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Death of a Peacemaker
Written by , Friday, 11 Aug, 2006 – 6:53 | 13 Comments

Nuri Votes for Peace

Said Abdullo Nuri died from an illness that was most likely cancer, as Younghusband over at ComingAnarchy and Ataman Rakin report. Younghusband asked for the Tajikistan bloggers over here at neweurasia to weigh in on the significance of this development. I will do what I can, but I am more interested to see what Vadim and Tajik Boy think about this development. Most of my information is from news reports, so I don’t really have the inside scoop.

Said Abdullo Nuri was one the most important Islamic figures in Central Asia, and one of the only such figures with clout not who was not appointed by the government (as Younghusband noted, Tajikistan is the only Central Asian country to allow Islamist parties to participate in the political process). Nuri is remembered as being instrumental in moving the peace process forward following the Tajikistan civil war.

A Moderating Influence (?)

Some detractors of Nuri (especially Central Asian governments) saw Nuri essentially as a terrorist, and pointed to the ties between the United Tajik Opposition and the Taleban during the civil war. According to Nuri, however, the arrangement was pragmatic:

After the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, our office stopped its activity. We adopted a position of neutrality and did not get involved in the inter-Afghan conflict. But we tried to maintain contacts with the Taliban. It was of great importance for us because at that time our refugees were moving though the territory of this country [Afghanistan]. … Sometimes, we conducted negotiations with individual representatives of the Taliban Movement to discuss issues related to our refugee problems.

Robert Baer (think Syriana) even alleged that he mediated meetings between Osama bin Laden and Iranian intelligence officers, an accusation Nuri vigorously denied.

We know the canons of Islam and Sharia very well and we ourselves know when and under what conditions jihad can be declared. Osama bin Laden does not have a right to declare a jihad.

Nuri certainly did have connections to at least one “terrorist” organization: the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. In 2000, he convinced the IMU lurking near the Tajik border to leave the country, this as Tajikistan began to step up collaboration with Uzbekistan in cracking down on terrorism. Nuri condemned many of the governments’ more brutal actions.

Outside the Islamo-phobic Central Asian governments, however, Nuri was mostly seen as a moderate political activist. Ataman Rakin writes that he even said:

I am opposed to an Islamic state because when the state does wrong, Islam will get the blame.

Significance
It fair to say that Nuri was an extremely important and influential figure who’s presence will be sorely missed by many throughout Central Asia. I think it is also probably fair to say that his death is not as significant to Tajikistan’s future now as it would have been even several years ago. The civil war is over and Tajikistan has stabilized. Polls show that most Tajiks are happy with peace, as well as the strong economic growth. Rakhmonov’s party is consolidating its hold on the political system, and the IRP probably wouldn’t win even in a fair election (they certainly aren’t in ours).

That said, Nuri will be remembered as a peacemaker and as a moderate Islamist in a region where government policy has made such a notion practically unknown.

RIP Said Abdullo Nuri
Written by , Thursday, 10 Aug, 2006 – 18:41 | 6 Comments

Here is a report with a number of reactions and eulogies about the man who was buried today.

Said Abdullo Nuri was the founder and leader (nicknamed ‘ustod’ or teacher) of the only surviving and/or active section of the
Islamic Rennaissance Party or IRP. The IRP was founded in Astrakhan in 1990 for the rights of Soviet Muslims and was initially an all-union party that fell apart in republican sections (mainly in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Dagestan) when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Although his roots were in Sangvor in the Western Pamirs, Nuri’s family was resettled in the cotton districts in the Vakhsh valley, where he grew up. It was there that the Tajik IRP had a large chunk of its following.

Nuri was prominent in the decade that followed independence, when he initially emerged to lead the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) — a coalition of groups opposed to rule by post-Soviet apparatchiks. He fled the country during the civil war but continued to run the UTO from his exile

When I lived in Dushanbe, I rented a house about fifty metres from Nuri’s mansion close to the former cinema studio. Obituaries are what they are, of course, yet from my side, there was one thing he said, at a certain moment, that I have kept in mind all these years:

I am opposed to an Islamic state because when the state does wrong, Islam will get the blame.

