March 31, 2014
Press-service of MFA of the Republic of Uzbekistan
The Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan has convened for a regular session.
The lawmakers discussed the principal issue on the agenda – the bill “On the Introduction of Amendments and Addenda to Certain Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan (Articles 32, 78, 93, 98, 103 and 117)”, introduced to the consideration of the parliament by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan as a legislative initiative. The document is dedicated primarily to the further democratization of the system of government, perfection of the constitutional mechanisms in the realization of the most critical principles of government, namely, the provision for the independence and equality of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power, balance in their powers, effective operation of the system of checks and balances among them.
In the course of the preparation of the draft law to the consideration in the second reading, a range of meetings and panel discussions were organized to deliberate on and thoroughly study its principal ideas and provisions, with the engagement of representatives of political parties, civil society institutions, specialists and academics, as well as lawyers. The bill was discussed energetically and extensively during sessions of groups of political parties and deputy faction from the Environmental Movement of Uzbekistan, and in committees of the lower house. During those deliberations, the lawmakers expressed their full support for the legislative initiatives of the head of our state, and stressed the timeliness and importance of the amendments due to be introduced into the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The deputies underscored in particular that this proposal of Uzbekistan’s leader is to uplift to a qualitatively new level the processes of the further intensification of democratic, political, economic and social reforms, of the gradual transformation and democratic revitalization of the state and constitutional structure, being undertaken in the country by building on the Uzbek Model of Reforms that has justified itself to a full extent. The draft law is immensely significant for the further realization of the underlying principle of our nation’s development – “From a Strong State to a Robust Civil Society”, the formation of a political system that secures the reliable protection of human rights and freedoms and other universal values and democratic norms stipulated in Uzbekistan’s Constitution.
The legislators stressed that the achievements being made, the speedy changes in the life of our society as well as the end we have set (to join the ranks of advanced democratic nations) have served as a foundation for the legislative initiatives put forward by the head of our state to introduce clarifications to our Basic Law.
In the course of the article-by-article discussion of the bill, members of the lower house from the Movement of Entrepreneurs and Businesspeople – the Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan – underlined the importance of fixing in Article 98 of the Constitution of the norms envisaging the transfer of a part of powers of the President to the Prime Minister, and of clarifying and enhancing the powers and rights of the Cabinet of Ministers in general.
Notably, the Cabinet is assigned with a responsibility for the conduct of effective economic, social, financial, monetary and credit policies, for the elaboration and implementation of the programs for the development of science, culture, education, healthcare and other sectors of the economy and social sphere. The Cabinet of Ministers coordinates and directs the work of government and management bodies, ensures oversight of their activities in the order envisaged by the law. The deputies noted that these provisions dedicated to securing the independence and liability of the Cabinet of Ministers are conditioned by the very logic of Uzbekistan’s political and constitutional evolution.
Members of the parliamentary group of the People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan drew attention to the new provisions of Article 78 of the Constitution stipulating the expansion of the role and powers of both houses of the Oliy Majlis in overseeing the activities of the Cabinet of Ministers.
According to legislators, the inclusion in the Constitution of the norm whereby a nominee for the post of the Prime Minister – during the consideration and approval of him/her for the position – presents a government action plan for the near and long-term future, will allow the political parties to define their stance clear cut toward the course and program of the government or certain dimensions of it. This amendment to the Basic Law is of a critical importance for the further consolidation of the parliamentarianism, multi-party system, inter-party competition and rivalry among deputy groups – the most crucial component of any democratic society. This is to be facilitated also by the obligation of the government envisioned in the draft law to present the parliament with annual reports across the most important issues in the socio-economic life of the country.
Members of the parliamentary group of the Milliy Tiklanish Democratic Party underscored the particular urgency of the addenda being introduced to Article 103 of the Constitution, in accordance with which the hokim (governor) of the province, district and township is tasked with an obligation to present the relevant Kengash (Council) of People’s Deputies with reports on crucial and the most pressing issues in the socio-economic development of the region, district or city, and whereby the Kengash of People’s Deputies adopts corresponding decisions.
Thus, the role and significance of representative bodies are to be bolstered cardinally, as are is genuine importance in the life of our society, while the role of political parties is to be boosted considerably, so is the role of their deputy groups in local Kengashes in defining actual priorities in the socio-political and economic development of regions.
Lawmakers from the Adolat Social Democratic Party stressed the special importance of amendments to Article 117 of the Basic Law directed at perfecting the constitutional foundations of the electoral system of the country. In accordance with these amendments, it is being envisaged that for the arrangement and conduct of elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, to the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as the referendum of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan establishes the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Major principles of its activities like independence, legitimacy, collective nature, openness and justice are fixed. As the deputies said, in many advanced democratic countries the elections are organized by the executive branch of power, namely, ministries of the interior of justice, etc. And granting the Central Election Commission the status of an independent constitutional body that is formed by the parliament is an important stride in the further democratization of the electoral system that secures the complete realization of the constitutional rights of citizens to elect and be elected to government bodies along with the consolidation of guarantees of rights for freedom of speech and free expression of will.
