Article 1 of the 2018 Law of the Republic of Tajikistan "On Education" No.1527 defines “Distance education” as “a way of implementing the educational process with the help of modern ICT that allows for learning at a distance without direct personal participation of teachers and students” (p. 3). In parallel, Article 1 of the 2009 Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Higher and Postgraduate Vocational Education” No.531 defines “Distance learning” as “one of the forms of education, which suggests methodically organized management of educational and cognitive activities and is aimed at students who are away from educational organizations by means of electronic and telecommunication means”(p. 2).
Article 1 of the 2014 Law of the Republic of Tajikistan about educational literature No.1122 defines “Electronic educational materials” as “a set of digital graphics, text speech, music, video and multimedia information for all levels of education” (p.1). In parallel, Article 1 of the 2014 Law of the Republic of Tajikistan about educational literature No.1122 defines “Electronic (digital) educational resources” as “educational materials stored on an electronic device or computer” (p. 1).
According to the 2003 State strategy "Information and communication technologies for the development of the Republic of Tajikistan" “Information and communication technologies” No.1174 is “a complex of objects, actions and rules related to the preparation, processing and delivery of information in personal, mass and industrial communication, as well as all technologies and industries that integrally provide these processes” (p. 5). In this regard, Article 3 of the 2005 Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Higher and Postgraduate Vocational Education” No.124 defines “Information technology” as “a set of computer technology and telecommunications, software and methods of their use for retrieving, processing, storing, transmitting and receiving information” (p. 2).
Finally, according to the 2017 State program for the introduction of information and communication technologies in educational institutions of the Republic of Tajikistan for 2018-2022 “Informatization of educational institutions” No.443 is “the process of changing the content, methods and organizational form of preparing students for learning during the transition of an educational institution to learning using information technology” (p. 6).
Constitution and laws: According to Article 41 of Constitution of the Republic of Tajikistan (2016) “everyone has the right to education in Tajikistan. Everyone, within the limits determined by law, can receive free general secondary, primary, vocational, secondary vocational and higher vocational education in state educational institutions. Other forms of education are determined by law”. The Constitution does not refer to technology.
The Zakon Respubliki Tajikistan «Оb obrazovanii» [Law of the Republic of Tajikistan "On Education"] No. 1527 of May 17, 2018, or Law “On Education” defines the only term related to educational technologies - distance education.
The Zakon Respubliki Tajikistan «Оb informatizasii» [Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Informatization”] No. 124 of December 26, 2005 aims “to create favorable conditions for meeting the information needs of legal entities and individuals, government bodies based on the formation of modern information infrastructure in the Republic Tajikistan and its integration into international information networks and systems” (p. 1).
Policies, plans and strategies: The Gosudarstvennaya strategiya «Informasionno-komunikasionniye tehnologii dlya razvitiya Respubliki Tajikistan» [State strategy "Information and communication technologies for the development of the Republic of Tajikistan"] No. 1174 of November 5, 2003 was developed to introduce and use modern information technologies, computer technology and telecommunications in all spheres of the socio-economic and cultural life of the society. The State Strategy defines the following main areas of activity in the field of education and science: informatisation of education and knowledge management, ensuring universal computer literacy, development and introduction of educational standards, teaching informatics in educational institutions of all levels, implementation computerised learning technologies, 100% computerisation of schools; development of personnel potential of the ICT sector, development of multilevel professional education in the field of ICT, taking into account the needs of the labour market; change in the whole complex of regulatory and legal support during the transition to new educational structures; and introduction of an open education system using distance learning at all levels, the development of new knowledge banks based on electronic educational and methodical complexes, specialised electronic libraries, holding virtual conferences and conducting research. The Gosudarstvennaya programma razvitiya I vnedreniya informasionno-kommunikasionnih tehnologiy v Respubliki Tajikistan [State program for the development and implementation of information and communication technologies in the Republic of Tajikistan] No. 468 of December 3, 2004 was developed to implement the State strategy "Information and communication technologies for the development of the Republic of Tajikistan".
The Gosudarstvennaya programme ma compyuterizasii obsheobrazovatelnih shkol Respubliki Tajikistan na 2011-2015 [State programme of computerization of secondary schools of the Republic of Tajikistan for 2011-2015] No. 416 of September 2, 2010 aims to introduce the training of new information and communication technology in educational institutions and, on this basis, improve the quality of training of specialists to meet the needs of the individual, the state and society.
