Education and schools in Uzbekistan have been going through continuous reform since 1991, when the country became independent after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The local curriculum has been criticised as being too focused on rote learning, but there has been a movement towards subjects with a practical orientation.

There are a few international schools in Uzbekistan, most of which are located in the capital city, Tashkent. International schools are usually the best option for expat families as they tend to lessen the disruption of the move, especially if children are able to attend a school that teaches their home curriculum in their first language.

Public schools in Uzbekistan

Teacher standing in front of class by Thirdman

When it comes to public schooling in Uzbekistan, the most immediate obstacle for expat families is the language barrier. Of the country's more than 10,000 public schools, the vast majority (almost 9,000) teach in Uzbek. The second most common language of instruction is Russian, which is used as the main language at fewer than 1,000 public schools across Uzbekistan.

Public schooling in Uzbekistan is therefore only recommended for expats whose children already have proficiency in Uzbek or are young enough to still pick up the language easily. Furthermore, local schools are often difficult to adjust to in terms of culture. For this reason, only families staying in Uzbekistan for the long term tend to consider this an option.

Public education in Uzbekistan is free and compulsory for 11 years. Primary school begins at age six and continues for four years. The next stage is secondary school, typically from ages 10 to 15. Thereafter, students can choose between general or technical vocational schools.

Uzbekistan's Ministry of Education recently introduced specialised educational institutions for gifted students known as Presidential Schools. These schools offer STEAM subjects alongside the Cambridge IGCSE curriculum to advance academically inclined secondary school students.

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Private and international schools in Uzbekistan

Before 2017, there was little to no private school presence in Uzbekistan. However, as part of education reform, the government has recently begun to offer incentives to those establishing private schools. This has resulted in many new private schools opening in Uzbekistan.

Private schools choose their own language of instruction. There are several international schools in Tashkent geared towards expats from certain countries. In the case of international schools, teaching is in the language of the school's country of origin, which is often English.

International school fees are usually pricey, so if expat parents are relocating to Uzbekistan for work purposes, it's worthwhile trying to negotiate the inclusion of education expenses in the relocation package.

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Special-needs education in Uzbekistan

Student learning braille by Eren Li

Special-needs education in Uzbekistan lags well behind global standards. Only in the 2021/2022 academic year did the country begin to move towards an inclusive education model for those with special needs. Currently, the government is focused on secondary education, including vocational education. Selected secondary schools across the country now operate on an inclusive basis and offer remedial classes for special-needs students. Graduates of specialised educational institutions can now join certain vocational schools as part of a specialised group.

Private schools are likely to have more resources devoted to special-needs education, but the extent of the support available can vary widely from school to school. It's best to consult schools directly to find out more about any special-needs policies or programmes.

Tutors in Uzbekistan

Though tutors aren't widely used in Uzbekistan, there are a few online tutoring companies that have listings of Uzbek tutors. For expat families, tutors can be particularly helpful in assisting with language acquisition and maintaining proficiency in the family's mother tongue, which can be important if the child's schooling is in their non-native language.

In the run-up to major exams, expat kids attending international schools following curricula like the International Baccalaureate and those of the UK and the US can benefit from online tutoring. Not being limited to the relatively small tutoring market in Uzbekistan makes it easier to find a good fit.

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