Representatives of deputy group from the Environmental Movement of Uzbekistan stressed in particular that the fixation of the institution of public scrutiny over the activities of government bodies, stipulated by amendments to Article 32 of the Constitution, bolsters considerably the role and significance of civic institutions in addressing the most critical challenges in the socio-economic and humanitarian areas. This norm is to have a vital importance in securing the steadfast development of state and society as well as environmental protection, in nurturing a comprehensively advanced and healthy younger generation.
According to legislators from the Environmental Movement, the introduction of new law norms envisioned by the bill into the Basic Law of the country requires both houses of the parliament to further improve the forms and methods of work with civil society institutions. It was noted in this respect that it is essential to ensure a more effective use of such types of works as public expertise and open discussion of draft laws being considered, hearings by the heads of executive bodies of government on the state of affairs in the socio-economic sphere in regions, etc.
The lawmakers noted also a whole range of other constitutional novelties carrying an immense importance for the further consolidation of the national statehood and the perfection of the polity, along with formation of civil society in the country.
In their view, the amendments being introduced to the Constitution, in their turn, require that the legislators adopt laws in demand in the society and necessary for a successful and effective conduct of democratic reforms and transformation, cardinal improvement of work with the electorate in electoral districts. The successful implementation of amendments to the Basic Law requires the elevation in the socio-political activeness of citizens, their political and law culture, the high level of maturity of political parties, their willingness to accept enormous responsibility on themselves for the fate and future of the nation.
Following a comprehensive discussion of the document, the Legislative Chamber approved the Law “On the Introduction of Amendments and Addenda to Certain Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan (Articles 32, 78, 93, 98, 103 and 117)”.
At the same time, the members of the lower house stressed the need in the continuation of extensive deliberations and the explication of the essence and meaning of the amendments and addenda being introduced to the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan for all the citizens of the country.
(Source: Information Service Legislative Chamber Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan)
The regular 24th Meeting of the Council of SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO RATS) was held in Tashkent (the Republic of Uzbekistan) on 28 March 2014.
Representatives from the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’ s Republic of China, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan attended the Meeting.
The Meeting approved the Work Report 2013 of the Council of SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure to be delivered to the Heads of State Council, listened to the report on the implementation of “Programme (2013-2015) of SCO Member States on Cooperation Against Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism” and the Decision of the Council of SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, which was delivered by Mr. Zhang Xinfeng, Director of SCO RATS Executive Committee, and highly commended the work of SCO RATS Executive Committee over the past year of 2013.
The Meeting decided to hold the Second Meeting of the Forum between SCO Member States and Observers on Combating International Terrorism and Extremism, which is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2014.
For further strengthening cooperation between competent departments of SCO member states on combating terrorism, separatism and extremism, the Meeting approved “The Regulation on the Universal Checklist of Network Resources to Be Used for the Purposes of Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism”.
The Meeting also adopted the Joint Countermeasures of SCO Member States in Maintaining Regional Security and Tackling Threats after Withdrawal of Parts of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2014 from Afghanistan.
The Meeting approved “The Regulation on Mechanisms for Detection, Prevention and Deterrence of Using Internet Carrying Out Activities of Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism”.
The Meeting spoke highly of the joint anti-terrorist exercises namely The East- Counterterrorism -2014 successfully held by the competent departments of SCO member states in the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The Meeting adopted “The Decision on Joint Border Defense Law Enforcement between the Ministry of Public Security, PRC and the Defense Guard Department of the Federal Security Service, Russian Federation Under the Framework of SCO”.
The Meeting also adopted various decisions with regards to issues of the organization, officials and financial affairs.
The Meeting unanimously agreed that the next Meeting of the Council of SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure is set to be held in the Republic of Tajikistan in September 2014. The Meeting was held in a pragmatic and constructive atmosphere.
Education in Uzbekistan
To provide the nation with qualified specialists, Uzbekistan’s leadership has been assigning a greater deal of efforts to the comprehensive development of the higher education system since the initial days of independence. Uzbekistan Today reporters have tried to build up the vector of major courses in the advancement of the university network.
