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Uzbekistan: 22-Year Old Named Deputy Education Minister

Uzbekistan’s nomenklatura has long had a musty Soviet whiff about it, so the naming of a 22-year old as Deputy Education Minister breaks the mold in decisive fashion.

Even though Alisher Sadullayev’s appointment has been described as experimental, he had already made his first public showing by July 2 at a meeting of top government and regional officials.

Attempts to rejuvenate the nation’s leadership in Uzbekistan are a clear reflection of the demographic youth bulge. According to official figures from earlier this year, the population has increased to 32 million from 23.3 million in 1997 — a data point attesting to the nation’s intense youthfulness.

The policy response to this trend has lain heretofore in relying on institutions like the Kamolot movement, which is intended to marshal youth enthusiasm in a generally pro-government direction. So it came as another notable development on June 30 when President Shavkat Mirziyoyev spoke at the Kamolot general meeting to announce that the organization was to be dissolved and replaced.

Among those who spoke at the Kamolot gathering was Sadullayev, who appears to have impressed the president with his proposals about the need to improve the standard of foreign language instruction in Uzbekistan. 

Sadullayev was born in 1994 in Mirziyoyev’s own native Jizzakh region. He completed a degree at the Management Development Institute of Singapore in Tashkent. Prior to his ministerial appointment, he worked as director of the Result private education institute, which mainly focuses on teaching foreign languages.

In a parallel appointment notable for its youthfulness, 25-year old Olimzhon Tuichiyev got the nod as deputy head of the state agency for science and technology. Tuichiyev too appears to have earned his post for a speech given at the Kamolot meeting. This is a photo of Sadullayev and Tuichiyev together at the event.

On June 30, Mirziyoyev announced that Kamolot is to be replaced by a body called the Youth Union of Uzbekistan. As he explained in a speech televised the following day on the evening news, Kamolot has failed to live up to its requirements as a mass youth movement, although according to official data the group counts up to 4 million members.

As Mirziyoyev described his frustrations, however, it was evident that he sees the replacement body as no less prescriptive an entity than what now exists.
“The organization works mainly with those doing their studies. There is no sense that the movement is assisting young people in employment, broadening their knowledge, expanding their world view, developing their entrepreneurial spirit and shielding them from ideological threats,” he said.

Mirziyoyev also rebuked Kamolot for failing to reach out to the large numbers of young Uzbek nationals slaving away in menial jobs in Russia.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the local branch of the Komsomol was reformatted as a Youth Union of Uzbekistan, and then in 1996, the late President Islam Karimov ordered its transformation into a foundation called Kamolot, the Uzbek work for “perfection.” In 2001, the organization was re-qualified as a youth movement.

Mirziyoyev’s vision appears in some ways to constitute a reversal to something more akin to the Komsomol. While Kamolot had become a largely self-serving bureaucracy, he wants the resurrected Youth Union of Uzbekistan to take a more active role in shaping society and attitudes. Whether such dirigiste notions can take proper hold in this ideologically chaotic era, however, is uncertain.

Uzbekistan: 22-Year Old Named Deputy Education Minister

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