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Uzbekistan's Top Education Officials Fired

Uzbek President Islam Karimov

Uzbek President Islam Karimov

TASHKENT -- Uzbek President Islam Karimov has sacked the country's top education officials, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Ministry officials told RFE/RL that National Education Minister Ghairat Shoumarov and Higher and Middle Professional Education Minister Azimjon Parpiev were fired on February 26 according to a presidential decree.

Tashkent-based independent journalist Sharof Ubaydullaev told RFE/RL that the presidential order is timely since Uzbekistan's education system is extremely corrupt. He said the sacking of the country's top education officials is a sign of possible improvement in the situation.

But Uzbek scholar Faizulla Ishokov told RFE/RL that firing the two ministers will not bring any noticeable improvements to the country's education system.

"The system has to be completely taken out of its roots as the real situation with bribes in the educational system has such a solid base," she said.

Uzbek students have been known to pay bribes to be accepted into certain faculties or universities and to receive passing grades on exams or to receive their diplomas without having done the requisite coursework.

Shoumarov served as the rector of the University of World Languages in Tashkent, while Parpiev was the rector of the Tashkent Textile Institute, before their ministerial appointments in 2008.