The Gosudarstvennaya programma vnedreniya informasionno-kommunikasionih tehnologiy v obsheobrazovatelnih uchrejdeniyah Respubliki Tajikistan na 2018-2022 gody [State programme for the introduction of information and communication technologies in educational institutions of the Republic of Tajikistan for 2018-2022] No. 443 of September 29, 2017 was developed to provide educational institutions with information and communication technology, the implementation of which contributes to the solution of important tasks for the reform in the field of education in Tajikistan in the modern world. The program is based on the norms of the Constitution of the Republic of Tajikistan, determines the goals, priorities and measures for the development of information and communication technologies in educational institutions.
According to the Nasionalnaya strategiya razvitiya obrazovaniya Respubliki Tajikistan do 2020 goda [National Strategy for the Development of Education of the Republic of Tajikistan until 2020] of June 30, 2012, the Concepts for the use of information technologies in the process of managing the education system and training activities have been developed and adopted (p.3)
Finally, according to the Nasionalnaya strategiya razvitiya obrazovaniya Respubliki Tajikistan na period do 2030 goda [National Strategy for the Development of Education of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period up to 2030] No. 526 of September 29,2020, the priority reform measure 4.5.8 is the introduction of digital technologies in the field of education and the National Education Quality Assessment System (p.97)
Digital competency frameworks: According to the Concept of the Digital Economy of the Republic of Tajikistan, it is planned to increase digital literacy at all levels of primary, secondary, and higher professional education in Tajikistan. However, at present, there is no detailed description of digital competency frameworks in the regulatory documents on education.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The Government of the Republic of Tajikistan has prepared an Emergency Action Plan to contain the spread of coronavirus and mitigate its consequences on the socio-economic situation in the country. From September 1, 2020, an average of 15% increased wages of budgetary organizations, which also include educational institutions (p.31). In order to continue learning outside of schools amid the pandemic, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan have jointly developed a series of television lessons in core subjects. These materials are also available online on a blended learning platform through LearnIn, Learning Passport and Maktab Mobile.
As the main directions of development in the field of general education for 2030, the government defined “providing all schools with broadband access to the Internet and increasing the equipment of classrooms with computer technology”, as well as “providing network content for most academic subjects and the widespread introduction of interactive learning formats using information and telecommunication technologies” [National Strategy 2016, p. 46], which is a prerequisite for the widespread introduction of distance learning.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
Electricity: The 2000 Law on Energy grants the government the authority to develop the energy sector. Other relevant energy legislation includes the Law on Renewable Energy Resources (2010) and the Law on Energy Saving (2013). The 2016 National Development Strategy of the Republic of Tajikistan for the Period up to 2030 identifies three energy access priorities: 1) Further development of small hydropower and other renewable energy sources for both poverty reduction and ensuring access of population, especially in rural areas, to social benefits, as well as for the overall development of the economy, small business primarily; 2) Development of an effective system of risk management and monitoring of energy security, including unlimited and equal access to energy for all consumers; 3) Regions of the country have a continuous access to all kinds of energy resources at a reasonable price and good quality. All regions of the country are connected with paved roads and are accessible all the year-round.
The 2016 National Strategy for the Development of Education of the Republic of Tajikistan until 2020 emphasizes the conditions of the premises in educational institutions. According to this strategy, “less than 10% of students study in schools with electricity, running water and sewerage, organized meals and medical care” (p. 15). Further, the strategy lists the factors for the introduction of modern ICT in education: funds, qualified teaching and technical staff and of computer equipment. The National Strategy for the Development of Education of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period up to 2030 also addresses the shortage of heat and electricity in educational institutions, in rural areas (p.34).
Computers and devices: The State Programme for Providing General Educational Institutions with Subject Cabinets Equipped with Educational Laboratories for 2018-2022 includes a list of information technology cabinet equipment that should be used in educational institutions (for grades 5-11). For example, there are following technical means: a projector with a screen, a computer (with the whole set), a printer, an electronic board (USB with increased volume), etc. Also included in this list of equipment are obsolete equipment such as fax, CDs with demonstrations, etc. (p. 28). In addition, this state programme aims to develop information infrastructures through the use of advanced ICT for the study of natural history, singing and music in educational institutions. (p.2)
As part of the implementation of the State Program for the Computerization of Educational Institutions of the Republic of Tajikistan for 2011-2015, a number of activities were carried out, including strengthening the material and technical base, providing educational institutions with computer equipment, organizing information networks and connecting them to the Internet.
