I experienced many aspects of the Tajik educational system within the first two days of my stay here. I co-taught classes from the moment I got into Qurghonteppa and met the Minister of Methology on my first day. Moreover, I had the opportunity to visit a university and address an English class on the topic of American English and educational systems. Although there were some differences, I found their system generally to be much closer to the American system than the Asian schools I have visited on previous grants.
The Tajik classrooms are teacher-centered and students show a great deal of respect to teachers. When I walked in to any classroom, the students all stood up and greated me with an welcoming “salom.” Yet there is a relaxed and informal feel as well. Like in my classes, students sometimes forget their books, and went to get them at the beginning of class and students like to text during class, but not nearly to the extent that we have in America. Additionally, the students liked getting involved in hands-on learning. To teach them about American holidays, I walked outside the classroom and had students knock and shout “Trick or Treat!” after which I gave them candy with small American flags. They really seemed to love that. I was envious at how small some of their classes were, and thought about how my substitute teacher was dealing with my 30+ classes back in America.
One major difference is the centralization of curriculum. Every subject had a detailed plan which included lesson objectives, methodology and even homework assignments.
I was very happy after meeting and talking to the Minister of Methodology with Tojiddin. He informed me of the help their school district had received from the US embassy. I was pleased to know that my country was involved in helping Tajikistan with resources to improve their education. I felt like it was, although indirectly, some way to return some of the kindess I had received from them.