The subject of providing the students help and support during the period of their studies has always been and remains being one of the most important ones in almost all the faculties and chairs of Namangan Engineering Pedagogical Institute (NEPI). Although each Faculty of NEPI, with varying effectiveness, may have its own views and policies established regarding this matter, there will always be room for improvement.
As a result of our MATCHES “Towards the ModernisATion of Higher Education InstitutionS in Uzbekistan” team’s lengthy interviews about Enlightenment Day (so called “Manaviyat Kuni”-day of spiritual education) with academic as well as administrative staff of a number of faculties both in Namangan Engineering Pedagogical Institute (NEPI), an overall impression has been established regarding the ways in which the system of Ustoz-Murabbiy (Personal Tutorship) is employed in NEPI of higher education as well as the extent to which Independent Learning is encouraged under it.
Personal tutors (Ustoz-Murabbiy in Uzbek) are assigned and coordinated by each faculty’s Dean’s administration. Ustoz-Murabbiys are selected from among the staff based mainly on their academic experience. Unfortunately, their interpersonal skills as well as their abilities of working with students are often not considered.
Ustoz-Murabbiys are given booklets about Enlightenment Day, published and distributed to all the high Education Institutes by the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education. These booklets include the list of various activities and discussions that Ustoz-Murabbiys of NEPI should have with their tutees. Other than these booklets, personal tutors are given further information in handbooks that provide a detailed description of Personal tutors’ responsibilities. Although the responsibilities of Personal Tutors listed in handbooks are quite general and common sense, the factual expectations of management from Ustoz-Murabbiys are quite excessive, being more of an ideological and cultural nature. The responsibilities include constantly being aware of the student’s (tutee’s) state of presence in the university, possessing all the personal information about him, and not only be the first and main means of contacting with the student, but also being “the one to blame” for any major wrongdoings of any of the tutees. More often than not, Personal Tutors are known to have gone through rebukes from management during some meetings.
As part of the Ministerial assignment, all the faculties of NEPI are expected to have a so called “Manaviyat Kuni” (Enlightenment Day) every week in Friday. At the very beginning of the academic year Personal Tutors of NEPI are expected to create a schedule of activities to be held during the year with their tutees. The list of these activities are presented in the booklets mentioned above and include trips to various Namangan museums and theatres, orphanages and nurseries, visits to historical sites of Namangan and Ferghana valley.
Although the initial plan of setting up the system of Personal Tutorship (Teacher -Ustoz) might have been carefully considered in order to make it as effective as possible, the actual implementation of it varies from one university to another, and from one Personal tutor to another. Because of the “scheduled” Enlightenment Day and compulsory sense of this system, Personal Tutors of NEPI are very often perceived by students as just another lecturer, while the activities aforementioned come to students as a burden and something unnecessary. The negative implications of this become widely obvious.
Not only students often try to miss out on these activities but also the Personal Tutors of Namangan themselves often perceive the purpose of their responsibilities not in the very best light. Lastly, the performance of Personal Tutors is assessed by the management on a rating basis.
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