National goal 2. Improve the quality of primary and general secondary education while maintaining universal access
Target 2: improve by 2015 the Quality of Primary and Basic Secondary education while Maintaining Universal Access
Uzbekistan became a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1995. Hence, the country is committed to ensure the rights stipulated in the conventions are respected and protected - especially the right to education. Uzbekistan has achieved almost complete literacy in its citizens.
- Due to the emphasis on socio-economic reforms since independence, the literacy level of the population increased from 97.7% in 1991 to 99.3% in 2003. The share of the adult population with specialized secondary, vocational, or higher education exceeds 75%. On the levels of primary and
- secondary education, there is virtually no difference between the number of girls and boys (90.0% of boys to 90.5% of girls).
In 1997, the government launched the National Program for Personnel Training, which aims to extend compulsory education from 9 to 12 years by 2009.
- Since 2002, government programs have ensured that low-income families get free-textbooks from school libraries.
General education schools for intellectually or physically retarded children remain unchanged since 2001 - 0.9 percent of the total number of schools in the country.
Universal access to secondary education in Uzbekistan was already achieved by 1990, the baseline year for MDGs. The right to free, equal and obligatory primary and secondary education is guaranteed by the Constitution.
What is being done to address the challenges?
In 1997, Uzbekistan started to implement major education reform. The Government is committed to raising the quality of education, as the Interim Welfare Improvement Strategy Indicates.
In, 1997, the Government launched the National Program for Personnel Training, which aims to extend compulsory education from nine to twelve years by 2009.
The new National Program for School Education Development targets:
- Strengthening and Development of the infrastructure of basic education schools;
- Furnishing schools with up-to-date teaching and laboratory equipment, computers, textbooks and teaching materials.
- Improvement of teaching methodology and curriculum;
- Improvement of the qualifications of teaching staff, development of training and re-training systems, and improvement of teachers motivation system.
The Government has also initiated a number of pro-poor policies in the education sector. From 2002 Government programs are aimed to provide free textbooks to all students from low-income families.
Orphans and children left with no guardianship are on full Government support. Since 1997, a set of winter clothing is also being provided to children from low-income families.
Uzbekistan invests heavily in the education system, a tribute to the Government's emphasis on quality human resources for the future.
Universal access to secondary education in Uzbekistan was already achieved by 1990, the baseline year for global MDGs.
Uzbekistan has achieved almost complete literacy in its citizens. Due to the emphasis on socio-economic reforms since independence, the literacy level of the population increased from 97.7% in 1991 to 99.3% in 2003. The share of the adult population with specialized secondary, vocational or higher education exceeds 75%. On the levels of primary and secondary education, there is virtually no difference between the number of girls and boys (90.0% of boys to 90.5% of girls). According to the Social Monitoring Report, basic education enrollment was 97.5% in 2002.
Unfortunately, high enrollment rates do not always translate into continuous school attendance. There is some evidence of non-attendance by children who are officially enrolled in schools. Recent data suggests that the proportion of the 7-11 age group who actually attend school is 74% for boys and 73% for girls.
Regional disparities also have their role in school attendance rates at all levels of education. According to the Family Budget Survey, school attendance is lower in northern and southern Viloyats.
Despite many challenges that are confronting the education system , it is important to note that nearly all primary school students move to the 5th grade of basic secondary level, according to official statistics. Although the decline in the quality of education, high costs to families and geographical discrepancies of quality schooling unfavorably impact the literacy levels and the future labor market, education is still considered to be a vital option to escape falling into poverty.
Both parents and students realize that future career opportunities are limited for the uneducated and poorly educated , and seize education as a lifetime opportunity.
The numbers are somewhat discouraging in the higher education level. Enrollment rates have steadily dropped: from 14.8% to 7.9% in 2002. This trend presents a striking contrast with other transition economies where higher education enrollments have risen
Children with special needs
Although the universal access to primary education has been achieved, it remains problematic for children with special needs. Many children with special needs do not attend schools and there is a serious concern about their future wellbeing. In order to make sure that they are not left out of the schooling system, a special program “Inclusive Education” was developed in 2001 under the Ministry of Public Education, supported by UNICEF and UNESCO. Commissions were set up to help identify whether a child is able to attend a regular school or needs to be redirected to special boarding schools or sanatoriums. Currently, there are 40,000 children with special needs who receive state-supported education.
One of the important factors that undermine the quality of education in Uzbekistan is the absence of a coherent mechanism to measure education quality. During 2003-2004, a study was conducted among several basic schools to assess the needs of school children and identify main factors that affect the decreasing quality of education. The study revealed the main causes to be:
- lack of textbooks;
- high cost of textbooks;
- poor school facilities;
- low teacher salaries;
- lack of qualified teachers; and
- financial shortage in households.