The following is the full text of the address by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the Second World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education in Tashkent.
Distinguished conference participants!
Ladies and gentlemen!
I sincerely congratulate you on the opening of the Second World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education in Tashkent.
I extend my sincere gratitude and best wishes to the distinguished guests, the heads of international organizations, the ministers and representatives of foreign countries participating in the international conference.
Welcome to Uzbekistan, dear guests!
We are particularly gratified that Madam Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO, is personally participating at the opening ceremony of the international conference.
In recent years, our cooperation with UNESCO in the areas of education, science, cultural heritage, information and communication has been rapidly developing.
In particular, with the support of this Organization, we have been effectively implementing a number of significant programs and projects to preserve the world cultural heritage sites in our country, restore existed ancient Great Silk Road cultural ties, improve the quality of the education system and raise comprehensively developedgeneration, and ensure Uzbekistan youth professional capacity building.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my appreciation to Madam Audrey Azoulay and all our foreign partners for their contribution to this important and noble endeavor.
Distinguished conference participants!
Undeniably, there is a number of challenges in providing a qualified preschool education for young children worldwide.
In many countries, the preschool education is not provided for nearly 200 million children, which limits their access to primary education.
In its turn, it is no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has had an enormous negative impact on the education sector over the next few years.
In the time of such challenges, it is clearly important for all countries to deepen close cooperation, as well as for our people to unite and solve issues together.
In this regard, I believe that today’s conference will help us generate new approaches and solutions to the issue of children’s education, which is considered an important direction of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Based on the principle that "human dignity, his rights and interests are the highest value", we have defined the creation of decent living conditions for the people of our country as a priority of the New Uzbekistan’s policy.
In this regard, we attach great importance, above all, to the care and practical support of young people and children, raising them physically healthy and spiritually mature generation.
Through early childhood development and providing a decent learning environment, we are building a solid foundation for children’s full self-expression in the future.
Indeed, there is no doubt that the investments spent in the path of such a noble goal will pay off several times over in the future.
Along with this, all of us are well aware that the basis of the child’s personality is formed at the preschool age, during which the foundation for his intellectual and physical development is created.
Currently, there are about 3 million children of preschool age in our country.
Undoubtedly, they are our most valuable treasure, the creators of our free and prosperous life and our bright future.
It is also worth mentioning that in the recent past, the preschool enrollment rate fell to 27%.
Almost all preschool institutions lacked modern technologies and manuals, and their facilities were under renovation. This has limited the opportunity of our children to receive full quality education and upbringing.
Whereas, the role and importance of the preschool education system in our social life, which is considered to be the most important link in the upbringing of our children, cannot be measured and overstated.
From the early days of reforms, we have decided to fundamentally modernize the existing education sector, in particular, the preschool education.
For this purpose, and for the first time in the history of our country, we established a Ministry of Preschool Education.
We place great emphasis on raising kindergartens to a new level according to time requirements, wide application of advanced methods and techniques, and strengthening the educational and material base.
We have created favorable conditions for the entry of the private sector to the extensive development of the industry.
The State budget subsidies were also available for each foster child in kindergartens.
In recent years, the number of kindergartens in our country has increased sixfold. Thousands of family kindergartens were established in remote and out-of-way areas.
The number of educators and teachers has also increased threefold and reached 160, 000. Furthermore, practical work has been undertaken to improve the qualifications of more than 160,000 pedagogic personnel
This, in turn, provided an opportunity to increase the number of children receiving education and training in kindergartens from 600 thousand to 2 million, the rate of children’s coverage increased to 70%.
Distinguished conference participants!
You are well aware of the wise saying, " Life is a constant learning experience."
Therefore, in the course of democratic reforms in Uzbekistan, we are prioritizing raising the education system to the level of modern requirements.
In particular, more than 10,000 secondary schools are currently operating in our country.
In recent years, the number of higher educational institutions has increased by almost 2.5 times and reached 186. 31 of them are branches of the world's leading universities and institutes. It is worth noting that the university admission quota has increased by 3.5 times and enrollment in higher education increased from 9% to 38%.
