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Tajikistan's 'Returnee' Islamic Students Not Continuing Their Studies


Tajik students pictured here returning from Islamic countries

Tajik students pictured here returning from Islamic countries

DUSHANBE -- Only 60 of the some 1,200 Tajik students who recently abandoned their studies at Islamic universities and madrasahs abroad and returned to Tajikistan have been admitted to Tajik universities, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Abdusattor Odinaev, head of the international Relations Department at Tajikistan's Education Ministry, told RFE/RL on March 23 that students who haven't been accepted into universities can ask the ministry for advice.

Odinaev said it is unfortunate that some students do not have written evidence of the course of studies they took abroad and the examinations they passed. He said that in order to avoid any misunderstandings, the ministry has asked Tajik embassies to obtain the relevant documentation.

One affected student is Akram, 26, who returned to Tajikistan two months ago with 23 other Tajik students from Egypt, where he was studying on a Tajik government scholarship. Akram was subsequently admitted to a local university, but he and his fellow students want to return to Cairo because he said the courses and standard of teaching there are more modern and of a higher quality than in Tajikistan.

He said the lectures at Tajik universities are boring and have not been updated in the past 20 years.

Muhammad Karimzod, a professor at Tajikistan's Islamic University, told RFE/RL that some 25 students who have returned to Tajikistan will be admitted to that university in the next few weeks. Karimzod acknowledged that the academic level of students who returned from Islamic countries is higher than at the Islamic University because they had better conditions for study and research.

Despite the criticism, Tajik authorities are interested in bringing students home from Islamic countries, in particular those currently studying at illegal universities and madrasahs, and the students who went abroad without state sponsorship.

The return of Tajik students from Muslim countries began in August after Tajik President Emomali Rahmon advised parents to bring their children home because students at illegal Islamic schools often "fall under the influence of extremists and become [our] enemies."
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