Address by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov at the Opening Ceremony of International Conference (“Fostering a Well Educated and Intellectually Advanced Generation – Critical Prerequisite for Sustainable Development and Modernization of Country”)
Tashkent, February 17, 2012
Dear participants of the Conference!
Ladies and Gentlemen!
It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you, the participants of this conference, and first of all our dear guests who represent the United Nations Organization, the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, representatives of more than 40 countries from different continents of the world, and express to all of you my deepest respect and sincere gratitude for your participation in this forum.
I would like to express my special appreciation to the President of Asian Development Bank Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda, who is one of the initiators of holding the current conference, for his outstanding contribution in promoting the efforts undertaken in Uzbekistan aimed at stabilizing the economic situation and providing sustainable development for our region.
I believe the participants of the conference have paid their attention to the fact that the main topic of this Forum – the issues of reforming the educational system – is directly linked to tackling the problems of steady and sustainable, firstly, economic development of a modern state.
It is well known that this topic acquires a special urgency nowadays, when practically an absolute majority of countries of the world continues facing the negative effects of the global financial-economic crisis broke out in 2008 which threatens with a new outburst of global recession.
Today there is no need to prove that the 21st century is commonly acknowledged to be the century of globalization and vanishing borders, the century of information and communication technologies and the Internet, the century of ever growing competition worldwide and in the global market.
In these conditions a state can consider itself viable if it always has among its main priorities the growth of investments and inputs into human capital, upbringing of an educated and intellectually advanced generation which in the modern world is the most important value and decisive power in achieving the goals of democratic development, modernization and renewal.
Dear participants of the Forum!
It is a great honor for us that the model of reforming the educational system and experience of its implementation developed in Uzbekistan is going to be discussed with participation of outstanding scientists and experts, the heads and representatives of the world-known educational institutions and high-profile international organizations.
First of all, it is necessary to emphasize that the Education reforms program adopted 15 years ago and named as the National Program for Training of Specialists stands as an inseparable and integral part of our own “Uzbek model” of economic and political reforms based on step-by-step and evolutionary principle of building a new society in the country.
The Program, being the product of an in-depth research and studies, and summarized experience of developed countries, is aimed at complete rejection of stereotypes and dogmas of the communist ideology imposed in the past, consolidation of democratic values in the minds of people, and firstly, among young generation. Briefly speaking, the Program has a purpose to establish a comprehensively advanced and independently thinking individual with his opinion, his own choice and firm civic positions in the life.
It was simply impossible to achieve this goal without radical reconstruction and reforming the educational system that had been developing for many years.
If we take into account that about 35 percent of the population in Uzbekistan are the children under 16, more than 62 percent are the youth at the age under 30, the role and significance of these reforms becomes clear and obvious.
According to the adopted Program, in Uzbekistan we have introduced the 12-year universal compulsory and free education on the scheme 9+3. The principle feature of the model being implemented in the country is as follows: after 9 years of study in a secondary school the next 3 years the pupils attend the specialized professional colleges and academic lyceums where each of them, along with the general disciplines, obtains vocational training on 2-3 specialities demanded in the labor market.
After 12-year compulsory education everyone by his or her choice can continue study at higher educational institutions to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
During the past years we have accomplished an enormous work both on its scale and depth to radically renew and reform the sphere of education. We have built anew, overhauled and supplied with the latest teaching and laboratory equipment about 9,5 thousand or practically all functioning secondary schools in the country, implemented fundamental measures to qualitatively and methodologically renew the educational process.
The secondary education and study in the colleges are carried out in the seven languages: Uzbek, Karakalpak, Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkmen and Tajik.
More than 1500 new professional colleges and academic lyceums have been built. Many of you, the distinguished participants of the Conference, while visiting professional colleges and academic lyceums could be convinced of the fact that on their architectural design and technical facilities they are not inferior to any of the best higher educational institutions. The modern teaching and laboratory equipment, computer and production facilities available in the colleges allow the students not only to get a full scope of knowledge on general subjects, but also master the cutting edge equipment and technologies.
In the system of education we attach a great importance to giving pupils not only a broad-scale knowledge and vocational skills, but also to compulsory learning foreign languages, as this is the most important condition for an active communication of our young people with their vis-à-vis from foreign countries and allows them to get an extensive knowledge of everything what is going on in the modern world and enjoy a huge world of intellectual treasure.
