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Kyrgyz Ponder Role of Islamic Schools

In the first programme for Kyrgyzstan from the new IWPR Central Asian Radio series, Eleonora Beyshenbek-Kyzy asks whether graduates from religious colleges should be allowed to teach in Kyrgyzstan’s state schools.
A recently-passed law on religious organisations does not define the place of institutions that offer a faith-based education, and a new bill is planned to fill the gap.

Almost none of the approximately 50 Islamic and Christian colleges that currently operate in Kyrgyzstan are licensed by the government, so their graduates are not qualified to teach in mainstream education, which is firmly secular.

Gulsana, a student at the country’s Islamic University, would like to become a teacher, but as things stand her options are limited to working in a madrassa, a non-state Muslim school, or alternatively continuing her religious studies abroad.

Because such institutes exist outside the state system, there is no oversight over what they teach. The new bill would rectify that situation by setting uniform standards for the curriculum, with a special council to regulate this.

Religious affairs analyst Kadyr Malikov says the new approach should be managed carefully, as there is a danger that if a religious college was closed down for failing to meet teaching standards, covert groups could spring up in its place.

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