religious positionings offered in the curriculum. The small number of non-Pakhtun Muslim students criticized gender seclusion which is a defining feature of Pakhtun culture, even though they identified with their Islamic Pakistani identity. Furthermore, the majority of the students were from low-income families and religious households; many students, including girls, received religious education before or after school. Importantly, the fieldwork took place at a time when the US, with its allies was, and still is, engaged in war against the Taliban with whom the majority of the students had religious and ethnic ties. National identity is fluid and subject to revision and education has to respond to any changes in the national context. International pressure and donor investment in education in the post-9/11 scenario, as well as a growing internal conflict fuelled by religion, forced the Musharraf government to initiate revision of the national curriculum in 2006. The Grade 5 social studies curriculum was revised in 2007. Pakistan now has a new education policy (Government of Pakistan, 2009). While it has been speculated that “[t]he old curriculum has been overhauled and allegedly de-Islamised”, and fears articulated that the implementation of the new curriculum will be resisted in conservative provinces (Lall, 2008, p. 115), the nature of these reforms, their translation into textbooks, the acceptance and implementation of the reforms at school level and their impact on students’ identification warrant further investigation. The 18th amendment to the constitution of Pakistan, passed by the National Assembly on 8 April 2010, transferred responsibilities related to the curriculum from the federal to provincial governments. The impact of this recent change on the representation of identities in the curriculum texts is yet to be seen.

References Ahmed, A. S. (1980). Pakhtun Economy and Society: Traditional Structure and Economic Development in a Tribal Society. London: Routledge.

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Ahmed, F. (2002). “Ethnicity, state and national integration”, in S. M. Naseem and K. Nadvi (eds), The Post-Colonial State and Social Transformation in India and Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press, pp. 20–59. Alavi, H. (1988). “Pakistan and Islam: ethnicity and ideology”, in F. Halliday and H. Alavi (eds), State and Ideology in the Middle East and Pakistan. London: Macmillan, pp. 64–111. Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso. Apple, M. W. (2004). “Cultural politics and the text”, in S. J. Ball (ed.), The Routledge Reader in Sociology of Education. London: RoutledgeFalmer, pp. 179–95. Aziz, K. K. (1993). The Murder of History: A Critique of History Textbooks Used in Pakistan. Lahore: Vanguard. Ball, S. J. (1990). “Introducing Monsieur Foucault”, in S. J. Ball (ed.), Foucault and Education: Disciplines and Knowledge. London: Routledge. Barth, F. (1969). “Pathan identity and its maintenance”, in F. Barth (ed.), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Cultural Difference. London: Allen and Unwin, pp. 117–34. Billig, M. (1995). Banal Nationalism. London: Sage. Chaturvedi, S. (2002). “Process of othering in the case of India and Pakistan”. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 93, 2: 149–59. Cohen, S. P. (2005). The Idea of Pakistan. Lahore: Vanguard. Dean, B. (2005). “Citizenship education in Pakistani schools: problems and possibilities”. International Journal of Citizenship and Teacher Education, 1, 2: 35–55. Durrani, N. (2007). “Forging identities through schooling: tensions and contradictions between religious and national identities in Pakistan”. International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, 7, 1: 249–56. —(2008a) Curriculum and students’ identities: a case study of Pakistan. Unpublished PhD thesis, Sussex University. —(2008b) “Schooling the ‘other’: representation of gender and national identities in Pakistani curriculum texts”. Compare, 38, 5: 595–610. Durrani, N. and Dunne, M. (2010). “Curriculum and national identity: exploring the links between religion and nation in Pakistan”. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 42, 2: 215–40. Edensor, T. (2002). National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life. Oxford: Berg Publishers. Foucault, M. (1986). The Archaeology of Knowledge. London: Tavistock Publications. Gellner, E. (1983). Nations and Nationalisms. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Government of Pakistan (1947). Proceedings of the Pakistan Educational Conference Held in Karachi 27th November to 1st Decembe. Karachi: Ministry of the Interior Education Division. —(1959). Report of the Commission on National Education. Karachi: Planning Commission.


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—(1972). The Education Policy 1972–1980. Islamabad: Ministry of Education. —(1979). The National Education Policy and Implementation Programme, 1979. Islamabad: Ministry of Education. —(1998). National Education Policy 1998–2010. Islamabad: Ministry of Education. —(2002). Revised Social Studies Curriculum for Class V. Islamabad: National Bureau of Curriculum and Textbooks, Ministry of Education. —(2009). National Education Policy 2009. Islamabad: Ministry of Education. Haqqani, H. (2004). “The role of Islam in Pakistan’s future”, Washington Quarterly, 28, 1: 85–96. —(2005). Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Hayes, L. D. (1987). The Crisis of Education in Pakistan. Lahore: Vanguard. Hussain, A. (2000). “Peregrinations of Pakistani nationalism”, in M. Leifer (ed.), Asian Nationalism. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 126–52. Jaffrelot, C. (2002). Pakistan: Nationalism without a Nation? London: Zed Books. Jinnah, M. A. (1948). Speeches of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah as Governor General of Pakistan. Karachi: Sindh Observer Press. Jones, M. A., Kitetu, C. and Sunderland, J. (1997). “Discourse roles, gender and language textbook dialogues”. Gender and Education, 9, 4: 469–90. Kalmus, V. (2004). “What do pupils and textbooks do with each other?: methodological problems of research on socialization through educational media”. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 36, 4: 469–85. Khan, A. (2003). “Pakhtun ethnic nationalism from separation to integration”. Asian Ethnicity, 4, 1: 67–83. Lall, M. (2008). “Educate to hate: the use of education in the creation of antagonistic national identities in India and Pakistan”. Compare, 38, 1: 103–19. Lall, M. and Vickers E. (eds) (2009). Education as a Political Tool in Asia. Abingdon: Routledge. Maguire, M., Hoskins, K., Ball, S. and Braun, A. (2011). “Policy discourses in school texts”. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 32, 4: 597–609. Miller, D. (1995). On Nationality. Oxford: Clarendon. Naseem, M. A. (2006). “The soldier and the seductress: a post-structuralist analysis of gendered citizenship through inclusion in and exclusion from language and social studies textbooks in Pakistan”. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10, 4–5: 449–67. Nayyar, A. H. and Salim A. (eds) (2003). The Subtle Subversion: The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan. Islamabad: Sustainable Development Policy Institute. NWFP Textbook Board (undated). Social Studies for Class V. Peshawar: Star Book Bank. Özkirimli, U. (2005). Contemporary Debates on Nationalism: A Critical Engagement. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Pinar, W. F. (1993) “Notes on understanding curriculum as a racial text”, in

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C. McCarthy and W. Crichlow (eds), Race, Identity and Representation in Education. New York: Routledge, pp. 60–70. Rashid, A. and Shaheed, F (1993). Pakistan: Ethno-politics and contending Elites. UNRISD Discussion Paper 45. Switzerland: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, p. 306. Rosser, Y. C. (2003). Curriculum as Destiny: Forging National Identity in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. PhD thesis, University of Texas. http: //hdl.handle-net/2152/821 (23 August 2006). Saigol, R. (1995). Knowledge and Identity: Articulation of Gender in Educational Discourse in Pakistan. Lahore: ASR Publications. Shah, A. (2003) “Pakistan’s armored democracy”. Journal of Democracy, 14, 4: 26–40. Smith, A. D. (1991). National Identity. London: Penguin. —(2000). “The ‘sacred’ dimension of nationalism”. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 29, 3: 791–814. Stern, R. W. (2001). Democracy and Dictatorship in South Asia: dominant classes and political outcomes in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. New Delhi: India Research Press. Tormey, R. (2006). “The construction of national identity through primary school history: the Irish case”. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 27, 3: 311–24. UNESCO (1997). The National Bureau of Curriculum and Textbooks of Pakistan. Bangkok: UNESCO. van Dijk, T. (1998). Ideology: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: Sage Publications. Weedon, C. (1997). Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory. Oxford: Blackwell. Zaidi, S. M. A. (2011). “Polarisation of social studies textbooks in Pakistan”. Curriculum Journal, 22, 1, 43–59. Zimmer, O. (2003). “Boundary mechanisms and symbolic resources: towards a process oriented approach to national identity”. Nations and Nationalism, 9, 2): 173–93.

Note   1 In 2007–8, 71 per cent of students at primary level were enrolled in public (state) sector institutions. (12 January 2012).


Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities Sarfaroz Niyozov and Juma Bulbulov

Introduction In September 2011, Tajikistan celebrated its 20th anniversary of independence, which defied many external and oppositional cries of crisis, failure and imminent collapse. Tajikistan has not only survived but increasingly appears a viable state with ambitious aspirations. This chapter presents a descriptive story of the educational situation in post-Soviet Tajikistan. We build on our research and personal and professional experiences, data from international agencies and websites and comparative scholarship in Central Asian education. We start with the context of educational reform. We have taken a critical constructive approach to highlight the continuities and changes, achievements, issues and challenges in Tajikistan’s post-Soviet education. We take our readers through a brief journey into the context, content, structure, financing and governance, teacher education, privatization and internationalization of its education. We acknowledge that Tajikistan has come a long way in reforming its education while maintaining some of the key features of the Soviet system, such as its extensive infrastructure and egalitarian focus. Education in Tajikistan is caught in responding to the conflicting and complementary challenges of building a nation-state and joining a global neo-liberal economy. The further handling of the enormous challenges of reform require not only openness to international ideas and investments, but also development of local capacities in all education fields to critically and strategically engage the purposes and processes of reform and the structure of foreign aid, discover how more genuine reforms can be achieved with increasingly limited resources, and at the same time enhance policy and conceptual capacities and skills. Concluding, we


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suggest that Tajikistan policy-makers and practitioners should take a more assertive and proactive position in owning and carrying its education reform. While it has done well in defying despair, it should not take for granted the opportunities ahead.

Post-Soviet Tajikistan: Defying All Predictions Tajikistan is a landlocked Central Asian country of 143.1 thousand square kilometres, and has a population of 7.3 million. Out of these, Tajiks comprise around 80 per cent, Uzbeks, 15 per cent, and Russians, Kyrgyz and others 5 per cent. Tajikistan has a higher population growth rate (2 per cent) and larger average family size (7.1) than other Central Asian and former Soviet state. Around 45 per cent of its population are under 17 years old. Average life expectancy there is about 65 years (62 for males and 68 for females). More than a million of the country’s citizens work as labour migrants in Russia, with smaller numbers in Kazakhstan and the Gulf countries. Administratively, the country is divided into the regions of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous (GBAO), Sughd and Khatlon and districts of republican subordination. Some 70 per cent of Tajikistan’s population live is rural, and two-thirds of these rely on agriculture for at least 50 per cent of their income. Politically, Tajikistan as a nation-state emerged in 1924 due to the Soviet national delimitation and administration policies. The country was carved out of the remnants of Bukhara and Quqand emirates and a few princely fiefdoms of the Tsarist Russian Empire. The term Tajik, however, is an ancient word, and implied sedentary tribes of Central Asia as compared to Turks who were perceived to be predominantly nomadic. The lands that the Tajiks inhabited belonged to the eastern part of the pre-Islamic Persian empires, the Greek—Macedonian Empire and the Arab—Islamic Caliphate. A prototype of Tajik statehood was fashioned in the Samanid Empire of the tenth century. A century of its existence ended with the takeover by Turkic and Mongolian dynasties such as Ghaznawid (eleventh century), Seljuks (twelfth century), Mongols (thirteenth–fifteenth centuries), Temurids (fifteenth century), Shaibanids (sixteenth–seventeenth centuries), Manghits (eighteenth–nineteenth centuries). The Russians conquered Central Asia between 1840 and 1895, stopping the British advance from the south. The Oxus (also Panj/Amu) river became the borderline between the two empires. All across these centuries, the idea of Tajik ethnicity and nationality were embryonic, ambiguous and secondary to religious (e.g. Muslim), tribal, geographic (Bukhoroi, Khujandi) and even ethno-geographic (Khatloni,

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


Shughnoni) factors. Russians, and later the Soviets, allowed and enabled the Tajiks to become a nation, develop the Tajik language as separate from Dari and Persian and constructed a unique Sovietized Tajik culture (Ghafurov, 1972). The Soviets used Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries as models of non-capitalist development, which appealed to many in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India (Meyer, 2002). By the 1980s, Tajikistan had 98 per cent universal literacy, a highly developed language, arts and traditional and modern culture, extensive education, and health structures comparable to a middle-level developed Western country. Perestroika and Glastnost, by exposing and emphasizing only the negative elements of the Soviet experience, caused a chain of events which ended with the USSR’s collapse in 1991. Tajikistan, like other Central Asian states, became independent by default. It fell into an ideological/regionalist civil war between 1992 and 1997. This not only completely devastated the already poorest Soviet republic, but also delayed its post-Soviet recovery and nation-state building. In 1997, a national reconciliation government, a unique model of peace making, sponsored by the United Nations, Russia and Iran, and supported by other regional and global forces (Akiner, 2001), was established. This marked the de facto beginning of the new Tajikistan. Tajikistan’s post-Soviet development is a unique Central Asian case of overcoming enormous natural and human-made challenges. Politically, the country has moved from a Soviet single party republic to a form of centralist state, ruled by the People’s Democratic Party but with other parties engaged (e. g. People Democratic, Communist, Social Democratic, Islamic Revival, Agrarian). Tajikistan is the only Central Asian country that had a prolonged civil war and has an official Islamic party. It has made a number of strides toward democratic governance. Tajikistanis project their country as a multicultural home, where Tajiks have unique opportunities to reclaim their identity, history and values These values include welcoming guests and tolerating diversity. At the same time, only 7 per cent of Tajikistan’s land is arable. Precarious mountainous landscapes cause costly and damaging mudflows, rock falls and avalanches. High seismic conditions result in hundreds of earthquakes annually, causing damages in millions. Lack of access to sea ports and very limited energy deposits are additional concerns. The 1992–7 civil war’s residual warlords, energy and railway blockades by Uzbekistan, a turbulent love—hate relationship with Russia, the constant threat of the spread of Afghanistan-style conflicts from the south, the neo-liberal weakening of the state, and high birth rates constitute a massive set of challenges.


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Despite all such challenges, in 2011, Tajikistan marked its 20th anniversary of independence as a hopeful, vibrant and peaceful state. Its two decades of existence and steady development have refuted many external and oppositional predictions of Tajikistan being “a failed state, soon to disintegrate, and to become a 4th world country” (Eurasianet, 2012; ICG, 2009, 2011). Tajikistan has rather appeared as resilient and dynamic, determined not just to recover from the shocks of Soviet collapse and civil war, but move forward, catch up with other Central Asian and former Soviet republics and proudly join the international community (Heathershaw, 2011). The county has been relatively successful in building a sense of nation-state and ethnic cohesion (Roy, 2000; Jonson, 2006). Political and intellectual factors prop up the national image, such as the highest flying flag in the world; statues (e.g., of Ismail the Samanid); celebrations of independence; Tajik—Persian history and poetry; Zoroastrian and Islamic (both Sunni Hanafi and Shi’a Ismaili) creeds; rhetorical use of Tajik’s historical genius (scholars Avicenna and Beruni; Islamic jurist Abu Hanifa; Sufi poets Rumi, Jomi and Hamadoni); patriotic verses from Rudaki, Firdawsi, Kamol Khujandi and Nosir Khusraw (from the medieval past). All of these act as an inspiration to overcome the current social, moral and economic malaise of Tajik society (Niyozov, 2010). Imagined adversaries of the nation are external. Even though still dependent on foreign aid (Silova and Steiner-Khamsi, 2008), Tajikistan hopes to develop its water-based energy resources and its newly found oil resources in its drive for more independence and prosperity. In 2006, Tajikistan adopted its National Development Strategy (NDS) for 2007–15 (revised and ratified in 2012), further complemented by the Poverty Reduction Strategy, an implementation instrument for the NDS. Improving the quality of life of its citizens through economic growth, energy development, quality education, affordable health care and equitable land reform are the strategy’s key components. Tajikistan aims to do this via developing local economic and cultural entrepreneurship and bringing in more foreign investment. To these ends, Tajikistan accepted and ratified international propositions such as Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The economy is maintaining a high growth rate (between 6 per cent and 9 per cent from 2000 to 2011). Inflation rates were maintained at a 15 per cent low, while salaries have been on the rise. Many schools, powerhouses, health care facilities, roads, parks and railways have been renovated or built anew. Private entrepreneurship, even though hampered by corruption, has been flourishing across the country.

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


Geopolitically, the Tajik government has been able to cautiously navigate its way through the interests of various competing regional and global forces such as India and Pakistan; Russia and Turkey; and Iran, the US and the Gulf countries. Meanwhile China and Europe are working to bring economic investment into the country. Tajikistan has also managed to reposition itself as an important ally in the Western-led war on terror, serving as a northern exit and entry corridor to Afghanistan. Tajikistan is assertively seeking World Trade Organization membership, has joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace, and by 2008 had become the most favourable Central Asian country for foreign investments (Niyozov, 2008). Foreign investments in the forms of grants, loans, infrastructure, equipment and machinery have been pouring into the country not only from these countries but also via bilateral (USAID, GTZ), multilateral (IMF, UNDP, World Bank) and private transnational development agencies such as the Aga Khan Development Network, the Soros Foundation and individual wealthy Tajiks living outside the country. In addition, Tajik labour migrants’ remittances, at times far surpassing the country’s annual budget, have brought additional income. Between 2008 and 2012 their remittances constituted more than 60% of the country’s budget ( By 2010, Tajikistan had more than 5000 NGOs involved in the various spheres of its development. Internally, the Tajik state managed to repair the cotton, aluminium, precious metals’ and other forms of export production. Together with increasing tourism, these also added to the budget and economic growth. The number of people living on less than US$2.15 per day decreased from 81 per cent to 55 per cent between 1999 and 2008. Tajikistan’s GDP per capita in 2006 was variously recorded as follows: US$358 (World Bank), US$1300 (CIA Factbook), US$1937 (UNDP, 2009) and US$2163 (BTI, 2012). Far from perfect, Tajikistan’s economic and socio-political situation remains fragile due to the uneven implementation of structural reforms, weak governance, widespread unemployment, rampant corruption and the external burgeoning debt burden. Even though a debt restructuring agreement was arranged, with countries such as Russia writing off US$250 million of its US$300 million debt, the country’s foreign debt has increased to a staggering US$2 billion in 2012. Around US$880 million of this debt belongs to China, US$370 million to the World Bank, US$333 million to ADB, US$103 million to the Islamic Development Bank, and US$28 million to Uzbekistan (www. Regrettably, the attraction of foreign investments, companies and corporations is seen as matter of pride and priority. Unfortunately, some of the consequences of neo-liberalist marketization, such as low taxes, cheap labour,


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lax environmental rules, weakened trade unions and a lack of state protection for the local employees, are not sufficiently understood or challenged (Klees, 2010). So Tajikistan remains one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 124th out of 179 countries in the 2008 Human Development Index. The country has tremendous human and financial resource constraints. Its entrepreneurship spirit is very limited. Self-employment and income-generating opportunities among rural people are in the initial stages of development. Over one million people in Tajikistan, primarily in rural areas, have little or no access to an energy supply. In the winters the country is faced with an enormous energy crisis. In the winter 2010, many people died of cold and food shortages, while the summers see infectious deceases take the lives of hundreds of people. Coupled with occasional civil conflicts, the fragility of the country is all too obvious. A limited electricity supply has led to forest destruction and soil degradation. The country remains highly dependent on international aid. The rate of unemployment is high (officially 33 per cent, unofficially 50 per cent). Economic activity among women remains low, with unequal access to and control over property, land and credit. Women are largely involved in lower skill occupations and do not have equitable access to support resources, such as vocational training, micro‐credit and advisory services, to improve their entrepreneurial skills. Similarly, there has been a considerable decline in women’s political participation since independence. In the 2005 parliamentary elections, women comprised only 18 per cent of the total elected to the Majlisi Namoyandagon (House of Representatives), and only 12 per cent of the Majlisi Milli (National Council). At local government level this participation is even lower: 4 per cent, 7 per cent and 11 per cent at the oblast, district and jamo’at (municipality) levels, respectively. Tajikistan ranks 151 out of 180 countries for corruption (UNDP, 2009). Corruption and nepotism have affected all spheres of the economy and culture, eroding trust in law and governance and becoming a part of everyday life. An OSCE (2011) report found that the average value of bribes in Tajikistan is “comparatively high—more than 1,000 Somonis, or 200 US dollars, compared with an average monthly salary in Tajikistan of 70 US dollars ... that corruption created more obstacles for the poor in obtaining access to services like education or healthcare”. These local and global, geographic/ natural, socio-political, economic and cultural realities both affect and are reflected in the country’s education.

