25 October 2005


The education system here has been rather interesting to deal with. Most of the Fulbrighters, past and present, have been and are at the American University of Central Asia which is obviously on an American system. Most of the schools are on a Soviet system. My husband is teaching at two of these universities.

The main difference between the two systems is that there are few choices here (well, you could count the corruption too, but we'll stick with choices today). The classes and schedules are all assigned. You are always working with the same people. There is very little class discussion and critical thinking is generally not encouraged.

But the lack of choices was very clear this week when one university completely overhauled the entire schedule in the middle of the semester. My husband's schedule was included even though he only teaches there Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the new schedule has him teaching there on Thursdays and Fridays when he's at a different university.

This doesn't happen at just one university; the girl who cleans our apartment had a class rescheduled to Saturday mornings and had to change the time she comes here.

The students don't seem to get too worried about all these changes. They just go on with their lives as best they can. The very high absentee levels are much more understandable now.

I have to admit that the system would drive me nuts. I'd hate to not be able to choose my own classes or even my own schedule.

I'm also very curious why there are always people at the middle school next door. Monday through Friday from 7 in the morning till after dark there are always children there.


  1. Interesting. So how does your husband now fulfill his obligation? Do they understand these types of shifts or how is it handled?

    Side note: I've been watching a show with a professional chef who travels around the globe eating anything and everything. Lst night he was in Uzbekistan. I saw them cook lavash, the noodle dish you've explained and Plov. I couldn't believe the size of 'wok' they used to cook the plov in. The diamter was at least 4 feet. Huge! Not i know how these dishes look and you've described them pretty well.

  2. My husband was able to work something out. They did know that he couldn't be there the other days, but they didn't care in the end.

    I've heard about that show on Uzbek food. I'm glad you could see it. I love to see plov being made in the huge pots.

  3. Many middle schools have their students study in "shifts", meaning some students go to school in the morning and others start their classes in the afternoon. This is because there are not enough classrooms (and, I suppose, teachers) to accommodate all students while maintaining a reasonable class size.

  4. Thanks MK. That makes much more sense now.

    I haven't had a chance recently to talk to my Kyrgyz friend who speaks English well, so I have a lot of questions stored up for him. Thanks for answering one of them.