A textbook for every student: Uzbekistan, USAID bolster English learning

By Rustam Temirov

Students take part in a lesson at a school in Samarkand province on September 5. [Bakhtiyor Mustanov]

Students take part in a lesson at a school in Samarkand province on September 5. [Bakhtiyor Mustanov]

TASHKENT -- Uzbek authorities, in co-operation with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), are working to improve access to English language learning ahead of the new school year.

The Uzbek Ministry of Public Education (MoPE) has printed more than 6.5 million new English textbooks, reported August 31.

The foundation of the new textbooks for students and teachers came from 33 Teaching English as a Foreign Language manuals donated to MoPE by USAID.

Based on international resources, the books will be introduced to the country's secondary school curriculum as early as the new academic year.

Students attend school in Samarkand province September 6, 2021. [Zamira Boltayeva]

Students attend school in Samarkand province September 6, 2021. [Zamira Boltayeva]

Before their introduction, the new American textbooks were tested in more than 200 Uzbek schools during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Additionally, approximately 800 teachers received training on student-centred teaching methods and ways to use the new materials.

By the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year, every English teacher in Uzbekistan will be fully prepared to use new language teaching methods, according to USAID.

USAID last year allocated $10 million for sets of textbooks on English and information technology for Uzbek schools, reported in August 2021, citing the US embassy in Tashkent.

Earlier in September 2019, the governments of the United States and Uzbekistan signed a Development Objective Grant Agreement to assist the education system for five years.

Demand for English

Some 6.2 million Uzbek students are enrolled in 10,130 schools across the country, according to MoPE.

That means a new English textbook could end up in the hands of almost every Uzbek student.

The new textbooks come as Uzbekistan in recent years has stepped up efforts to bolster foreign language learning.

The television channel Foreign Languages began operations in Uzbekistan in December 2021, broadcasting Uzbek programmes 24 hours a day in foreign languages. Each day, it sets aside three hours of airtime for online learning.

In July of this year, digital television operator UzDigital TV also began broadcasting films in English specifically for viewers who want to study it.

The provision of so many textbooks to schools is a huge step towards learning English, according to Tashkent political analyst Anvar Nazirov.

English is the language of modern business, international relations and new knowledge, and it must be bolstered in Uzbekistan, said Nazirov.

Without knowing how to write and speak English, it will be impossible to be a part of the world, to integrate into it. But Uzbekistan faces the question of the Russian language, he said.

The dominance of Russian propaganda and of "Putin-like sentiments" in Uzbekistan is especially problematic, said Nazirov, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian propaganda programmes on television should be replaced by more content about other countries, in English and other languages, he added.

In the age of technology, it is essential to know English well, said Nigara Khidoyatova, an Uzbek politician living in the United States.

"Young people today are more interested in learning English than Russian, especially because Russia is now isolated."

"The situation clearly will get worse, which means that interest in the Russian language will decline," she told Caravanserai.

Introducing in-depth English instruction in schools will finally help reduce dependence on the Russian language, she said.

"I used to think: How could you not know Russian, not read Dostoevsky? But now I think differently," said Khidoyatova.

More assistance needed

For Uzbekistan to prosper, its citizens must learn English, Khidoyatova added.

Uzbekistan will not be able to do this on its own, which means that support is needed from organisations such as USAID, she said.

Uzbek high schools need help from teachers in the United States, Great Britain and other English-speaking countries, according to Nargiza Kakhkhorova, an English teacher from Karshi.

"The educational and methodological foundation [in Uzbekistan] is very weak. We have various textbooks, and they hadn't been updated in years. I'm glad that USAID was involved in their publication," Kakhkhorova told Caravanserai.

Most students want to learn English, according to Kakhkhorova, who has been teaching for 14 years.

There is a need for audio and video materials, as well as for refresher courses for English teachers, she said.

The curriculum also needs English literature lessons so that children come to know the works of authors writing in English, she added.

"It would be nice to invite teachers who are native speakers to visit Uzbek schools from abroad. Also, we need master classes for English teachers, conducted by linguists and teachers from Europe and the United States," she said.

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Kakharova do you educate your children, does their father take part in their upbringing


what is the purpose of involving his husband here? Nonsense.