Virtually all Turkmen adults can read and write. The compulsory schooling is twelve years. However, some children drop out of school early, especially in rural areas.
The school system deteriorated after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 through the then education policy of Saparmurat Nijazov (then Saparmurat Nyýazow). Appropriations for the education sector were low, teaching resources were lacking, teachers were dismissed and Nijazov’s own writing Ruhnama (The Book of the Soul) became compulsory reading in schools.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Turkmenistan, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
After Nijazov’s death in 2006, some improvements were made. In 2007, ten years of compulsory school became compulsory, and in 2013 two years of compulsory upper secondary education were introduced. The same year, it was announced that schools no longer need to use Nijazov’s book in teaching. Instead, students would read books about different cultures in the world.
The children start school at the age of six. Two of three children go to preschool before. Nine out of ten children start primary school and the vast majority continue to the upper classes. However, some students quit early, often to work in the cotton fields.
Teaching is mainly in Turkmen, and since 1996 Latin alphabet is used. English is increasing in importance. Many Russian or Uzbek-speaking schools have been closed. There are universities in Ashgabat (Aşgabat) and the country has about 20 colleges, where the studies are subject to fees.
Competition for study places is fierce and bribery is common. Previously, the regime prevented Turkmen students from reading abroad, but since 2008, student exchange has increased, not least with Russia.
- Educationvv: Provides school and education information in Turkmenistan, covering middle school, high school and college education.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Reading and writing skills
99.7 percent (2014)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
20.8 percent (2012)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
20.8 percent (2012)
President’s son into parliament
Serdar Berdimuhamedow gets 83 percent of the vote in a parliamentary election. He is the only known son of the president, but it is not widely known how old he is.
Presidential election in February
Decides that presidential elections will be held on 12 February 2017;
The term of office of the President is extended
Parliament adopts constitutional amendments that in practice allow Berdimuhamedow to remain as president for life. On the one hand, the president’s term of office is extended from five to seven years, and the 70-year age limit for presidential candidates is abolished. As before, a president can be re-elected an unlimited number of times. Berdimuhamedow promises that in the upcoming elections there will be “alternatives” for voters, as three parties will be allowed to stand.
The change of minister in the wake of the crisis
President Berdimuhamedow dismisses the Minister of Finance and Development, the Minister of Commerce and the Head of the Tax Authority. He accuses them of “serious shortcomings”, but the layoffs are mainly seen as another attempt to cope with the economic crisis caused by the low oil and gas prices.
Wedding couples must be HIV tested
A new law provides that people applying for a marriage certificate must undergo HIV testing. It is the closest the closed state has come to the recognition that there is a problem with HIV infection. In the rest of the former Soviet Union, HIV and AIDS are a widespread problem.
Code of conduct silences criticism
A code of conduct for civil servants comes into force. It establishes how officials should be dressed and how they should behave at work, but also prohibits them from publicly expressing opinions that are not in line with the government’s line and criticizing state authorities. Nor can public officials speak openly about their workplaces’ budgets or the cost of purchasing equipment.
Currency trading is stopped
The country’s banks are prohibited from selling foreign currency. Rumors of an imminent devaluation have led to a rush for hard currency. The currency halt causes the value of, among other things, the US dollar to increase sharply in the black market.