Upset investors
Written by , Monday, 7 Aug, 2006 – 14:40 | No Comment

Usually, governments create favorable conditions for the investments. In Tajikistan is happening the reverse, the investors are already in the country and ready to start working but some high officials are slowing down the process on purpose. The Russian investors are upset with the actions of their Tajik colleagues. Regnum is citing the newspaper “Fakti i kommentarii”, which published the interview with the head of “RUSAL” representative office in Tajikistan, Konstantin Zagrebalnyi. He denies the accusation that “RUSAL” is delaying the deadlines for construction of Rogun hydroelectric power station and blames Tajik officials for that.

How can anyone blame us for delaying the deadlines, while we have received only ten responses to our fifty requests from Tajik side, and all three requests of the World Bank are left without any attention. The Tajik officials have attributed words to President Vladimir Putin, which he never pronounced. Particularly, Putin never said that the construction of Rogun hydroelectric power station is going to be funded from the budget of Russian Federation. I don’t know when President of Russia said that, but you can not find such information in any mass-media. We will not move ahead with such announcements! Irresponsible announcements of Tajik officials are only subject to bewilderment for Russian members of the Intergovernmental Commission and officials of other departments involved in the project.

Tajik airlines: complaints of passengers
Written by , Saturday, 5 Aug, 2006 – 12:12 | 12 Comments

Òàäæèêñêèå àâèàëèíèè

Translation of the inscription

We fly to far and near abroad.
Our motto: flight safety and service on the high level
Our goal: promotion of integration of our country with the rest of the world.

Tajik airlines, which is owned by the state, inherited the planes after the collapse of Soviet Union, which belonged to Aeroflot, the airlines of Soviet Union. The aircraft-fleet of the company was not renovated after the collapse of Soviet Union, and it seems that the state is not concerned about this problem.

Besides the old planes, Tajik airlines also acquired a bed reputation in terms of service. The complaints about the service from the passengers are innumerous, you can hear them everyday. Rahmon in one of his posts on the Tajik Russian-language blog paid attention to this problem. He was reporting on the bad service and old planes of the company.

Flying on the old planes which were overused is dangerous. The aircraft-fleet has not been renovated after the collapse of Soviet Union. The administration of the air-company is reporting the necessity to replace all the old planes with new one, which can comply with the international standards but nothing is changing and nothing is going further than words. It is interesting to know where do all the multi-million grants go, which are allocated by international institutions for modernization of the airport, purchase of new planes, improvement of the level of service, training of the personnel and so on.

Most of the foreign citizens (local citizens have got used to it) are terribly upset by the border control. The Tajik customs and border control is special. Before going through the passport control you have to wait for many hours in line, that’s because one or maximum two out of seven checkpoints are working. I still don’t understand why they need the other five checkpoints.

Last week the International Public Organization “National League “Tajiks” posted an open letter on the web-site Our Tajikistan about the abuse of passengers’ rights by Tajik airlines. The representatives of the League reported that seventeen passengers (citizens of Tajikistan) of the Tajik airlines were not allowed to get aboard though they had tickets for the flight from Moscow to Dushanbe.

Representatives of the airlines claimed that there was no space for them on the board. Well, it can happen only to passengers of Tajik airlines. The company sells tickets to people and then announces that there is no space for them on the board. Fortunately, with the help of the League nine of them were took aboard, and later they reported that the space was occupied by a luggage though it is absolutely forbidden by all rules of aviation.

The representatives of the air-company are saying that the reason for not taking aboard the passengers is the overload of the plane. However, the excessive load is supposed to be the luggage but not the passengers. As we know, the luggage usually occupies more space than it is allowed. In this case, there were computers, TV-sets, and other equipment which were put in the plane instead of passengers. We are also upset about the fact that the air-company “Tojikiston” (Tajik ailines) compensated only thirty percent from the cost of the tickets, though it was not the fault of the passengers not to get aboard. More than that, the air-company did not even provide the passengers with accommodation and food.

