One of the critical tasks Uzbekistan faces today in our complex era is the proper education of the younger generation and effective implementation of youth policy. Therefore, particular emphasis is placed in the country on addressing the pressing issues related to the health, social status, education, and employment of the youth on a systemic basis, and to delivering an environment conducive for their growth as a mature generation of citizens, writes Kahramon Kuranbayev,
Currently, 55% of Uzbekistan’s population is ‘children of independence’, that is, kids born after the country attained national independence in 1991. They are more than 18 million free-thinking generation of citizens full of enthusiasm. Thus, youth issues are attached in Uzbekistan a strategic significance in the public policy realm. Complex plan of actions is there to be implemented systemically, starting from a good education for boys and girls of the New Uzbekistan through to becoming mature professionals.
In the last seven years, the integrated system of youth strategy has been created on the basis of a solid normative framework incorporating more than a hundred documents pertinent to the field. The system is frequently afforded boost from President Shavkat Mirziyoyev as well as a certain degree of acknowledgement from the international community for its uniqueness.
According to the UN, the share of youth in the world population is expected to grow by seven percent by 2030. The trend is suggestive of the need to pay more attention to issues young people face, including their education and ethical nurturing.
Thus, in 2017, speaking at the UN General Assembly, President of Uzbekistan called on international community to take greater responsibility for the future of youth in his initiative to adopt a convention on youth rights.
In fact, only by helping young people fully realize their potential while acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills will it be possible to further the economic advancement and secure development of diverse fields.
More than 18 million young people living in Uzbekistan today are the happiest generation. For, in hindsight, boys and girls have never in the national history enjoyed as much opportunities as they do today.
Good stats to reflect on: From 1991 to 2016, a total of 25 laws, presidential decrees, resolutions and other normative documents were adopted relating to youth issues, while the 2016-2023 period has seen more than 100 such documents.
The population of the country is expected to reach 50 million by 2040. Considering that youth constitute 60% of it, one can acknowledge that we need to leave a safer state, effective governance, stable economy and social guarantees crucial to deliver decent living conditions for them.
Such guarantees have been strengthened in the renewed version of the Constitution, which states that attention and care for people is the most important duty of the state and society. In accordance with it, the state ensures the protection of personal, political, economic, social, cultural and ecological rights of young people. It encourages their active participation in the life of society and state.
On the other hand, creating conditions for education, social and medical protection, housing, and employment of youth is a critical achievement for the country’s younger generation. To be sure, all of those legal norms and guarantees are being developed on the basis of proposals and recommendations received during direct dialogue with people, especially youth.
The purpose sought is to boost the creative potential by educating the younger generation as forward-looking, critically thinking resolute young people boldly moving towards their goals, as well as to enhance opportunities for them to achieve success in independent life. Since youth of today hardly resemble those of the past, differing in mindset, worldview, dreams, and demands. The current youth are active in political processes and bold in their views and opinion.
Today, the Uzbek government intends not to leave the growing generation with their problems face to face, but instead listen to the concerns and deliver every opportunity for them to realize themselves.
One may wonder which areas in Uzbekistan’s public life have been the most conspicuous with the attention of the state paid to young people. The mahalla (local neighborhood), schools, vocational colleges and higher education institutions can be seen as the most visible spots with government care for the youth.
First of all, building on the wishes of representatives of the younger generation, various types of clubs, professional and language training centers, as well as sports facilities have been set up in neighborhoods and educational institutions, along with the provision of modern education.
To cite just one example, in 2019-2022, to attract young people to culture and arts, more than 41 thousand clubs were launched in 826 cultural centers and more than 10 thousand general education schools across the country. In excess of 149 thousand sports clubs have been established, engaging nearly 2.7 million boys and girls. 6.4 million young people took part in sporting projects and competitions.