At present, all educational, scientific and cultural institutions of the country are connected to the Educational portal and the Internet. This permits to introduce the methods of distance learning into educational process and a broad set of information and communication services for students.
The higher educational institutions play an important role in reforming the educational process and training the highly qualified personnel required in the labor market. During the last years their number has increased twice and now there are more than 230 thousand students studying at 59 universities and other higher educational institutions.
In Uzbekistan we have set up the successfully functioning branches of the leading higher educational institutions of Europe and Asia with a high international reputation and deep historical roots such as the Westminster University, the Management and Development Institute of Singapore, the Turin Polytechnic University, the Russian State University of Oil and Gas, the Moscow State University and the Russian University of Economics. These higher educational institutions teach the bachelor’s and master’s such specialities demanded in the labor market as machinery, oil and gas, information technologies, economics and business management, finance management, commercial law, and their graduates receive diplomas recognized throughout the world.
In 2012 the National University and the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan together with the leading British higher educational institution – the Cambridge University are establishing the educational and experimental High technologies center. Its main goal is to teach talented students, post-graduates and young scientists the modern methods of conducting the applied innovative scientific researches in the sphere of chemistry, physics, biology, biochemistry, biophysics, geology and geodesy. It is envisaged to equip the Center with high-tech facilities where the scientists and specialists of the Cambridge University will carry out training of our young scientists in the process of holding the particular research works.
It is necessary to note that it is the following direction that currently acquires a great importance, i.e. strengthening the scientific potential of higher educational institutions and integrating the educational process with innovative activity by transferring a number of academic scientific institutions to universities and creating new modern inter-institutional joint-use scientific and laboratory complexes.
The issues of broader involvement of young people in sports occupy a special place in implementing the National program for cadres training. The striking illustration of the aforesaid is creation of the Children’s Sports Development Foundation of Uzbekistan funded by the state budget, sponsorship and charity means.
During the last period about 1500 up-to-date and generally accessible sports facilities for children have been built at the expense of this Foundation.
Today practically each secondary school, college and lyceum has both an open air sports ground and indoor sports halls and swimming pools with modern equipment.
We have established an integral three-stage system of annual sports competitions – each separately for schoolchildren, for students of professional colleges and academic lyceums, and the Student Games. This allows to involve hundreds of thousands of our children, young men and women in mass physical, recreation and sports movement.
The issues of the quality of specialists’ training and to what extent they are demanded in the real economy remain in the focus of our attention.
In the framework of the Program we have accomplished a large-scale work to reorganize the system of training and raising the qualification of teachers and teaching faculty for colleges, lyceums and higher educational institutions of the country, and first of all, this refers to radical review and adoption of new standards, methodological and learning aids that meet the latest requirements. We have radically changed the criteria of assessment and stimulation of their work.
Thus, the wages of school teachers, teachers of professional colleges, lyceums and higher educational institutions during the last 10 years grew 1,5 times faster than the wages in the real sector of economy.
As a whole, the annual expenditures for development and reforming the education in Uzbekistan make up 10-12 percent of the GDP and their share in the expenditures side of the State budget exceeds 35 percent and this by itself serves as a particular confirmation of a huge attention being paid to this sphere.
The obvious evidence of a broad recognition of the role and significance of pedagogues’ work in terms of forming and upbringing a harmoniously advanced generation was adoption of the Law of 1996 according to which October 1 is annually marked in our country as a national holiday – the Teachers’ and Mentors’ Day.
I would like to specially emphasize the growing volume of foreign technical assistance being channeled to development of education and which made up more than 500 million dollars for over the past period. In the first instance, this was the assistance of the Asian Development Bank (nearly 290 million dollars), the Government of the Republic of Korea (more than 110 million dollars), the World Bank (33 million dollars), the OPEC Fund, the Saudi Fund, the Islamic Development Bank (42 million dollars), the Government of Germany through KfW Bank (nearly 20 million dollars) and other donors – more than 100 million dollars.
From this high rostrum it gives me a profound pleasure to bring the words of sincere gratitude to the international financial organizations and banks, all our foreign partners and governments for their invaluable support in resolving such an important task for us.
Dear participants of the Conference!
I believe that you will agree with me that today it is very hard to evaluate by certain measures and figures everything that we have accomplished to implement the Program of reforming education and training qualified personnel adopted in Uzbekistan.