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


Education in Tajikistan The Soviet legacy: hard to handle Tajikistan has inherited a sophisticated education structure from the Soviet Union. Even though it has been aggressively reformed, the structural blocks, especially in the public domain, still exist.

Pre-school education This takes children ages one to six with the aim of imparting some reading and writing skills (including the basics of Tajik for non-speakers). Due to the increased direct costs of education, reduced state subsidies for transport and food, and impoverished family incomes, pre-school enrolments have declined catastrophically over the past decade, threatening the health, nutrition and school preparedness of children who no longer have access to these services (Briller, 2007). While Soviet Tajikistan had 955 public free-for-all kindergartens with 141,000 children, independent Tajikistan has only 488 public kindergartens (enrolling 62,450 children), 13 private kindergartens (enrolling 450 children) and 38 child development centres (with 900 children) MoE, 2011, p. 4). Pre-schooling is not compulsory. There are more than a million pre-schoolaged children of whom only 6–7 per cent are enrolled in formal education (MoE, 2005, p. 13). Pre-school education has, however, become a focus of the global development agenda, and early childhood education/development is a new item of funding. Pre-schooling is increasingly becoming privatized and supported by the village organizations and jamoats or local communities (Freizer, 2005). Also noting the pre-schools’ importance in terms of donor interests, the education ministry has opened up a section to address strategic development.

Primary and secondary education Unlike pre-schooling, which has both decreased and is being privatized, primary and secondary schools and students have increased by 40 per cent since 1992. Also, primary and secondary schooling remain public and mandatory. Unlike the Soviet 10 or 11 years, general education now comprises nine years. Basic education is divided into: a) elementary (Grades 1–4 for 7–11-yearolds); and b) secondary basic (Grades 5–9 for 11–16-year-olds), then comes c) higher secondary education (i.e. Grades 10 and 11, for 16–18-year-olds). This is not compulsory, but the government plans to make it so in 2016. Aligning with European standards, schooling is also gradually moving from 11 to 12


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years, beginning from 2015. To serve the Grade 1–11 students, 3747 schools operated in the country in 2011. Of these, 548 are primary (Grades 1–4) and 701 secondary-basic, while 2374 are comprehensive (Grades 1–11) schools. At the higher secondary levels, schools branch into sciences and humanities streams. As in the Soviet era, the system acknowledges students’ unique talents and intelligences and offers special programmes to enhance those. Schools like these, for example, would advertise themselves as schools with a mathematical inclination, or with an English emphasis. Administratively, primary, basic and higher secondary schools come under the Department of General Education of the Ministry of Education. There is still an elaborate vocational education system, another of the Soviet legacies. It has primary, secondary, higher secondary and tertiary levels. There are 50 secondary vocational institutions (e.g. 26 colleges, 19 omuzishgohs (community schools), and three technikums (technical schools). These enroll 37,000 students, divided into 110 specialties. Some 3710 instructors teach in these colleges, of whom 52 hold candidate degrees in relevant sciences. Many of these institutions are restructured and renamed as colleges (e.g. Dushanbe Commercial College, Khujand Pedagogical College and Bokhtar Agrarian College). Administratively, these come under the Secondary and Higher Vocational Education Department (Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, 2006). Overall the primary, basic and higher secondary, vocational streams and private schools serve 1,649,696 students (of whom 796,182 are girls). Given the high birth rate, by 2015 the number of children who need school education will increase by approximately 850,000. The number of students in the general secondary education system in the next 12 years (2003–15) might increase by 40%, that is from 1.8 million to 2.3 million.

Tertiary education This includes universities, Soviet-style specialized institutions now renamed universities (e.g. the former Tajik State Pedagogical Institute now Tajik State Pedagogical University); newly-established international joint ventures such as the Russian-Tajik Slavonic University; foreign branches, such as Moscow State University’s branch in Dushanbe; and private international institutions such as the University of Central Asia. Unlike the Soviet period, where these specialized colleges and institutes operated under their relevant ministries (Heyneman, 2000), nowadays most of them work under the Ministry of Education’s Higher Education Department. University level education lasts four to five years. The Western-style master’s degree is considered a basic rather than graduate degree.

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


Notably the number of higher education institutions increased from nine in 1992 to 30 in 2010.

Graduate education This consists of a hybrid system, where Soviet candidate and doctoral studies parallel the Western master’s degrees. As yet no university in Tajikistan offers a Western-style PhD. In fact, both master’s and PhD degrees are not yet institutionalized in Tajikistan’s public education system. While a master’s degree is seen as little more than a local five-year diploma degree conferred by the universities, candidate and doctoral degrees are conferred by separate relevant research academies, such as the Academy of Sciences or Academy of Education. These graduates are expected to become docents and professors, doing research, supervising students and teaching advanced courses. There are four types of research education in Tajikistan: one is done by government bodies, such as the Academy of Education (former Institute of Pedagogical Sciences), and scholars at the pedagogical universities and their branches. Their key focus is ethno-pedagogy, which discovers and produces the best educational thoughts of the Tajik peoples (Afzalov and Rahimov, 1994). It legitimizes the Tajik nation and Tajikistan as a state, and aligns its findings with universal humanistic values and knowledge. A lot of this research is produced in Russian, reflecting strong ties not just with the Soviet past but also Russian research centres. Their approach is positivist historic-comparative. The second type of research education is carried out by international agencies and donors. These are largely quantitative surveys and some qualitative interview-based reports on needs and impacts. While useful for exposing the ground realities, a lot of this research promotes discourses of crisis and deficit on one side and self-service and self-perpetuation on the other. They are geared towards obtaining funds/grants and have dependency-perpetuating agendas (Samoff, 2012). The third source of scientific research knowledge is the burgeoning independent and semi-independent research centres and individual scholars such as Sharq, PULSE, and Madina. These serve the criss-crossing interests of both international donors and local governments. Like the second strand, their approach is also predominantly statistical and survey-based, with a limited use of qualitative approaches. The last strand of research is done by academics (local and international) based in the Western universities. Their approach is largely critical, reflexive, collaborative and multidisciplinary, where data is connected to theories such as political economy, globalization, system theory, neo-colonialism and dependency (Chapman et al., 2005; De Young


Education in West Central Asia

et al., 2006; Heyneman and De Young, 2004; Janigan, 2012; Niyozov and Bahry, 2006; Niyozov, 2010; Shamatov, Schatz and Niyozov, 2010; Niyozov and Dastambuev, 2010; Silova, 2011; Steiner-Khamsi, 2010; Whitsel, 2009). In Soviet times, education was public and free right from pre-school up to graduate level. Indeed at tertiary and graduate levels, students were provided with stipends and hostels. This education was also egalitarian, based on the principles of providing more or less the same quality of education to all students and schools right from the Baltic shores to the Tajik mountains. As a member of the second superpower and dubbed as models of socialist development for Asian and African countries, the Tajik educational authorities (like many other Soviets) believe in the superiority of their education. Perestroika and Glastnost shook some of these assumptions and beliefs, revealing the scale of corruption and abuse of the public system, the gaps between equity rhetoric and inequitable realities, the deterioration and stagnation of the system and the lies and myths the Soviets had been living under for the previous 70 years. These revelations also showed that infrastructurally, Soviet schools resembled Western schools of the 1950s and 1960s. There was one curriculum (with some variations)— outdated, highly politicized, with a single perspective, largely irrelevant, and controlled by the state/party—delivered to all students despite the various natural and social differences (Dunstan, 1992).

Post-Soviet discourses of despair and hope In the 1990s, the Tajik education authorities continued to believe that all their education system needed was some middle-level repair and cosmetic changes. There was a lack of understanding of the political economy of the Soviet education system. It had been designed for a Soviet, socialist, planned, public and egalitarian economy, now unfit for the radical neo-liberal—capitalist new world, based on free market rules and weakened nation-states subordinate to global corporate and transnational agencies. This new world contains conflicting ideological perspectives and multiple economic sectors and wealthy actors— globalized, knowledge-based, little concerned about equity and welfare, and deeply unpredictable. The irony was that the Tajik state was already too weak to be afraid. To the contrary, its weakness and newness rather than its strength were of concern to the global economic forces. A new education was needed to proactively respond to these changes. In addition, there was a lack of exposure to and knowledge about non-Soviet education systems to realize how far behind the Tajikistan education has fallen in its infrastructure, governance, content, teacher

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


education, quality, relevance and value. Realization of the depth of the crisis took time, but eventually became part of the country’s president’s, education minister’s and educationalists’ speeches (MoE, 2005; Rajabov and Alifbekov, 2004). This recognition was an outcome of the a) 1980s’ internal critique of the system; b) foreign study tours by local educationalists; c) field-based reports by international organizations (Kuder, 1996; World Bank, 2003), and d) realization that reform can bring in a lot of money (Silova and Steiner-Khamsi, 2008). By late 1990s, there was a complete local—global agreement that the situation was desperate. Tajikistan’s educationalists listed 102 major problems, negatively impacting the education quality in the country (Davlatov and Mulloev, 2000). Below we introduce only a few of them. We also highlight the measures undertaken through local—global and public—private joint efforts.

Poor learning conditions According to the IMF and World Bank surveys in Tajikistan, about 20 per cent of schools were ruined during the civil war. There is heating in only 26 per cent of schools, no tapped water in 24 per cent, and no toilets in 35 per cent. There are no adequate sanitary facilities in 87 per cent of schools in Sughd and Khatlon oblasts. Some 50 per cent of schools in Khatlon oblast had no access to water in 2002. According to the data for the 2003–04 academic year, 75 per cent of schools in Tajikistan work in two shifts due to the lack of more than 600,000 places for children. In some Dushanbe schools there are 35–55 students sitting in one class, three per desk. Rural schools, which form more than 85 per cent of the total 3747 schools, and where more than 77 per cent of teachers teach 72 per cent of the country’s students, suffer even more from a lack of qualified specialists and textbooks; poor infrastructure, material and technical base; and limited heating, light and appropriate sanitary and hygienic facilities such as separate toilets and pure drinking water. The rural—urban inequity is appalling and may cause social cataclysms (such as migration and radicalization) if not addressed urgently. According to the Ministry of Education, the total furniture needs of secondary schools has been estimated at around 153,700 sets of school desks and chairs, 66,800 chairs, 9,900 teacher desks, 29,700 cabinets, and 9,900 class boards. These estimates were not based on any meaningful inventory of the existing equipment or commonly accepted benchmarks of what should constitute a standard set of classroom furniture. As in previous years, the status of textbook provision was problematic. International agencies, such as the World Bank (2003), ADB, the Islamic Development Bank and the Aga Khan Foundation, have invested in school


Education in West Central Asia

rehabilitation and improving basic education. One of their successful initiatives has been the establishment of Parent Teacher Associations. PTAs have developed small-scale educational infrastructure projects and promoted parents’/children’s rights in schools.

School enrolment decline and wastage: gender disparity and child labour By 2006, school attendance declined to less than 5 per cent in early childhood education; to 84 per cent for primary education; and to less than 70 per cent in higher secondary education (Briller, 2007). Significant wastage occurs after Grade 9, due to the end of the compulsory education period. Gender imbalance appears mainly in the upper level of secondary school (Grades 9–11) where girls’ attendance rates decreased from 49 per cent in 1991 to 36 per cent in 2005. In rural areas, the number of girls dropping out of school is double that of boys (Janigan, 2012). In urban areas this indicator increased by three times. Conservative cultural and religious values projects state that secular schools are corrupting and unsafe and suggest early marriage for girls. Girls’ dropout became a key issue in the debates between Tajik educationalists and their international counterparts. School dropout is also due to the poverty and general devaluation of education. The need to put bread on the table, marry, help siblings go to school, renovate one’s house, buy a car, pay one’s debt to a friend or a micro-credit bank, or simply have a nice dress, are among common sense reasons for dropping school and joining the labour market at home or in Russia. Private business and state authorities exploit children as cheap and vulnerable labour. Children as young as three to four years of age go begging, carry out papers, deliver produce in pushcarts, wash cars and sell products in major cities. Most frequently, however, child labour is used in agriculture. Children work in cotton fields, collect fruit and vegetables, carry wood and stones and take care of cattle. All these factors prevent children from having a normal education, limit their mobility opportunities and access to medical services, and contribute to child disability, child abuse and juvenile delinquency. Research conducted by Dushanbe Institute of Labour and Social Protection shows that 86 per cent of those involved in child labour constitute children from 12 to 17 years of age, and 84 per cent of those working are boys. Children are used because they can be paid much less for their labour. In addition, parents use their children excessively with cattle breeding, washing, sewing, cooking, looking after their siblings and other chores, making the distinction between child labour and family chores ambiguous.

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


To respond, in September 2006 the country’s president ordered strict compliance with the law which banned the use of student labour for cotton picking. The ministries of Education and Labour and Social Protection, with assistance from the International Labour Organization (2010), had banned child labour much earlier (e.g. Article 26 of the Law on Education). International organizations, especially UNICEF, have been helping the two ministries though investment, rehabilitation programmes and overseeing the law’s implementation. Tajikistan had earlier ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. Presidential quotas for poor and rural girls have been in operation for almost a decade. These quotas, even though abused at times (Silova and Abdushukurova, 2009), have ameliorated these negative trends to an extent. Some 6,645 girls, mainly from rural and poor families, have gone to universities by 2010 (MoE, 2011, p. 7). The education ministry has involved school districts, PTAs, parents and universities where these girls study, and built safe hostels for them to ensure the quotas work well (Niyozov and Dastambuev, 2010). Another problem is rampant nepotism and bribery, especially relating to university admissions and job allocation. Why bother about school attendance when one can get school and university diplomas and a good job through connections and money—it is seen as the common sense approach (Nyozov, 2001).

Governance and management The Tajik educational authorities watched Russia’s and other neighbours’ educational reforms (following them at times), worked with international organizations (e.g. the World Bank, the IMF, the Aga Khan Foundation and the Soros Foundation, all of which arrived in the early 1990s), and created the legal/normative foundation for the new education system. Important principles included gearing education to serve the goals of cohesion and unification of a society divided by the war, Sovietinherited regionalism, geography and ethno-linguistic and religious diversity. Tajikistan needed not only a symbolic unification but recovery and development as a sovereign nation, democratic, law-governed and secular. But Tajikistan also wanted to be a proud and dignified member of the international community, part of the “civilized world”. To that end, questions to be addressed included: a) What kind of education would help the country to remain united, secular, and become law-abiding and prosperous?; b) What kind of citizens would be living and contributing to this society?; c) What sort of education content, method and teachers would be needed for this task? Numerous presidential directives, laws, strategies and cooperation protocols have been developed, adopted and modified


Education in West Central Asia

over the last twenty years. For example, the Tajik general education curriculum underwent at least ten modifications. A National Education Strategy developed in 2005 was enhanced in 2010. The New National Education Strategy (2011–20) pursues the improvement of: a) the quality of the citizen’s life; b) human capital for developing the economy in priority areas; c) technological productivity; and d) the rate of foreign investment in the country’s economy. The key trends of education reform are renewing the content of education; restructuring administration and governance; and providing access to quality education for all. Given that during the Soviet era there was no necessity for a legal foundation for Tajikistan’s education (as the republic operated within the Soviet legal zone), this foundation had to be framed from scratch. The creation of the legal educational foundation included the formulation and development of the concepts of the national school, a law of education, state standards for general education, inclusivity, differentiated and integrative education, education management, teachers’ and girls’ education, and the work of international agencies. Documents about curriculum reform, languages (global, such as English and Russian; and local, minority languages, such as Pamiri and Yaghnobi), private and boarding schools and the parameters for international schools were also a part of this legal and policy foundation process. In so doing, the Tajik education authorities and legal experts aligned the national and international interests, at times meaning the same and at times differing in their meanings. For example, many local and international documents emphasize critical thinking, tolerance, pluralism, democracy, human rights, freedom of speech, humanism, gender equity and care for ecology. But they also constantly note that these values are congruent with the national thinking (tafakkuri milli) of the Tajiks. Local scholars engaged in ethno-pedagogical research have been reinterpreting their Zoroastrian, Islamic and Soviet legacies while also reinterpreting the values and principles attached to the international community in order to serve various local and international stakeholders and move the country forward. The reality is that as these values and principles go through the subjectivities of various donors, government bodies, international agencies and individual implementers, they may become mediated and divergent (Silova and Abduskhukova, 2009, Niyozov, 2001; Silova, 2006; Silova and Steiner-Khamsi, 2008).

Financing education: large numbers and small effects Unlike the Soviet period where education was financed entirely by the state, today, even though education remains predominantly in the state domain, its financing

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


is multi-sourced. In spite of the steady increase in budget (i.e. from around a projected 4–5 million Somonis (of which 2 million came from the state treasury), in 1995, to a projected 32 million in 1998 and 40 million in 2000 (Davlatov and Mulloev, 2000), the education budget comprises only 2.7 per cent (1997), 3.5 per cent (in 2003) and 4.01 per cent (in 2010) of GNP. This is far below the Soviet’s 9 per cent (in 1990) and below the recommended 6–7 per cent to meet the minimal requirements for maintenance and development of the education system. More than 60 per cent of this budget comes from the central office (i.e. Ministry) and the rest from the provincial and district levels. Around 70 per cent of the state budget is spent on recurrent expenditure, which includes wages, travel, school meals and social benefits. Education money comes from the Ministry of Finance and its spending is also reported to that Ministry’s Treasury Control section. As of 1 October 2007, a per capita approach became institutionalized in the country’s education. The Education Minister explained its early successes: Per capita approach channels state financing directly [to] the children and not schools. Schools should bring in more students. This improves public participation in the schools, and increases schools’ independence and effective and targeted use of resources. Analysis show . . . their achievements in this regard . . . the only shortcoming is lack of qualified personnel, such as accountant[s]. (Asia Plus, 2010, p. 2)

The state, however is not the only source of education financing. Any education project designed and carried out by international organizations and donors comes with a rich purse and implicit political strings. In its early education projects on capacity building (i.e., teacher training, management training), improvement of education assets (school rehabilitation and textbook production, 1998–2003), the total spending was less than US$5 million (World Bank, 2003). In the years following, not only did the Bank increased its spending, but many other organizations such as ADB, GTZ, IDB, UNDP, USAID, as well as other private international organizations such as the Open Society Institute and the Aga Khan development Network, invested tens of millions in various education projects in the country. As a part of the decentralization and privatization agendas, PTAs, individual entrepreneurs and companies have also been encouraged to assist schools with money and fund raising. Individual education institutions themselves are encouraged to proactively seek funding through charities, grants, service provision (such as computer and English classes) and the selling of their orchards’ produce. Like many Western countries today, most public schools have their financial accounts and use the money under the guidance of


Education in West Central Asia

the PTAs and educational districts. Piloting and institutionalization of the per capita financing schemes aim at effective use of the existing limited money in education. Currently Tajikistan spends US$121 per primary student annually (Tilak, 2010). However, despite the diversification of financing and international money flow into education, the overall financing situation is desperate, making the country vulnerable to international agendas, most of which are neo-liberal and corporate-oriented.

