The Condition of Higher Education in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan is a Central Asian Republic that was formerly part of the USSR. Speaking in 2011, the President of the country, Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov, said that he was keen to make his country more computer literate with greater Internet access available for Turkmenistan's citizens. As recently as 2002, Turkmenistan had a literacy rate of 98 percent, but there have been concerns in recent years about a decline in standards due to cutbacks.

With the help of USAID, a Promotion of Information Communication Technology in Turkmenistan (PICTT) program has been implemented. The main aim of PICTT is to help increase computer literacy for students, by way of providing technological tools. This program aids the learning of students, including in higher education in Turkmenistan, and strives to include Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as an important aspect of education in the country.

Turkmenistan students attend secondary school, and the next step is higher education. There are many institutes in Turkmenistan, and also a state university. Students have to pass an exam to secure a place in any of these places of higher education. The exam will be a combination of both written and oral work, and there is an emphasis on both forms of learning throughout the education system in Turkmenistan.

When admitted into higher education, a student in Turkmenistan will be taught by teachers who have gained a degree from the country's institutions. Social pressures in Turkmenistan often make it difficult for the country's young women to take up courses, as they are expected to marry at a younger age than students in the West. When free tuition fees were abolished in 2003, this also affected many young students who were hoping to go on to higher education.

The students that show the most promise in higher education will have the option to continue their education either at university level, or at an institute. The institutes are designed to cater for students who are strong at specific subjects, and there are institutes for economics, world languages, art, and culture.

Another major university is The International Turkmen-Turkey University, which was founded as recently as 1994. This university specializes in subjects that include history, applied mathematics, computer science, English language and literature, and international relations.

At present, higher education in Turkmenistan doesn't compare so favourably with the West. But as overall educational standards were higher than many countries in the West as recently as a decade ago, it seems that there are two reasons for the decline. Firstly, a simple lack of investment, and, secondly, lowering by two years the amount of time a child in Turkmenistan has to spend at school.


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