Obviously, they became the victims of corruption, which is widespread in this company. Any of the merchants could just pay extra money and load all his goods on the passenger plane. Usually if there is no more space in the luggage compartment, they put the goods of their client (merchant) on the seats of the passengers and report that they have no more space for the passengers.

There is another situation which usually happens. When someone needs to get aboard but has no ticket, he/she may pay extra money right before the flight in the airport to the representative of the company and get aboard instead of someone else. It is nonsense but it may happen to any of the passengers of Tajik airlines.

That is my guess-work, which I am sure is not far from reality but the explanation of the whole situation, provided by the administration of the National League “Tajiks”, which advocates the rights of the passengers in this case, surprised me very much. They are claiming that the representatives of Tajik airlines are doing this on purpose in order to undermine the reputation of the President of Tajikistan (Rahmonov) before the elections.

Elections are coming soon in Tajikistan, and the representatives of the Tajik airlines are spoiling the reputation of our president. We are sure that it is done on purpose to undermine the reputation of the president of Tajikistan.

Probably they are spreading these strange statements because, Tajik airlines is the state-owned company and it implies that it is owned by the President of Tajikistan. Or it is just a desperate attempt to attract the attention of the President and make him aware how much they love him. I am sure only about one thing that this flattery will not make any change.

Though the National League “Tajiks” assumes that this kind of abuse is happening only to Tajik citizens, in reality all the passengers, no matter where they come from are subject to this kind of situations. Last year, even the ambassadors of several countries to Tajikistan were fed up with the service of Tajik airlines and wrote an open letter to Imomali Rahmonov, the President of Tajikistan. James was reporting on that in Tajik blog.

The ambassadors of the United States, Britain, France, Japan, Turkey, and Switzerland wrote an open letter to President Imomali Rakhmonov on Friday asking him to address Tajik Air’s most glaring service problems. They complained about difficulties buying tickets, getting onward connections, the lack of compensation for delays and cancelled flights, decrepit airport facilities, and the need to increase “respect for passengers”.

The adventures of Ahmadinejad in Tajikistan (round-up)
Written by , Monday, 31 Jul, 2006 – 13:47 | No Comment

With the help of Technorati and Google Blog Search I have looked through the Tajik blogosphere and found out that most of the attention last week was paid to the visit of Ahmadinejad to Tajikistan. It is interesting how Tajikistan can maneuver between the two confronting sides, Iran and US. Rumsfeld visited Tajikistan right before the visit of Ahmadinejad and obviously he talked to Rahmonov not only about Tajik-US relations but also about the nuclear program of Iran and the visit of Ahmadinejad. The visit of Rumsfeld can be counted as a small hint to Tajikistan that it is undesirable to make very close relations with Iran.

Not-a-pundit reports that ‘U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld expressed hope for greater cooperation with Tajikistan in a letter to the country’s people. This letter was released a week later after his visit to Tajikistan. The United States recognizes the importance of the countries in Central Asia and looks forward to increasing our cooperation in many areas in the years to come. You can count on the friendship and goodwill of the American people.”- said Rumsfeld in his letter.

And it seems that Tajikistan is more likely to cooperate with Iran than with US, though it is healthier to be closer to the later one. In this case common cultural and historical heritage is much stronger. Tajikistan has signed several agreements with Iran in social, cultural and economic spheres, and it is hoping to have closer relations with this country. ‘The leaders pledged to strengthen cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking, the construction of transportation facilities, and coordination on important international and regional issues.’