Content renovation and textbook production Between 1991 and 2011, school curricula underwent a number of changes. This included replacing the Marxist-Leninist ideology with a blend of nationalist and free-market economy subjects and content. In some cases this meant introducing new textbooks such as Odobnoma (Book of Ethics) and Ta’rikhi Din (History of Religions). In other cases, it meant renaming and recasting existing subjects, such as History of the USSR being by History of Tajikistan or General History; Political Economy (Capitalism (part 1), and Socialism (part 2)) replaced by Market Economics; and History of the Communist Party replaced by Political Science. In some of these cases, the content changed little, and given the appalling textbook shortage, the same textbooks/content continued to be used. According to the old curriculum, education institutions needed up to 167 titles of textbooks. In 2004 schools were provided with 100 “new” titles of textbooks. As for the other textbooks, the students used old Soviet textbooks or did not have textbooks at all. According to the new curriculum (2004), 17 subjects were integrated into four interdisciplinary courses. Overall, the curricula for Grades 1–11 were reduced by 122 hours per week. With the decrease of teaching hours in the curriculum and the number of teaching subjects, as well as changes in content, the number of textbooks will decrease to 153 titles. This will require substantial review of those textbooks that have already been published. Following the introduction of new education content and curricula, the Ministry of Education, heavily supported by international organizations, especially the World Bank, ADB, USAID, the Soros Foundation and the Aga Khan Foundation, has been involved in both supporting the government and in a market-based, competitive process to produce a new generation of textbooks. Some textbooks, such as history and literature, required immediate change; others, such as science, gradual change; newly introduced subjects, such as ethics and history of religions, had to be developed from scratch. From 2006 to 2011, 10,545,815 textbooks, costing 49,342,733 Somonis (approximately

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


US$13,000,000), have been produced. Out of this sum, the World Bank has given 16 million Somonis, ADB 3.6 million, and the Catholic Fund 2.3 million (Ashurov and Umarzoda, 2012). Until 2010, textbooks for ethnic minorities (e.g., Uzbeks, Russians, Kyrgyz) were produced in Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and delivered to these minority students. In order to save money and make textbooks affordable, schools have also introduced payments for the use of textbooks under “Textbook Rental Schemes”. According to this type of scheme, students pay 50 per cent of the textbooks’ price and return them at the end of their programme for other students to use; the subsequent users would pay 25 per cent of the original price. These students have another small outlay and the money gets collected through school funds and can be employed for educational purposes. Textbook production became a really difficult process due to a lack of clear policy guidelines and experience, unfamiliarity with the new approach which required practitioners’ active participation, refined Tajik language, reiterative review processes and unending rationalization of curricula and subjects to be taught. As a result, some textbooks were removed a year after they were introduced (e.g. Odobnoma). Other textbook titles, produced in thousands, never even made it into schools due to their rejection by the Ministry’s textbook review board, or due to being assigned only an optional status (e.g., English textbooks by the Soros Foundation). Lack of coordination led to wastage of other textbook titles. Textbooks on the Tajik language and literature were revised because of their language difficulty. School teacher participation remained symbolic and marginal at best (Niyozov, 2010). Complaints about textbook quality, relevance and understandabilty have continued until 2012 (Ashurov and Umarzoda, 2012; World Bank, 2003). Curriculum as well as textbook publishing does not always go through appropriate scrutiny and approval. Up until now, only a few handbooks, manuals or guidebooks for teachers or for students have been developed in addition to the textbooks published for secondary school. Only 30 per cent of school students obtain the full set of textbooks, and 10 per cent of students have textbooks on several subjects. There is shortage of textbooks in the Tajik, Russian, Uzbek and Turkmen languages. According to the Ministry of Education, there is a need for 86 new textbooks titles at the time of writing, besides the urgent need of revision and reviewing of old textbooks, and development of new teaching and learning materials and their publishing. More than quantity, poor textbook quality has been a chronic challenge. Even though the Ministry’s 2007 Regulations on the Production of Textbooks, Programs, and Teaching Aids acknowledged the issue and developed


Education in West Central Asia

sophisticated policies and procedures, lack of textbook quality has persisted. The majority of school textbooks do not meet national standards, contradict curriculum guidelines, and employ hard to comprehend language. Their conceptual explanations are beyond school student capacities, fail to engage students in the text and do not reflect the students’ and the country’s realities. Baizoev (2010), Bozikova and Bozidova (2010), Briller (2007), and Niyozov (2008) highlight that the textbooks’ content fail to embrace the possibilities of critical thinking, debate or analysis, and that most of the textbooks constitute a compilation of course-related facts. According to these authors, the reasons for poor textbook quality are: a) lack of conceptual and methodological expertise among the authors; b) lack of a proper textbook development process among the textbooks’ producers; c) absence of good editors, reviewers and language consultants; and d) superficial attention to teachers’ and students’ participation and voices. All these, plus the authors’ own weak and outdated knowledge in child development theories, critical thinking and modern teaching methodologies, such as the child-centred approach, adds to waste and duplication in textbook production. There have been cases of textbooks being rejected and removed after having been used for a number of years. The Monitoring Learning Achievement Survey of 180 primary schools exposed the fact that the majority of school students do not meet the required standards and level of literacy, even by state education standards ( phtml?id=4986&lang=ru). By the end of the 2010, Tajikistan’s education has made almost a complete circle in its content: moving away from party/state administration and financing to its relaxation during Gorbachev’s era to decentralization and de-ideologization. In the last few years, the state has reinstated its control over the curriculum, content and policies in education. In so doing, it holds to the principles of not promoting any particular party or religious ideology. In the Soviet era, schools had communist party organizations, including communist youth leagues such as Komsomol, Pioneers and Octobrists. All these are now abolished and the content of educational programmes is expected to be free from any particular ideology and devoted to promoting humanistic ideas and values, and national, traditional and democratic values. Given that schools are not neutral and value-free enterprises, it is clear that the current state is trying to implicitly employ these institutions to promote patriotic and nationalist values aligned with the universal humanistic. This is obvious in the portraits, pictures, symbols and artefacts deisplayed, reflecting the country’s leadership and heroes of the past and present. Youth organizations, such as Akhtaron and Worisoni

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


Oli Somon, are formed in accordance with these values. School principals are encouraged to become members of the leading party. The role of local administrations and newly established Parent Teacher Associations has been limited to financial support and renovation. Similarly, international organizations are pressed to work through the Education Ministry. Without its approval and oversight and without reporting back to it, no project is able to commence and succeed. In doing so, however, the government has adopted the post-socialist education package offered by international organizations and donors (see Niyozov and Dastambuev, 2010; Silova and Khamsi, 2008). The Ministry of Education’s oversight of these projects and institutions is largely concerned with how money is used as well as whether these projects are undermining state legitimacy and national cohesion in Tajikistan. This has resulted in tighter control of the content, goals and processes of the curriculum. Modified Soviet command and control and micro-managing methods are being re-employed by the government of Tajikistan under the new, nationalist discourse. There is little experience of decision making due to limited information, lack of skills in policy-making, administration and management, and an inability to measure and evaluate students’ learning outcomes and the overall effectiveness of education institutions. Tajik tertiary education institutions do not prepare specialists in the fields of management and administration. The structure of the Ministry of Education has changed little: It consists of the Minister and administration office, and departments covering policy and management, economy and planning, general, secondary and higher vocational deucation, science and research, international relations, languages, career guidance, personnel and logistics. The Ministry has five publishing houses for its newspapers, such as Omuzgor (Educator) and Subhi Donish, and the journals Ma’rifat (Knowledge), Adab (Ethics), and Russian Language in Tajikistan’s Schools. The Ministry also has the Academy of Education, the Centre for Method Innovations, institutes for teacher training (renamed as Institutes for Professional Development) and the Republican Centre for Extra-Curricular Activities. The Ministry administers its 3,747 public schools, 59 vocational colleges and technikums and 30 universities and institutes across the country through its district and city education departments and relevant departments at the Ministry (e.g. the departments of higher education and general education). The overall feeling is that the Ministry has retained a large set of sub-agencies with weakly-defined and often duplicative functions (Cassidy, 2009). Pilot institutional reforms supported by foreign partners generally failed to introduce sustainable changes. In 2006, the government adopted a Register


Education in West Central Asia

of Public Functions, a Code of Ethics for Public Servants and a procedure for competition-based public appointments. All of these, however, remains a work in progress.

Teachers and teacher education The centrality of teachers to educational and societal reform has continued across the Soviet—post-Soviet period. Soviet Tajikistan had pedagogical institutes, pedagogical faculties at the state university, and pedagogical colleges to prepare teachers for the public schools. The course of study was five years for secondary school teachers, four for primary schools and two years for kindergartens, counselling and teaching support staff. The pre-service programmes included courses related to Marxism-Leninist ideology (e.g. scientific atheism and political economy), general education courses (e.g., the history of pedagogy, psychology and methods of subject teaching). Beginning in their second year, pedagogy undergraduates did a practicum in educational settings such as schools, nurseries and youth camps. At the end of their studies, subjectspecialist undergraduates wrote diploma works, which combined pedagogy and subject matter. Prospective primary teachers and community college students passed end-of-study exams. In-service teacher education was extensive, too. Tajikistan’s five in-service training institutes provided teachers with periodic refreshment and renewal training. These were mini-courses where the most recent knowledge in the fields of ideology, general pedagogy and methodology were offered as 24- or 30-day programmes. In addition, mentoring of novice teachers, open classes, experience-sharing essays, classroom visitations, subject-based method units, innovation clubs (e.g. Evrika), education newspapers, journals and school libraries were geared toward continuous teacher development. Even though extensive and systematic, by the mid-1980s, both the pre- and in-service education systems were seen as irrelevant ideologically, conceptually and practically (Kuder, 1996; F. Niyozov, 2008; Niyozov and Dastambuev, 2010). Post-Soviet, pre-service education has been an area least affected by change; it does not enable candidates to learn decision making, critical thinking and self-analysis skills. It has been reduced to offering theories and historical and philosophical studies, which are irrelevant to preparing students for school life, for working in post-Soviet society and for teaching for the globalized knowledge economy. Practicum is superficial and ad hoc. Tajikistan’s remaining good teachers are good not because of but despite the system and pre-service training.

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


They have improved by self-learning, by defying the system, by personal efforts and attitude (qobiliyati fardi, munosibati khudi mua’llim) (F. Niyozov, 2008; World Bank, 2007). While the state was cash-strapped, the international organizations and donors simply ignored pre-service education (Niyozov, 2010). In 2004, the government of Tajikistan finally approved the State Program on Teachers’ Pre-Service and In-Service Training for the period of 2005–10. The implementation of this policy has not been up to the mark due to the limited financial resources and, as Briller (2007) notes, absence of methodological and teaching philosophy. All pre- and in-service training programmes and ideas came from outside with little or no adaptation (excluding the Tajik language and literature courses). In 2011, 94,253 teachers were serving these students. Of these, 52,028 are women. Only 59,552 have a university education (i.e. 63.2 per cent); 6177 have had an incomplete higher education (6.6 per cent); 23,969 have had a vocational secondary education (25.3 per cent); and 4555 have had a general secondary education (4.8 per cent, MoE, 2011, p. 5). Teacher shortage remains a key factor undermining the expected outcomes of the reform efforts. The World Bank (2003) estimated a shortage of 9000 teachers (official ministry data put it at 6,000 in 2007; Briller, 2007). In 2011, the country’s Education Minister mentioned a shortage of only a few hundred teachers. The Ministry resolved the shortage by hiring high school graduates, making teachers teach double shifts, increasing their salaries and other benefits, and rationalizing the teaching workload. This rationalization included increasing their workload, reducing teacher numbers by 5 per cent, and amalgamating their non-teaching activities into their workload (except for the bonus teachers can pick up for supervising classes and marking written work). Allowances for books, periodicals and health care are now part of teachers’ monthly salaries (Steiner-Khamsi and Harris-Van Keuren, 2008). In spite of regular increases, teachers’ salaries still remain severely inadequate. While the government has been increasing teacher salary, its real value was explained by a Tajik teacher as follows: Teacher salary depends on many things: I am a secondary teacher of language and literature and whether you are a primary or secondary teacher, I teach one stavka [official workload]. I have 20 years of experience and am a 1st class teacher. For all these I get 310 Somonis. I also get 60 Somonis for being classroom supervisor and 10 Somonis for each hour of paper check[ing], around 100–120 Somoni in a month for paper marking. Altogether it tallies up to 460–480 Somonis. Deduct around 50 Somomis for taxes and for education


Education in West Central Asia

newspaper and party membership, so I am left . . . [with] around 400–410 Somonis [around US$100]. This is maximum, the top. Other teachers get lower and lower.

The salary remains due to the impact of inflation and comparably higher salaries in other professions: I have two daughters and one son. My husband is jobless with 250 Somonis of pension. Our daughter is at university and we have to send 350 Somonis to her every month. One bag of wheat flour is 150 Somonis. So we are left with almost [the] bear minimum, [a] miserable life. But we have no choice, we are too old to leave for Russia. All good jobs are given though wosita [connections, nepotism].

In addition, very few university graduates go on to work as teachers in schools, and many of them leave the schools (especially rural) even before they complete their three-year obligatory service contracts. The acute shortage of teachers is especially severe in subjects such as mathematics, foreign languages and sciences. As in the Soviet era, teachers are overwhelmed by many non-pedagogical pressures. As before, they are seen as state servants, expected to be national patriots and imparters of the state’s policy. They are not expected to disagree with state policies. Teachers help with local elections, most of which take place in schools, and organize marches and festivals during local and national cultural events. All this is done on a voluntary basis. Many are also expected to be community and religious leaders and adult educators. Most come from large families, where they are also expected to distribute money, look after cattle, welcome guests and raise and educate children. To handle all this, many teachers are now involved in private tuition and other additional tasks in order to meet these commitments and make ends meet (Niyozov, 2010; Silova, 2009). In-service teacher education has been a favourite area for international agencies and donors. Formal training within higher education, a somewhat outdated concept in Western teacher education (Niyozov and Dastambuev, 2011), has become the catchword in post-Soviet education reform. The cash flow and magnitude of this activity resulted in the emergence of local NGOs specializing in training and making in-service a lucrative business rather than a genuine teacher empowerment exercise. Changing teachers’ mentality and shifting from a teacher-centred to a child-centred approach (also called active learning pedagogy) have been at the heart of almost all international agencies’, donors’ and local NGOs’ work. This approach is intended to not only develop higher order thinking (HOT) among students, but also develop

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


democratic, collaborative and market-economy skills among students as future citizens (Silova and Steiner-Khamsi, 2008; Tabulawa, 2003). Everyone, from the Ministry of Education to international organizations to teachers, has endorsed this top-down approach to teacher education. The Tajikistan Education Minister promoted this method in 2010: Interactive method is not new. Such practice has roots from ancient times. In Central Asia, interactive method was used in madrassa education. In this method, teachers’ and students’ participation is equal. On certain themes, discussion is arranged. This method has been used in Tajikistan since the end of [the] 1990s. By now hundreds of teachers are teaching students through this method. It is exactly for the sake of this method that international organizations are implementing projects in pilot institutions, and improving teachers’ qualifications. This method is different from the usual teaching method in that during lessons, [the] teacher and student enter [an] equal friendly relationship. Most important, a student sees in her/his teacher a moral protector and advocate. Some consider that with this approach a student’s respect toward his teacher is declined [sic], but this is not right. Contrarily, through this method [the] teacher’s image enhances manifold [sic]. An example is A. Azizov, Director of Lyceum No 1 in Isfara [a city in northern Tajikistan], a winner of the Presidential prize in education. Exactly through this method he educated hundreds of his students . . . An indicator of his successes are his students’ multiple wins in the republican and international Olympiads. A teacher can chose any method. But in any case his purpose should be quality education.

Importantly, independent and critical engagements with Western education activities are just emerging (De Young et al., 2006; Niyozov, 2008).

Corruption According to Transparency International, Tajikistan stands 142nd out of 163 countries in the “most corrupt country” list. Education has been seen as the most corrupt public domain. Corruption has penetrated all parts of Tajik education, starting from the “gifts” given to pre-school teachers by parents to look after their children better, and ending with multi-thousand-dollar bribes to university administrators and professors to get extra benefits for their schools. There is misuse of the existing monitoring systems for the allocation of funds and a lack of transparency in the allocation of bonuses to teachers (based on teacher qualification, their involvement in private tutoring, etc.). There is also abuse of international aid in cases such as textbook production,


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school rehabilitation and even in-service training (World Bank, 2003). The magnitude and damaging effects of educational corruption is acknowledged by the country’s president as well as the suffering of its students. Laws and regulations about social conduct are promoted and periodic checks and arrests are carried out on those implicated. The university admission exams systems are digitized, students and parents are encouraged to report rather than bribe, and a National Scholarship Testing centre like that in Kyrgyzstan is being established to curb corruption. So far, all these attempts have been of little use. A key problem is that corruption is now seen as a cultural value and the only way to get forward, an attitude adopted by the victims of corruption themselves. On 11 December 1999, the government has issued a law to combat corruption (revised on 25 July 2004). Nonetheless, their effects remain weak, and corruption is flourishing at all levels of education and society in Tajikistan.

Internationalization and privatization A key feature of the new Tajikistan’s education is internationalization and privatization at all levels of schooling. Internationalization has the symbolic significance of catching up with the rest of the post-Soviet countries, supporting dialogue (not clash) of civilizations; joining the global education space as an equal, and being a part of the civilized world. Pragmatically, this ensures the compatibility and recognition of Tajikistan’s education credentials and degrees internationally. It allows international ideas and money to flow into Tajikistan and helps the country survive in a competitive world. And of course internalization guarantees money flow (Olcott, 2010). The Tajikistan agency for coordinating foreign investments lists 78 external partners (outside the CIS) of whom 75 are involved in education. The Education Minister in 2010 mentioned 25 NGOs that are “doing visible and effective work in education”. Many of these NGOs are supported by international agencies such as the Open Society Institute, USAID, UNICEF and the Aga Khan Foundation. The Minister welcomed these NGOs’ work and invited them to coordinate their activities through the Ministry to be more effective and impactful (Asia Plus, 2010, p 4). Related to these developments, the Tajik education authorities have made English a key subject from Grade 2. It has undertaken a massive computerization of schools, although this is often a waste, because there is no power in the schools and no service for computer maintenance. In 2000, Russian was also brought back and given second official language status.

Tajikistan: Between Defying Despair and Missing Opportunities


The old Soviet unified and standardized education system has given way to the diversification of schooling (Ekloff and Dneprov, 1993): 14 boarding schools for children with disabilities, 56 lyceums (49 public, seven private), 89 gymnasia (61 state, 28 private) and 12 comprehensive private schools have been re-established or opened up. These cater for more than 70,000 students. Among the state lyceums and gymnasia are presidential and mayoral lyceums. The private category includes seven Tajik-Turkish, and the Aga Khan lyceum. All these are considered high-profile and well-resourced schools, affordable to children of the wealthy. While the public institutions are open to all the best students in the national capital and provincial capitals, the Turkish and Aga Khan schools are fee-based. There is talk of UK “A level schools” being set up in Dushanbe, presumably highly selective. These schools will provide students to participate in the international Olympiads, winning medals and prizes (Tursunzoda, 2012). At the higher education level, joint ventures such as the Tajik-Russian Slavonic University and branches of Moscow State University, Ukrainian and Belorussian universities have been established. Tajik public universities are developing collaboration with Western and Russian universities. As part of the internationalization, specialized institutes have been renamed as universities. Out of these, 11 are universities that produce school teachers. Schools are moving into 12-year schooling from 2015, and high-stake scholarship testing centres, similar to those in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, are planned to start from 2014 (Dastambuev, 2012). A number of Tajik universities now use credit and two-tier Western education systems, offering degrees such as bachelor’s and master’s in addition to the Soviet specialist diplomas. Tajik universities’ professorial staff consists primarily of Soviet-style candidates (2,073 in 2011) and doctors (409 in 2011). Private universities, such as the University of Central Asia (UCA), are built with a regional focus on mountain issues and connecting global and local knowledge (www. Apart from the joint ventures and international universities, there are 31 local state and semi-private tertiary universities in Tajikistan, including free-market economic institutions such as the Tajik Tax and Law Institute, Kairokkum Institute of Management and the International Humanitarian University (Rajabov and Alifbekov, 2004, p. 559). Tajikistan is also trying to find its way into the “Bologna club”. While internationalization may bring some good, privatization does not always achieve that for the customer. There is a global perception (largely unfounded) that private schools offer better education. Regrettably this assumption is becoming a truism in Tajikistan too. This may cause an increase in inequality as only those with enough disposable income can afford private


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schools (and their presumably quality education). Privatization may also devalue and undermine public education and cause social stratification in Tajikistan, similar to that in developing countries. Notably, Tajikistan’s leadership has been trying to maintain its priorities despite pressures from foreign donors. Some donors and international organizations have embraced the government’s priorities, but others have abandoned activities in Tajikistan’s social sector in 2009, channelling the funds into the energy and infrastructure sectors instead. Frequent workshops and study tours organized by donors have little effect because the government sends inappropriate people or because the context of such events is not relevant to the country’s needs. Budget support has continued despite pervasive corruption and misuse of donor funds, such as tackling food supply shortages, infrastructure maintenance and natural disasters (BTI, 2012, pp. 28, 32).