It is well known that our country, located at the crossroads of the Great Silk Road, has been contributing to the development of the world civilization and culture since ancient times.
Famous scholars of our country like Al-Khorazmi, who founded the concept of algebra and algorithm, Al-Biruni, who laid the foundation of the science of mineralogy, Ibn Sina, a famous medical scientist known in the world as Avicenna, Mirzo Ulug'bek, a great astronomer who accurately determined the position and movement of one thousand and eighteen stars, Ahmad Fargani, who created a unique device for measuring the level of the Nile River, made a significant contribution to the development of the First and Second Eastern Renaissance in the Middle Ages with their invaluable works, scientific and creative discoveries.
Speaking about this, it is worth mentioning that in the past more than 300 madrasahs, which were universities of that time, functioned in Bukhara, and about 120 existed in Samarkand.
Since time immemorial, our country has attached great importance to upbringing along with education.
It is well known that the great Uzbek poet and thinker Alisher Navoi promoted the idea of a perfect human being who is harmoniously developed in all aspects, possessing high knowledge and spirituality.
The words of Abdulla Avloni, a great enlightener, famous writer and pedagogue who worked at the beginning of the 20th century: "Education is a matter of either life – or death, either salvation – or destruction, either happiness – or disaster" serve as an important program for us even today.
We are setting the Third Renaissance building in our country as a strategic task and bringing it up to the level of a national idea.
We consider preschool and school education, higher and secondary special education system, as well as scientific and cultural institutions as four integral links of the future Renaissance.
We believe that kindergarten teachers, school teachers, professors and scientific and creative intellectuals to be the four pillars of the new Renaissance.
In this regard, we will strive to achieve our goals by pooling our national experience and the world's best achievements.
It is obvious that where there is education and training, there will undoubtedly be science, culture and development.
Radicalism and extremism will never take root in a highly educated society.
We will consistently continue the work we have begun and take all necessary measures in the future to reach enrollment of 80% of young children in pre-school education in 2025.
In addition, as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we aim to have six-year-olds fully enrolled in school preparation program by 2025.
Dear event participants!
The fact that the representatives from 150 countries of the world are visiting our conference is a clear testament that the development of preschool education is of global importance today.
I am confident that this conference will create new opportunities for further expansion of international cooperation in order to define policies related to the field of pre-school education until 2030 in the world and thereby provide quality education to young children.
Proceeding from this, we consider it reasonable to put forward the following important proposals:
First, in today’s world preschool children, who are the most vulnerable, are also suffering by the increasing threats of violence.
Therefore, it is very urgent to effectively solve the issue of quality education for young children at the global level, to develop joint solutions and systematic approaches to these issues.
Taking this into account, we propose to hold this international conference regularly.
Second, I hope that you will support our initiative to establish a UNESCO Regional Center in Tashkent in order to systematically coordinate all our efforts on education in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
I also propose to develop a Comprehensive Program to conduct joint projects and research with the World Organization for Early Childhood Education, to prepare new methods of education and methodical manuals.
Moreover, we are putting forward an initiative to create an International Community of Educators to share world best practices, modern interactive teaching methods, rich practical knowledge and skills in this direction.
Third, it is important to include the issue of early childhood education as one of the main topics on the general agenda of the forthcoming summit to be held by the United Nations in 2024 and dedicate a separate session to that.
Based on the outcomes of this international conference, it would be appropriate to adopt a special resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations that recognizes raising and educating young children as an important factor in achieving universal development.
This document should reflect significant issues such as increasing the role of parents in ensuring children's quality education and upbringing, spiritual and physical maturity, and their responsibility to fully manifest their abilities and potentials.
Dear ladies and gentlemen!
I believe that today’s conference will be held in the spirit of intense discussion and mutual exchange of ideas, and new initiatives, specific proposals and recommendations will be developed.
Undoubtedly, the Tashkent Declaration to be adopted following the conference will serve as the foundation for our future collaborative efforts in this area.
Taking this opportunity, I wish all of you a sound health, best of luck, and immense success in the work of the conference.
Thank you for your attention.