Turkmenistan’s education ministry has revived a practice from the days of the late President Saparmurat Niyazov to make the current leader’s written work a mandatory text in schools.
Passages and quotations from “The Fount of Wisdom” by Gurbanguly Berdymukhmedov are now to be included in the school curriculum, according to a report by the foreign-based Chronicles of Turkmenistan.
Niyazov’s own two-volume Rukhnama, which was described in state media as a holy text, has been gradually phased out of the classroom. But "The Fount of Wisdom" is not a wholly dissimilar work. The book is a compendium of proverbs and sayings that, as state media puts in, “reflect the people’s spiritual universe, world view, philosophy, moral principles and beliefs.”
This is far from Berdymukhamedov’s only contribution to school curriculum, as the Chronicles of Turkmenistan points out. Pupils in the seventh grade also have to study a novel by the president.
And the president has countless other works under his belt too.
There is his work extolling the virtues of tea, which was published earlier this year.
“Every Turkmen knows there is nothing tastier than tea brewed in water from a mountain stream and boiled on an open fire in a traditional teapot,” reads one passage cited by AFP news agency.
This reflects a related passion for herbal plants. At the last count, Berdymukhamedov had penned at least five illustrated volumes about medicinal greenery with instructions on how to prepare it. Physical wellbeing is something of an obsession for the former health minister.
Berdymukhamedov still has some way to go reach Niyazov levels of megalomania, however. Niyazov’s Rukhana was obligatory reading not just for students of all ages but also for government workers. Anybody hoping to earn a civil service job or even a driving license had to demonstrate a competent knowledge of the book.
The Rukhnama was also translated into multiple languages, courtesy of hopeful foreign investors trying to curry favor with the profoundly vain president.