In particular, Olympiad of Five Initiatives has helped create a good opportunity to select out talented youth in neighborhoods. More than 13 million boys and girls across Uzbekistan participated in this Olympiad in the year 2022 alone. In addition, based on the interest of 109 thousand young people with disabilities, Paralympics of Five Initiatives was organized in chess, ping pong, and athletics. In order to further broaden opportunities for young people to practice sports, diverse types of sports fields and complexes for mini-football, workout, streetball were built and put into use in their neck of the woods.
Human capital and human potential has been chosen as the principal driver of reforms in the New Uzbekistan. Since, as President Shavkat Mirziyoyev once noted, at a time when the fourth industrial revolution is in full swing across the world and artificial intelligence competing with human abilities, “we should be a country of not just skilled cotton growers and gardeners, but also of highly qualified IT specialists, engineers and power engineers, miners and metallurgists, physicists and chemists.”
To this end, a system of presidential, artistic creative and specialized educational institutions was set up in Uzbekistan. The number of higher education institutions grew almost threefold, to reach 210. The level of enrollment of school graduates in higher education institutions increased from 9% to 38%.
Presidential scholarships were instituted for 200 young people who scored the highest points in admission exams to higher educational institutions, so were presidential and government scholarships for undergraduate students of foreign higher educational institutions in located in Uzbekistan.
The tuition fees of all women at the graduate level of state higher education institutions are reimbursed from the public budget.
In order to support talented young people who have chosen the path of science, the state quota for the doctoral study has been doubled. As a result, over the past five years, 187 women across the country have received the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.
Apart from that, the number of boys and girls eligible for fellowships from higher education institutions, included in the list of the world’s top 100 universities, has been growing. The funds of the El-Yurt Umidi (Hope of the Nation) Foundation will be allocated without additional examination for the comprehensive support of these talented young people, themselves considered a ‘golden fund’ of the country. Air ticket and accommodation expenses of youths who have earned scholarships of higher educational institutions in the TOP-500 list will be fully reimbursed.
Today, young people with thirst for knowledge and their parents say they are extremely happy with such opportunities. It actually constitutes the essence of the words of our enlightened ancestors who used to say that salvation is in education, salvation is in moral upbringing, salvation is in knowledge.
During the new reforms, 270 thousand hectares of arable land were allocated in the villages, and 714,000 young people were provided employment.
In the last three years alone, 250 thousand young men and women were provided with preferential loans worth more than 6 trillion soms. 210 youth industrial and entrepreneurship zones were established across the country, and 2.5 thousand projects worth 4 trillion soums were implemented. As a result, the number of young entrepreneurs doubled to exceed 200 thousand.
From now on, talented and enterprising young people will get additional support from the government. In particular, Youth Socio-Economic Centers will be set up on an area of at least 100 hectares in each region of Uzbekistan.
The center will prove to be a real ‘factory of projects’ for children and be granted the status of a free economic zone. In this center, project offices will be located and help to turn young people’s ideas into ‘ready-made businesses’. There will also be industrial zones and coworking spaces for start-up projects within the territory of the center. 210 youth industrial and entrepreneurship zones in districts are given the status of branches of centers, with project groups working in them.
A wide path is being opened for young people to become professional, to start their own business, and necessary conditions are being created for them to become real owners and earn income.
To date, 124,000 young men and women have been trained in professions, 133,800 in entrepreneurship, more than 10,600 young men and women have been taught modern professions through the e-kasb.uz platform. 205 digital technology training centers have been established in the regions, 1 million young people were taught the basics of computer programming for free within the framework of the project One Million Coders.
Today, the youth of Uzbekistan feel ready to compete with their counterparts in the world in all areas. Currently, 1.5 million of them spend their free time learning a foreign language. In order to encourage such young people, 18 billion soums were paid for the exam costs of 10,300 young people who scored high points (level) in the process of learning foreign languages.
In the last six years, 758 talented and dedicated young people who have made a worthy contribution to the development of our country have received state awards, which is an example of the attention paid to youth policy in our country.
Today, youth issues are addressed not only with the help of educational institutions or specialists at the workplace, but in an environment that knows them and their family well, namely, in mahallas (Uzbek social institution of neighborhoods). In this process, the experience and initiative of youth leaders in the neighborhood is of great importance.
