“Only two universities in Kyrgyzstan are worth entering,” says Emir, an 11th-grade student in Bishkek. The rest, he believes, do not value scholarship and instead see students as a means to make a profit.
In November, a Kyrgyz news agency posted a news story in Russian about the falling number of Russian-speaking schoolteachers in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city. In only five sentences, the author made over a dozen grammar mistakes.
It is late afternoon and the cozy school of Aygek looks as deserted as it should be after weekday classes. But one classroom in this village about 10 kilometers south of the Armenian capital, Yerevan, is buzzing with activity: about two dozen schoolchildren are using software that sets tasks for a robot they have assembled.
Minovar Ruzieva, 38, was an English teacher in Osh until last summer. The mother of four now sells Chinese clothes at a local bazaar. Like many other teachers in Kyrgyzstan, she could not survive on her “scant salary,” so she took unskilled work to make ends meet.
Twelve-year-old Dato’s dream is to become a traditional Georgian dancer. “Acharuli is my favorite [dance],” he said, as he lifted his arms and chin, and looked out at an imaginary audience. “It is difficult, but I practice every day.”
In 1960, the Georgian poet Ioseb Noneshvili lauded teachers as role models and pillars of society who were endowed with the “light of knowledge.” But his patriotic vision collapsed with the Soviet Union: in today’s Georgia, becoming a teacher is no longer every “child’s wish.” This shift in attitude has potentially profound economic ramifications for the aspiring European Union member.
Hear a man speaking Tajik on Moscow’s fashionable Krymskaya Embankment, and you could be forgiven for thinking he's migrant worker on break from one of the many construction sites in the area. But listen carefully and you realize that it’s a native Russian-speaker practicing a new language.
MOSCOW -- It will take some time to revise Russia's history textbooks to reflect the annexation of Crimea. But that's not preventing the authorities from moving quickly to ensure the country's school curriculum sticks to a politically -- and patriotically -- correct line on the issue.