In the early 1990s, there were 42 universities across the country, including 19 in Tashkent. The further economic evolution required a radical restructuring of the higher education system. In 1991, several institutions and universities were established on the basis of major universities. The Faculty of Law and that of Oriental Studies segregated from the National University as separate Institutes, the Tashkent Polytechnic Institute became a platform for the Technical University, the Engineering and Chemical Technology Institute and the Tashkent Architecture and Construction Institute. The Tashkent Institute of National Economy was split into the University of Economics and the Institute of Finance. A year later, Jizzakh Polytechnic Institute, Qarshi Engineering and Economics Institute, Namangan Engineering and Technology Institute and Navoi State Pedagogical Institute were founded on the basis of regional branches of metropolitan high schools. In the same year, Andijon, Bukhoro, Guliston, Qarshi, Namangan, Farghona and Urganch universities were established on the basis of regional pedagogical institutes. The Tashkent Institute of Foreign Languages and the Tashkent Institute of Agriculture were granted a status. New higher education institutions opened subsequently: the University of World Economy and Diplomacy, the Tashkent University of Islam, the Navoi State Mining Institute. The Samarqand Cooperative Institute was transformed into an Institute of Economics and Services. By 1997, the higher education system of Uzbekistan numbered as many as 58 higher educational institutions, including 16 universities and 42 institutes.
Reorganization of universities continued after the adoption of the Law ‘On Education’ and the National Specialist Training Program. The Tashkent State University received the status of the National University of Uzbekistan. In 2005, two metropolitan medical schools merged in the Tashkent Medical Academy. Westminster International University, Turin Polytechnic University, Management Development Institute of Singapore in Tashkent, branches of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Plekhanov Russian State Economic Academy, Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas opened in Tashkent as Uzbekistan boosted cooperation with foreign countries. In order to ensure an integrated economic development in the regions, major universities opened their branches: the University of Information Technologies opened five affiliates across the nation, the Medical Academy launched two, and the State Agricultural University, the Institute of Irrigation and Land Reclamation, the Pediatric Medical Institute and the Institute of Culture and Arts opened one affiliate each.
Taking into account the needs of production localization and the modernization of provincial economies, the Bukhoro Technological Institute of Food and Light Industry was transformed into Engineering and Technology Institute, the Andijon and Engineering and Economics Institute was transformed into machine building institute, and Namangan Engineering and Economics Institute to the Engineering and Technology Institute. In 2013, the Tashkent State Institute of Law received the status of university.
The higher education system was divided into two levels – undergraduate and graduate courses – after the approval of the National Specialist Training Program. In recent years the graduate courses have acquired a clear shape as one of crucial stages in training research and pedagogical staff. The requirements for writing and defense of master’s theses have been revised: they covered supervisors, the content, development of research skills in students aspiring for the Master’s degree, including enhancement of practical and scientific significance of research works. The period assigned for research work and writing a thesis was increased to 50 % of the curriculum.
Today, there are 58 domestic higher educational institutions, 11 branches of central universities of the republic and six branches of foreign universities in Uzbekistan. Highly qualified staff for national economy and social sector gets education in six subject areas. Humanitarian workers study in 48 universities, experts in the social sector, economics and law – in 40, production and engineering – in 24, agriculture and water resources – ten, health and welfare – nine, services – in 26 universities.
Supply and demand
Given the requirements of the time the basic standard documents have been revised. The classifier of subject areas and specialties was updated and approved as well. The number of undergraduate disciplines was cut from 1,265 to 228 as a result of merging allied specialties and elimination of idle subjects. The number of subjects in graduate courses was reduced from 1,200 to 447. And 22 engineering and technical subjects were added.
In recent years, much attention has been paid to integrated training of the staff for certain sectors as demanded. For example, the Tashkent University of Information Technologies and its regional branches revised their training system last year. As of 2014, it has changed the list of subject areas and specialties and advanced the content of the educational process. At present, the University offers training in computer and software engineering, telecommunication and television technologies, economics and management in information and communication technologies, professional education in information and communication technologies, postal service technologies.
The intake for engineering and technical areas is growing. For example, the percentage of students who learn ‘Production and engineering’ subject area has been increased in a total quota of bachelor intake from 23% in 2010/ 2011 academic year to 30.6 % in 2014/2015 academic year. Streamlining of state educational standards is underway. The accent is laid both on integrated and comprehensive development of the younger generation and their preparation for professional work.
Meanwhile, staff training moves from the capital to the regions, making it possible to train specialists in close proximity and close cooperation with the client enterprises. The proximity of the educational process and a potential employer allows arranging the educational and practical training of students at the appropriate level.
With focus on teachers
Despite technological progress, a teacher remains a key pillar. He organizes the educational process and defines its streams. He is a professional not only in terms of perfect knowledge of his subject, but also in terms of active application of advanced teaching and computer technologies.