The New Metro Woman is commenting on the visit of Ahmadinejad to Tajikistan. She posted her article under the title “Pan-Persian/Pan-Turkish Conspiracy Theories”. She reports that the ethnic Azerbaijanis are upset with Ahmadinejad that he is investing millions of dollars in another country while people inside the country are starving. She says that one of the theories is that it is a pan-Persianism which makes him to act like that. However she does not believe in that theory and believes that Ahmadinejad’s true enemy is the West, mainly Israel and it was the true reason for him to visit Tajikistan. To support her statement she provides some quotes from Iran Daily.

Registan.net reports on corruption in the post-Soviet countries. There is a small review of the report which was released by the World Bank, which says that ‘corruption has declined since 2000 in the transitional countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The findings for Armenia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan,which did not differ much between 2002 and 2005, indicate that firms in those countries do not view corruption as a problem to the same extent as elsewhere in the CIS.’

Candide observes a link between the literacy and knowing Russian language in Tajikistan. She reports that more and more people in Tajikistan are losing the ability to speak Russian, which makes a lot of problems for people who come to Tajikistan and those Tajiks who go outside the country, especially to Russia. And probably it influences on the rate of literacy. She is also talking about everyday use of Russian by Tajiks.

Recently there was an earthquake in Tajikistan which was the reason of 3 persons dead,19 injured and thousands of homeless. This one of the terrible disasters which were this year in Tajikistan.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir Gets In Touch with Its Feminine Side
Written by , Monday, 31 Jul, 2006 – 5:30 | 2 Comments

IWPR reports that Tajik authorities are noticing increasing membership of women in the Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Previously, they were only peripherally involved in this Islamist organization, but now authorities are cracking down on them more harshly. Why this increase in membership?

According to the article, Tajik authorities have a contradictory take on the question. On the one hand, they are believed to only join the “Hizb-ut-Tahrir because their husbands, brothers or other relatives forced them to.” On the other hand:

Marhabo Turdimatova, the judge in one of the May trials, told IWPR, “It was very painful to see the tears of a husband – a Communist – when his wife was sentenced for membership of the extremist [Hizb-ut-Tahrir] party, which she joined under her brother’s influence.”

The judge attributes her joining the HuT to her brother’s influence, but with her husband a Communist, that explanation seems suspect, especially given that (as argued in the article) many of these women are educated and have agency.

While it is impossible to judge the actual cause of this new trend based on one article alone, it is nevertheless interesting to consider movements of female Islamists elsewhere in the Muslim world.

Islamic feminism is emerging as an alternative to Western-style feminism. The hijab is being “reclaimed” and seen as a source of liberation instead of oppression.

Indeed, according to my sister the hijab is not a symbol of oppression, but is instead a symbol of liberation. Naheed Mustafe, a Canadian woman who converted to Islam, writes that “young Muslim women are reclaiming the hijab. . . to give back to women the ultimate control over their bodies.”

The IWPR article seemed to indicate that a bit of this is going on in Tajikistan, with educated women turning to Islam as a way to get away from social decadence such as drinking.

There is also a darker side to women joining Islamist or terrorist movements, according to the Jamestown Foundation. Women are increasingly prone to joining up with terrorist organizations committed to violence. These “mujahidaat” are more deadly than their male counterparts because they are underestimated and unexpected.

Since at least 2000, there has been a gradual progression of suicide attacks conducted by Muslim women in new theaters of operation, including Uzbekistan, Egypt, and more recently, Iraq.

Note the reference to neighboring Uzbekistan. Fortunately, reports seem to indicate that women Islamists in Tajikistan are being locked up just for being part of the allegedly peaceful HuT, mostly handing out propaganda. No suicide bombings yet.

Ahmadinejad is visiting Tajikistan
Written by , Wednesday, 26 Jul, 2006 – 15:30 | 3 Comments

The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan are visiting Tajikistan, both of them are going to attend the conference of Persian-speaking countries, which is held in Dushanbe. Of course the hero of the day is Ahmadinejad. His visit draws the attention of the whole world.