Conclusions In this chapter we have presented some of the continuities and changes in the context, structure, content, governance, finance, teacher education, corruption, privatization, internationalization and diversification of Tajikistan’s post-Soviet education. Admittedly, we did not dwell on many other issues such as the curriculum, educational standards, decentralization and Islamic education due to constraints of space. The discussions illustrate that the extensive education system inherited by post-Soviet Tajikistan has simultaneously become a source of pride and concern. Tajikistan as a society, and its education, have come a long way and achieved a great deal in creating the nation and entering the global community. It has welcomed international investment, yet carefully maintained not just its national interests but also some of the Soviet features such as an extensive structural and egalitarian focus. The country has issued all the internationally-acceptable laws, decrees and regulations for creating a modern system that aims to produce: . . . a modern, knowledgeable, innovative and creative person who timely [sic] and relevantly contributes to the progress of both national and global society; a system that enhances teachers’ status in the state and society; improves their qualification mechanisms, upholds national features, and aligns with democratic and lawful society’s values internationally. (Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, 2010, p. 6)

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In reality, many of these laws and regulations have remained on paper. The scale of challenges is enormous and the level of financial support is declining, while the conceptual support has reached a point of saturation and even stagnation. Tajikistan’s educators, given education’s precarious situation, should take international investment and policies seriously and make the best out of them. All these investments and ideas should be used to develop sustainable local approaches, sources of funding and concepts. Comparative and critical juxtaposition of pre-Soviet, Soviet, Islamic and Western achievements needs to lead to new ideas for the post-Soviet era. Regrettably, the current changes are all geared to making Tajikistan’s education serve narrow economic neo-liberal agendas. This is clear from the donors’ policies and the local elite’s endorsement and institutionalization of “per capita and contract-based budgeting; general schools” self-financing, schools’ economic and financial independence, attracting extra funds, improving additional money-generating programmes though centers of creative education’ (Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, 2010, p. 12). These are neo-liberal strategies, yet their implications are not debated in the Tajikistan education system. An even more important concern is the possibility of waste of time and resources when one is forced to ask why the many laws and policies (such as girls’ education, teacher empowerment, alternative textbook production, minority languages) are not working? Why, despite the apparent goodwill, availability of money, joint efforts and openness, are so many reforms stalled, such as restructuring educational administration and governance, curbing corruption, banning child labour, developing computer systems for educational data collection and analysis, textbook availability, teacher availability, active learning approaches and local research capacity. Is there something in the process of reform, foreign aid structure and the politics and economics of education transfer that needs to be examined seriously and critically? Another question is whether insights from critical comparative research on education will be taken into consideration in reforming education in Tajikistan.

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Silova, I. and Abdushukurova T. (2009). Global norms and local politics: Uses and abuses of education gender quotas in Tajikistan. Globalisation, Societies, and Education, 7, 3: 357–76. Silova, I. and Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2008). How NGOs react: Globalization and education reform in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Mongolia. Bloomfield, VT: Kumarian Press, Inc. Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2010). “The politics and economics of comparison”. Comparative Education Review, 54: 323–42. Steiner-Khamsi, G. and Harris-Van Keuren, C. (2008). Decentralization and recentralziation reforms: The impact on teachers in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Mongolia. Background paper for the Education for All monitoring report, 2009. Unesco. Steiner-Khamsi, G., Silova, I. and Johnson, E. M. (2006). “Neoliberalism liberally applied: Educational policy borrowing in Central Asia”, in J. Ozga, T. Seddon and T. Popkewitz (eds), 2006 World Yearbook of Education. Education Research and Policy: Steering the Knowledge-Based Economy. New York/London: Routledge, pp. 217–45. Tabulawa, R. (2003). “International aid agencies, learner-centred pedagogy and political democratisation: a critique”. Comparative Education, 39, 1: 7–26. Tilak, J. (2010). The global financial crisis and the financing of education in Asia: National and international trends and strategies. Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning, UNESCO. Tursunzoda, M. (2012). Tajik school students win 12 medals in two Math Olympiads in Kazakhstan. Asia Plus. (17 March 2012). UNDP (2009). United Nations’ development assistance framework for Tajikistan, 2010–2015. Dushanbe: United Nations. documents/UNDAF_2010-2015_Tajikistan_Eng.pdf Waljee, A. (2008). “Researching transitions: Gendered education, marketization, and Islam in Tajikistan”, in S. Fennell and M. Arnot (eds), Gender education and equality in a global context: Conceptual frameworks and policy responses. New York: Routledge, pp. 87–110. Whitsel, C. (2009). Growing inequality: Post-Soviet transition and educational participation in Tajikistan. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Indiana University, p. 342. World Bank (2003). Implementation completion report on a learning and innovation credit. Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Report No. 27331. external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2004/01/14/000160016_200401141 74116/Rendered/INDEX/273310TJ.txt —(2007). Tajikistan education modernization project. Evaluation of pre-service teacher education programs. Washington, DC: World Bank.


Turkmenistan: Reforming the Education System Maral Meredova

Early Post-Independence Changes Post-independence reforms of education were initiated with the adoption of the Law of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic “On Language” on 24 May 1990. This Act has secured the status of the state language of Turkmenistan. The programme “Bilim” (Education) was declared on 3 May 1993. In accordance with the programme, from 1 September 1998 the main language in Turkmen professional and technical schools, and secondary and higher educational institutions, is Turkmen. According to the New Education Policy, a mandatory entrance examination on the Turkmen language has been introduced in most of the universities. The legal framework of education reform was expanded with the adoption of the Law “About education in Turkmenistan” on 1 October 1993 and the adoption of the President’s Decree “On approval of state programmes to implement the new education policy of the President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Turkmenbashi in 1993–1997” on 18 November 1993. In 1995, in accordance with these documents, schools with the Turkmen language were reorganized into a nine-year programme, (previously ten years). Training in vocational and technical schools, high schools and higher educational institutions was transferred into the Latin alphabet. Then it was announced that the programme would involve the compulsory study of three languages: Turkmen, Russian and English. Some other subjects, especially physical education, were cut or reduced to accommodate this. There was a change in the number of schools as well. After signing an agreement between the governments of Russia and Turkmenistan in January


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2002, the Turkmen-Russian school was opened, receiving the official status of a Russian-Turkmen secondary school. Children of the staff of the Embassy of the Russian Federation, the diplomats of several countries of the CIS, as well as citizens of Turkmenistan, studied in this school. Education in this school was conducted in accordance with the programme of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation. Annual agricultural schools were also established. Since 1998 in Turkmenabat city the School of Agribusiness began to train specialists in 13 specialties working in rural areas, including land workers, breeders, accountants, economists, computer technicians, agricultural machine repairers, household equipment specialists, hydraulics specialists and more. Each year it was planned that 830 students would graduate from agricultural schools (Neitral’nii Turkmenistan, 2000). Vocational schools for the training of skilled workers were also opened, under the regional khyakimliks (regional administrations). Students paid for the training themselves, at about US$100 per head, the duration of training depending on their speciality (ranging from six months to one year). In the early 1990s, 14 Turkmen-Turkish schools were opened, and the International Turkmen-Turkish University was opened in 1994. At the same time some programmes were closed, including, in 2004, the Technical School of Oil and Gas in Turkmenbashi city. Since 2003 the number of students at medical schools in Mary, Turkmenabat and Balkanabat cities was also reduced. In 1998 the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan was closed, and the training of postgraduate students was discontinued. However, the Supreme Council on Science and Technology under the President of Turkmenistan was opened. Training in higher education was reduced from five to four years. Students studied at the university for two years, and the next two years they used to receive practical skills in the chosen speciality. Exit interviews instead of the relevant exam for admission to the universities were introduced, and since 1993 there has also been a quota of students for each region. There are five regions in Turkmenistan: Ahal, Balkan, Lebap, Mary and Dashoguz. Ashgabat city had its own quota. Each region (or province) in all specialities of training had its quota. Boards of Examiners of universities travelled to the regions and conducted on-site interviews with applicants. Funds for regional budgets were directed to the training of students of selected regions. After graduation, the young specialists had to return to their regions, where they had to work for at least two years in order to obtain a diploma from the university. On 6 July 2003, Turkmen President S. Niyazov signed a decree according to which admission to university was carried out only if the applicant already

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had two years of working experience after graduating from secondary school. Turkmen authorities abolished the system of distance and evening courses. Some 1705 schools, 15 vocational and 16 high schools operated in Turkmenistan in 2004 (The Gold Age of Turkmenistan, 2004). Thus, during the years of independence, the number of secondary schools has decreased from 1800 to 1705, but the number of school children has risen from 700,000 to over one million. The number of post-secondary institutions offering secondary or professional education (former vocational and technical schools) decreased from 76 to 15. At the same time, the number of institutions of higher education increased from seven to 16. However, the number of students declined. For example, in 2006 only 3,175 students were accepted at the university (Neitral’nii Turkmenistan, 2006). Secondary school graduates had the chance to study in foreign universities, but nine-year secondary education has become a major obstacle to admission to universities in most other countries. In the CIS countries, secondary school learning lasts 11–12 years, and the Turkmen Certificate of Secondary Education did not open up the opportunity to enter foreign high schools outside the former USSR. Therefore, graduates of Turkmen schools complete their education at secondary schools in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other former SSRs, and then they can enrol in the universities of those countries. In addition, a number of programmes offered in Turkmenistan allow some of the country’s citizens to receive education or a chance to improve their skills outside Turkmenistan. For instance, graduates of the Turkmen-Turkish schools have an opportunity to gain education in Turkish universities. In the mid-1990s Turkish universities received about 400 students annually from Turkmenistan. The US programme of academic exchanges was implemented in Turkmenistan by the Department of Information and Culture and the Political-Economic Section of the Embassy, along with representatives from the American Councils for International Education (ACCELS) and the International Council for Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). These represented various exchange programmes for high school students and English language teachers of secondary schools, students, persons with higher education for study in master’s degree courses, young and experienced university teachers, as well as for professionals working in different sectors of science. All these programmes are fully funded by the US government. In addition, in 2001 there was a framework of signed agreements on mutual recognition of academic degrees, diplomas and titles between Turkmenistan and Ukraine. Consequently, hundreds of Turkmen students can study in Ukraine. For example, in 2006, 33 graduates


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of Turkmenistan’s schools were sent to Ukraine high schools for free-of-charge training ( Project, 2006; id 8520) About 200 Turkmen citizens have been studying and training in various Indian schools within the programme of industrial and techno-economic cooperation. The government of India has decided to increase the number of scholarships for Turkmen children ( Project, 2006; id 8675). However, most students from Turkmenistan have studied in Russian universities. On 19 May 2000, the “Joint Declaration on Cooperation between the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan on Science, Culture and Education” was signed. On 11 March 2004 an agreement between the government of Turkmenistan and the government of St Petersburg (Russian Federation) on economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation was signed. This has resulted in increased acceptance of Turkmenistan citizens at the universities and research institutions of St Petersburg, including research in regional studies, training high-skilled scientific experts in the history of Turkmenistan, Turkmen-Russian cooperation and Eastern civilizations history (Turkmenistan. ru Project, 2000; id 3105). Some 26 students out of 53 graduates of the RussianTurkmen school named after A. S. Pushkin in Ashgabat were sent in 2004 to the Russian state high schools in Moscow, St Petersburg, Voronezh, Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod on concessional terms (Russian Embassy, 2004).

Recent Education Innovations Education in Turkmenistan is free of charge. According to the Constitution of Turkmenistan, every citizen regardless of gender has the right to receive education. Before 2007 students were trained in 16 specialities in secondary vocational schools and in 182 fields of science at the universities. In accordance with the Law of Education, high schools may be public, collective, private and mixed. The status of an educational institution is set by the state education authorities on the basis of certification. Following the reduction in teaching in the humanities and natural sciences in secondary and high schools, new subjects were introduced such as “The History of Neutral Turkmenistan”, “The Politics of Independence of Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great”, “Rukhnama—a spiritual code of the Turkmen people”, and others. In accordance with Niyazov’s decision to reduce the quantity of teachers, at the end of 2000, only 76,000 teachers worked in secondary schools (Neitral’nii Turkmenistan, 2000). As of April 2006, “the national education system included

Turkmenistan: Reforming the Education System


136,174 employees, among them 68,714 teaching staff of secondary schools” (Gold Age Project, 2006). Secondary school teachers teach for 30 hours per week. That is the regular lesson load of the teacher and called the stavka. According to the Ministry of Education, the teacher’s salary was fixed based on qualification (level of education) and level of professional training categories. Then the following levels of professional training were defined: a) teacher; b) teacher of the second category; c) teacher of the first category; d) teacher of the supreme category; and e) honored teacher. For all levels, teachers had to pass tests, have some professional success and at least one published article. At this new stage of development of Turkmenistan, the country undertook wide-ranging reforms in education. In 2007, the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a decree reintroducing ten-year mandatory education. So ten years of training is now compulsory by law for all children. The President of Turkmenistan also restored five- and six-year study in high schools. This made it possible to employ a large number of teachers. Most teachers returned to schools. The two-year compulsory work placement after graduation from secondary education that was previously introduced has been abolished. To help ensure a high quality of education, in 2007 the weekly workload of teachers of all types of secondary, professional and vocational schools was reduced from 30 to 24 hours, and the annual workload of the teaching staff in higher educational institutions has also been reduced, from 1,250 to 850 hours. At present, education in Turkmenistan is regulated by the Law “On Education”, approved on 15 August 2009. The document regulates public relations in the field of education and defines the basic principles of state policy in education, as well as the goals, objectives and functions of the education system and management regulations. Within the general education system there can also be specialized secondary schools or single classes with specialization in certain subjects such as languages, physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, biology, music, art, sports, and others. These differ from the usual classes by additional teaching time in the subjects of specialization. Today, many Turkmen students still study abroad, including in the high schools of Turkey, Germany, China, Russia, Ukraine, India, Malaysia and others. Currently, under intergovernmental agreements, over 1,000 students from Turkmenistan are trained in 120 high schools in Turkey. Turkmen universities have established international business schools, where high school students study marketing, management and computer skills. The Enterprise


Education in West Central Asia

and Ministerial Department carried out the vocational training. There is no difference in the level of education of women and men. All students of secondary and vocational schools and universities receive a monthly government stipend. In 2009, the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan was restored. Training of postgraduate and doctoral students is carried out by the Academy of Sciences under the “Law on the Status of a Scientist” that was adopted in 2010. During the first year, 45 postgraduates, nine with doctoral studies, and 57 medical workers for clinical studies were accepted ( Project, 2010; id. 27375). The Higher Council for Science and Technology under the President of Turkmenistan has been abolished, and its functions assigned to the Academy of Sciences. The Academy of Sciences is now fully funded from the state budget. The Supreme Attestation Committee was handed over to the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan. Six new research institutes have been opened: the Research Institute “Gun” (“Sun”); the Research Institute of Seismology; the State Seismological Service; the Institute of Botany; the Institute of Physics and Mathematics; and the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography. All operate under the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan. In addition, the Institute of Language and Literature, the National Institute of Manuscripts, the Institute of History, the Institute of Medicinal Plants and the Institute of Chemistry are overseen by the Academy of Sciences. The Scientific-Research Institute of Earthquake Engineering of the Ministry of Construction was opened in 2009 ( Project, 2009; id 15084). In 2010, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a decree “On the structure of high schools of Turkmenistan”. In accordance with Resolution 48, new departments and seven new faculties were opened at the universities of the country. Up-to-date curricula and programmes were prepared and implemented. New textbooks and teaching guides were issued. Recent achievements in science and technology are included in the education system. The President also allocated $10 million to strengthen the materialtechnical base of scientific research institutes in the country. Turkmenistan is connected to the network of the European Commission CAREN (“Central Asian Research and Education Network”), thus providing a stable high-speed access to the internet for the Turkmen science-educational network. Some 69 scientific and educational institutions, including 27 secondary schools, were included in the national scientific and educational network for free access to the internet (( Project, 2010; id 17733). New universities have been opened in Turkmenistan, the total at the time of writing being 23. Each year the number of universities and specialized

Turkmenistan: Reforming the Education System


secondary educational institutions is increasing. New schools and pre-schools are also opened every year, and new buildings constructed. Only in the last two years, new buildings for the Turkmen State Energy Institute, the geographical, physical and mathematical faculty of Turkmen State University, the Turkmen State Institute of Transport and Communications, the Turkmen State Medical University, and the Turkmen State Institute of Economics and Management were opened. A new International Relations Institute under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has begun to operate in Ashgabat and a new Agricultural Institute has begun work in Dashoguz City.

The Structure of the Current Education System Turkmenistan has established a unified structure of education, including pre-school education, general secondary education, vocational education, higher education and training and retraining.

Pre-school education This is provided in the home, and day care centres collaborate with families. Kindergartens can be public and private. Parents send their child to kindergarten for one and a half to three years. The state promotes the training and education of young children. Orphans, children left without parents, are educated in public schools, boarding schools and orphanages and are fully funded by the state and society. The state also promotes and supports the establishment and operation of family-type homes for those who need long-term treatment for deficiencies in their physical or mental development, as well as providing special educational institutions. Indeed, a “National Programme on Early Child Development and School Readiness for 2011–2015” has been approved and is under way. This programme was developed in conjunction with the relevant ministries and departments of Turkmenistan with the assistance of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child ( Project, 7 December 2011). In 2011, the Turkmen government gave free computers to all first-year schoolchildren, at a total cost US$26 million. The Chinese government provided a grant of  50 million (about US$ 7.7 million) to the government of Turkmenistan, and these funds will be directed to provide secondary and high schools with computers and other technical equipment.


Education in West Central Asia

Primary and secondary ducation Primary education covers Grades 1–4, and secondary education Grades 5–10. The academic year begins on 1 September and ends on 25 May. The school week lasts six days, with four to seven lessons a day. Each lesson lasts 45 minutes. The academic year is divided into four quarters. There are holidays between the quarters (25–31 October are autumn holidays, 30 December–12 January are winter holidays, 25–31 March are spring holidays, and 25 May–31 August are summer holidays). Every pupil is tested on all courses during each quarter and at the end of the quarter he/she has a score. At the end of each year a pupil has an annual score. Every year, students from Grade 4 and above have exams, held after 25May 25. At the end of the last grade, students can pass state exams on several courses. The results of these examinations and annual scores in other courses are printed in the schoolleaving certificate. Usually, after six or seven years, young people enter secondary school and graduate when 16 or 17 years old. After the end of 10th Grade, each student receives a certificate of secondary education. For admission to higher education a complete secondary education certificate is required: a high school diploma or secondary vocational or technical school diploma.

Vocational training Vocational training is aimed at training mid-level specialists in particular sectors of the economy. Students obtain the basic knowledge at secondary school and then can enter the vocational school. Vocational education provides the citizens of Turkmenistan with specialist in accordance with their interests and abilities.

Higher education This provides selected people with fundamental scientific and practical training in accordance with their interests and abilities. The training of specialists in higher education is based on general secondary education. In Turkmenistan, the universities, academies, institutes and conservatories are high schools. The most talented students of high and secondary vocational schools in Turkmenistan receive nominal grants in accordance with a resolution signed by the President on 10 March 2012 (Нейтральный Туркменистан).

Turkmenistan: Reforming the Education System


Postgraduate education As the highest level of formal education, postgraduate study is aimed at the training of highly qualified and specialist personnel. Graduate professional education can be obtained in postgraduate and doctoral studies of the universities or in research institutes.

