The educational system was previously based on the Soviet model, but since 1990 more emphasis has been placed on Uzbek language, history and literature. School is compulsory for nine years from the age of six. The primary school is a 4-year old, followed by a 5-year secondary school and a 2- to 3-year high school. The country has 60 higher education institutions and several universities, in Tashkent (founded 1920), Samarkand (1933) and Nukus (1979).
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In January 1992, students in Tashkent demonstrated against the lack of bread and the rise in basic necessities. The demonstration was fired by the security forces, 6 were killed and dozens injured. In an effort to reduce tensions, the authorities announced an increase in educational aid.
At the same time, the struggle for leadership at the higher levels of the Islamic clergy intensified, which helped to strengthen the worldly president. Karimov stood for a tough authoritarian leadership aimed at maintaining political stability. As prices in the country were released, it triggered student protests, which the government severely cracked down on.
In March, a series of detentions were carried out in the city of Namangan, the stronghold of the Islamic opposition. The Islamic Center was attacked and several Islamic leaders and leaders of the Birlik Democratic Movement were arrested.
In March 1992, the presidents of the various parliaments of the state community agreed to form an interparliamentary assembly with consultative and coordinating functions. That same month, Uzbekistan was admitted to the UN.
Uzbekistan flag source: Countryaah.com
In June, President Karimov set the country’s new course, based on the Southeast Asian model: eliminating opposition and modernizing the economy to adapt to the market.
The liberalization of prices, privatizations and economic reforms were implemented the same year, but were less extensive than in the other former Soviet republics.
Through 1993, Uzbekistan strengthened its political contacts with the other former Soviet republics in Central Asia, established diplomatic relations with Hungary and signed bilateral agreements with Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Karimov was criticized for the slowness of the country’s economic reforms. In January 1994, therefore, he presented a plan for privatization and announced price increases for the basic necessities and energy of around 300%.
Several countries in Central Asia attempted to devise a program to improve the environment around Lake Aral. But according to. Western experts were one of the prerequisites for curbing the desiccation of the lake that Uzbekistan restricts its consumption of lake water to irrigation of the cotton fields.
At diplomatic level, the country – especially from 1995 – embarked on a strategy aimed at curbing Russian and Iranian influence in the region. Karimov actively supported the US embargo on Iran and called for the creation of a “common Turkestan” among the countries of the region, which he believed was threatened by Russia’s “imperialist” tendencies.
In 1996, Parliament admitted for the first time human rights violations committed in the past and passed new legislation in this area. In April and June, the President visited France and the United States, respectively, emphasizing Uzbekistan’s approach to the West.
The censorship of the news media continued to apply in 1997, and the good economic results that made the country one of the most flourishing in Central Asia coincided with high inflation and strong restrictions on imports, which greatly affected the living conditions of the population.
In June, Uzbekistan refused to sign the agreement that formally ended the civil war in Tajikistan, pointing out that it would merely increase political instability as several of the conflicting groups were excluded.