No one is about to start calling Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov “the education president.” But the leader of the energy-rich Central Asian state just signed a decree to develop standards for the “comprehensive reform of the national education system and improving teaching methods,” the semi-official Turkmenistan.ru news agency reported January 27.
The report was short on specifics. It hinted that the government would emphasize the teaching of scientific subjects in schools. The aim was to create “all conditions so that youth could get access to modern education in line with international standards,” Turkmensitan.ru quoted the decree as stating.
Shortly after Berdymukhamedov assumed power back in late 2006, he talked about a need to make improvements in the educational system. "The development of education takes precedence over other aspects of my policies," he declared in a speech given at Columbia University in September 2007.
Not much has happened since then to bring back Turkmenistan’s education system to the level it was at before Berdymukhamedov’s predecessor, the zany Saparmurat Niyazov, declared war on learning. Just about the only positive thing Berdymukhamedov has done to date is deemphasize the use of the Ruhnama -- an all-purpose manual for living, supposedly penned by Niyazov – in schools.
In 2009, Berdymukhamedov introduced rules that made it more difficult for university students to go abroad to pursue degrees.