Training and retraining of specialists The training and retraining of specialists is carried out by educational institutions, using state funds or grants from well-known bilateral and multilateral organizations such as USAID and UNDP. The ongoing reforms in the education sector continue to stimulate the development of new research centres in universities and institutes. For instance at the Faculty of Chemical Technology and Ecology of the Turkmen Polytechnic Institute a Scientific Advisory Centre for Chemistry and Technology of Water has been opened. The Faculty of Sport Medicine began to operate at the State Medical University of Turkmenistan in September 2011. Two new research centres—medical biotechnology and sport medicine—were also opened ( Project, 2012; id. 15839). To date, about a thousand Turkmen students study at the universities of China in such fields as electronics, medicine, architecture and tourism ( Project, 2011; id. 15628). A new programme, Erasmus Mundus, is also in operation, aimed at the training of teachers and improving the quality of teaching, using the best European standards, new techniques and technologies. This project makes it possible for students to continue their education in postgraduate programmes in Europe, in teacher education and doctoral studies, as well as train in the best European universities. It also supports planned scientific visits of leading European experts to Turkmenistan. Since 2010, another EU initiative, “Support to modernization of the education system in Turkmenistan”, has also been ongoing (“Europahouse”, 2011; id. 1316). New schools and kindergartens equipped with the latest technology are built in accordance with the “National Programme of the President of Turkmenistan on the social and living conditions in villages, towns, cities, districts and regional centres for the period up to 2020”. Pre-schools are being equipped with computers and other modern equipment. In accordance with new Law of Turkmenistan “On Education”, private educational institutions have been opened in the country. Sponsors of new


Education in West Central Asia

educational centres can include public authorities, local governments, domestic and foreign organizations, public associations registered in Turkmenistan, Turkmen citizens and foreigners. The government of Turkmenistan has been working for the recognition of the higher education diplomas of Turkmen graduates gained in foreign universities. The President of Turkmenistan is required to employ graduates in accordance with the needs of Turkmenistan in particular fields. The leading country enterprises can help to organize practical training (Turkish Weekly, 2011). Some $US44 million were directed to the development of the education system of Turkmenistan in 2008 ( Project, 2008; id 24326). According to the data of the Ministry of Education, the capacity of the formal system is growing steadily. In 2008 the universities received more than 20,000 applications for study; 4000 students entered high schools (the previous year’s total being 3,615); and 1716 were enrolled in specialized secondary schools (98 more than the previous year) ( Project, 2008; id. 24639). In 2008, 13,800 students enrolled in the country’s universities, and 3,900 students studied in specialized secondary schools. In the same academic year, 667 students graduated from high schools and 1,512 students completed training in specialized secondary schools ( Project, 2008; id. 24453). Some 18 secondary and 18 higher vocational schools operated in the country in 2008. The training carried out covered a wide range of professions. The number of students in higher education institutions in 2008 increased by almost 3 per cent compared to the 2001 academic year. In addition, the young people of Turkmenistan have the chance to study in the leading schools of other countries. In 2008, over 250 people became students of prestigious educational centres in accordance with intergovernmental and interdepartmental agreements, and according to the Order of the President of Turkmenistan. In the same year more than 35 higher education institutions in different regions of Russia enrolled Turkmen children. Turkmen specialists for the oil, gas, chemical and other industries are trained at the likes of the Russian Institute named after I. M. Gubkin, Tyumen Oil and Gas University, Ufa State Oil-Technical University, Kazan State Technological University, Russian State Technological University, Moscow State Mining University and Volgograd Technical University. Turkmenistan and Russia allocated more than 100 scholarships for their education. Future specialists in information technology, agriculture, architecture, construction, medicine, sports, economics and finance, shipping and fishing, as well as dozens of other professions, will be trained in the universities in Moscow and St Petersburg, Ulyanovsk, Yaroslavl,

Turkmenistan: Reforming the Education System


Kazan and Astrakhan. Also, students are taught in other countries, particularly Turkey, Belarus and Ukraine. In 2009, Turkmenistan’s high schools (excluding military education) enrolled 4275 students, with 1,698 students assigned to specialized secondary schools. In some universities new specialities have been initiated. For example, archeology was opened at the Turkmen State University; Hindi at the Turkmen National Institute of World Languages; industrial electronics at the State Energy Institute of Turkmenistan; and state and local management at the Turkmen State Institute of Economics and Management. In 2009, educational institutions of primary vocational education were represented by 131 colleges, high schools and vocational-technical schools. They are managed by the relevant industrial ministries and departments, which determine the number of students in accordance with the needs of their enterprises. They are available in all six regions of the country. There were 41,900 students studying in the initial vocational schools at the beginning of 2009, including 29,000 men and 12,900 thousand women. However, in accordance with the order of the Ministry of Defence, some students study under state-funded programmes, studying specialities such as automobile driving. So at the end of 2008, 12 per cent of the total number of students of elementary vocational schools studied on free-of-charge terms. In 2009, compared with 2001, the number of students in vocational schools fell by 6.5 per cent. This was due to the closing of the Teachers College, reflecting the reduced demand for specialists in secondary education. In 2009, the share of high schools students with fees was less than 7 per cent of the total number of students (mostly students of the International Turkmen-Turkish University); in secondary vocational schools they account for about 17 per cent (mostly students of the Commerce and Cooperative College, the specialized financialeconomic school). Thus, the vast majority of students in secondary and high schools are taught free of charge. In 2009, 36 per cent of university students were women, and 64 per cent were men. Students on health care (61 per cent) took the main share among students in higher education institutions. In many schools, along with an increase in enrolments, new specialities have been introduced. “Italian Language and Literature” and “Chinese Language and Literature” have been opened at the Turkmen State University. Two specialties— “Korean” and “Spanish”—have been introduced at the Turkmen National Institute of World Languages; “Agricultural Chemistry and Soil Science”, “Plant Protection”, “Mechanization of land reclamation” and “Animal breeding”


Education in West Central Asia

at the Turkmen Agricultural University; “The global financial market” and “Insurance” at the Turkmen State Institute of Economics and Management; and circus performers will be trained at the Turkmen State Institute of Culture. The Institute of International Relations now has the opportunity to train students in “International Law”, “International Relations and Diplomacy”, “International Economic Relations” and “International journalism”. “Commerce”, “The global financial market”, “Industrial Engineering” are now offered at the International Turkmen-Turkish University. A branch of the Russian State University of Oil and Gas named after I. M. Gubkin has also been established in the Turkmen Polytechnic Institute. In 2009, about 2700 young people were sent to study at prestigious foreign universities: 60 students entered the department of Chemical Engineering and Technology of the Belarusian State Technical University; and 59 graduates became students of the faculty of Mining and Environmental Engineering ( Project, 2009; id. 15197). In 2010, the education departments of Turkmenistan and the Belorussian Republic signed an intergovernmental agreement on recognition of diplomas, degrees and titles ( Project, 25 January 2010). In 2010, the number of graduates from secondary schools in Turkmenistan totalled 115,000 ( Project, 2010; id. 28397). In the same year, 21 higher educational institutions accepted 5445 students, an increase of 260 compared to the previous year. Secondary vocational-technical schools accepted some 3,383 students, and 2,746 boys and girls from Turkmenistan went to study at universities abroad ( Project, 2011; id 36251), over a thousand at the universities of St Petersburg (Turkmenistan. ru Project, 2011, article 36011). A number of new higher and specialized secondary schools were opened, including the Turkmen Agricultural Institute in Dashoguz city and the Naval Institute of the Ministry of Defence in Turkmenbashi city. There were also new vocational schools established, and the Turkmen State School for Arts and Culture. On 11 July 2011, the Financial and Economic Secondary School was established in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan. ru Project, 2011; id. 3316). The President also declared the opening of the country’s Institute of Architecture and Construction ( Project, 2011; id 36210). Under the auspices of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, the Ministry of Education invited Afghan students to study in Turkmenistan. In the 2010–11 academic year, the Turkmen State Pedagogical Institute named after Seyitnazarar Seydi accepted 23 Afghan citizens who have now completed language courses.

Turkmenistan: Reforming the Education System


Another 30 Afghan citizens will be enrolled in the Pedagogical Institute in year-long courses. Two citizens of China, one citizen of Iran, one citizen of Afghanistan and one citizen of Romania will also be enrolled in Turkmenistan’s universities. It is not only in the fields of science and technology that the universities of Turkmenistan have been concentrating their efforts. There are also innovations in the humanities, including such courses as the history of Turkmenistan, philosophy, sociology, political science and economics. According to the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the programme of social science will also include learning the basics of Rukhnama, psychology, ethics, aesthetics and the epoch of the new revival of the nation.

Conclusion In conclusion one may say that the post-independence educational history of Turkmenistan has been one of “ups and downs”, but in general the trend has been one of increasing modernization and internationalization. There has been an increase in the number of educational institutions overall, but the training of teachers for the various sectors and levels has somewhat lagged behind. Such training needs not only to be expanded but also upgraded from the point of view of use of modern multimedia. This is especially needed for the upgrading of education in rural regions to overcome problems of distance and isolation. Alongside this technical advance there needs to be a coordinated upgrading of textbooks and other printed materials, with in-service courses for teachers to enable them to use these new techniques and materials to the maximum effect. Finally, although there are some private institutions at all levels, one would suggest that more private universities would serve to create much needed competition with the established state universities and vocational colleges.

References “Europahouse” Project of EU in Turkmenistan (2011). support-to-modernization-of-the-education-system-in-turkmenistan, 1316.html (6 July 2012).


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Gold Age Project (2006). obraz/150406-1.htm (6 March 2012). The Gold Age of Turkmenistan (2004). No. 5. According to the information provided by the agency. Neitral’nii Turkmenistan [Neutral Turkmenistan] (2000). The Speech of President, 11 November. —(2006). No. 193, 11 August. Russian Embassy (2004). Information provided, 30 June. Turkish Weekly (2011). 12 October (22 July 2012). Project (Internet newspaper) (2000). http://www.turkmenistan. ru/?page_id=7&lang_id=ru&elem_id=3105&type=event&layout=print&sort=date_ desc (19 May 2000). —(2006). nt&sort=date desc (2006). —(2006). India is ready to take part in the construction of the TurkmenistanAfghanistan-Pakistan. 8675&type=event&sort=date desc (5 October 2006). —(2008). 19 May (10 July 2012). —(2008). 24 June (10 August 2012). —(2008). 20 August (10 August 2012). —(2009). id=15084&type=event&sort=date_desc. 13 June (18 June 2012). —(2009). id=15197&type=event&sort=date_desc. 4 July (10 August 2012). —(2010). 25 January (10 August 2012). —(2010). 8 February (11 September 2012). —(2010). 27 May (11 September 2012). —(2010). 26 June (15 July 2012). —(2010). id=17733&type=event&sort=date_desc. 6 September (10 July 2012). —(2011). 25 May (10 September 2012). —(2011). 6 June (10 September 2012). —(2011). 10 July (10 September 2012). —(2011). 20 July (10 September 2012). —(2011). 23 November (10 March 2012).

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—(2011). 7 December (11 April, 2012). —(2012). (10 March, 2012). —(2012). 1 January (10 March 2012).


Uzbekistan: An Overview Laliya Yakhyaeva

Introduction Twenty years into independence, Uzbekistan’s Soviet past still remains a politically painful and academically underexamined subject, resulting in major gaps in the historical narratives of the society. The government of the newly independent nation quickly embarked upon reviewing and revising pre-Soviet and Soviet history, relating it to the current political agendas. Most scholarly research has focused on current-day matters, responding to the market and to the availability of data. Scarce references to the Soviet period tend to focus mainly on early the Soviet years (creation of nations, collectivization, education, etc.). These circumstances point to a pressing need for a more comprehensive and systematic inquiry into the Soviet past of the region, particularly on matters that continue to shape social and political agendas, to understand the nature of ongoing changes in the field of education in post-Soviet Uzbekistan. It is important to examine the historical context of education in the former Soviet Union. Education in the Soviet Union was organized in a highly centralized government-run system. Its advantages were total and free access for all citizens and post-education employment. The Soviet Union recognized that the foundation of their system depended upon the complete dedication of the people to the state through psychological training as well as through military training, and through specialized education in the broad fields of engineering, the natural sciences, the life sciences and social sciences, along with general education (Wikipedia, 2012).


Education in West Central Asia

The government operated virtually all the schools in the former Soviet Union, and created a standard curriculum for all levels of schools from kindergarten to higher education based on Russian and communist ethics and moral values. The main goal of the Tsarist and communist regimes in Muslim communities was to divide them by long-term Russification and the “natural superiority” of the Russian language and lifestyle. The Russian policy from 1870 continued right through to the Soviet policy in 1970–80: that is to say, bringing people together from sblijenie to fusion in sliyanie, breaking down Islamic religious and cultural solidarity. Tsarist and Soviet campaigns targeted the universal Muslim Model alphabet, clothing, names, lawsand institutions, cutting off Soviet Muslims from their literary past and the traditional ties to Islamic culture, as well as the rest of the Muslim world. The alphabet was changed three times between 1920 and 1940 in Uzbekistan, preventing the new generation from having access to Muslim culture and the Muslim world, establishing censorship, reducing status, repressing Muslim Ulama (religious leaders/scholars) and intelligentsia and the entire population of semi-literates of the Muslim population of the Soviet Union. Thus was created a double culture, a double code of lifestyle, removing bilingualism/multilingualism and creating artificial borders, making the Russian language a superior language of the USSR and, it was hoped, a common language for all socialist nations of the world. That set of communist moral and ethical values stressed the primacy of the collective over the interests of the individual. The Soviet system also maintained some traditions from past (Tsarist) times, mixed with communist ideology, such as the five-point grading scale, formal and regimented classroom environments and standard school uniforms—dark (brown) dresses with white collars for girls, white shirts and black or dark navy pants for boys, and red ties (Pioneer) from Grade 2 to Grade 8. The political system was embedded in the schools: by means of organizations sich as the Oktobryta (children of the 1917 October Revolution, seven to eight years old), the Pioneers (9–13 years old) and the Komsomol’ (14–27 years old). The goal of education in the former Soviet Union was the achievement of knowledge, memorizing facts. Curricula were uniform and universal. The curriculum for the elementary years (1st to 4th Grade) included mathematics, languages (native, Russian from 2nd Grade and foreign from the 4th Grade), science, painting, music and literature. From the 5th to the 10th (between 1960 and 1970 the 11th Grade was included), all students had to complete courses in history, science, social studies, languages, literature, mathematics, music, technical drawing and physical activities.

Uzbekistan: An Overview


Analytical thinking was not encouraged in the Soviet education system, especially in primary and secondary schools. Many students experienced difficulty thinking critically and approaching learning in an active manner in higher schools and universities. Methods of instruction and procedures were mostly dogmatic, especially in courses of history and social studies. Reform programmes from around 1955 to the 1980s focused on the creation of new curricula, textbooks and teaching methods. The primary purpose of those programmes was to create a “new school” and a “new man” that would better equip Soviet people to deal with the modern, technologically and ideologically advanced nation that the USSR had become. However, in the 1980s facilities generally were inadequate, overcrowding was common, and equipment and materials were in short supply. The schools and universities failed to supply suitably skilled labour to almost every sector of the economy. An overgrown bureaucracy further compromised education’s contribution to society, but power struggles between centre and periphery, corruption with almost all officials, and the geographical scope of the Soviet administration all played an essential role in weakening the system. Things became unstable with increasing tension between local authorities and the increasing centralization of the post-Stalin era. In fact, instability was as much a product of the workers’ desires in the field as it was imposed on them by national authorities, who feared that if they stayed in one place too long, they would be get too close to local authorities (Brooks, 2001a, 2001b). During the period of “mature socialism”, Soviet youth became increasingly cynical about the communist ideology and philosophy (the main reasons were corruption, double standards and special mandatory courses based on Leonid Brezhnev’s “works” during the 1970s and 1980s in secondary and higher education that they were forced to absorb, as well as the stifling of selfexpression and individual responsibility). In the last years of the Soviet Union, funding was inadequate for the large-scale establishment of new schools, and the whole edifice began to crumble (Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1978a, 1978b). The effects of Perestroika and Glasnost and the transition toward democracy had a deep effect on all spheres including national education policy in Uzbekistan and other Soviet republics, when the old regimes collapsed. Efforts to renew the education system in Uzbekistan have been in progress for over 20 years. Immediately after independence, the government of Uzbekistan passed the Law on Education (1992) to provide the legal basis for the official (formal) reforms in this sector and guaranteed free public education to all citizens. The fundamental principle of that law was the removal of state control


Education in West Central Asia

of education policy, but the educational system in Uzbekistan was continually changing as was the demographic profile of the country. In 1992, about 35 per cent of the population in Uzbekistan were under 16, and 62 per cent under the age of 62. The new independent government of Uzbekistan struggled to established an education system at all levels (Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1978a, 1978b). The Constitution of Independent Uzbekistan (Chapter 9, Article 41) states: “All citizens have the same rights to Education; the state shall guarantee free secondary education. Schooling shall be under state control and supervision.” It stipulated that basic general education is compulsory and that parents or guardians are responsible for ensuring that children obtain schooling. In 1998, the Uzbek Parliament passed a resolution on educational policy focused on major reforms to effect the modernization and renovation of the formal, non-formal and informal educational dimensions. Moreover, the resolution gave special attention to education policy as an instrument of political socialization and stratification, nation building and traditional character building. The formation of the national sentiment of Uzbek society can be traced back more than 1000 years. It developed with the Turkic-Arab and Persian traditions, but with a multicultural heritage from the Soviet era. Independence gave significant autonomy to Uzbek authorities to choose different kind of strategies in all spheres, including education, and which would be most appropriate to the historical Islamic nation. The region’s educational institutions could base their curricula and teaching methods on national and historical traditions, but independence brought new issues such as, for example, the financing, content and quality of education; educational access; the demand for education; educational facilities; and the difficulty of retaining teachers. Moreover, issues such as the rise of nationalism, Islamic revivalism, the collaboration of ethnic groups and the paradox of the success of former communist leaders as presidents of newly and suddenly independent nations all clashed with traditional Uzbek society. The transformation from a communist centrallyplanned supply economy to a special “Uzbek Model” of a neo-liberal demand economy required the development of radical reforms. But Uzbek governments have kept the old authoritarian/communist methods in relation to both the economy and the education system. Just two ministries, the Ministry of People’s Education (responsible for kindergarten, primary, secondary and vocational education) and the Ministry of Higher Education (responsible for universities and institutes, plus adult education) are responsible for the education system. Under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of People’s Education are kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, higher educational institutions

Uzbekistan: An Overview


(pedagogic/teachers institutes), upgrade courses for teachers in general, and some vocational centres. This Ministry is located in capital city of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, and has district, city and regional subdivisions that provide curricular and monitoring support. From 1991 to 2007, these departments were in charge of providing financial support to educational institutions, but from 2007 all financial functions of the Ministry of People’s Education were transferred to the Ministry of Finance. The new financing system made educational institutions in Uzbekistan fully dependent on state funds. Outside sources of funding did not exist or were very limited. The Ministry of Higher, Secondary and Special Education has the same location and functional branches, responsible for all activities of universities, institutes and secondary special education It also has a special Centre on Vocational education (with local branches). The Ministry of Labour and the Department of Social Protection (Social Security) have some responsibilities for programmes, such as professional training and requalification for all educational departments.

Formal Educational System in Uzbekistan Kindergarten preparation is from four to six years old. The school education system consists of 12 years divided into primary education of four years (Grades 1–4), junior secondary education of five years (Grades 5–9), and, from 2010, three years of vocational/senior secondary education (SSE). Higher education in Uzbekistan includes a four-year undergraduate (bachelor) degree, a master’s degree of two years, then the Candidate Nayk (PhD). After that, for a few, is the higher doctorate (Doctor of Sciences), which requires several years of research and monitoring, producing published work such as monographs and articles in major scientific journals, and presentation of research papers at local and international conferences. The final academic degree is the Professorship following a decision of the Supreme Attestation Committee, and comes after several years of leadership positions, such as a mentor and educator. After a student revolt in Tashkent in 1992, the government immediately established a network of universities in Uzbekistan’s provinces, to try to ensure that future generations of students would be at a safe physical remove from the capital; 44 institutes were transformed into universities, with all that the new status implied, that is to say, to focus on pursuing research and preparing future


Education in West Central Asia

researchers and leaders. In total, more than 100 majors are now offered across the country (Edward, 1992). Some institutes and universities have been specializing in textile industry engineering, railroad engineering, aviation engineering, marketing, and economics. Despite this proliferation of institutions, since 1995 only around 10% of secondary school leavers have proceeded to universities and other higher educational institutes each year. Most students in higher education are full-time (almost 70 per cent). Some universities and institutes offer secondshift classes (kechki courslar), and correspondence (cirtki courslar) classes, but there are no virtual classes as yet.

