Ilkhomjon Tukhtasinov*  and Muhammad Asif Noor**

Uzbekistan is currently undergoing a transformative phase of independent development, with a strong emphasis on scientific advancements and educational progress. Significant changes have taken place in the education sector over the past seven years.

For instance, more than 40 higher education institutions in the country have attained academic, organizational, managerial, and financial autonomy, as stipulated in Article 51 of the new Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

The number of higher education institutions has increased by 210, resulting in a notable rise in the proportion of the population pursuing higher education, from 9% to 38%. This growth is not limited to public universities, as private universities are also expanding in number.

Starting from 2021, the scope of thematic grants offered by higher education and scientific organizations within state research programs has broadened, and there has been a gradual increase in the enrollment of doctoral students.

In universities that provide foreign language education, the quotas for state grants have tripled, and the availability of contract places has doubled.

Presently, more than 30 higher education institutions across the country offer foreign language education, whereas in 2016, this number stood at only 7. Consequently, there has been a continuous rise in the number of graduates who obtain international language certificates.

At present, every teaching staff member, including doctoral students involved in foreign language instruction, possesses an international language certificate. This enhances the country’s ability to engage in the international arena.

Over the past 2-3 years, there has been an increased demand for foreign language learning, leading to language school graduates attaining international C1 level language certificates.

The implementation of a grant system, the inclusion of women in master’s degree programs, the provision of up to 50% rent reimbursement for students, partial contract fee reimbursement for orphaned children and students, and increased attention to youth have enabled 53,000 students from underprivileged backgrounds to access education.

Notably, the transition of higher education to a comprehensive credit-modular system aligned with international standards, the reduction of data requirements from educational institutions, and the introduction of the Higher Education Process Management Information System (HEMIS) have minimized corruption risks and facilitated the digitization of all processes.

The “University of the Third Generation” or “University 3.0” project has been initiated, focusing on scientific education, innovation, and commercialization of research and development outcomes.

Furthermore, efforts have been made to extend higher education opportunities to remote areas and villages, where educational institutions have been established to ensure access to higher education for young individuals.

The education system in colleges and lyceums now incorporates a two-year study period. Technical schools have resumed their activities, and a system of admission based on interviews in specialized areas has been introduced for technical school graduates. Academic lyceums offer scholarships such as the “Rector’s Scholarship” and the “Honorary Scholarship of the Academic Lyceum.”

Presidential schools have been effectively established in various regions of the republic and have emerged as prominent institutions of general education.

Additionally, new creativity-focused schools have been established in both the capital and regional areas, such as the Abdulla Kadiri School of Creativity in Tashkent, the Halima Khudoyberdieva School of Creativity in Syrdarya, the School named after the Hero of Uzbekistan and National Poet of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov in Karshi, the Erkin Vahidov School in Margilan, and the Ibrahim Yusupov School in Nukus.

The elevated attention given to science in the new Uzbekistan is not coincidental, as the progress in scientific research, enlightenment, and education has become an integral component of modern life. The development of education is recognized by leading nations worldwide as a key objective, as the future advancement of Uzbekistan is inherently linked to its achievements in this domain.

Presently, the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages is actively engaged in systematic efforts to enhance the quality of education, establish conducive conditions for teachers and students, provide regular financial support to students, construct new academic buildings, dormitories, and libraries, as well as expand educational programs and faculties.

Regarding the institute’s ongoing construction and renovation endeavors, a comprehensive overhaul of the existing 4-storey academic building, which was deemed unfit for use, was initiated in 2021.

In March 2022, the building underwent a complete renovation and was made operational for teachers and students.

In 2022, through public-private partnerships, the complete restoration and commissioning of new student dormitories accommodating 500 and 350 individuals were accomplished, with an expenditure of 32 billion soums.

The new building, equipped with contemporary amenities, including classrooms for 130 students, four computer rooms with a capacity of 70 seats each, and an assembly hall accommodating 200 individuals, was completed in October 2022.

Extensive scientific, educational, and foreign literary resources were also provided, encompassing 288,000 copies across 25,500 titles, capable of simultaneously serving 500 students. Furthermore, the establishment of a three-storey information resource center, which supports the educational process, has further fostered student engagement in educational activities.

Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages has undertaken significant renovations and modernization projects in its facilities.

In particular, a dilapidated 1000-seat academic building has been fully renovated and equipped with modern educational equipment, and it has been reopened in February. The institute is currently in the process of constructing a new 7-storey educational building that will accommodate 2000 students.

Additionally, plans are underway to establish an outdoor sports ground, an indoor sports complex, a preschool educational institution, and a school specializing in foreign languages.

With a student body of over 12,000, the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages boasts a dedicated faculty comprising approximately 700 professors and teachers. The institute is organized into 9 faculties and 28 departments.

In the upcoming academic year 2023/2024, the institute will commence training programs in 19 educational fields at the bachelor’s level, as well as offer 16 areas of specialization in the master’s program.

