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In the Margins: Minority Education in Central Asia

Author(s): Kazimzade E.

Journal: Khazar Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 2223-2613

Volume: 14;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 5;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Minority Education | Central Asia

This article reviews separate education for ethnic minorities in two Central Asian countries - Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Students and teachers from minority and majority groups in each country were asked 1) whether separate schools for minorities persevered minority cultural identity and 2) whether such schools undercut equal educational opportunities for minority students. Analysis indicates that in some political, social and educational contexts separation puts minority youth at a disadvantage, which in turn keeps them from fully integrating into society. Redressing this situation requires a commitment to guaranteeing rights and full citizenship for minorities. This paper explores how separate school systems deepen ethnic and political divisions in society rather than promote equality and equity. It begins with a number of questions. How much emphasis do current education reform initiatives put on equity and equality in minority schools? What is the balance between economic and civic imperatives in the education policy process in the two countries? What are the main features of post-transition phase in education and how it affects separate education? As mentioned in the foreword of this issue, data analyzed for this study was collected under the auspices of the “Divided Education, Divided Citizens” project, which was conducted in seven post-socialist countries. This article concentrates on separate schooling for different ethnic and linguistic groups and issues related to the civil enculturation of minorities in two Central Asian countries, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Study participants from minority and majority language-track schools in each country were asked to observe whether separate schools for minority ethnicities served to preserve culture or instead undercut equal educational opportunity. Pervious investigations have found that education plays a fundamental role in shaping individuals’ perceptions of their own ethnicity. Korostelina (2008) in researching history education across for countries (Ireland, Taiwan, China, and North Korea) found that history textbooks reinforce ethnic loyalties and play an important role in shaping ethnic identity in History education. Specifically in Central Asia, Kissane (2005) found that history education reform in Kazakhstan has been an important part of shaping post-Soviet Kazak identity.
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