Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Tajik Teachers Vote With Their Feet

Tajikistan is desperately short of teachers, in many cases because newly-qualified staff do not want to take jobs in the countryside.
As Khalil Qaimzoda reports, the education ministry has warned graduates of state-funded teaching courses that they could face sanctions if they do not go on to work as teachers.

Acting on this threat could be difficult if the “culprits” are not even in the country. The wages and conditions that await teachers, especially in rural areas, are so poor that many opt to join the throngs of Tajiks who go abroad to Russia and other countries to work as “gastarbeiters”.

The haemorrhaging of teaching staff is only part of a wider skilled manpower crisis facing Tajikistan. Many of the labour emigrants are qualified engineers, doctors and teachers.

Some analysts accuse the government of ignoring the need to recruit fresh blood to the public sector, but Saifullo Safarov of the Institute for Strategic Studies disputes this, citing recent appointments of younger people to senior posts such as the head of the central bank.

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Books Going out of Fashion

It is becoming harder and harder to buy a book in Tajikistan these days.

Reporter Ismatullo Azizzoda discovered that few new books are being published inside the country because they do not recoup their printing costs, and it is not even economic to import them.

Libraries are short of books, too, and students struggle to find the basic texts they need. Even the national Ferdausi Library is not receiving two copies of every new book, a legal requirement for every publishing house.

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Tajiks’ Terrible Typos

Newspapers in Tajikistan stand accused of a grave offence – allowing too many errors and typos to make it into print.

Sometimes words are misspelt, sometimes there are simple grammatical mistakes, and occasionally words are dropped entirely during the printing process.

A report by Nurmahmad Shamsov suggests that everyone has their own opinion about who is to blame. One academic, for example, fulminated about the “irresponsible and illiterate” editorial staff working on newspapers, while a government official made a connection between allowing printing errors with failure to register one’s publication with the authorities. A student recommended imposing a fine for every single error.

The people who actually work on newspapers say they are struggling with obsolete technology. For example, many lack computer programmes that can cope with the extra letters needed for Tajik-language articles, over and above the standard Cyrillic keyboard used in Russian.

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