Turkmenistan: The authorities ease the police regime and return normal education
Sources in Ashkhabad report that police checkpoints manning the Ashkhabad - Nebit-Dag (Balkanabat) road these last several years have finally been removed. (The checkpoints logged every vehicle and every passenger passing them.)
There used to be three checkpoints like that between Ashkhabad and Kizil-Arvat (now the city of Serdar). Policemen at the second checkpoint on the administrative border between the Akhal and Balkan velajats (regions) examined passengers themselves. The police at the checkpoint in the Ashkhabad outskirts checked trunks and luggage. Used to it, drivers obediently stop at the checkpoints only to be waved on.
What information is available to Ferghana.Ru news agency indicates that analogous restrictions were lifted elsewhere but on entry into the border zones with the Republic of Turkmenistan.
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Ferghana.Ru sources in Ashkhabad are told by their contacts in the municipal department of public education that negotiations with Russia may be arranged in the nearest future (conceivably this spring) in order to discuss against the treaty on Turkmen-Russian cooperation in the spheres of science, culture, and education signed in summer 2002. The document envisaged expansion of bilateral contacts in the above-mentioned spheres. It also stipulated a broadening of studies of the Russian language in Turkmenistan and protection of Russian-speakers' rights. As soon as the treaty was signed, Niyazov had all Russian classes in provincial schools closed.
Citizens of Turkmenistan regularly bring up the necessity to reintroduce the studies of Russian at schools. Off the record, officials of departments of public education admit that it will only make them happy. First, the matter concerns new jobs. Second, people hope that the reforms will offer new opportunities to the young (very many families would like to see their children studying Russian). Officials say that the matter will be handled within the framework of the treaty in question. Help from Russia is needed: textbooks, curricula, exchange programs, etc.
The very subject was a strict taboo in Turkmenistan only recently. These days, everyone including officials bring it up openly.
There are the rumors that teachers' salaries will go up some on September 1, 2007 and will be doubled in January 2008.
Sources say in the meantime that the new president is keeping his promises to computerize schools in villages and rural areas. Telephone cables will be laid there in 2008. Orders were issued to start looking for would-be teachers. English language teachers are wanted for village school where no foreign an languages have been taught for years.
Opening of colleges for young people with nine years' worth of education behind them is considered (lyceums or evening schools). Technical colleges may be opened again, and the obligatory work period (two year) before application for an institute or university may be abolished.
All music schools were closed down in Turkmenistan in 2005. Some of them will be opened again this year.