ABDVol.32 No.4

Book Promotion for Children in Uzbekistan
Alisher Ikramov

Reading and Writing Situation in Uzbekistan

 Reading and writing culture is an important element in the general development of society. Traditionally, books and other printed materials were a part of the household environment in Uzbekistan. This explains the high popular demand for books, and phenomena of the "home library". The average, "home library" consists of books on a variety of subjects; children's stories and folktales, multi-volume collections of novels of famous Uzbek and foreign writers, specialized literature and, of course, textbooks. From early childhood, children are exposed to books and other printed materials at home. Educational programmes within pre-school educational institutes also encourage children to read books and to take care of printed materials. Reading campaigns and various related programmes which provide broad public awareness and general appreciation of books and printed materials became an integral component of education reforms. For example, during World Book and Copyright Day nationwide festivities are held in Uzbekistan, including book exhibitions, meetings with famous writers and poets, etc.
  The interdependence between educational publishing and general publishing is institutionalized within the State Printing Committee. The Committee, which provides a common conceptual framework for book development in Uzbekistan, carries out the regular compilation and publication of a national bibliography and other statistical data regarding the book sector. Communication between different agents in the book community, and especially between educators and publishers is gradually developing. A national book policy covers publication, distribution and utilization processes. Publishing industries are controlled by the state through compulsory licensing and legislation drawn up by respective ministries. Ownership of intellectual property on textbook development is regulated by the State Committee for Copyright.
  The mandate and power for book production and distribution are given to national institutions such as the State Printing Committee and respective publishing centres of the Ministry of Public Education, Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education, and Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Uzbekistan, who are encouraging the development of the book sector and provide co-ordination, direction and funds for various projects. The book sector receives both direct and indirect subsidies from the Government of Uzbekistan, since textbooks and other printed materials have an impact on what is taught and how it is taught in educational institutions of the country. The Republican Education Centre is reviewing and controlling the quality of learning materials used in classrooms with regard to relevance, content and educational approach as well as to ensure that the provision of learning materials reflects government policies.

Government Policy and Textbook Projects

 The Government has established favourable policy with regard to textbooks projects. There is a clear government policy for the provision of learning materials for basic and vocational education. The need for policy-making, planning and management has been broadly recognized. Today, most activities of the Government in the area of book development focus on textbook development for education. For example, the Republican Education Centre under the Ministry of Public Education of Uzbekistan is responsible for national curriculum development for primary and secondary schools. International organizations, particularly UNESCO, Asian Development Bank and UNICEF, have funded initiatives to support textbook provision. Textbook projects are also covering the development of other learning materials, such as audio-visual facilities, computer equipment, etc. However, despite the fact that many textbook and curriculum development projects have successfully met their objectives, it is still difficult to achieve a satisfactory level of quality, content and presentation of learning materials. For example, the quality of the bindingムsometimes, the textbooks starts to fall apart due to poor binding, its life expectancy is reduced. Another example, educationally sound curriculum. The writing and design of educational materials require more than knowledge of a subject. Writing and designing successfully for children is not the same thing as writing for adults. Sometimes the content of some subject in the textbook is very complicated and difficult for children to understand. Observation of textbook content for over the last 5 years shows us a positive tendency to improve readability and presentation of learning materials.

Newspapers and Journals

 There are about 50 printing agencies and over 600 newspapers and journals in Uzbekistan. Since December 2001, a new weekly colour journal, The World of Books has been started to be published in Uzbekistan. The journal covering information on new books, by main publishing houses in Uzbekistan such as: Ouzbekiston, Ouzbekiston milliy enciklopediaysi, Ukituvchi, Mehnat, Yozuvchi, Choulpon, Gafur Gulom nomidagi Adabiyot va sanat nasriyoti, Abdulla Qodiriy nomidagi halq merosi nasriyoti, Sharq, Manaviyat, Yangi asr avlodi, Fan, Toshkent Islom universiteti, Imom al-Bukhoryi jamgarmasi nashriyoti. The main objective of the journal is promotion of the "reading habit" among the young generation.

Language Issue and Literacy

 In order to meet the needs of major ethnic groups in Uzbekistan, learning materials (all textbooks) are published in seven languages: Uzbek (90%), Karakalpak, Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Turkmen.
  Due to the fact that imported paper is too expensive for efficient printing and people cannot afford to buy books, private sector publishers have not provided greater investment in the book sector.
  In order to keep a higher level of literacy among the population, the Government of Uzbekistan continues to make investments in a wide variety of book productions. For example, textbooks for the first grade of primary schools are distributed free of charge.

New Programme and Curriculum

 Since adoption of the new governmental long-term programme (1996) on changing of the script of the Uzbek language, all textbooks for children have gradually started to be published in Latin script. That is why, in short-term period, Uzbekistan has a shortage of books and learning materials in Latin script for children. In order to overcome this problem, the Government of Uzbekistan is giving high priorities to improving library facilities and capacities in all educational institutions of the country. National contests on "good practices" among school libraries have been initiated by the Ministry of Public Education of Uzbekistan. Another innovative approach for book promotion is regular meetings "Nafosat" (on community, district, region and national scales) of pupils and students, who have creative aspiration to write original stories, tales, poems, etc. themselves.
  Since September 2001, all educational institutions have introduced book rental schemes. Parents pay for the rental scheme and the government subsidizes them to reduce costs to make them affordable. Schools with book rental schemes are storing the books between and during the school years. National specialized libraries have a strong exchange network.
  With the introduction of new textbooks, in-service training programmes for teachers in the use of new curriculum materials are organized regularly. Textbook development programme includes the development of teacher's manuals and additional teaching materials. New curricula and concept of textbooks correspond to the economic, social and cultural realities of Uzbekistan.
  The local private publishing sector is not actively involved in children's book development and mostly focuses its activities on selling imported books from abroad, mainly from Russia. In order to encourage the private publishing sector to produce books locally, the Government is creating favourable conditions through legislation.

Alisher Ikramov
He has been the Secretary-General of the National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO since 1994. Prior to that he taught at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent. He is closely associated with the activities of UNESCO and ACCU and various other international agencies. He has published extensively on various aspects of education, science and culture of Uzbekistan.
Alisher Ikramov
54, Buyuk Ipak yuli, Tashkent, 700077, Uzbekistan, phone: (99) 8 712 670561,
fax: (99) 8 712 670538, e-mail: unesco@natcom.org.uz