Five memoranda of understanding and agreements in various fields were signed between Iran and Tajikistan. The inked documents pave the way for cooperation between the two sides in various sectors, including labor and social affairs, tourism, justice, establishment of free economic and trade zones as well as preferred tariffs on exchange of goods. Besides, Ahmadinejad and his entourage will participate in the inaugural ceremony of Anzab Tunnel and confer with Tajik educational elites as well as the Iranians residing in the country.

It seems like the religious Iran has changed its foreign policy towards secular Tajikistan, and especially towards the government. During the Civil war in Tajikistan Iran was supporting the Islamic Renaissance Party which was the main body of Tajik opposition, and it was eager to overthrow the existing secular government, but now the situation is changed and Iran is now becoming the friend of Tajikistan. It is clear that Iran is now in a bad situation because of the possible sanctions of Security Council and it needs to make good relations with its neighbors. Iran would not be that close with Tajikistan if it had a better situation.

One may think that the visit of Ahmadinejad concerns only Tajikistan and Iran but I think it is more than that. Tajikistan is a good instrument for Russia to tease US. Russia can not stand very close to Iran because it can be criticized by the international community, and it can damage Russia’s good reputation, but it also does not want to lose the opportunity to tease United States. It is one of the peculiarities of Russian foreign policy, to choose friends among those who are against western countries, especially US.

The conference of Persian-speaking countries is a good reason to make the three presidents to come together. During the visit of Rahmonov to Tehran in January, 2006 Karzai supposedly had to come to join him, but due to some reasons he did not join him. That is because Karzai did want the international donors to make doubts about him. This time Karzai is in better situation because Tajikistan looks more neutral territory, and he simply could not refuse second time to join Ahmadinejad and Rahmonov because then it would be obvious something is wrong.

Tajikistan is earning a lot of credits from the good relations with Iran. First of all it is investment which is flowing into the country through various projects in hydropower industry, transportation, information and communication technology, education, medicine and trade. It is good that the Iranian and Tajik relations in the last years have been improved and it is getting better everyday. These countries have a common historical and cultural heritage, which makes them closer to each other than to any other country in the world.

Osama is not in Tajikistan! (round-up)
Written by , Thursday, 20 Jul, 2006 – 14:40 | 2 Comments

Recently, I was very much surprised with a news, which said that Osama bin Laden is not hiding in Tajikistan. This news was brought to me by the Google Alerts. Immediately I went to the mentioned link. It was surprising for me because I never thought that Usama can hide on the territory of Tajikistan. Then I found out that the Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs reported that information just to disapprove the report of US ‘Counterterrorist coordinator Richard Clarke’ who ‘said in early July that Usama bin Laden was hiding in Central Asia, and therefore had not been found either in Afghanistan or in neighboring Pakistan.’ I guess Mr. Clarke assumed that Osama is in Central Asia because Afghanistan is in the same region, and he does not have any other evidence. If the US intelligence agencies can not find Osama in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it does not mean that he is in Central Asia. Who knows, maybe he is hiding in the United States or Europe.

Last week Donald Rumsfeld visited Tajikistan ‘to discuss the war in neighboring Afghanistan and additional military cooperation after losing access to a base in Uzbekistan’. Jim Freeman is ‘fascinated by a quote from Donald Rumsfeld. ‘The Donald’ in his talks with the Tajik foreign minister, worried about the money generated by opium poppies coming from Afghanistan through Tajikistan on their way to other markets’. The title of the article is “Congress, America’s Tajikistan” and one can think that this article is fully about Tajikistan, but it is not. Only few words in the beginning, but anyway it is an interesting post.

Last time in my round-up I mentioned the blog of Elizabeth. She is one of the best bloggers who writes about Tajikistan. I just was enjoying her posts, particularly about Dushanbe. Recently, she wrote a marvelous article about the Tajik banknotes. It is an excellent observation of how people are having trouble with dirhams. In her last post she is comparing Central Asian countries and Afghanistan.

ch0uch0u in his livejournal which is in Russian posted a least of countries which do not have McDonalds and Tajikistan is in that list. The list is written in English. I didn’t know that there is a bunch of countries, which do not have McDonalds, I thought that only Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan don’t have it. Anyway, it think it is good for the population that we don’t have McDonalds, it is healthier that way.

