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In: Central Asian Affairs

Internationalization transformed the way Higher Education (HE) is provided. Used correctly, internationalization can bring a useful exchange of services and resources into a country’s HE sector. Although there is a growing body of research on HE internationalization broadly, current scholarship overlooks the correlation of excessive reliance on opening of foreign university branches as a way to internationalize the HE sector and the development of the local HE system. This research thus provides the first insights into how the internationalization of HE may not necessarily solve a developing country’s problems in the local HE sector. Using the case of Uzbekistan, it argues that, in the absence of systematic reforms in the local HE system, HE reform that over-relies on the imported internationalization in the form of foreign university branches is not sustainable. Such “franchise” or “imported” internationalization does not contribute to the development of local HE system.

In: Central Asian Affairs
Author: Denis Sokolov

In the 2000s, Al-Qaeda, represented by the Caucasus Emirate, took over the first Chechen resistance, as well as local Islamist armed groups in Dagestan and other republics of the North Caucasus. However, a decade later, the Islamic State won the competition with Al-Qaeda, by including the involvement of women in its project. Hundreds of Russian-speaking Muslim women followed men to live by the rules of Islam. Some joined their husbands or children. Others travelled to the Islamic State in pursuit of love and romance with future husbands they had met on the internet. Based on exclusive interviews done with women detained in the Roj detention camp in the Kurdish territories in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border, this article analyzes some of the trajectories that has pushed young North Caucasian women to the Syrian war theater in the name of love.

In: Central Asian Affairs
Author: Dina Sharipova

This paper explores the issue of informal payments in the education sector. State underinvestment in education has significantly increased the scope of informal payments in the post-independence period. The authorities of Kazakhstan have legalized informal payments by introducing Councils of Trustees, creating open school budget accounts, and making changes in the distribution of public expenditures. Although these measures have reduced informal payments in schools, the money received from parents is still an important part of school budgets.

In: Central Asian Affairs
Author: Kamal Gasimov

This article examines the politics of bureaucratization of Islam that the Azerbaijani government initially implemented in the mid-2000s and which has intensified after 2011. First, the state superimposed its bureaucratic categories on the Muslim communities of the country. Then, it proceeded to transform local religious figures into state employees. Yet, at the same time, the government insists that it does not interfere into theological issues and that all of its bureaucratic initiatives are aimed at ensuring freedom of belief and protecting the public order. However, with time, the process of bureaucratization has shifted from regulation to a direct administrative and ideological intervention into the religious space aimed at creating a state-imagined “orthodoxy” designated as traditional Islam. This article draws on previously untapped primary sources to discuss the different ideological and political aspects of this bureaucratically initiated tradition and its pervasive and transformative influence on the local religious landscape.

In: Central Asian Affairs

This research aims to describe how parents navigate secondary education choices in Bishkek in the context of diverse school choice options. The paper uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, which include interviews and a complementary survey with parents. The paper provides an overview of the state of school options in Bishkek, explores parental motivations in choosing schools, and engages in a wider debate about educational inequality. By examining parental school choices and motivations, the research reveals that inequality in secondary education in Bishkek is multi-layered and depends on how families can utilize their resources: parents with larger resources in the form of financial, social, and cultural capital are most advantaged, while the majority of under-resourced families are left with little choice and schools of poor quality. This state of affairs has strong implications for the growing socio-economic inequality and creates additional cleavages between social groups.

In: Central Asian Affairs

There are significant regional disparities in students’ outcomes in Kazakhstan. Whilst there has been progress in the overall quality of secondary education, large-scale assessments demonstrate a gap in knowledge of several years between certain Southern and Western regions when compared to the top-performing city of Almaty.

The author analyzed country data from timss 2015 using the Learning-adjusted years of schooling (lays) measure developed by the World Bank along with an expert survey to understand the factors behind this disparity across the country. The author’s analysis suggests that this situation can be caused by the lack of specific regional education development policies, the language of instruction in school, and the poor socioeconomic development of the region in the first place. There are also indications that students in the disadvantaged regions might be less motivated, which can affect their academic achievement. The author proposes a two-stage policy intervention to improve the chances for good childhood education across regions.

In: Central Asian Affairs