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Uzbekistan: Teenager Death Prompts Education Reforms

Eurasianet - Tuesday 20th June, 2017

The death of a young college student earlier this month has shocked Uzbekistan into greater awareness about the scale of bullying in the nation's schools and energized the agenda for comprehensive reforms to the education system.

Zhasur Ibragimov was savagely beaten on May 3 by fellow pupils at a medical college in Tashkent and died of complications from his injuries several weeks later. The furor sparked by that grim episode is still dominating the public conversation ' and in ways unusual for a country where debate about state policy has traditionally been strongly discouraged.

In the days after the 18-year old's death, which occurred on June 1, members of the public embarked on a petition campaign to press the president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, to take a direct role in bringing the culprits to justice.

The impact has been even greater than many could have expected. As the wave of indignation intensified, the suspected attackers were arrested. Authorities provided bulletins on the progress of their investigations, which is also unusual.

In an even bolder move, the government announced on June 15 that it would shutter the Borovsky medical institute where Ibragimov and his assailants all studied. According to RFE/RL's Uzbek service, Radio Ozodlik, the order to close the institute came from the president himself.

The implications of this case may prove much broader, however.

Under legislation adopted in 1997, Uzbekistan operates what is known by the shorthand of 93, which stands for nine years of compulsory general secondary education followed by three years of specialized vocational education. This system was long considered an object of pride by the government run by the late President Islam Karimov.

Originally published by

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