ORIENTAL STUDIES IN UZBEKISTAN: HISTORY AND MODERNITY
The contribution to the development of education and science must always be timely and relevant with the standards accepted in the world. These two directions are fundamental in the all-round development of the country. Over the years of independence Uzbekistan has made significant progress in this regard. However, the demands of the new time pose new challenges for us. The labour market has changed, now only those personnel who possess knowledge and competencies at the highest level are in demand. Yesterday’s approaches to gaining knowledge have already lost their relevance. In the 21st century, the emphasis is on innovation and technology.
Over the past few years, in the field of oriental studies in the CIS, there has been an active reassessment of many issues related to the problems of statehood, religious studies, international relations and common historical heritage. Today, aspects of interaction are on the agenda, which, taking into account the current state of affairs, have to meet the new realities. At this stage, studies reflecting the positions of countries in the system of relations between East and West become relevant. It is especially important to study the experience of Eastern countries.
Today, the East is a rather broad concept that includes the Far East, East Asia (Japan, China, Korea), Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.), a huge region of the Near and Middle East, as well as North Africa.
The relevance of Oriental studies in the 21st century lies in the connection with religious, cultural and philosophical traditions, in the direct understanding of completely different civilizations.
Oriental studies is one of the oldest branches of education in Uzbekistan. Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies is one of the largest oriental higher educational institutions in Asia and the post-Soviet countries. In November 1918, the Turkestan Oriental Institute was established in Tashkent. The opening of such an educational institution marked the beginning of the training of qualified specialists in various branches of Oriental science not only in Uzbekistan, but throughout Central Asia. This educational institution specialised in the study of oriental languages and literature, regional studies, ethnography, Islamic studies of Turkestan and its neighbouring states. At the same time, research work in the field of oriental studies was carried out at the institute. According to official data for the 1922-1923 academic year, 210 students studied at the Turkestan Oriental Institute.
Over the years, lectures on various branches of oriental studies were given at the Institute by such orientalists, historians, ethnographers and philologists as the prominent educator and teacher Saidrasul Saidazizov, the author of the textbook “Ustadi avval”; teacher and public figure, Arabist, Islamic scholar V. Kucherbaev; teachers of oriental languages Abdurakhman Saadi, Mirza Tagiev, Mirza Ibragim, Badal Kariev, as well as Russian orientalists M.S. Andreev, A.A. Semenov.
In 1944, the Oriental Faculty was established as part of the Central Asian State University (now the National University of Uzbekistan). Considering the demands of the time and the requirements of public education, the training of teachers, referents and translators of oriental languages became an important task.
For a more in-depth study by students of classical and modern literature of the peoples of the East in 1965, the Department of Literature of the Peoples of the Foreign East was created. In the 1980 and 1990s, oriental science in Uzbekistan was developed by outstanding oriental scientists, specialists in various branches of oriental studies – academician U. Karimov, academician B. Ahmedov, prof. A. Bulgakov, prof. M. Pikulin and many others. Uzbek scientists-orientalists introduced into scientific circulation and made public the monuments of ancient culture and the spiritual heritage of Uzbekistan and the countries of the East in general.
A new stage in the development of Uzbek oriental studies began after the declaration of independence of Uzbekistan. Taking into account the requirements of the day, in order to train and improve highly qualified orientalists, deepen and expand scientific research in the field of history and culture of the peoples of the East, as well as the development of international relations with foreign countries, on the initiative of the First President of the Republic of Uzbekistan I. Karimov, the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies.
Today, much attention is paid to the development of oriental studies and the training of orientalists to expand bilateral and multilateral political, economic and cultural relations between Uzbekistan and the countries of the East.
Orientalists of Uzbekistan carry out their activities in the diplomatic service, about 50 of whom have worked and work now as the Ambassadors of Uzbekistan in the countries of East and West, USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Turkey, Belgium, Italy, Israel, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia , Egypt, Kuwait, UAE, Singapore, China, Malaysia and other countries of the world.
The transformation of the Institute of Oriental Studies into a University imposes a great responsibility not only on the entire faculty, but also on young orientalists who will contribute to the development of modern statehood in Uzbekistan. Research is being carried out on the peculiarities of the development of the countries of the East, on cultural ties and the heritage of its peoples, information and analytical bulletins are being issued, scientific and educational literature are being published. Also, research is being conducted from a scientific point of view on development factors, modern socio-political and economic processes, Eastern culture and philosophy, ancient monuments and manuscripts of the countries of the East; systematic and detailed study of cultural, literary, historical and philosophical sources; complex studies of the features of the socio-political, economic and interethnic, intercultural relations of the eastern countries.
The university has begun a phased introduction of a credit-modular system of education. There was a lot of debate about its pros and cons, but if we want to integrate into the global educational community, then we need to implement it at an accelerated pace now. Taking into account the current situation in the labor market, new areas of training of orientalists are being developed. Together with a number of partners from foreign countries, the development and implementation of modern methods for assessing the level of graduates’ proficiency in Eastern and Western languages has begun.
The new foreign policy course of the leadership of Uzbekistan has created great opportunities for international cooperation in the development of oriental studies. It is obvious that without interaction with foreign partners it is impossible to achieve the desired result in the study of the countries of the East and the training of qualified orientalists. Strengthening international cooperation, it is planned to create a regional educational hub in the field of oriental studies. For now cooperation has been established with leading universities in the USA, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, India, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Japan, Korea, China, Russia and the CIS countries, where about 70 teachers are sent annually for advanced training and internships, as well as participation in scientific conferences and lectures.
To date, 30 foreign specialists from Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey, and Iran have been attracted to work within the walls of the university on a permanent basis. In addition, short-term courses (online and offline) by foreign teachers are systematically organised.
Taking into account the above, the following conclusions can be drawn:
1. The requirements of the new time pose new challenges in the training of orientalists. The labour market has changed, now only those personnel who speak not only foreign languages, but also have comprehensive knowledge and competencies, are in demand. “Yesterday’s” approaches to gaining knowledge have already lost their relevance.
2. The major transformations carried out in the field of Oriental studies are primarily aimed at training highly qualified specialists, personnel of a new formation, as well as the comprehensive development of a favourable research environment for young scientists.
3. New realities in the international relations of Uzbekistan create great opportunities for cooperation with foreign universities in the development of oriental studies. Strengthening international cooperation with traditional oriental schools in Russia, it is planned to create a regional educational hub in the field of training specialists in the countries of the East.
Rikhsieva Gulchekhra Shavkatovna –
Rector of the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies.
The Republic of Uzbekistan