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BISHKEK (TCA) — How to stop produce a huge number of unclaimed specialists and move to state planning in their training? This issue is acute in all Central Asia countries. It is vital to find a balance between the interests of the business and universities and economy needs.

Kazakhstan

According to the Statistics Committee of Kazakhstan, there are 128 institutions of higher education in the country, 45 of which are state-owned, 79 — private, and four — foreign-owned.

Of the total 542 thousand students, 30% receive education through state educational grants, and the rest are studying on a fee basis.

Despite the great number of university graduates, companies complain about the lack of qualified personnel, and often domestic businesses cannot expand due to the inability to find suitable specialists.

To improve the quality of education, it is necessary to radically revise curricula, write new advanced textbooks, find new teachers, and tighten student responsibility, experts say. If all the universities raise these requirements, the weak students will drop out themselves.

The State Education Development Program provides for measures to establish interaction between the business and educational institutions. Particular attention is paid to improving the quality of higher education and the compliance of university graduates with the demands of the labor market.

In January 2019, investment in education amounted to 2.8 billion tenge, an increase of 36.9%. The main source of funding was the business's own funds - 2.3 billion tenge (84.9%). In the next five years, spending on education will increase from 7.4% to 10% of GDP, Kapital.kz reports.

To improve the quality of training, the Government abolished distance learning in the country. According to experts, correspondence students learned only about half of the total full-time program, and not always at a high level. As an alternative, a part time system will be used built on a flexible schedule. This kind of education will be accessible to working people.

Currently, universities face new challenges. They will have to compete not with each other, but with professional associations and certification programs including courses for accountants, auditors, as well as with language programs, experts say.

Many people work in small and medium businesses in areas where higher education is not required. For instance, IELTS and TOEFL certificates issued by the British Council confirm the knowledge of the English language. Certificates from Microsoft, Oracle or other IT giants confirm high professional level of employees without university degrees.

Uzbekistan

President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev has repeatedly spoken about the lack of qualified personnel in all areas of the economy, paying particular attention to attracting educated young people to strategic sectors.

It is necessary to think now about what kind of specialists will be needed in the near future and far perspectives of economic development, and how to train personnel that meet the requirements of reforms. “Our future depends on the resolution of this issue,” Mirziyoyev said.

Earlier, the head of state ordered to create a fund for training specialists abroad.

A certain part of every foreign investment attracted to the country should be directed to the training of qualified specialists, Mirziyoyev said.

The country's innovative development strategy, published this year, provides for the reform of the education system. The strategy aims at increasing funding for universities and opening new branches of foreign universities.

Several new educational institutions were opened in Uzbekistan last year including a specialized Journalism University with teachers from Russia, India, Turkey and South Korea, Sputnik Uzbekistan reported.

Branches of foreign universities — the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys and the South Korean Bucheon University — opened in the country.

Kyrgyzstan

There are 50 higher educational institutions in the country, of which 31 are state-owned. Two universities (Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University and Manas Kyrgyz-Turkish University) are interstate ones of dual subordination.

More than 223 thousand students study at universities, of which 85% study on a contractual basis. Every year, universities of the country accept about 35 thousand students.

About 15 thousand foreign students from 49 countries study in Kyrgyzstan, said the dean of the Kyrgyz-Chinese faculty of the Bishkek Humanities University, Rakhat Beisebaev. About 20 thousand citizens of Kyrgyzstan study at various universities and colleges of the world. Three thousand students from Kyrgyzstan are studying in China, and 355 Chinese students — in Kyrgyzstan.

Despite the large number of universities with a total population of just over 6 million, the shortage of qualified specialists continues to grow as a result of the inefficiency of the higher education system.

In order universities produce specialists demanded in their fields, it is necessary to abolish the state’s monopoly on the higher education system and provide academic freedom to universities, experts believe.

“If the system is not changed, there will be no result,” former education minister Kanybek Osmonaliyev told Maral Radio.