Post-Soviet curricular reform Since 1990, more attention has been paid to the arts, humanities and social sciences. These areas focus on the humanistic nature of education, national traditions and culture, religion, native language policy, common values, freedom of human development and citizenship. They effected a breakaway from Soviet ideology. In addition, since 1996 special mandatory courses based on President Islam Karimov’s works in secondary and higher education were created, providing, in effect, a new ideological stance. Since the mid-1990s, many public schools have designed special curricula, some of them returning to the classical studies prevalent in the early 1990s. Local development of curricula and materials became legal in 1992, although financial restrictions have limited experimentation and the Soviet era left educators with a strong bias toward standardized instruction and rote memorization. In contrast to the Soviet era, the quality and content of curricula vary greatly among public schools. A major factor encouraging local initiative is the disorder of federal education agencies, which often leave regional and municipal authorities to their own devices. Nevertheless, only about one-third of primary and secondary schools have taken advantage of the opportunity to develop their own curricula; many administrations have been unwilling to make such largescale decisions independently. The Uzbek Soviet system suffered a shortage of teachers for decades before the 1990s. Although society held the profession in high regard, teacher salaries were among the lowest of all professions, at least partly because women dominated the field at the primary and secondary levels (75 per cent). The emerging market economy of the 1990s improved the pay and career opportunities outside teaching for many who would have remained in education under the more rigid Soviet system; therefore, the shortage was exaggerated. By the mid-1990s schools had

Uzbekistan: An Overview


about 20–5 per cent teacher vacancies, and in the following years 30 per cent of teaching positions were unfilled. Low pay and prestige has damaged morale among Uzbek teachers. They are more disillusioned by the end of the idealistic first postSoviet years of innovation and freedom of speech, and the continued decline of their material circumstances in the new neo-liberal era (Banyazizi, and Weiner, 1994). Other significant issues were increasing enrolment and overcrowded classes created by a shortage of modern school buildings. In the early 2000s almost 20 per cent of students were attending schools which had no central heating, and more than 25 per cent were learning in buildings with no running water. From 1990 to 2000 one out of every two students attended a school operating on two or three shifts. Rural schools, which make up about 75 per cent of the national total, were in especially bad condition. From 1995 to 2000 the projected budgetary spending for education in Uzbekistan was about 3.6 per cent of the total state budget. Experts agreed that the system could not be maintained as it was, to say nothing of implementing the changes called for by post-Soviet legislation. So from 2,000 to the present, Uzbekistan has built or remodelled more than 9,500 secondary schools and 1,500 new professional colleges and academic lyceums. During that period the number of higher education students has increased to more than 230,000 students studying at 59 universities and other educational institutions. At the present time the annual expenditure for developing and reforming education in Uzbekistan makes up 10–12 per cent of GDP, and their share in the expenditure side of the state budget exceeds 35 per cent (IAK) (Lewis, 2008). This degree of decentralization has also meant that in primary and secondary schools and in the colleges studies are carried out in the seven languages: Uzbek, Karakalpak, Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkmen and Tajik, depending on the location and nature of the ethnic mix of population. The literacy rate in Uzbekistan is 99.3 per cent except in some areas dominated by ethnic minorities, where the rate may be considerably lower. Wide variations in educational attainment exist between urban and rural areas. Education plays a crucial role in determining social status in Uzbekistan. People who leave school after nine years generally can find only unskilled jobs. Even those who complete secondary education may rise no higher than skilled labour or low-level white-collar work. A college or university education is necessary for most professional and bureaucratic positions and appears to be highly desirable for a position of political power. For example, a very high percentage of the members of Uzbek Parliament are university graduates with PhD degrees.


Education in West Central Asia

Since 1980 to the present, access to higher education is roughly proportionate to the social and financial situation of an individual’s family. Children whose parents have money and status usually have an advantage in gaining admission to an institution of higher education. The reasons lie mostly with the parents’ possible influence and connections, also with the better quality of primary and secondary education that has become available to such children, enhancing their ability to pass difficult university entrance examinations. Moreover, since 1995 such families can afford to hire tutors for their children in preparation for the examinations and can more readily afford to pay university tuition. According to UNDR in 2007, there were 286,300 students in total; 273,700 at bachelor’s level and 12,600 at master’s level. Most are fee paying.

Corruption Another significant issue in Uzbekistan’s education system is corruption. Frequent replacement of the top officials (Mohiaddin, 1995) did not improve the situation. Moreover, a new phenomenon, verbal and physical abuse of the faculty by students from rich and powerful elite families, has increased. In response, Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Higher and Secondary Education, created in 2011 the Ethical Rules for Higher Education Institutions, which states that “These rules are being introduced to form and retain, as well as defend, the ethical integrity of members of higher educational institutions.” It promises specifically to “prevent the decay of students ... and defend them from alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as the threats of religious extremism and mass culture”. In addition, the regulations target students’ online activities and instances of religious abuse. The regulations state that “It is prohibited to post on the Internet materials that are not in line with national values or related to the internal problems of higher educational institutions,” before going on to note that they “categorically ban publishing, saving, or distribution via computers of different materials not related to a higher education institution”. The new regulations aspire to control many of the smallest details of daily life for university students in an attempt to enforce ever greater levels of passivity among the nation’s youth (Oliver, 2000). Another issue in the realm of abuse is a widespread form of child-student exploitation, for example in the cotton fields in old-style Soviet tradition, which is clearly forced child labour. This appears to be increasing. Many graduates from mostly rural areas in Uzbekistan are postponing or giving up their dreams of becoming doctors, teachers or engineers. Instead,

Uzbekistan: An Overview


they are taking seasonal jobs in construction, vegetable markets, or agricultural plants in comparatively wealthy Russia or Kazakhstan (Oliver, 2000). This is partly due to education costs and related bribery to escape unemployment, poverty and health issues in both urban and rural areas. Significantly, in the post-Soviet years, the phrase “pul qilish” (to make money) has passed into common usage. Together with the employment insecurity felt in the 1990s even by the well educated, the educational ambitions of many, particularly with regard to higher education, have not been fulfilled, therefore education and employment continue to pose formidable challenges for Uzbek society. Indeed, there are many highly qualified specialists among Uzbekistan migrant labourers, who failed to find professional employment in their fields, now pushing carts in Russian markets with useless university degrees in their pockets (Yakhyaeva, 2010). Although older Uzbeks resent those who achieve commercial success in the new “system”, the generation now in school shows increasing interest in advancement in the market (bazaar). This means the workforce continues to be poorly educated and ill prepared for the economic revolution that has overtaken them. Indeed the transition to a market economy (Uzbek model) is creating a strong demand for new curricula, teaching methods, professional qualifications and modern work-related knowledge and skills.

Gender The Soviet regime promoted a policy of gender equality for more than 70 years across the Union, during which women were encouraged to study and work. According to the 1997 Law on Education in Uzbekistan, men and women have equal rights to enjoy educational opportunity and to choose any profession. Since independence, Uzbek society has continued to publicly support the concept, but most of the population find themselves more concerned and stressed with unemployment and survival-level financial issues regarding the education of their boys and girls. Some parents think that investment in the education of boys, who will have to support their family and parents, is better than doing so for girls, who may have the chance to become wives of educated or gainfully employed husbands. This trend is most evident in Uzbekistan’s rural areas, where the ratio of males to females enrolled in secondary and higher education is increasing and creating a wider gender gap in education. The disparity in the sphere of special secondary and vocational education is marked. The rates of males and females enrolled in academic lyceums is 64 per cent to 32 per cent,


Education in West Central Asia

and in colleges it is 54 per cent to 46 per cent. In universities, women constitute only 30 per cent of the students (International League for Human Rights, 2006). Tashkent University of World Economy and Diplomacy, considered as an elite university of Uzbekistan, continues to lean toward an eventual “male only” environment. At present, more than 80 per cent of the students are male, in contrast to a student body that was 48.2 per cent female between 1993 and 1995 (OSCE, 2002–9). Other universities and colleges are also becoming more and more male oriented. It doesn’t help that women in Uzbekistan effectively have a choice between only two education/career paths: the field of health care (nurse or nurse’s assistant), or the field of education (typically child care or primary and junior secondary school instruction). Equal rights and opportunities in education for both males and females needs to be enforced. Another significant and related issue is that almost 60 per cent of parents in Uzbekistan say they cannot afford to finance the studies of their children, especially female (www. Public sector education continues to be free across the country, but extensive and costly bribery, and even overcharging, are often necessary to get over the stagnation of the standard school sector and ensure success and advancement in universities and colleges ( Educational standards have slipped to significantly low levels. Government spending on education has decreased dramatically. Between 1992 and 2005, government funding of education declined by nearly 50 per cent. Where it was once 12 per cent of GDP in 1991–2, education spending was just 6.3 per cent in 2005, and 8.5 per cent in 2010 ( Although the official literacy rate of the population is still reported to be high at 99.3 per cent, university enrolment has also declined, with the college-age population dropping from 19 per cent to 6.4 per cent for the decade (USSR Academy of Social Sciences, 1991). According to the opinion of parents, between 2001 and 2005 (Yuldashev, 1996) in both urban and rural areas, the education and even employment of females is not considered to be important. They support female education, but only to a limited degree. They affirm that women should be able to read and write, learn about Islam and pass that knowledge on to their children. Most parents, it seems, advise their female children against the pursuit of post-school education because it will take too much time away from their other duties. Some of the areas in Uzbekistan have no nearby colleges, and many of them have no available jobs for women with college degrees either. Most employment opportunities for women are in the fields of medicine or education, the only two branches of college education considered preferable and acceptable for women. All other professions are considered male domains (Yuldashev, 1996).

Uzbekistan: An Overview


These new conservative concepts of the priority of male education over female education apply especially from a very early age in poorer urban and rural areas (Babadjanov, 2002). Nonetheless, according to a decree of the government of Uzbekistan in 2008, “New reforms will have to be introduced to the national educational system as a major step in preparing Uzbek women for competitive jobs.” Labour market and labour law reforms should be implemented to accompany these proposed educational reforms. Uzbekistan used to have many gender-specific laws in place, created by the former Soviet regime. Under the Soviet system, women received considerable benefits such as maternity pay until the child’s second or third birthday, paid sick days, cheap child care, and free health care in addition to equal opportunities in education. As a result, women once held important jobs in the health care system in Uzbekistan (72 per cent of medical jobs were held by women), in education and academia (63–73 per cent of positions were held by women). Unfortunately, this picture is changing for the worse. By 2008 the unemployment rate for women was four times higher than the unemployment rate for men (Khalid, 1998). A reversal of this situation depends not only on economics but also politics, in other words, on political will. But the Uzbek Parliament is comprised of 95 per cent men and only 5 per cent women: down from 33.2 per cent women in 1991 (Gülen, 2005). Gender parity in education is a priority not only because inequality is a major breach of fundamental human rights but because it represents an important obstacle to social and economic development (Khalid, 2007). Historically, Central Asian society has had very little discussion or concern about feminism or feminist movements who might speak out about the situation. This is because the term “feminist” has been widely seen in a negative light, as an idea born purely of Western propaganda and absolutely not suitable for the Eastern Muslim societies. The Uzbek institution Mahalla (community) has a clear idea of what a woman should be. The strongly enforced Soviet system was resented. Even then, speaking out about feminist issues was a forbidden topic in the majority Muslim community. Now, with independence from socialism, the status and position of women has been crumbling and their educational opportunities reduced (Middle East Review of International Affairs, 2000). A solution to the issue is obvious but not easy. A combined effort between NGOs, communities and the government is required. In Uzbekistan, women need to promote the sense of dedication, professionalism and rights that they possess, while building a reputation for using their societal benefits in a non-exploitative manner. At the same time, the government and private sector need to help facilitate the full reintegration of women into education and the workforce.


Education in West Central Asia

NGOs and development In such situations of cultural rigidity and political intransigence, NGOs are often the only hope. NGOs in the field of education in Uzbekistan form an important implementing component of the developing volume of foreign technical assistance being channelled to its development. Major multilateral and bilateral donors recognize and use them, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the government of the Republic of Korea, the World Bank, the OPEC Fund, the Saudi Fund, the Islamic Development Bank, the government of Germany through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), UNESCO and other UN agencies (Oliver, 2000). Since 2005, international NGOs have been encouraged to join national NGOs whose formation was initiated by the government of Uzbekistan, as a result of which most of them have declined or have left the country (Freizer, 2004). Although NGOs are now few in number and based mostly in Tashkent and other larger cities, their work is vital for the education of the young population of Uzbekistan. Some survive in areas such as environmental education, environmental legal advocacy and eco-tourism. The most popular foreign educational organizations in the 1990s were Turkish institutions, operating in Uzbekistan in more than 65 lyceums. With strict educational methods and strong discipline, they were highly regarded by students, parents and Mahalla. At this year’s majority of national and regional education many contests were won by Turkish lyceum students (Uzbekistan, 2010). Graduates from such institutions were winning scholarships to Western universities, but government officials suspect that those schools to have agendas other than education. So in 1999 all Turkish educational institutions were closed, and their graduates regarded with suspicion (Avvob, 2010). The NGO Iqbol, based on Mahalla policy and targeting the education of servicemen in the Uzbek armed forces and students of military schools in Uzbekistan is an interesting case. In 2002, Iqbol and the Ministry of Defence of Uzbekistan signed an agreement of mutual cooperation. Between 2002 and 2004, Iqbol instructors trained 768 military servicemen and 165 students of military schools, of which 86 per cent came from rural areas. Exit surveys conducted among the military servicemen who underwent Iqbol training revealed that after the training most of them demonstrated more understanding and respect to the reproductive rights of women, family planning, sharing the burden of bringing up children in the family and effective ways for conflict solution in the family. Interestingly, this intervention also helped to decrease the

Uzbekistan: An Overview


level of violence, abuse and harassment within military institutions—particularly against younger and weaker men. Iqbol also trained 40 senior officers of the military schools through a “Training of Trainers” programme. Those officers who have undergone such training now continue awareness-raising work among servicemen and military school students. In order to support such training, Iqbol published and disseminated a book on Domestic Violence and Mitigation among senior officers. In 2003 the Ministry made a decision to include this book in the curricula of military schools and disseminated it among the teachers there. In 2003 Iqbol was awarded a Grandpre for the Innovative Approach to Domestic Violence in a contest conducted among the Uzbek NGOs titled “Let’s Collect Our Resources—a New Reality!” In 2004, Iqbol and Mahalla were included in the Governmental Programme on Educating the Youth in the Armed Forces of Uzbekistan as one of the implementers and received the first government order to design educational programmes for military schools (USSR Academy of Social Sciences, 1991).

Mahalla Historically, communities called “Mahalla” are a significant phenomenon in informal education in Uzbekistan. After independence, Mahalla were actively promoted as a) traditional spaces for education, b) fundamental spaces for national unification, and c) a space for mutual aid. They are helping to fill the gap between the population at large and the government. The last two decades of Mahalla are significant in relation to public school education and the nation’s unification. Government and Mahalla committees promote policies for nation building through the education of children. Malhalla is involved in the “State Standard of Uzbekistan—State System of Standards of Continuous Education” (Uzbekistan Secondary Specialized Vocational Education) (Yakhyaeva, 1991). This promotes the “Foundation of Morality” lessons (theory and practice), in total 40 hours, as mandatory courses, and school events such as Navruz (a local New Year event). Mahalla is used by the Uzbek government as a traditional mutual aid. The activities of Mahalla as “space of mutual aid” are important in school education. Students studying the issues of humanity and ethnic mentality in their moral education classes, will be able to promote the formation of a national identity by installing a sense of humanity, a concept of cooperation (hashar), healthy habits of community life, devices for breeding patriotic spirits, close relationships and religious and


Education in West Central Asia

traditional entities, but the influence of the phenomenon of Mahalla is different on other ethnic groups, especially in Tashkent and other multicultural industrial cities. By contrast, in the Fergana Valley and other provincial districts the phenomenon of Mahalla is very strong. The issue of understanding the importance of Mahalla by other ethnic groups creates a different consciousness among Mahalla. However, reviewing the results of the observation of perceptions of the Mahalla and its educational role, it can be presumed that there is a close relationship between how people regard the Mahalla and the education they have received in (formal) school. Another issue regarding Mahalla is cooperation (hashar) activities and consideration of Mahalla as a place of mutual aid. It is now converted as the smallest unit of the administrative organization of the government. The make-up of classes is based on the government’s outlook on Mahalla; moreover schools perform actions based on the educational policies of the official educational bureaucracy toward the Mahalla. Therefore, issues involving the uniformity of educational activities are likely to radically increase throughout the country, but introducing the Mahalla into school education will also allow the redress of educational gaps in Uzbekistan (Yakhyaeva, 1991–2002).

The Military and Education Uzbekistan is considering the creation of a professional army in the long term. Much emphasis has been placed on the necessity for mobile, skilled forces that would be capable of combating terrorism and fighting other possible threats to internal and regional stability. A new decree in 2005 was aimed at improving military education. A new faculty was established at Tashkent State University of Technology on the use of radio air defence, accepting students under 25 after military service, or military-school graduates from the 17–21 age range. For entry to military colleges, academic competition is very high, especially to the air force, with more than eight applicants for each place. The best college graduates were admitted to the Armed Forces Academy, which enjoys increased government spending. From April 2012 even private driver schools in Uzbekistan have been conducted by the Defence Ministry department “Vatanparvar” (patriot) as in Soviet times ( In addition there were informal militaryrelated activities in secondary schools, including a national sports and military competition, in which 350,000 boys participated, aimed at preparing boys aged 11–16 for military service.

Uzbekistan: An Overview


The Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Security Service (formerly the KGB) of Uzbekistan are facing a need to collaborate with foreign education institutions as well as their military and security counterparts in relation to police training and strategic cooperation. Uzbekistan has a military strength of approximately 100,000, plus 65,000 professional staff, but the government’s wish is that the force will be dominated by professional soldiers. There are three major Soviet-built training facilities that are the foundation of the military training programme in Uzbekistan. The General Weapons Command Academy in Tashkent trains non-commissioned officers (NCOs). These courses allow the Uzbek army to become more integrated but have to cope with the issue of language barriers. Most students and officers speak only Uzbek and Russian. The Ministry of Defence is therefore planning the enlargement of special educational institutions with language training courses for military personnel. During the 1990s and into the 2000s Uzbekistan received Military Financing (FMF) from the USA and International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance, as well as funds from other countries, and there is a joint agreement with Russia and Turkey. These countries also provide educational and military training of students, as well as aircraft training (

Security and Intelligence Education The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Security Service (NSS) have several educational institutes. Their graduates have the responsibility for the suppression of dissent, Islamic activity and surveillance of all possible opposition figures and groups, as well as prevention of corruption, organized narcotics crime and human trafficking. Uzbekistan has one of the most powerful security police forces in the former Soviet Union. In 2004, NSS forces numbered between 17,000 and 19,000 ( Conventional police operations are the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and each area of governmental jurisdiction has police force educational institutions. Uzbekistan’s principal intelligence agency, the National Security Service (SNB), also has educational institutions (former KGB schools). Graduates are monitors of all sectors including the internet, ISPs and internet cafes. SNB schools regularly exchange data with Russian intelligence education structures, and allegedly collaborate with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Academy.


