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Rural Teachers Freed From Tajik Military Service

DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's parliament have passed new legislation exempting village teachers from compulsory military service.

According to the amendments to the Law on Education approved by lawmakers on March 6, teachers in rural areas will also benefit from free land lots, tax cuts, and other financial benefits.

Education Minister Nuriddin Saidov told RFE/RL that cases of forced drafting of young teachers will be investigated and that those responsible will be punished.

"By drafting a young teacher to the army, we deprive 20-25 schoolchildren of a teacher," Saidov said.

Tajik men between 18 and 27 have to serve two years in the Tajik army.

The number of teachers in Tajikistan, especially in rural regions, dramatically decreased after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.