OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz authorities say the new academic year for secondary schools in the southern cities of Osh, Jalal-Abad, and Batken will begin as planned on September 1 -- but that university students will start theirs several weeks later than normal, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
Deputy Prime Minister Oktomkhan Abdullaeva said at a meeting with local authorities in Osh today that all the universities in the south would start the new academic year on October 18.
Education Minister Kanat Sadykov told RFE/RL on April 24 that university students' new academic year had been postponed in order to prevent the students being used by different political groups during the upcoming election campaign.
Parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 10 and the election campaign kicks off on September 10. Sadykov also said that the new academic year for secondary schools in the region would start on September 1.
The statements came after Osh Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov on August 23 said the academic year there should be indefinitely postponed due to security concerns.
Myrzakmatov said some 500 additional police were needed in the city to provide adequate security for the schools. He warned that without police at Osh schools, a situation similar to Russia's 2004 Beslan school hostage-taking tragedy could result.
Sadykov, speaking on August 24 at a UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) ceremony delivering school supplies for students to Osh school administrators, said the Education Ministry had been working with security forces to allay concerns regarding the safety of schoolchildren in Osh.
Nearly 400 people were killed in the Osh and Jalal-Abad regions in June when clashes erupted between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz.