The paper discusses the effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union on teachers’ life and work in Badakhshan and Osh provinces of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Challenging some of the assumptions of the Soviet studies about the interaction between teaching and other sources of moneymaking by teachers, the paper illustrates continuities and changes in the pre-Soviet, Soviet and post-Soviet times in terms of role, nature, forms, and ethics of trading and commercial activities in the life of the teachers in the two countries. The paper draws from the two ethnographic case studies carried out in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan between 1999 and 2005. The drastic actual changes in the status and work of the teachers in post- Soviet Central Asia has presented teachers with tough choices. One of such choices was whether to become involved in trading and commerce. Teachers’ experience of trading and commercialisation has been contradictory: necessary, possible, rewarding; yet challenging and often disgusting and contrary to the very morality of the teaching profession. The teachers’ life and work serves as windows to the larger issues that have both local and global ramifications. The challenges teachers face in the paper speak to basic issues of human experience: dignity, justice, hope, equity, care and humanity. The paper’s major argument is that while teachers are increasingly gaining from their involvement in trading, it is the societies that are losing, both by loss of the best teachers and by the implications of trading and commercial activities on the education systems in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The policy makers must make decisions about how teachers could be provided with conditions that enable them to focus on the major priority of their work for the benefit of the future generations of Central Asia.
Education in Tajikistan today is acknowledged by the Ministry of Education ofthe Republic of Tajikistan and by international agencies as facing manychallenges. Infrastructure and materials need replacement or repair; curriculum needs to be adapted to changing conditions; professionaldevelopment for teachers is required, while means to retain experiencedteachers and attract new ones need to be found. At the same time, childrens'meaningful access to education has been threatened by various factors thatreduce their attendance and participation in education, keeping some youth outof school altogether. This chapter argues that research in education in Tajikistan and the development of research capacity throughout the educationalsystem is one of the prerequisites for improving the education of youth inTajikistan. The chapter outlines Soviet educational research traditions andthe systematic centralization of curriculum development and research duringSoviet times outside the republic and the resultant local underdevelopment of curriculum development andeducational research capacity on independence. Educators in Tajikistan today are influenced by inherited and new ideas on curriculum, pedagogy, teacher training, textbooks and assessment, and analyzes documents issued by the Ministry of Education and the World Bank to identify current discourses on the education system's needs. Nevertheless, there is still insufficient knowledge about the current state of education inTajikistan, and a lack of information about the attitudes of all stakeholderstowards educational change. The chapter cites recent field work on the lives and work of teachers in the field as an example of how practitioners'experience is both in accord and discord with views of both the Ministry ofEducation and external educational development agencies, and suggests thateffective long-term development of education in Tajikistan needs moregrounding in qualitative and quantitative research, and a greaterdevelopment of local research capacity at all levels of the educational system.