Mahfuza, a mother of three in a small town in the Ferghana Valley, has better things to do than spend her afternoons at crowded, smoke-filled Internet clubs. But as a high-school algebra teacher, she has an extracurricular assignment from her bosses: she must monitor the clubs’ clientele – many of them her students – while they play computer games, surf social networking websites, and watch music videos.
A decree from Uzbekistan’s government last spring obliged teachers like Mahfuza (she asked her last name be withheld to protect her from possible reprisals) to frequent Internet clubs to ensure students do not fall prey to supposedly subversive ideas. She’s not thrilled about the task.
“Students spend so much time playing games featuring violence, such as a [first-person shoot-‘em-up] game called Counter-Strike, and chatting with complete strangers online. Parents don’t seem to care, and the burden falls on us, poor teachers,” Mahfuza told EurasiaNet.org.
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