02/25/2016, 18.27
KYRGYZSTAN
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Fight against Islamic extremism, 90 per cent of madrassah principals unqualified

In 2014, the government tightened controls over religious education, school principals, and teachers. Now the latter must show they have the necessary qualifications to be certified. This includes support for traditional Islam and a secular education. Out of 101 madrassahs, 72 registered for the certification process. Of these, 92 per cent of principals and more than 200 teachers out 483 failed to be certified. Scores of mosques, cultural centres and associations are financed from abroad.

Bishkek (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than 90 per cent of principals and approximately half of the teachers in Kirghiz madrassahs (Islamic schools) have not been certified because they lack the secular and religious higher education needed to teach in the country’s religious schools.

Because of this, most of the country's madrassah principals will lose their teaching licenses, said Abdulla Asrankulov, head of Kyrgyzstan's Religious Certification Commission.

This is the result of regulations adopted in 2014 to curb Islamic extremism among young people, who are often taught by unqualified religious teachers.

Yesterday, clergymen, principals and teachers underwent the process designed to vet their qualifications.

Over the years, Kyrgyz authorities had become concerned about the growth of radical ideas in the country and the recruitment of young people by extremists.

In mid-January, the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry said that more than 30 Kyrgyz nationals were killed fighting alongside Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq in 2015.

Increasingly, young Central Asians are being recruited via the Internet. Recently Russian authorities said that some 3,000 Central Asians, including 500 Kyrgyz, have been recruited.

For this reason, the Kyrgyz government tightened controls on Islamic schools, often hotbeds of extremist propaganda.

In 2012, Kyrgyz security officials also accused the country's highest religious authority – the Muftiyat – of illegally sending Kyrgyz children to religious schools in Bangladesh, where teachers allegedly propagate the views of the extremist Tablighi Jamaat movement.

The measures passed in 2014 require all Islamic school principals and teachers to undergo certification in order to determine their level of knowledge of Islam. This includes showing their support for traditional Islam, and having an adequate religious and secular education.

Out of Kyrgyzstan’s 101 madrassahs, 72 have registered their staff for the certification process that began yesterday. Ninety-two per cent of principals and more than 200 teachers out 483 failed to be certified.

Kyrgyzstan has a population of almost 6 million people. It has 2,400 religious organisations, more than 2,000 of them Islamic. There are also 2,300 mosques, as well as cultural centres and associations, often financed from abroad.

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