Based on numerous measure and initiatives taken by the Ministry of Higher and Specialized Secondary Education of Uzbekistan, it is obvious that staff development and increasing the qualification of teaching staff is one of the most important and sensitive ones.
Although Namangan Engineering Pedagogical Institute has its own department that ensures staff development, the system is coordinated on a national scale by the Ministry. Every member of academic staff is required to go through Staff Development training once every three-five years.
These trainings are provided in many universities: Tashkent National University — for humanitarian subjects,
Tashkent University of Information Technologies, Ferghana Polytechnic University for subjects of a technical nature, and Tashkent State University of Economics for economic subjects. The length of these trainings is around 3 weeks or 1 month. We found it quite useful that upon the initiative of the teaching staff, they can use their Staff Development period for working more intensively on their scientific work and research.
Although before universities were required to send a certain number of teaching staff for these trainings, according to recent regulations by the Cabinet of Ministers, this ceased to be compulsory, which means that it is now at the universities’ own discretion whether they do this or not. Currently the National Staff Development system works as follows. The Staff Development Universities send out to the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education the list of all the trainings they can provide. The Ministry then sends out these lists to all the universities. The Staff Development department of each university then reviews these lists and sends back to the Ministry the list of their staff they would like to send to any of those trainings. The Ministry then creates a plan for each Staff Development university, which the latter then has to complete by the end of the year.
Trainers are selected from different universities and, more often than not, are hired for a certain period. Interestingly, there is no a clear process by which SDUs carry out a needs analysis. The training modules are created mainly based on what’s available in terms of the hired trainers competence. This makes it obvious that universities have to choose from what’s available on the Trainings list. Although the range of training modules on offer is quite extensive, universities are quite limited in this sense, because each university has its own needs for specialized subjects.
Effectiveness of the Staff Development trainings in terms of delivery as well as perception of trainees is yet another topic for discussion. Although these trainings are said to have been quite effective a number of years ago, this is mostly not the case anymore. Very often this period is used for absolutely irrelevant purposes, including unofficial breaks by trainees.
One of the most negative findings during the workshop was that very often being in the list of the staff to be sent for the Staff Development training is perceived quite negatively, especially if he/she is being sent for a training of his/her own field of specialization.
However the Ministry acknowledges that these training sessions award each trainee with an appropriate certificate which is quite positively perceived by academic staff. Moreover the Ministry keeps the staff training activities under its careful control and feedbacks continuously.
It is particularly difficult to draw some average line in terms of the way different uzbek lecturers approach the “right” way of delivering the session. “Highly responsible”, “active”, “very aggressive”, “threatening”, “encouraging”, “mostly friendly, but shouts at students frequently”, “very rude with students”, “enthusiastic”, “helpful”, “relaxed and interactive”, “interactive”, “controlling and authoritative” were among the various ways the teachers have been described by observers. However, although it was very pleasing to observe a number of lecturers with a very enthusiastic and friendly attitude, ready to help and support, always encouraging the students to express their opinions, most of the sessions could be referred to as being teacher-centered, where teacher is clearly the sole source of information which cannot be challenged by the student. This impression becomes especially true when it comes to sessions where students remain under the very strict control and command of the lecturer. Students can be punished for wrong answers, not only in terms of marks but more notably in terms of aggressive and, even at times, offensive remonstrations by the lecturer.
Another point of observation worth mentioning in this section is the lecturers’ varying ability to deliver the session. Most of the lecturers have been noted to be quite confident in their area of knowledge. However, what they seem to lack are presentation skills in terms of the poor eye contact, posture, and voice projection. When these insufficiencies were especially marked, this resulted in a growing number of passive and uninterested students.
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