Reformation of the system of highly qualified research and pedagogical staff conditions the replenishment of the faculty with young professionals who handle the advanced fields of science well.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan has built a fundamentally new system. There is a synergy of head scientific and methodological center of retraining and advanced training of teachers and management staff of higher education institutions, 10 sector-based and five regional centers. A big part is assigned to enhancing the competence of teachers in application of computer technologies and knowledge of foreign languages . Teachers were advised to attend short-term intensive courses, which covered almost all teachers. The new subjects ‘E-pedagogy’, and ‘Designing of teacher’s personal electronic space’ were introduced in the curriculum of mandatory courses.
It is noteworthy that the advanced training system for teachers is an example of active use of computer technologies in teaching. There is an electronic system to monitor the educational process, and an opportunity of distance on-line and off-line advanced training.
Development of a new range of measures on improvement of the current system is underway. It is planned to introduce a mandatory internship of teachers at enterprises to assure that specialists are aware of the main trends in the development of industrial technologies.
Overhaul and reconstruction
The logistical capacity of educational buildings, places of student residence, social facilities, land design and landscape of universities has significantly improved over the last decade.
In this regard, the ongoing program under the Presidential Decree ‘On strengthening the logistical capacity of higher education institutions and radical enhancement of quality of training of highly-qualified staff’ is considered the most scaled one. The program envisages the construction of 10 educational and laboratory buildings for 8,600 seats, the overhaul of 98 educational and laboratory buildings including 63 buildings in the regions. It is projected to strengthen the logistical capacities of sports facilities at 34 universities and 48 student dormitories. A specialized fund is entrusted with the development of logistical capacity of higher education institutions.
By the beginning of 2014, the scheduled works have been completed on 70 sites, including the building of the National University of Uzbekistan, Namangan and Bukhoro engineering and technology institutes, and other universities. In 2014 the builders have embarked on the upgrade of another 51 buildings.
The list of higher education institutions, covered by construction works, is constantly expanding. For example, according to the instructions of the government, they are underway at the Tashkent State University of Law, and the Namangan State University is getting prepared for the overhaul.
Equipping of educational laboratories is allocated a great deal in the complex of measures dedicated to strengthening the logistical capacities of universities. By 2016 it is planned to update equipment at 296 educational laboratories in 63 natural and 233 technical subjects.
The opportunities of researching on the cutting-edge equipment are expanding. It is very important not only in terms of enhancing the quality of staff training, but also for full employment of research capacity at the universities. Three-quarters of all country’s researchers are concentrated in colleges and universities. The amount of the funds for implementation of fundamental, applied and innovation research is growing. There are innovation groups that are actively involved in solution of production and science intensive tasks as part of cooperation between universities and enterprises.
Research centers open across the country to further enhance the integration of education, science and production. In recent years, the National University of Uzbekistan launched the Institute of Mathematics and a Philosophy Center, the Tashkent University of Information Technologies – the Software and Hardware Development Center, Samarqand State University – an Environment Laboratory, the Tashkent University of Law – a Center of Law, the Tashkent State Economic University established a research center ‘Scientific fundamentals and problems of economic development in Uzbekistan’.
The work is underway on the establishment of 15 up-to-date intercollegiate laboratory complexes of joint use. Seven of them are located at regional higher educational institutions by field of science: energy saving and renewable energy, optics, chemical engineering and oil and gas processing, energy-saving building materials and many others.
There are ultramodern projects on the launch of research and technology park at the Turin Polytechnic University in Tashkent and a training and experimental high-tech center in Tashkent. They provide the conditions for scholars and students to make their boldest ideas true on the latest equipment.
Modern information and communication technologies are changing the academic reality. Today, the country’s universities are operated by over 28,000 computers, or 12.2 computers fall to 100 students. All educational institutions have access to the Internet and educational network ZiyoNET.
All universities have official websites. Teachers actively create their own websites. Virtually all departments have their own computer centers. The number of classrooms equipped with modern projectors is growing. Educational institutions offer information resource centers switchable to electronic information sources. The introduction of information and communication technologies in the educational process is underway.
The center for introduction of e-learning in educational institutions under the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education and the single high-speed corporate network of E-education has opened up new opportunities. These projects have empowered further projects requiring a high-speed connection.
Today, the E-education network is actively used for intercollegiate videoconferencing. The new facilities are also used for introduction of distance learning in the education process.
The list of big projects empowered by the network opportunities includes the e-learning, and creation of a single intercollegiate electronic library. The project is carried out by the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education in collaboration with the Alisher Navoi National Library, the State Committee of Communication and Information and Telecommunication Technologies. The establishment of the information library system is underway. A composite electronic catalog, consisting of 450 thousand bibliographic records, has been already built. 27 thousand textbooks and teaching materials are currently being digitized. To date, more than three million pages have been digitized (9,600 resources), and it is planned to digitize about 23 thousand resources by 2015.
(Source: “Uzbekistan Today” newspaper)