Meanwhile, speaking about this, it is important to take into account that the Program being realized in our country is not a repetition or copying of someone’s model, but it is, above all, the generalization of the experience accumulated by the developed democratic countries and at the same time it considers the demands of the rapidly changing modern world.
It is also important to take into consideration that for over the span of many centuries the ancient land of Uzbekistan has remained as a seat of enlightenment and science, one of the centers of world civilization, and aspiration to knowledge has always been an alienable part of our nation’s mentality.
Such our great ancestors as Muhammad Al-Khorezmi, Abu Raikhon Beruni, Abu Ali Ibn Sino – Avicenna, Mirzo Ulugbek and many others are well-known all over the world for their outstanding discoveries in mathematics, astronomy, geodesy, mineralogy, pharmacology and medicine.
Embarking on the path of construction of a modern state with a developed market economy, ensuring the gradual transition from a strong state to a strong civil society, we have always realized that only those people, who comprehend the necessity of harmony of the national and universal human values, who possess modern knowledge, intellectual potential and advanced technologies, can achieve the set strategic goals of development.
It wouldn’t be any exaggeration to assert that the radical reforming of the system of education has become the most important factor and fundamental basis of changing the minds and worldview of people, raising their political and civic activeness, as well as confidence in their future.
The new generation, the educated youth who are free of any vestiges of the past are today turning into a vital driving force of democratization, liberalization, renewal and confident growth of the country.
Suffice it to say that for over the past period more than 2 million 300 thousand students have graduated from the professional colleges and academic lyceums, and this year over 500 thousand students are going to graduate with vocational education diploma, and this stands as a powerful stimulus for not only modernization and diversification of the economy, but also qualitative renewal of the country’s human resources.
According to the assessments of the respected international financial institutions, Uzbekistan despite the ongoing global financial-economic crisis maintains steady high growth rates of the economy which during the last 5 years have made up not less than 8,5 percent, and the GDP has increased 2,1 times as compared with 2000. Uzbekistan provides the current account surplus, the low external debt and sufficient official reserves; the strong economic growth projected over the medium term.
It is important to note that these growth rates are provided primarily thanks to deepening structural changes and diversification of the economy, the accelerated development of new high-tech enterprises and industries, speeding up the processes of modernization and technical re-equipment of the operating enterprises and extensive attraction of foreign investments.
If during the past 10 years 80 billion dollars of capital investments have been directed to the economy of Uzbekistan, then over 23 billion dollars or nearly 30 percent of them were the foreign investments.
In 2012 the growth of foreign investments will make up 16 percent, meanwhile 70 percent of them are the direct foreign investments and this speaks by itself about the growing interest of foreign capital towards the reforms being carried out in our country, and most importantly, about the trust in the prospects of Uzbekistan’s development.
Summing up the aforesaid, we have all grounds to state that for over the historically short period of time – 15-20 years Uzbekistan has made a giant step along the path of achieving our main goal – to join the ranks of the developed democratic states in the world and create the decent living conditions and standards for the population of the country. And we can rightfully be proud of this.
We well understand that the issues of reforming the educational system as the most important condition of steady and sustainable development of the economy, suggested for discussion at the current forum, in no way can cover all aspects of multifaceted and comprehensive problems in terms of establishing a harmoniously advanced individual, i.e. the task which has always concerned the best minds of humanity.
Second, each and every model of reforming the educational process in one country or another cannot claim to the universality.
Everything that was done and is still being done in Uzbekistan to implement the Education reforms program primarily meets the long-term interests, realities and peculiarities of a rather complex stage of our country’s current development.
Therefore, for us it is extremely important everything that will be said and suggested by the participants of the Conference at the plenary and group sessions taking into account a priceless experience generated in other countries.
Uzbekistan is interested in further strengthening a comprehensive cooperation among our and respective educational institutions of foreign countries. We believe this is one of the goals of this Forum.
In conclusion I have a wish to share with you. We wish very much such meetings and fora are held more often.
We are happy to see all of you in Tashkent, and not only in Tashkent, but also in the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva – the cradles of ancient history and civilization.
Taking this opportunity, allow me once again to express to you, our dear guests, and all participants of the Conference my enormous respect and sincere gratitude.
I wish you a fruitful work, pleasurable stay on the hospitable land of Uzbekistan, a sound health, new successes and best of luck in your endeavors.
Thank you for your attention.