The former Deputy Education Minister Elmira Imanalieva also believes that the education sector needs reforms, but she doubts they would be successful. In education, reforms entail a long-term result but the governments change very often in the country, and there is no continuity in their policy, Imanalieva told Vesti.kg.

According to the Bulan Institute NGO, there are about 70 madrasas with 6 thousand students in Kyrgyzstan. The NGO’s research showed that of the total number of teachers of madrasas and other religious educational institutions, only 20% have basic religious education.

Recently, the State Commission for Religious Affairs has developed a provision on religious education, which includes citizens' rights to religious knowledge, control and regulation of religious educational institutions.

Tajikistan

According to experts, the main reasons for poor education in Tajikistan are corruption, low wages and low prestige of the teaching profession.

Tajik families usually have many children, while unemployment is high in the country. There is often one breadwinner in a family, and living on a $200 average monthly salary is almost impossible. To support their families, teachers have to work in several places, local media reported.

The biggest problem for the Tajik education system is the high level of corruption. The most expensive and prestigious are law faculties, faculties of international relations and medical school.

To eradicate corruption, the Education Ministry introduced a unified testing system but this measure did not help solve the problem, experts say. There are unofficial rates for obtaining tests and exams in local universities, so students who do not show much zeal in their studies are not afraid to be expelled.

To get a decent education, the majority of graduates go to foreign universities. More than 35 thousand young Tajiks study in universities of about 40 developed countries.

Many young Tajiks seek to get into Russian educational institutions. To do this, they study the Russian language and prepare for exams in specialized subjects.

Earlier this month, the Dushanbe branch of Lomonosov Moscow State University celebrated its 10th anniversary. The University trains students in such specialty in demand as international relations (diplomacy), state and municipal management, as well as software, geology and nanotechnology engineering. For technical specialties, training is free of charge.

This year, graduates of schools are interested in architecture, economics, management, and international relations. Traditionally, there is high interest in medicine and energy, Sputnik Tajikistan reported.

Great assistance in the development of education is provided by international organizations. The World Bank allocated $15 million from the International Development Association for the Tajikistan Higher Education Project to develop mechanisms that improve and monitor the quality and labor-market relevance of higher education.

The project has been implemented by the Education Ministry from 2016 to 2021.

Turkmenistan

Authorities of Turkmenistan intend to significantly limit the possibility of studying abroad. Recently, the Education Ministry approved a list of foreign universities diplomas of which will be recognized in the country, the local media reported.

According to TurkmenPortal, on March 16, President Berdymukhamedov signed a decision “On the approval of the procedure for recognizing in Turkmenistan of certificates of higher and specialized secondary education issued in foreign countries.” Later the Education Ministry issued a bylaw for internal use, specifying the requirements for foreign universities.

Schools hold meetings for high school students and their parents to recommend choosing only those foreign universities that are on the list. Among them are educational institutions in Russia, China, India, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Belarus.

Parents of students of the universities that are not on this list will not be able to send money to their children. In Turkmenistan, transfers of money abroad are prohibited, but an exception has been made for students' parents. The volume and frequency of transfers is strictly limited, and students abroad often have difficulty withdrawing cash, Azatlyk Radio reported.

According to unofficial estimates, tens of thousands of Turkmen students study abroad. It is costly for families, but bribes for entering local universities are comparable to the cost of studying abroad.

About 100 thousand children graduate from schools every year in Turkmenistan while local universities can accept 8-8.5 thousand applicants per year. Therefore, the majority of high school graduates serve in the army, and the girls get married early.

If parents want a different future for their child, they have to save money for many years either for a bribe for admission to a local university (about $30,000) or for official tuition abroad, Fergana information agency reported.

For many young people, studying abroad is a first step towards emigration. According to the Chronicles of Turkmenistan, this is not only due to the economic crisis and unemployment in the country, but also because it was rather difficult to legalize a foreign diploma even before the list of “authorized” universities was approved.

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