Education in West Central Asia

During the period 2005 to 2008, the Open Net Initiative conducted testing on five main ISPs in the country: ArsInform, Buzton, Sharq Telecom, Sarkor and Uzbektelecom. The test results showed pervasive blocking of different categories of internet content, including local and international human rights, local and regional media sites, opposition sites, local NGOs, sites of religious organizations and terrorist groups. Interestingly, a large number of sites (including forum sites, media sites, and others) remain inaccessible for the user even though they are not blocked outright. Through investment and legal mechanisms, the government has demonstrated its willingness to promote ICT in Uzbekistan. At the same time, Uzbekistan maintains the most extensive and pervasive filtering system among the CIS countries. Although banned in Uzbek law, filtering is widespread and apparently growing. A large number of sites with political and human rights content sensitive to the government remain inaccessible to internet users, especially to students and researchers, through monitoring of users’ activities. Uzbekistan is one of four countries which proposed an internet “Code of Conduct” at the UN General Assembly, to curb “the dissemination of information that incites terrorism, secessionism, or extremism, or that undermines other countries’ political, economic and social stability, as well as their spiritual and cultural environment” (UNESCO, 2010–11). To avoid sanctions from the authorities, internet users, mostly students, frequently commit themselves to self-censorship. Mass media in Uzbekistan portray the country as democratic and its authorities as loyal to democratic principles. The legal framework of Uzbekistan guarantees a right to independent information and freedom of speech, and bans censorship. However, the on-the-ground reality is quite the opposite: topics including sex education, drug addiction, the existence of sex workers and HIV prevention are curtailed. Even in such an environment, international cooperation in non-formal education can sometimes still find a way. In 2003, the British Council in Tashkent (BC) began working with the Thomson Foundation on a project designed to help regional television stations in Uzbekistan use and understand basic educational programming. Designed to educate young people aged 14 to 16 (partly because of the wider availability of television equipment in their schools), the programme also aims to help small, independent, privately funded regional television stations develop. The television programmes focus on the English language, geography and the environment, youth issues, even religion, but avoid issues such as government policy, human rights and corruption.

Uzbekistan: An Overview


Islamic Education Another significant feature of the post-Soviet period is Islamic education. In the early days of independence, the Uzbek government considered Islam as the most important part of Uzbek culture and society. In the name of the heritage of the nation, Islam was restored to be the focus of everyday public life. As a result, public interest in religion grew rapidly, and hundreds of unsanctioned, locally organized madrassas and mosques were created overnight. Islam became an important, fluent component of new state ideology, with the regime of the newly independent state favouring the Hanafi traditions associated with tolerance, respect for elders and subordination to authorities. The state and the religious elite believe Islam must play a key role in the creation of the national ideology. Young people in Uzbekistan begin learning the basics of Islam in newly opened madrassas or hugras in local Mahalla mosques. Reportedly there are two types of Islamic schooling: formal and informal. Formal Islamic education begins from a very young age (five to seven) as Qur’an recitation and continues with special Islamic subjects at the ages of 10–15. The schools are available for male and female, but in separate groups. At this time, Uzbekistan has two Islamic higher institutions: Tashkent Islamic Institute and Tashkent Islamic University. The Islamic Institute is for producing Islamic scholars and spiritual leaders. The Islamic University is mostly secular and grants standard diplomas (Fazilov, and Smirnova, 2008). The “New Law on Religious Education” in 1999 sanctioned informal religious education including hujra or mosque education, hujra requiring special permission from the Office of Muslims of Uzbekistan (Uzbekiston Musilmonlar Idoraci) (UMI) (Abramson, 2010). During the 1991–96 period, more than 15,000 mosques and madrassas (special religious schools) were established by Mahalla and foreign Islamic aid. Instead of following the Law (1999 Amendment), government permitted mosques to have private and foreign founding and their own religious schools for boys and girls (Abramson, 2010). Since 1995, the whole network of informal religious schools and activities has been under the strict control of the government and particularly the Ministry of Religious Affairs. In 2010 in the city of Namangan (Fergana Valley) more than 200 mosques were closed, on registration and permit issues, the authorities applying strict communist methods in relation to informal education and worshipers. Of more than 2,200 mosques in the Andijan area, only 42 were able to register. In other cities and towns of the Fergana valley mosques have encountered difficulties with official registration.


Education in West Central Asia

Beginning in the 1990s, state schools (primary and secondary) pursued new curricula based on the Islamic heritage of Uzbeks (Marifat va Ma’naviyat). “Education and Spirituality” replaced Soviet curricula on communist “Scientific Atheism” ( The new curricula are mandatory, students learning the basics of Islamic philosophy. In addition, school administrations elicit the imams from local Mahalla mosques to provide professional instruction, but in the rural areas most classes turned into hujra because many of the Islamic educators in rural areas themselves lacked sufficient education. It is perfectly legitimate to invite clerics to teach in the schools if they are graduates of the Higher Islamic Institute, or other official Islamic institutions. The curricula also include a lot of material on the lives of outstanding religious figures of the past in order to express national and religious values. The state holds elaborate celebrations of the birthdays of the religious leaders of the past, such as Imam al-Bukhari, Imam al-Maturidi, Baha ad-Din Naqshband, Khoja Ahrar, At Termizi and Abd al-Khaliq Ghijduvani. Such events are held in universities, public schools and academic research institutions. Since 1999 the state has recognised Mahalla as formal administrative organs, responsible to regional hokim (governors), and Mahalla mosque activities and religious activities in general are under government control. Mahalla are therefore tasked with the implementation of government decrees and policies, in addition to supervising the local mosque activities including (basic) informal schooling. Government has also strengthened its control over formal religious education. Of the numerous new madrassas that emerged during Perestroika and first years of independence, very few have survived (Khalilova, 2006). Official Islamic education is strictly regulated. All entering students must pass the exam in a foreign language and the history of Uzbekistan, in addition to a personal interview by the authorities to check their political reliability. Only the Soviet era Tashkent Islamic Institute is available to students interested in higher Islamic education. In 1999 the government founded the Tashkent Islamic University. This was apparently intended for Islamic education though not controlled by an Ulamo (Scholar), but designed to be a secular alternative to the Higher Islamic Institute, which is maintained by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The Islamic University also maintains a website,, a government-monitored resource with mostly an undergraduate student audience. The website aims to increase religious consciousness among young people and provides perceptive materials on the general survey of Islam. The university has two faculties: “Figh (Islamic Law) Economics, and Natural Sciences” and “Islamic Philosophy and

Uzbekistan: An Overview


History”. It offers four majors, but only one in religious studies. In general, the Islamic University is an elite institution for well affiliated families. Islamic studies is offered at the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies and at Tashkent’s Nizami State Pedagogical Institute ( The Nizami Pedagogical Institute was attractive to students from religious families because it was easier to gain admission there than to Tashkent State University, Tashkent Oriental Institute or the Islamic University of Tashkent. Almost 80 per cent of the students come from the provinces, where pedagogy is considered a prestigious career option. The rural youth are much more likely to come from devout Muslim families, therefore more than 80 per cent of the faculty teaching Islamic studies at Tashkent’s Nizami Pedagogical Institute are employed part-time, and many of them are also employed at Tashkent Islamic University. Roughly 70 per cent of the Nizami graduates in Islamic studies go on to become teachers of religious studies in secondary schools, and interestingly about 80 per cent are female. Since independence, entrance to religious education has become more “casual”, and during the past 15 years the elite status of religious education has been lost. The Higher Islamic Institute admits applicants with only secondary education, and in most cases these students do not have any special religious training. This same system of admission is being practised in madrassas. As a result, the standard of these educational institutions has become identical, and in some madrassas, especially in the Fergana Valley and Bukhara (Mir Arab), the level of teaching has generally been higher than at the Higher Islamic Institute or Islamic University. Religious education offered in madrassas and at the Higher Islamic Institute has also lost its exclusive Hanafi orientation, and is influenced by teachings from contemporary Arab authors, writings from fikh schools and authors who reject the need for maintaining the clean-cut schools of Sunni Islamic interpretation. The instructors of the Higher Islamic Institute continue to serve as interns at centres for religious educational activity in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab countries. The Uzbek government has advanced further than other Central Asian countries in processing an Islamic education and scholarship that focuses on a secular and ideological conceptualization of Islam. At the same time the national authorities have strengthened their control over the clergy and the scholarly activities of formal Islamic education. Corruption is damaging the quality of teaching methods and curricula at all levels and influences parents to look for alternatives (Asian Development Bank, 2006). Many look to go abroad to study


Education in West Central Asia

secular subjects (mainly in Turkey) to develop an interest in Islamic education, but other issues are arising, including non-recognition of an overseas education, lack of related employment opportunities, and disagreements over acceptable Islamic practices between returning students and religious leaders whose Islamic education is entirely local. Tensions and debates over “authentic” Islam play out in mosques, schools, family life, media and on the street. The combined state effort to control Islam and the lack of societal consensus even on whether multiple approaches to Islam should be tolerated lead to the politicization of nearly everything associated with religion (Tashkent International Conference, 2012). Uzbekistan’s hyper-politicization of society in general constrains efforts at fruitful dialogue. There is a great need to align national educational strategies with current educational reforms. This arrangement is the result of budgetary restraints, using donor requirements as national goals rather than complementing them, and the lack of effective legislation. In turn, these shortcomings affect the management of the education sector, including, but not limited to, the quality of professional staff and inadequate school infrastructures. In short, Uzbekistan seems to be a country of educational paradox. There are much improved buildings and other related facilities such as sports complexes, art and music educational equipment for youth, and vocational colleges. Uzbekistan has the highest level of enrolment (over 99 per cent) at the secondary level in the West Central Asia region. For over 20 years Uzbekistan has been trying to cope with a) the legacies of Soviet control and communist education; b) the much longer and deeper religious and cultural legacies of Islam; and c) the new world of neo-liberal economic globalization and its messenger, the internet. It is by no means clear as to the outcome of these competing forces or what part education will play in national development.

References Abramson, M. D. (2010). Foreign Religious Education and the Central Asian Islamic Revival: Impact and Prospects for Stability. Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program–A Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center. Asian Development Bank (2006). Uzbekistan: Evaluation Study. Manila: Asian Development Bank, Operation Evaluation Department. (June 2012). Avvob, U. (2010). Musibat va Munosabat [Tragedy and Regard]. www.muslimuzbekiston (April, 2012).

Uzbekistan: An Overview


Babadjanov, B. (2002). “Islam in the Social and Political Life of Uzbekistan”, in “Islam in Uzbekistan: From the Struggle for ‘Religious Purity’ to Political Activism”, in B. Rumer (ed.), Central Asia: A Gathering Storm Press. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, p. 319. Banyazizi, A. and Weiner, M. (eds) (1994). The New Geopolitics of Central Asia and Its Borderlands. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Brooks, J. (2001a). Political education in the Soviet Union. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. —(2001b). Thank you comrade Stalin: Soviet Public Culture from Revolution to Cold War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Edward, A. (ed.) (1967). Central Asia: A Century of Russian Rule. New York: Columbia University Press. —(1992). The Modern Uzbeks: From the 14th Century to the Present: A Cultural History. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press. Fazilov, D. and Smirnova, G. (2008). The Development of Education; National Report of Uzbekistan. (March 2012). Freizer, S. (2004). “Central Asian fragmented civil society: communal and neo-liberal forms in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan”, in Marlies Glasius, David Lewis and Hakan Sekinelgin (eds), Exploring Civil Society: Political and Cultural Contexts. London: Routledge, pp. 130–41. Great Soviet Encyclopaedia (1978, 3rd edn). “Obrazovanie v Sovetsckom Souse” [“Education in the Soviet Union”]. Moscow: Covetskay Encyclopaedia Press. Gülen, F. (2005). An analyses of the Prophet’s life [The Messenger of God Muhammad]. Rutherford, NJ: The Light, pp. 257–61. Khalid, A. (1998). The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform: Jadidism in Central Asia. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, pp. 75–124. —(2007). Islam after Communism. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, pp. 124–5. Khalilova, F. (2006). Educational Developments in Uzbekistan. Overseas Educational Advisers Europe (OSEAS Europe) reports 2006, Chapter 37, Vol. 12, DBC. www. (June, 2012). Lewis, D. (2008). The Temptations of Tyranny in Central Asia. New York: Colombia University Press. Middle East Review of International Affairs (2000). Vol. 4, Nos 4, 6. www.ingentaconnect. com/content/routledg. Mohiaddin, M. (ed.) (1995). Central Asia and the Caucasus after the Soviet Union: Domestic and International Dynamics. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. Oliver, R. (2000). The New Central Asia: The Creation of Nations. New York: New York University Press. OSCE (2002–9). Reports on Central Asian Countries. Sovetskogo, N. (1978). Cbligenie i cliyanie Sovetskogo Naroda [Bringing Soviet people together to fusion] (3rd edn). Moscow: Covetskay Encyclopaedia Press.


Education in West Central Asia

Tashkent International Conference (2012). Upbringing of Educational and Intellectually Advanced Generation as the Most Important Condition of Sustainable Development and Modernization of the Country. 15–19 February 2012, Tashkent, Uzbekistan. UNESCO (2010–11). World Data on Education (7th edn). Paris: UNESCO. USSR Academy of Social Sciences (1991). Ethnic Process in USSR [Sovremennie etnichecki process v SSSR]. Moscow: Nauka. Uzbekistan (2010). Sobranie Zakonodotalstv Respubliki Uzbekistan, Nos 34–6, Tashkent. Yakhyaeva, L. (1991). Society, Democracy and the Individual. Tashkent: Publishing House Press. —(1991–2002). Personal communication and observation. Tashkent: Kokand, Andijan, Namangan and Margilon, Hujand (Tajikistan) regions. Unpublished manuscript. —(2010). Marriage or Education: Dilemma for Central Asian Muslim Women. CESS, second regional conference, Ankara, Turkey. Yuldashev, A. (1996). Yimonga yul [A Path to the True Faith]. contents.php?cid=75 (January, 2012).

Web References EurasiaNet (information and analysis site operated by the OSI). Human Rights Watch. International League for Human Rights (2006) (UNCERD). centasia/reports/On the Compliance of the Republic of Uzbekistan with UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms or Racial Discrimination.pdf. Islamic University of Uzbekistan. Muslim Uzbekistan. Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty. UN. Education in Uzbekistan: Matching Supply and demand 2007/2008. www.hdr.undp. org. www.Wikipedia.

Index Abbas Mirza 80–81 Academy for the Persian Language 63 ACCELS see American Councils for International Education accountability 192, 207, 217 Action Plan Matrix 13 ADB see Asian Development Bank adult education Kyrgyzstan 154 adult literacy 169, 171 Afghanistan 1–17, 21–36, 39–54, 243 adult literacy 39–54 civil wars 9 colonial era 22 economic development 53 education law 29, 46 Islamic schools 8 literacy courses 8 mineral reserves 53 Ministry of Culture and Information (MoCI) 34 Ministry of Education (MoE) 10, 11, 28 Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) 13, 28, 32 Ministry of Justice (MoJ) 29 Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) 33–4 monarchy 4–8 nation building 52 National Literacy Campaign 42 nation-building 39, 41–8 overthrow of monarchy 8 reconstruction programmes 35 religion 21–36 religious establishments 31–4 social inequities 3 state schools 8 universities 7 university students 3 workforce 47 Afghanistan Millennium Development Goals 46

Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) 46 Prioritization and Implementation Plans 46 Afghanistan National Qualification Framework (ANQF) 46–7 Afshar 26 Aga Khan Development Network 245, 255 Aga Khan Foundation 146, 251, 256, 264 agriculture 111–12 Ahal 274 Ahmadinejad, Mahmoud 110 Ahvaz 59 aid 11 Aktyubinsk 129 Aktyubinsk State Pedagogical Institute 133 Al-Ahmad, Jalal 85 Almaty 129 al-Mustafa International University 61 Amanullah, King 3, 5, 25 American Boys’ School 81 American Councils for International Education (ACCELS) 275 American University of Central Asia 151 ANDS see Afghanistan National Development Strategy Anglo-Afghan Alliance 23 Anglo-Afghan Wars 23 ANQF see Afghanistan National Qualification Framework Arabic language 89, 130 Armenians 94 arts 111 Aryamehr University of Technology 71 Ashgabat 274 Asian Development Bank (ADB) 251, 300 assassinations 179 assessment 210 Assyrians 94 Australia 26

312 Index Bahá’í religion 94–5 Balkan 274 Balkanabat 274 Balochistan 216 Bangla language 167 Bangladesh 222 Baqir al-‘Ulum University 62 BC see British Council in Tashkent behaviour 72, 185 Beheshti, Ayatollah 73 Bekmakhanov, E. B. 132 Belarusian State Technical University 284 Bengalis 222 Berdiuhamedov, Gurbanguly 277, 278, 285 Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali 168, 225 Bin Laden, Osama 27 bindi 230 Book of Kings, The 62 Boré, Eugène 81 Borujerdi, Ayatollah 60 boys 210, 302 Pakistan 179–94 Boys’ Normal School 58 bribes 47, 246 Britain 23 British Council in Tashkent (BC) 304 British India 23, 164, 222 British Muslims 234 British Raj 164 Bukhara 307 burqa 11 Bush, George W. 39 Canada 112 capitalism 141 CAREN see Central Asian Research and Education Network Catholic Fund 257 Caucasus 82 Central Asian Research and Education Network (CAREN) 278 child custody 107, 109 child labour 182–3, 252–3, 296 children 89, 109, 124, 156, 165 China 281 Christians 64, 94 class 192

class system Karachi 192 class values 142 clergy 80, 87 Cold War 6, 11, 133 Columbia University Teachers’ College 6 communications 213 conflict theory 140–41, 142 consensus theory 140–41 Construction Crusades 67, 68 Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women 253 Convention on the Rights of the Child 253, 279 corporal punishment 214 corruption 250, 263–4, 296, 307 Cuba 40 cultural capital 143, 156, 189 cultural deficit theory 143 Cultural Revolution 62 curriculum 3, 12, 30–31, 45, 61, 64, 81, 82, 89, 91, 95, 96, 97, 103, 108, 124, 148, 203, 215, 221–36, 253, 256, 259, 278, 290, 294, 306 French 5 German 5 Islamization 168 Daoud, Muhammad 25 Dar al–Fonun 58, 82 Dashoguz 274 Deobandi 25 depression 188 differentiation 69–73 discipline 213 discrimination 25, 29, 117–18 divorce 107, 118 domestic violence 301 dropout 180, 182, 185, 186, 188, 190, 193, 203, 208, 210–15, 216, 217, 252 causes 211–15 drugs 47, 186 Dushanbe Institute of Labour and Social Protection 252 Eastern Europe 154 economy, global 241

Index ED-LINKS 174 Education for All (EFA) 166, 170, 171, 204, 209, 215, 244 targets 166, 172 EFA see Education for All Egypt 82 El Salvador 44 England 184 English language 16, 62, 72, 133, 183, 264, 273 equality 86 Erasmus Mundus 281 ESR see Education Sector Reform under Pakistan ESRA see Education Sector Reforms Assistance Programme under Pakistan ethnicity 192 Europe 26, 81, 82 expectations 187, 189 Failed State Index 51 family crises 213 family laws 117–18 discrimination 117–18 FATA see Federally Administered Tribal Areas under Pakistan Feast of Puberty 65 female teachers 16, 64, 73, 205–8 females 165, 167, 170 femininity 113, 114 feminism 105, 299 feminists 11, 103, 106 Ferdowsi 62 Fergana Valley 307 feudalism 204 foreign students 72 Foucault, Michel 96 France 2, 6, 7, 71, 81 Franklin Book Program 63 French language 133 Fund for Peace 51 Fundamental Law of Education 66 GBAO see Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous region gender 149, 165, 233–4, 235, 297–9 gender differences 104 gender discrimination 216


gender disparity 173, 203, 211, 212–13, 252–3 gender equality 73–4, 297 gender hierarchy 233 gender inequality 92, 103–4 gender inequities 165 gender parity 179 gender relations 103–4, 112, 113, 116–17, 119 gender roles 92 gender segregation 73, 87, 226 General Office of Non-profit Schools 70 German language 133 Germany 2, 6, 7, 39 Ghadir Khumm 65 Ghaznawi, Sultan Mahmud 24 girls 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, 11, 12, 15–17, 28, 58, 65, 81, 87, 92, 104, 173, 190, 201–17, 252 dropout 252 higher education 32 girls’ schools 73 Glasnost 243, 250, 291 global economic crisis of 2008 140 global economy 241 global education 264 Global Monitoring Report 209 globalization 133, 142, 249 globalized knowledge economy 260 Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous region (GBAO) 242 GPEP see Girls’ Primary Education Project under Pakistan graduate teachers 215 Great Game 23 Griffin, Lepel 23 gun battles 189 Habibya 25 Hajigak iron ore reserves 53 Hanafi 305 hardliners 84 hate factories 50 Hazara 24, 26, 27 HDI see Human Development Index under United Nations health 49 High Council of Seminaries 61