Dushanbe is suffering of hot weather
Written by , Saturday, 8 Jul, 2006 – 16:14 | 2 Comments

It is not unusual for Tajikistan to have a hot weather in this period of a year, especially in such places as Dushanbe. In my review of Tajikistan travel blogs I should have mentioned one of the things that all the visitors are complaining about, it is a high air temperature. Rahmon, our new contributor in Russian language Tajikistan blog is giving a comprehensive description of the situation in Dushanbe, which is experiencing an extremely hot weather.

In the capital of overwhelmingly sunny Tajikistan the stem of thermometer is showing 45-47 ºC above zero, and it is the temperature in the shadow. In the open space where you have no protection from sun, you will simply be cooked, get a sunstroke or sting, fall fainted etc, because the temperature in the open space reaches +50 – 54 ºC.

Rahmon is reporting that the local meteorologists never report the exact temperature. He is assuming that they are doing it on purpose so not to make the population panic. If it is so, then they forgot that the population can buy thermometers in the nearest markets. The meteorologists in the entire world not always have the correct forecasting. That is a normal thing. Once I even heard that the Metrological Service in London, or somewhere in England received an award something like “The biggest liars”. Taking into consideration that Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries and the equipment that our meteorologists have, which was inherited from Soviet era, is very old now and does not allow them to make the correct forecasting. I don’t think that our meteorologists are doing it on purpose, the main reason for wrong forecasting is the old equipment.

The air temperature at around 9 a.m. reaches 38 ºC . The Hydrometeorological Agency denies that fact. According to the agency, everything is fine in and no reason to panic because the air temperature does exceed +36 ºC. People, mostly the old people and “meteosensitive” people get from the streets to the hospitals with microinfarct or sunstroke, and the meteorologists are still claiming that everything is fine and no reason to worry.

In this period of a year in Dushanbe it is better not to go outside and stay at home with good air-conditioning. Anyway, you can not stay at home all the time, you always need to go somewhere. The main public transportation in the post-Soviet countries is marshrutka (mini-bus). People who visited the post-Soviet countries, especially those in Central Asia, know that type of transportation and I bet they are not happy about that. Rahmon is telling us how hard to travel by this type of transportation in this period.

You are intensely perspiring in marshrutka when you try to go from one point of the city to the other. When you get to the arrival point, you crawl out of marshrutka (there is no other word to use in this situation) and you fill yourself as a pressed lemon (not that fresh), wet and wrinkled, with treaded down feet. You get to workplace, hardly moving you feet, and the sun is cooks you and makes you as an ash in the chargrill.

Usually, water is the only life-saver in the hot countries. Tajikistan is the richest country in Cetral Asia in terms of fresh water but the capital of the country suffers of lack of clean and fresh water. It is the main problem that can not be solved for many years. The old water supply system had no repairs after the collapse of Soviet empire. The water is muddy, and I remember the last time I was visiting my aunt in Dushanbe, she had a special bucket for the mud which comes with water out of the faucet and fills the bath-tube. My aunt used another small scoop to take the mud out of the bath-tube and put it into the bucket and take it out. I was there for a week and never tried to have a shower. The water was the main reason of typhoid which resulted in death of many people in Dushanbe in the previous years. During the Civil War a lot of people were killed and thrown into the Varzob water reservoir which supplies almost the whole city.

The water in the capital of Tajikistan which comes to the apartments from the Varzob water reservoir looks more like a coffee with milk mixed with sand and microorganisms. The reason is that the water supply system is still not fixed. The spent millions of dollars did not help. Even this muddy water comes only in the morning and in the evening for a couple of hours.

