“Only two universities in Kyrgyzstan are worth entering,” says Emir, an 11th-grade student in Bishkek. The rest, he believes, do not value scholarship and instead see students as a means to make a profit.
The number of universities in Kyrgyzstan has ballooned in recent years, from nine at independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 to 52 today, according to the Education Ministry. By comparison, Denmark and Finland – two countries with reputations for educational excellence, and with roughly the same populations as Kyrgyzstan – have eight and 14, respectively. Education experts say the relatively high number of Kyrgyz universities is not indicative of an obsession for knowledge, but that the quality of education has been diluted in the impoverished Central Asian country.
University has become a way to keep unemployed young people busy, says Onolkan Umankulova, head of EdNet, an independent agency evaluating higher-education curricula.
To read the full story
Zukhra Iakupbaeva is a Bishkek-based journalist.