When the topics of conversation turn to Turkey and Islam, tempers can sometimes flare in the South Caucasus country of Georgia. Even so, a movement founded by the charismatic Turkish theologian Fetullah Gϋlen has found a welcoming community in this emphatically Christian country.
Under President Mikheil Saakashvli, schools in Georgia made progress in teaching English and cracking down on bribery. Now, following Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s rise to power, the Georgian government is taking on a new challenge in reforming the education system – overhauling the state-run school security service known as the “mandaturebi.”
Longtime residents of Dushanbe say Tajikistan’s capital is changing, and they’re not talking about the destruction of city parks to make space for empty new skyscrapers. The use of the Russian language, once a unifier in multi-ethnic Tajik cities, is rapidly fading.
Inna Valkova is accustomed to the prying government officials and tax inspectors sent to investigate her operations. “Look at my office,” she tells them when they arrive, gesturing to the boxes of instruction sheets and rulebooks stacked around the small room. “Does it look like I am getting rich from this?”
Under President Nursultan Nazarbayev's leadership, Astana is pumping millions of dollars into flagship educational projects bearing his name. The goal is to equip the Kazakhstani economy and political system with capable managers. But critics are concerned that the Nazarbayev approach may create a two-track school system that leaves the bulk of students with limited opportunities.