Dushanbe is not the hottest area in Tajikistan. There are places where the weather gets hotter for several degrees higher but the situation becomes worse in the city because of the water. Therefore I think, if the water supply system is not fixed there is no reason to live in that city for a long time.

Improving the quality of education
Written by , Friday, 7 Jul, 2006 – 8:23 | 3 Comments

Education is particularly one of the most important parts of our life because it effects all aspects of our life and it is an important factor for a country’s sustainable development. The government has a crucial role in development of education. The other important actors in the process of development are international institutions, which have resources. In current situation the government will not be able to make big positive changes without the assistance of international institutions and visa versa.

All the difficulties, which is experiencing education in Tajikistan, are mainly caused by the Civil War. During the Soviet Union the system of education was set up in such a way that everybody had an access to it. There was a compulsory education in the country and every child had to go to school, it was the main duty of the children.

Prior to 1991, the level of educational attainment in the adult Tajikistani population was below the average for Soviet republics. Of the population over age twenty-five in 1989, some 16 percent had only primary schooling, 21 percent had incomplete secondary schooling, and 55 percent had completed a secondary education. Those statistics placed Tajikistan ninth among the fifteen Soviet republics.

Unfortunately, during the years of independence, our country has lost much of what had been achieved during the Soviet era in terms of education. This is confirmed by the lack of textbooks, qualified teachers, modern equipment and class-rooms. Another problem is a sharp decrease in attendance, especially among the girls.

Aid workers are sceptical of official claims of 98 percent literacy levels. The United Nations Development Programme put the average enrolment rate for all levels of education (ages six to 23) at 62.1 percent in 2002. There is now a 14 percent drop-out rate, according to a study carried out in 2001 by the United Nations Children’s Fund.

The Ministry of Education does not have enough resources for building new schools or publishing new books. Most of the students, especially in the rural areas are still using the textbooks which were published in 1980s. In this situation an external support is important, though it is also not a solution of the problem. The tiny resources that the Ministry of Education has is not the main problem, one of the main problems is that it does not have a clear strategy for development and the tiny resources that it has are not properly distributed.

The other and probably the most important problem is corruption. It is the main problem, not only for the Ministry of Education but also for international institutions which are trying to assist the country in improving the quality of education.

There are a lot different international organizations, which implement different educational projects. Millions of dollars were spent by these institutions in the last ten years and the result of their activity is not promising. This is not a mistake of international institutions, it is a mistake of the government because it can not get rid of corruption.

International institutions and the government have to implement vital projects together, and both sides admit it, but the former do not want to have tight relations with the later because of corruption. Here comes the problem, on one hand both sides need to work together, and on the other they can not, because one of the sides does not trust the other. Consequently, most of the projects are not successful or they have a short term success. When the international organizations allocate funds for any project they stand before a dilemma, either they give resources to local institutions, governmental or nongovernmental, and have a risk of losing most of the resources or they implement those projects on their own and have little success.

Recently there was a news, which stated that ADB Project Planned to Boost Quality Education for Poor in Tajikistan. According to this news, Asian Development Bank is going to ‘prepare a project to improve the quality and responsiveness of Tajikistan’s education system to meet the needs of a modern economy and supportive of poor, disadvantaged children – particularly girls and those with special needs – with the help of a technical assistance grant of $400,000. The assistance will be conducted over about six months to February 2007. The Government is contributing $71,000 in kind to the total cost of $471,000.’

The title of the article is very promising and one may think that finally the quality of education in Tajikistan is going to improve. However, as it was mentioned before, millions of dollars were spent for the development of education in the country in the last ten years and there was little success, and the amount of $471, 000 US is not going to change anything. ADB here has the same risk as other international institutions. It is a risk of spending resources without fully reaching the target groups.

The government of Tajikistan should think of how to battle corruption at least in such vital areas as education. It is clear that education in the country will not improve without the assistance of the government even if the external assistance will equal hundreds of millions of dollars.