In November, a Kyrgyz news agency posted a news story in Russian about the falling number of Russian-speaking schoolteachers in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city. In only five sentences, the author made over a dozen grammar mistakes.
Social media users first laughed. Then they mourned. Russian, once the lingua franca in multi-ethnic Osh and across Central Asia, is vanishing in the region. Though Moscow frequently boasts it supports teacher trainings and sends millions of dollars in teaching aid, the pitiful state of Kyrgyzstan’s underfunded schools have left a hole where Russian used to be. And nothing is replacing it, leaving a generation of young people competent only in Kyrgyz.
Today about 11 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s schools offer a Russian-language curriculum, according to the State Statistics Committee. Often operating with Russian fiscal support, they are mostly in the more developed north. (Other schools do offer Russian classes.)
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