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Ethnic Uzbeks Push For Switch To Kyrgyz Language Schools

Ethnic Uzbek girls walk along a street just outside the southern city of Osh in June.
OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Several prominent members of the ethnic Uzbek community in Kyrgyzstan's southern city of Osh have proposed gradually switching to Kyrgyz as the language of instruction in schools, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Osh City Council member Amanullo Iminov, an ethnic Uzbek, told RFE/RL he advocates launching Kyrgyz language classes in schools dominated by ethnic Uzbeks and increasing the teaching hours in Kyrgyz in high schools. He said the proposal will be considered at the next City Council session.

Uzbek playwright and journalist Erkin Baynazarov told RFE/RL that the initiative is long overdue. He added he and about 50 other people are holding meetings with the public and lobbying to have only Uzbek language and literature classes taught in Uzbek, and all other classes in Kyrgyz.

Independent expert Abdumomun Mamaraimov told RFE/RL he thinks the switch from Uzbek to Kyrgyz as the language of instruction may compound ethnic tensions, and some parents might consider it discrimination.

School principal Kadyrzhan Yunusov told RFE/RL that his school in the village of Kashgar switched in 2009 to teaching all subjects in Kyrgyz. He said parents had suggested the change due to a lack of Uzbek-language textbooks.

Ar-Namys party member Anvar Artykov told RFE/RL that the initiative could facilitate greater integration after the June 2010 clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks that left hundreds dead and thousands homeless.