Turkmenistan: Schools to Scrap Late President’s Holy Book
After a decade of grilling students on the former president’s “book of the soul,” this fall Turkmenistan will remove the Ruhnama from its school curriculum. A news website run by Turkmen exiles in Vienna reported this week that a new academic program drafted by Turkmenistan’s Education Ministry for the country’s secondary schools did not include Saparmurat Niyazov’s 2001 Ruhnama, which was once required reading not only for students, but for government employees, too.According to the Chronicles of Turkmenistan, subjects like economics will replace classes dedicated to the book, which became part of the curriculum in 2002.Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency confirmed the report and, citing an unnamed ministry official, said on August 1 that “prospective university students will still have to study the Ruhnama for their entry exams.” Niyazov – who called himself Turkmenbashi, or “Father of the Turkmen” – once instructed youth to read the spiritual guide three times a day in order to secure a place in heaven. Two years after Niyazov’s 2006 death, the Ruhnama was removed from the university curricula and was taught only one hour per week in secondary schools, RIA Novosti said.Following his predecessor’s example, Berdymukhamedov – who likes to be called Arkadag, or “Protector” – has built himself a formidable personality cult. Few would be surprised were one of the incumbent’s numerous recent works to land on the curriculum in the Ruhnama’s stead.