314 Index higher order thinking (HOT) 262 Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) 180 Hindko language 226 Hindus 222, 230 HIV/AIDS 46 hokim 306 HOT see higher order thinking housewives 105 HSSC see Higher Secondary School Certificate human rights 29, 204 humanities 111 IAU see Islamic Azad University IIEP see Institute for International Educational Development under UNESCO illiteracy 5, 29, 42, 170, 191, 201, 203, 212 Imam Sadiq University 62 imams 181, 191, 306 IMET see International Military Education and Training IMF 251 India 24, 25, 184, 243 arms race with Pakistan 222 British 23, 164, 222 Indian Muslim nation 222 industrialization 183 instructional styles 208 inter-ethnic interaction 136 International Centre for Islamic Studies 61 International Council for Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) 275 International Labour Organization 253 International Military Education and Training (IMET) 303 international Olympiads 265 International Survey on Learning Outcomes 146 International Women’s Day (IWD) 33, 34 internationalization 133, 264–6, 285 internet 278, 304 Iqbal, Muhammad 234 Iqbol 300–301 Iran see also Islamic Republic of Iran 27, 57–75, 79–97, 243 Boys’ Normal School 58

Constitutional Revolution 79, 82–3, 84, 104 Council of Education 82 Cultural Revolution 62, 68, 71, 88 Family Protection Law 107, 108 Fundamental Law of Education 59 High Council of Education 110 higher education 103–19 Islamic reform 89 Islamic regimes 65 Islamic Revolution 63, 71, 89, 90, 106–7, 108 jurisprudence 60 Ministry of Education 70, 83 Ministry of Science and Arts 58 Ministry of Science and Higher Education 66 oil boom 71 oil revenue 59 population 69 primary education 59 reform movement 109 religious minorities 94 Revolution of 1979 64, 85, 87 Reza Shah era 65, 69 School of Fine Arts 58 School of Law 58 School of Political Science 58 Supreme Council of Education 59 Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution 110 tertiary education 111 universities 66, 111, 114, 115 White Revolution 66 women 103–19 Women’ Social and Cultural Council 111 Iran–Iraq war 68, 108–9 Iraq 58 IREX see International Council for Research and Exchanges Board IRI see Islamic Republic of Iran Isfahan 58, 59 Islam 16, 28, 48–51, 63–5, 86, 87, 105, 188, 222, 230, 235 image 53 politicized 64 Islamic Azad University (IAU) 68–9, 71 Islamic Development Bank 251, 300

Index Islamic education 4–15, 305–8 Islamic identity 94, 235 Islamic ideology 64, 167 Islamic law 60, 80 Islamic militancy 43 Islamic Republic Day 64 Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) see also Iran 57, 67, 79, 87, 96, 106, 109, 110, 111 Constitution 60, 70 Islamic Revolution of 1979 57, 63, 88 Islamic Revolutionary Council 70 Islamic schools 8, 12 Islamic seminaries 57, 62 Islamic studies 12 Islamic symbolism 167 Islamic Union Party 26 Islamic values 61, 108 Islamism 93 Islamiyat 193 Islamization 60, 61, 63, 79–97, 223 textbooks 88 IT 62 IWD see International Women’s Day Jamia al-Zahra 61 jananewaale 181 Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) 300 Jews 64, 94 JICA see Japan International Cooperation Agency jihad 231 Jinnah, Muhammad Ali 234 job markets 143 Kabir, Amir 58, 82 Kabul 1, 5, 23, 26, 27, 28, 40, 45 Kabul Polytechnic Institute 12 Kabul Process 40 Kabul University Faculty of Medicine 12 Karachi 179 class system 192 Karaganda 129 Karaj, College of Agriculture 58 Karbara 58 Karmal, Babrak 8 Karzai, President 34


Kazakh identity 132 Kazakh language 130, 134–6 alphabet 134 Kazakh National Pedagogical University 128 Kazakh Pedagogical Institute 128, 129, 130 Faculty of Language and Literature 131 Kazakh Republican Institute of Advance Training of Education Personnel 129 Kazakh State University 129, 130 Kazakhstan 123–36, 153 Communist Party 131 constitutions 124, 134 Education Law 124 ethnic groups 126, 135–6 ethnic minorities 131, 133 foreign nationals 127–8, 131, 135 independence 123 Ministry of Education 125 Ministry of Education and Science 124 national languages 135 national schools 126 population 123, 126 Soviet period 131–3 universities 125 westernization 124 Kazan 128 Khamenei, Ayatollah 61 Khan, Abdul Ghaffar 53 Khan, Ayub 224 Khan, Syed Ahmad 234 Khatami, President 109 Khatlon 242, 251 Khomeini, Ayatollah 60, 107, 110 death-day 64 Khudai Khidmatgars 53 Khurasan 24 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 203, 204, 210, 216, 226, 236 kindergartens 145–6 knowledge economy 183 Komsomol’ 290 Kunanbaya, Abai 128 Kustanay 129 Kyrgyzstan 139–57, 264 adult education 154 economic productivity 143

316 Index economy 140–45 GDP 152 higher education 143, 150–52 kindergartens 145–6 labour market 139–57 laissez-faire politics 156 middle class 147, 156 Ministry of Labour and Migration 153 Ministry of Labour and Social Protection 148 Ministry of Labour, Employment and Migration 148 National Scholarship Examination 151 National Testing Scholarship 146 population 139 private schools 147, 156 secondary education 146–50 universities 150–52 labour market 252, 299 LAND Afghan project 45 language of instruction (LOI) 125–6, 147 Latin language 130 lawlessness 207 Lazarists 81 learning 144, 208 learning outcomes 202 Lebanon 82 Lebap 274 Lenin, Vladimir 126 Leningrad 128 Leningrad Historical, Philosophy and Linguistic Institute 129 Lévi-Strauss, Claude 41 LFP schools 188, 190, 191, 193, 194 Orangi 191, 192 literacy 2, 44–8, 58, 73, 152, 165, 202, 203, 216, 217 adult 39–54, 171 campaigns 42 classes 48 women 42, 49 Literacy Corps 66, 67 Literacy Movement 67, 68, 73 LOI see language of instruction Madina 249 Madrassa 24–8, 31 Madrassa schools 181 Mahalla 299, 300, 301–2, 305, 306

Mahdavi Kani, Ayatollah 62 maktab 58, 59, 80 Malakund 203 male disaffection 180, 182–3, 185–6, 190, 193 male dominance 61 Mali 22 Management Centre for Qom Seminaries 61 manual labour 68, 149, 187 marriage 112, 116–17, 193 contract 117 martyr schools 67 Martyrdom of the third Shi’ite imam 65 Marxism 140 Mary 274 masculinity 104, 113, 114, 192 Mashhad 58, 59 mass media 304 Massoud, Ahmad Shah 26, 27 MDGs see Millennium Development Goals medicine 111–12 Mehrieh 117–18, 119 middle class 27 military service 74, 302 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 163, 171, 204, 244 Ministry of Higher Education Strategic Development Plan 14 minorities 93, 94 religious 95 Mirza Saleh Shirazi 81 missionary schools 81 mobile phones 49 mobility 142, 183 MoCI see Ministry of Culture and Information under Afghanistan modernity 105, 109, 117, 119 modernization 84 MoE see Ministry of Education under Afghanistan Mofid University 62 Mohajir 222 mohallas 168 MoHE see Ministry of Higher Education under Afghanistan MoJ see Ministry of Justice under Afghanistan

Index Monitoring Learning Achievement Survey 258 Moscow 128 Moscow State University 265 mosques 168 Motahari, Morteza 85 mother tongue 127, 135 motherhood 104 mothers 108 MoWA see Ministry of Women’s Affairs under Afghanistan MQM see Muttahida Quamu Movement Mujahideen 3 mulla 80 Musharraf, Parvez 172 Muslim identity 232 Muslim League 222 Muslims British 234 Soviet 290 Mutahhari, Ayatollah 74 Muttahida Quamu Movement (MQM) 179, 180, 187, 189 Najaf 58, 60 Namangan 305 Nangarhar 1 Nangarhar University 14 National Education Strategic Plan 46, 48 National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) 43 National Literacy Action Plan 46 National Literacy Campaign 42 national literacy curriculum framework 45 National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents 71 National Religious Council of Afghanistan 33 National Teachers’ Day 65 nationalism 24, 25, 27, 35, 41, 57, 62–3, 84, 105 Pashtun 35 Nationalization of Oil Industry 64 nationism 41 NATO 10, 245 NDS see National Development Strategy under Tajikistan Needs Assessment for Literacy 46


NEP see National Education Policy under Pakistan Nepal 211 NEPR see National Education Policy Review under Pakistan NESP see National Education Strategic Plan NETCOM see National Education and Training Commission under Pakistan New Literacy Studies 50 Niazov, President S. 274 Nicaragua 40 Nigeria 184 9/11 attacks 50 Nixon, Richard 52 nomads 67 North America 26 Northern Alliance 28 numeracy 58 Nzami State Pedagogical Institute 307 oil boom 71 Oktobryta 290 Olympiads 265 OPEC Fund 300 Open Net Initiative 304 Open Society Institute 255, 264 oppression 25 Orangi 179–80, 181, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194 population 192 LFP schools 191, 192 Organization for Iranian School Textbooks 63 Ottoman Empire 82 out-of-school activities 65 Pahlavi, Mohammad Reza 59, 63, 107 Pahlavi dynasty 59 Pahlavi regime 57, 108 Pahlavi University 71 Pakhtun identity 229, 233 Pakistan 9, 26, 27, 34, 51, 97, 163–75, 201–17, 221–36, 243 arms race with India 222 boys 179–94 Compulsory Primary Education Act 171

318 Index earthquake of 2005 214 East 168 economic development 212 Education Act 225 education policy 163–75, 236 Education Reform Plan 194 Education Sector Reform (ESR) 170, 171 Education Sector Reforms Assistance Programme (ESRA) 174 ethnic groups 179, 194 Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) 164, 203 Five Year Plans 169, 170 GDP 164, 172 girls 201–17 Girls’ Primary Education Project (GPEP) 173 independence 163 international relations 235 Ministry of Education 166, 217 mortality 212 Muslim nationhood 231–2 National Bureau of Curricula and Syllabi 224 national citizens 221–36 National Education and Training Commission (NETCOM) 170 National Education Policy (NEP) 173, 174, 175, 217, 228 National Education Policy Review (NEPR) 172 national identity 221, 223–6, 228–34, 236 National Textbook Board 224 national unity 228–34, 235 nationalization 168 Pakistan Educational Conference 167 Pakistani nationhood 231–2 population 164, 202 Pre-Service Teachers Education Program (Pre-STEP) 174 primary education 184, 191, 201–17 Primary Education Development Plan (PEDP) 173 Prime Minister Literacy Commission (PMLC) 170 prime ministers 169 provinces 164

Punjab Middle Schooling Project (PMSP) 173 religious education 224 religious minorities 232 rural areas 169 rural populations 170 school attendance 194 school closures 206 school-leaving age 180 Social Action Plan 170 Social Action Programme (SAP) 173 Ten Year Perspective Development Plan 171 universal primary education 217 West 168 Pashtuns 23, 24, 35 patriarchal structures 203 Pavlodar State Pedagogical Institute 133 Payam-eNur 69 PDPA see People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan PEDP see Primary Education Development Plan under Pakistan People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) 8, 25, 26, 30 People’s Party of Pakistan (PPP) 179 PEP-ILE see Primary Education Project-Improved Learning Environment Perestroika 243, 250, 291, 306 Perkins, Justin 81 persecution 132 Persia 24 Persian language 61, 63, 90, 93 Persian literature 90 Petrapavlovsk 129 Phalavi 65 Physical Education Bureau 63 Pioneers 290 PMLC see Prime Minister Literacy Commission under Pakistan PMSP see Punjab Middle Schooling Project under Pakistan Policy Document 13 policy-making 42 Polish language 133 polygamy 33, 107 poverty 155, 188, 189, 190, 212, 216 PPP see People’s Party of Pakistan

Index Pre-STEP see Pre-Service Teachers Education Program under Pakistan primary education 66, 68, 201–17 Primary Education Project-Improved Learning Environment (PEP-ILE) 208–9 primary schools 124, 131 private education 15 private schools 70, 85 privatization 145, 150, 264–6 PULSE 249 Punjab 222 Punjabi language 226 Qajar dynasty 58, 80 Qatar 34 Qods Day 65 Qom 58 Qu’ran 21, 31, 33, 35, 58, 64, 80, 89, 97, 192 Qur’anic studies 91 Rabbani, Burhanuddin 27 Rafsanjani, President 109 Rahman, Amir Abdur 24, 27 Rahman, Fazlur 224 Rajai, Mohammad Ali 70 RC see Religious Council refugees 9, 226 camps 43 religion 21–36 non-Shi’ite 94 religious authorities 83 religious conservatism 83 Religious Council (RC) 33 anti-women resolution 34 religious education 58 religious identities 229 religious minorities 64, 92, 95 religious observances 72 religious scholars 21 religious sciences 58 revenge culture 206 rewards 72 rote learning 72 RSFSR see Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russia see also Soviet Union 6, 40, 82, 123, 124, 153, 282


Russian Empire 242 Russian Federation 153, 276 Russian language 133, 135, 264, 273, 290 Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) 128 Nationalities Commission 127 People’s Commissariat of 125 Russian State University of Oil and Gas 284 Russian-Tajik Slavonic University 248 Russification 290 SAARC see South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Safavids 80 Samanid Empire 242 San Diego State University 14 sanitation 49 SAP see Social Action Programme under Pakistan Saratov 128 Sassanid Empire 91 Saudi Arabia 27, 34 Saudi Fund 300 school buildings 295 school hierarchies 184 schools infrastructure 214–15 sciences 111–12 secondary education 68 Secondary School Certificate (SSC) 180 secondary schools 5, 125, 131 secular schools 86 secularism 105 segregation, gender 73, 87 self-employment 153 self-learning 261 seminaries 59–61 Islamic 62 women 61 Semipalatinsk State Pedagogical Institute 133 Shah, Reza 59 Shahid Beheshti University 71 Sharia texts feminist reading 107 Shariati, Ali 85–6 Sharif University of Technology 71, 72 Sharq 249

320 Index SHEP see Strengthening Higher Education Project Shia 23, 24, 26, 27, 31, 50, 60, 64, 80, 88, 95, 96, 97 Shiraz 59 Shiraz University 71 social class 115, 156 social hierarchies 188 social inequalities 191 social justice 86 social mobility 75 social sciences 62 sociology 104 Soros Foundation 245, 256 South Africa 47 South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) 164 Soviet command economy 144 Soviet education system 250 Soviet Muslims 290 Soviet Union see also Russia 6, 7, 25, 26, 59, 124, 126, 127, 139, 148–9, 152, 289–90, 291 break-up 153, 155 economy 149 Soviet–Afghan war 3, 223 SSC see Secondary School Certificate Stalin, Joseph 126 State Energy Institute of Turkmenistan 283 Strategic Action Plan 13–14 streaming 184 Strengthening Higher Education Project (SHEP) 14 structural functionalism 141 students’ day 64 subjectivity 227 Sughd 242, 251 Sunni 23, 24, 25, 26–7, 31, 50 minorities 94 Supreme Cultural Revolution Council 60 Swat 203 Tabriz 59, 81 Tajik language 243, 257 Tajik State Pedagogical University 248 Tajikistan 241–67 Academy of Education 249, 259 access to water 251

birth rate 248 Centre for Method Innovations 259 civil war 243 finance 254–6 foreign debt 245 graduate education 249–50 independence 241 infrastructure 251 life expectancy 242 Ministry of Education 256, 259 Ministry of Finance 255 National Development Strategy (NDS) 244 National Education Strategy 254 national image 244 New National Education Strategy 254 newspapers 259 Parent Teacher Associations 259 population 242 pre-school education 247 primary education 247–8 Republican Centre for ExtraCurricular Activities 259 resources 244 secondary education 247–8 tertiary education 248–9, 259 universities 248–9, 265 water supply 251 Tajik-Russian Slavonic University 265 Taliban 9, 11, 12, 27, 28, 31, 33, 35, 39, 44, 45, 50, 52, 203 Tashkent 128, 293 Tashkent Islamic Institute 305 Tashkent Islamic University 305 Tashkent State University 307 Tashkent State University of Technology 302 Tashkent University of World Economy and Diplomacy 298 teacher training 10, 125, 171, 209, 210, 250–51, 260–63 in-service training 210, 262, 264 Kazakhstan 132 teachers 72, 188, 191, 215, 260–63, 276–7 absenteeism 203, 205–8 female 16, 64, 73 salaries 208, 261–2, 277, 294 shortages 261 teacher–student ratio 203

Index teaching methods 190 Tehran University 59, 72 Theology Faculty 59 television news presenters 52 tertiary education female 74 testing 72, 184, 210 Textbook Rental Schemes 257 textbooks 9, 26, 30–31, 43, 52, 61, 62, 64, 72, 74, 79, 89, 90–95, 96, 108, 130, 131, 209, 226, 230, 233, 234, 236, 251, 256–60, 263, 278 gendered 234 Islamization 88 theology 31, 80 Third Development Plan 66 Thomson Foundation 304 tilak 230 tradition 86, 119 Transparency International 51, 263 transport costs 206 Turkey 2, 22, 277 Turkmen Agricultural University 284 Turkmen language 273 Turkmen National Institute of World Languages 283 Turkmen State Institute of Economics and Management 283 Turkmen State University 283 Turkmenabat School of Agribusiness 274 Technical School of Oil and Gas 274 Turkmenistan 273–85 Academy of Sciences 274, 278 agricultural schools 274 Commerce and Cooperative College 283 Constitution 276 Education Law 276 higher education 274, 280 orphanages 279 postgraduate education 281 pre-school education 279 primary education 280 secondary education 280 specialist training 281 universities 278 vocational training 280


Twelfth Imam 93 Ukraine 275 Ukrainian language 133 Ulama 290 ul-Haq, General Zia 223, 225 UN see United Nations UNDP 281 UNESCO see United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO-IIEP 43, 47 UNICEF see United Nations Children’s Fund United Nations (UN) Human Development Index (HDI) 123, 211, 246 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 253, 264, 279 Back to School Campaign 44 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 13, 31, 45, 166, 215, 300 Institute for International Educational Development (IIEP) 13 Universal Primary Education (UPE) 170–71, 173 universities 66, 111, 114, 115 University Partnership Program 14 UPE see Universal Primary Education Ural Pedagogical Institute 129 Urdu language 167, 222 Urmia 81 USA 6, 9, 26, 27, 39, 71, 141, 303 USAID 264, 281 USSR see Soviet Union Uzbekistan 243, 289–308 Constitution 292 decentralization 295 Education Law 291, 297 GDP 295, 298 higher education 293 Higher Islamic Institute 307 Islamic revivalism 292 military 302–3 Ministry of Defence 303 Ministry of Finance 293 Ministry of Higher Education 292

322 Index Ministry of Higher, Secondary and Special Education 293 Ministry of Internal Affairs 303 Ministry of Labour 293 Ministry of People’s Education 292–3 Ministry of Religious Affairs 305, 306 national languages 295 nationalism 292 population 292 Soviet history 289 Verniy 128 Vietnam 40 village schools 209 war on terror 40, 50, 173 war veterans’ school 67 WB see World Bank wealth deprivation 189 weapons 9 Western philosophies 51 Western values 5 Westernization 84 westoxication 63–4 White Revolution 60, 66 wives 108

women 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 11, 15–17, 29, 32, 34, 48–9, 61, 92, 93, 203, 246, 253, 283, 297, 298, 299 access to education 73 domestic responsibilities 207 employment 114 higher education 74, 103–19 Iran 103–19 journals 107 legal rights 107 literacy 42, 49 marriage 116 seminaries 61 social status 114 women’s rights 29, 33 work training 143 World Bank (WB) 13–14, 15, 139, 153, 251, 256, 300 World Trade Organization 245 World War II 133 youth organizations 258–9 Zahir, King Muhammad 25 Zanan 107 Zoroastrians 64, 94