Aziza Shonazarova, the first Uzbek scholar who has been admitted to the tenure track position at Columbia University in the United States, is currently in Uzbekistan.
Shonazarova counted a number of differences between the education system of Uzbekistan and the US during a press conference with the participation of the media and public representatives.
“People read books in the US”
The difference between our education system and the US education system is that people read books there. Not only a student reads books, but also a professor has to read a lot. He should be aware of new books and research works in his field. He must know and be able to talk about it.
That’s why we are stuck in our own shell: we are unaware of what is happening in the world. Therefore we just want to add something to the old reports that are circulated inside Uzbekistan and try to create something new. We need to rectify that.
“Plagiarism kills a career”
They ask me to write a review for our local PhD dissertations. I have seen so many dissertations, which were defended. Their scientific values are very low. People are obtaining scientific titles by translating what remained from the Soviet era, translating research works from the Russian, or Turkish languages. They are providing non-existent references.
In America, they immediately identify plagiarism. There is a system showing where it came from. If someone plagiarizes even a single sentence without providing a reference, automatically fails in that lesson.
If a student uses plagiarism, his career dies.
Plagiarism is a very bad thing. Unless we fix this issue, we will have no development of science, no innovation.
“Universities invest in professors”
We have a title of professor. And in the US, it is a position, not a title. It is a position at the university.
This position has salaries and great benefits. They only have to deliver a lecture at the hour they were assigned. Lectures are delivered for bachelors, masters and doctoral students. They do not work in offices, they are not told to come to work at the institute.
Most of the professors like to work from home. They prefer to work wherever they have more books. According to them, if they work in the office, everyone knocks on the door and they are distracted.
In addition, they are expected to do their research works, publish articles and books in their respective field. Their performances determine the prestige of the university. Students choose universities considering the status of professors.
“Students study the subjects that they love”
I graduated from the Institute of Oriental Studies. We had a class schedule and lessons were conducted strictly based on this schedule. It does not exist in America. There are some compulsory courses for freshmen. Starting from the second year, students attend courses in a particular specialty, which they like. A student creates his own program.
“It is not only about reciting materials”
I remember, we used to write down lectures. And the teacher used to read from a book. This is not the case in the US at all. There is something called “syllabus”. It is a lesson plan created by the teacher for each lesson.
When the first lesson begins, the lesson plan will be distributed to everyone. That plan will be the main “mediator” between the teacher and the student. Students do not ask the teacher what to do or what to read, they learn subjects independently.
There are no textbooks. Students read articles from the world’s most prominent sources on a weekly basis.
There are 2nd, 3rd, 4th-year students in my classes. They read 100 pages a week. This is normal. It is an assignment for just one lesson. They attend up to a minimum of 5 courses at a time.
After completing reading the assigned material, the student comes to discuss it with me. It is not just about reciting the material. There are ways to check if a student has really prepared for the lesson. We mainly focus on critical analysis.
Students should not only read but be able to express their own opinions about the article.
It should be reminded that Aziza Shonazarova was awarded the “Dustlik” (Friendship) order by the head of state at the event dedicated to International Women’s Day.