Earlier this month, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon installed a new Minister of Education: the former Rector of Tajik National University Nuriddin Saidov.
(The outgoing Minister Abdujabbor Rahmonov has been appointed Rector of Aini Pedagogical University. I don’t know if there was a particular reason for the move – the only information I can find is from state agencies who offer information but not analysis).
This week, Saidov presented some of his early plans to the Majlisi Namoyandagon, Tajikistan’s lower chamber of parliament. I found it interesting that he chose to focus on what I would consider the “garnishes” rather than the “bread and butter” issues. That is to say, he did not use this as an opportunity to address some of the fundamental issues in the education sector like low teachers’ wages and poor school conditions (lack of materials, heating etc).
Instead, he spoke about getting more young Tajiks studying abroad and improving the study of foreign languages in schools and universities. He also asked parliament to ratify the Lisbon Recognition Convention, signed by Rahmon in June 2011. This is a European initiative to recognise countries’ higher education qualifications in the European region.
Whilst this is great news for students who want a more international perspective (and would give me more respondents for my study abroad survey!), these initiatives are certainly not going to fix the underlying problems facing the sector.
Potentially positive news for the Ministry known to be the most corrupt of all government agencies in Tajikistan (quite some achievement) was Saidov’s mention of a restructure of the Ministry. However, it remains to be seen whether this mean appointing his friends to posts or driving more fundamental reforms.
Parliament’s speaker Shukurjon Zukhurov was on hand to give Saidov some real-world advice. He noted that ratifying the Lisbon Recognition Convention did not mean that Tajik students’ levels of knowledge would improve. For this, he said, the Ministry and students themselves must work harder and do more.
Saidov responded by saying he understands the responsibility he’s taken on. Let’s just hope this is truly the case.