In the academic year 2022/2023, the institute introduced new supplementary educational directions. For instance, full-time bachelor’s programs were launched in “Uzbek Language and Literature” and “Computational Linguistics,” while evening training programs include disciplines such as teaching philology and languages (Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Chinese) and theory and practice of translation (English-Russian).

In the academic year 2023/2024, additional full-time bachelor’s programs will be offered in “Philology and Language Teaching: Turkish” and “Philology and Language Teaching: Russian,” while correspondence programs will include “Philology and Language Teaching: Russian.”

Furthermore, the Master’s degree program will reintroduce the specialization of “Linguistics: Russian,” enhancing the institute’s operational efficiency and expanding opportunities for prospective students.

The Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages plays a significant role in fostering relationships with foreign universities, as it has established partnerships with renowned educational institutions worldwide.

In the current year, the institute aims to launch collaborative educational programs in teaching Turkish with Mehmet Akif Ersoy University and teaching Spanish with the Spanish University of Castile-La Mancha.

An important event in this regard was the Uzbek-Korean forum of rectors of higher educational institutions, held in Tashkent on March 27-28 under the organization of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation.

During this forum, the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages forged partnerships with several South Korean universities, including Dayegu Hani University, Duksung Women’s University, and Busan University of Foreign Studies.

Memorandums of cooperation were signed between these institutions, focusing on the development of scientific and fictional literature, faculty exchange, sharing of expertise, and the exploration of new avenues for joint education.

Moreover, the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages continues its efforts to engage in international rankings. It diligently provides the requested information about its facilities, educational processes, and conditions to international rating organizations via their platforms and official website.

Notably, the institute has been recognized as a “reporter” in the World University Rankings – 2023 published by the prestigious Times Higher Education agency. This esteemed ranking evaluates teaching, research, quality of education, and international prospects.

The inclusion of these 28 universities as candidates for THE rankings acknowledges their potential, and they receive substantial support from the rating agency. In this year’s ranking, a total of 1,799 universities were registered, with 526 universities designated as “reporters” or candidate institutions.

The Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages is committed to the pursuit of its objectives, with a particular focus on delivering quality education. The institute’s achievements have been acknowledged by the Times Higher Education ranking.

In the global ranking known as the Times Higher Education (Impact Rankings), which evaluates universities’ adherence to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages has attained high rankings (1000+) in three areas.

The institute received a score of 35.7 for the quality of education, which reflects its staff’s dedicated efforts in nurturing and training competent individuals deserving of the new Uzbekistan.

Notably, the institute secured a ranking of 800+ in poverty reduction and 1000+ in cooperation for sustainable development in the Impact Rankings. Building on these accomplishments, the institute’s team is setting new goals for the future.

Furthermore, the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages has obtained the status of a “reporter” in the international ASIA University Rankings – 2023 and Young University Rankings – 2023 conducted by the British agency THE.

The results of the 2023 ranking have been announced for THE Asia University Rankings. This year, an additional 22 universities in the republic have registered as “reporters,” and the number of applicants vying for a spot in the TOP 1000 ranking has increased from 10 to 32 in Asia University Rankings and from 4 to 12 in Young University Rankings.

In addition to its involvement in these rankings, the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages has achieved noteworthy positions in several other international rankings.

For instance, in the Webometrics world university ranking, the institute has risen from the 37th to the 28th position among universities in the republic. In the 4icu website ranking, the institute is placed 9th, while in the Uniranks ranking, it holds the 18th position among higher educational institutions in the republic.

Similarly, in the Unipage ranking, the institute is also ranked 18th. Additionally, the institute is actively pursuing recognition in the Greenmetric ranking, and the staff members have high expectations for achieving positive results in this particular ranking.

It is worth highlighting that the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages, along with over 40 other higher educational institutions in the country, has attained financial, academic, organizational, and managerial independence.

This achievement has enabled these universities to introduce new educational programs, determine admission criteria for fee-paying students, set tuition fees based on market demand and supply, and consider the scientific and pedagogical potential as well as the material and technical resources of the institutions.

Financial independence offers additional benefits, such as the ability to allocate income towards supporting students from low-income families, providing them with financial assistance and incentives.

Moreover, higher educational institutions can engage local and foreign teachers and specialists on a contractual basis, leveraging their expertise in modern pedagogical methods and conducting scientific research.

Due to its financial autonomy, the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages has undertaken significant initiatives over the past two years, including regular financial incentives for its students.

To enhance social support and encourage talented and proactive students, as well as to facilitate their successful integration and extracurricular engagement, we aim to encourage students to participate in language courses and creative circles.

A crucial task is to identify and support specific groups of students listed in social notebooks, such as the “iron notebook,” “youth notebook,” and orphans, including those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This is achieved through the provision of social, psychological, and material support.