Over 100 various opportunities have been created for the youth of the mahalla as a result of the establishment of a comprehensive vertical management system. The period of consideration of youth appeals was reduced from 30 to 5 days, and the provision of assistance was cut from 40 to 16 days.
Youth leaders are compiling information on the social status, employment and health of young men and women aged 14-30 in the neighborhood and forming the ‘youth register’. The types of assistance provided based on the recommendations of the leaders increased from 11 to 25.
In particular, the ‘youth register’ system is literally a register of opportunities in terms of ensuring the employment of young men and women, providing them with social, legal, and psychological support. In the past two years, nearly 1 trillion soums of aid was provided to 798 thousand young people through this register. In particular, tuition fees were paid for the education of 53,000 students from needy families.
More than 31 thousand young men and women are trained in traditional and modern professions with the help of ‘youth register’. To date, 18,800 young people have been trained in modern professions and foreign languages, and 13,400 – in traditional professions. For this, 53.8 billion soums were assigned to more than 80 types of professional education.
In addition, at least 25,000 young men and women will be trained in modern professions in 2023. The types of socio-economic services provided through this register will grow 1.5 times in 2023-2024.
The reforms implemented in Uzbekistan regarding youth policy, raising the political and legal consciousness and culture of the young generation, forming a strong civic stance and providing them with all-round support continue to improve and at a new stage.
In particular, the social status, abilities and interests of 9 million young people between the ages of 14 and 30 were studied and divided into 3 categories. Now we are working with them on the basis of the ‘mahalla to ministry’ system based on specific criteria.
During the three-stage work on this direction, thousands boys and girls who are in the category of ‘grave situation’ and need the care and attention of the state were attached anonymously to a certain minister and their deputies, hokims (governors and mayors) of regions, districts and towns, heads of sectors, rectors, commanders of the National Guard and military units, as well as young people from the ‘middle’ category will be provided assistance in finding their place in society and providing employment.
The certain work will be carried out with young people who are included in the ‘good’ category, who have an exemplary education, have started their own business, work in the official sector, are capable, socially active.
They create conditions for sports, cyber sports and intellectual games, reading, karaoke. In addition, youth festivities and streets of creativity, sports leagues, co-working and theater studios are organized in higher education institutions.
In addition, the New Uzbekistan Youth Initiatives fund and electronic platform will be launched. 100 million dollars will be allocated to the fund, which will be assigned to the best ideas and start-up projects of talented young people on convenient and easy terms, if necessary, without interest.
Based on the experience of IT parks, Creative Parks will be established in the regions of the country. They will be given the benefits and concessions granted to IT park residents. Also, clubs in schools are equipped and coaches are supported. The effectiveness of the activity of Barkamol Avlod children’s schools will be raised. Vocational Olympiads are organized among young people. Open-air libraries are to be established in tourist complexes such as Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva, Termez, Shahrisabz, Kokand, central parks of cities and districts.
At the moment, the New Uzbekistan Youth Strategy is being devised and refined, aiming at the effective application of the youth policy, as well as working with young people and supporting their aspirations.
The Strategy includes complex tasks designed to develop the youth issues sector through to 2030, setting specific target criteria to be achieved in this direction, and educating young people in the spirit of devotion to the Motherland.
Ensuring the implementation of these measures is of great importance in fostering representatives of a comprehensively competent generation. In Uzbekistan, such youth reforms are continuous. Extensive reforms will be carried out on the basis of new approaches to comprehensively support children, deliver more opportunities and conditions for them.
Today, those who are studying in schools, vocational colleges, technical institutes and universities, those in business, in civil service, armed forces, in the production, construction sectors, science, education, healthcare, culture – the more than 18 million boys and girls who boldly enter the world of literature and arts, sports, and modern information technologies, living with great dreams, are the priceless wealth and gold reserve of the nation. With this incomparable strategic power, we will build the New Uzbekistan, a foundation for the Third Renaissance!
The Author Kahramon Kuranbyev is a Professor of Political Science