In this regard, the institute’s staff has undertaken substantial efforts to motivate and assist students in need of social protection and financial aid, as documented in social notebooks such as the “iron notebook” and “youth notebook.” Support measures have been implemented, including employment opportunities and assistance.

For the academic year 2021/2022, a comprehensive list of students requiring social support was compiled and submitted to the competent authorities at their respective places of residence.

Consequently, the Samarkand Regional Administration (Khokimiyat) allocated 78,443,560 soums to support 11 financially needy students, while the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages provided 273,204,453 soums to support 39 students in need.

Looking ahead to the academic year 2022/2023, the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages has allocated contractual contributions amounting to 37,871,000 soums for 19 students listed in the “Youth Register.”

Additionally, financial assistance totaling 36,769,500 soums has been granted to 71 students requiring social protection.

In recent years, comprehensive support frameworks have been established to foster the development of young individuals into highly skilled professionals. This focused attention on youth is expected to yield fruitful outcomes in the future.

These reforms undeniably contribute to a promising future for Uzbekistan, as the youth of today serves as the foundation of tomorrow, embodying the potential of the New Uzbekistan and the Third Renaissance.

The Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages plays a significant role in coordinating the implementation of internationally recognized language programs and textbooks at all educational levels, while also enhancing teachers’ pedagogical skills through modern approaches.

To increase the accessibility of higher education for high school graduates, the institute has established six language learning centers, currently catering to more than 2,500 applicants studying foreign languages. The plan is to expand the enrollment capacity of these centers to accommodate up to 5,000 individuals in the future.

It is worth mentioning that German language courses have been introduced in nine colleges and technical schools across the Samarkand region to promote the teaching of foreign languages. These courses feature alternative educational methodologies conducted outside traditional classroom settings, with class sizes limited to 15 participants.

To ensure the effectiveness of the educational courses provided in technical schools, qualified teachers from the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages, possessing C1 level proficiency in the target language, are invited to instruct the students.

Accordingly, educational and scientific programs have been developed, and specialized textbooks and literature have been sourced from abroad. Students enrolled in the German language courses progress from the A1 to B2 level, following a systematic and regular learning process.

The primary objective is to prepare students for employment opportunities in Germany and deliver high-quality foreign language instruction to young learners.

Currently, there is a growing urgency to enhance energy efficiency and promote the utilization of environmentally friendly, unconventional, and renewable energy sources.

Given the escalating energy demands and the consistent rise in energy prices, the development of green energy using modern, eco-friendly, energy-saving technologies and renewable sources plays a crucial role in the contemporary stage of global progress.

In the Samarkand region, the implementation of cost-effective and high-quality solar panels is actively taking place in various enterprises, organizations, buildings, and structures, resulting in energy conservation.

In line with the implementation of the green economy system, programs have been designed to enhance energy efficiency in the social sector and optimize the utilization of renewable energy sources.

Currently, these programs primarily operate within the framework of the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages.

Significant efforts have been made to introduce alternative energy sources as part of the energy infrastructure modernization of the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages.

The institute has undertaken decisive measures to utilize approximately 800,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually for its educational and administrative buildings, as well as student dormitories.

the installation of 40-kilowatt solar panels on a four-story educational building in October 2022, and another four-story educational building equipped with 1000 seats in February 2023, each building has the capacity to generate 80,000 kilowatt-hours of alternative energy.

These initiatives ensure uninterrupted power supply to the educational institution and enable annual savings of up to 40 million soums.

Moving forward, future plans include the installation of 40-kilowatt solar panels in Campus No. 2 by August, and in Campus No. 3 by December 2023.

Additionally, there are plans to install 20-kilowatt solar panels in a nine-story academic building and 50-kilowatt solar panels at the Faculty of Foreign Languages in the Payarik district by December 2023.

It is essential to emphasize that the initiatives undertaken to incorporate alternative energy sources align with a comprehensive strategy aimed at fostering a green economy and ensuring optimal energy utilization.

By pursuing economic efficiency and environmental sustainability, these measures create a conducive environment for the balanced development of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens.

In conclusion, Uzbekistan’s commitment to educational progress and scientific advancements has propelled the country into a transformative phase of independent development.

Notably, the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages has played a pivotal role in these developments, actively working towards enhancing the quality of education, constructing modern facilities, and expanding educational programs.

Overall, these initiatives underline Uzbekistan’s commitment to economic efficiency, environmental sustainability, and the holistic development of its society.

As the country continues to prioritize education, scientific research, and technological advancements, it is poised for a promising future, with the youth-serving as the driving force behind the nation’s progress.

Uzbekistan is paving the way toward a prosperous and sustainable future for its citizens by fostering a green economy, expanding educational opportunities, and embracing renewable energy.

*The writer is Professor, Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, Rector of the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages

**The writer is Director, the Centre for Central Asia and Eurasian Studies

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