The State programme for the introduction of ICT in educational institutions of the Republic of Tajikistan for 2018-2022 states that general educational institutions of the Republic of Tajikistan are provided with 56421 computers and have 3452 computer classes.
Internet connectivity: The 2016 National Strategy for the Development of Education of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period up to 2030 states that the main institutional growth points should be: providing all educational institutions with wide access to the Internet and increasing the level of equipment of classrooms with computer equipment; providing network content for most academic subjects and the widespread introduction of interactive learning formats using information and communication technologies, including distance learning (online) and the creation of educational platforms in the state language (p. 44). For the modernization of the information and communication technology system the following measures are given: ensuring 100% Internet coverage and wide access of students to the Internet; development of electronic educational materials and the use of cloud technologies (electronic educational materials), electronic libraries, electronic textbooks and all supporting materials with paper editions (p. 63-64).
To expand access to distance education in higher professional education, the following measures are given in National Strategy for the Development of Education of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period up to 2030: development and implementation of distance education courses/programs. Development of a strategy and regulations for the implementation of these courses; development of mechanisms for the implementation of courses, taking into account the availability of Internet resources; accounting and allocation of additional (free) Internet traffic for students enrolled in distance education programs; inclusion in the financing plan of the system of higher professional education of the needs of providing regions with Internet resources and students enrolled in distance education programs; improvement of distance education technology based on Moodle systems or other modern distance education systems; development of a method for evaluating the effectiveness of the functioning of the distance learning system (p. 81).
In public secondary vocational education institutions, information technology is studied as a separate subject [Law on Secondary Vocational Education 2017, p. 28]. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic education disruption, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan recommended that public secondary general education institutions gradually increase the number of study hours for the subject "Fundamentals of Programming" within the framework of the subject "Information Technology”.
According to the National Strategy for the Development of the Republic of Tajikistan for the period up to 2030, in order to improve the process of studying STEM, as well as developing the technical thinking of the younger generation, the President of the country declared 2020-2040 "Twenty Years of the Study and Development of the Natural, Exact and Mathematical Sciences."(p. 8)
The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan undertakes to pay special attention to the implementation of activities related to the study and development of STEM, including through the annual holding of district, city, regional and republican Olympiads in these disciplines at all levels of education and appropriate stimulation and support for the winners.
ADB's indicative project program includes an investment project to strengthen secondary STEM education in Tajikistan. The program is focused on grades 5-11.
The section on "Duties and responsibilities of teachers and other educators" in the 2017 Law “On Education” states that teachers are obliged to master the methods of applying new ICT and encourage students to master those as well.
Most child development centers are located in general education institutions and are taught by school teachers who do not know the pre-school curriculum and most often have not worked with primary school students. Preschool educational institutions use the state program "Ranginkamon". There are no special instructions for teachers [National Strategy 2030, p. 23].
The National Strategy puts a priority measure of reform - improving the primary education of teachers and pedagogical retraining of teachers of preschool educational institutions on the job according to the new curriculum and in accordance with the principles of equality and inclusive approaches in the educational process: improving the system of training and retraining of teachers; development of professional standards for teachers; development of alternative programs for advanced training courses, etc. (p. 30-31).
The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan, in cooperation with development partners, developed and adopted the “Teaching Competence Framework”, which made it possible to determine the necessary competencies of a teacher to ensure successful learning and professional development. Based on the self-assessment tool, teachers can now self-assess their competencies and identify gaps and challenges (p. 41).
The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan, with the support of the European Union project, has developed modules and procedures for the retraining of teachers of educational institutions of general education who do not have a specialty (p. 42).
The national strategy puts as priority measures the development and implementation of state programs "Competent teachers and mentors", "Competent leaders of educational institutions", "Competent parents" in order to improve the status of the teaching profession of a teacher, as well as systematic pedagogical and psychological work with parents to supporting pedagogical activities (p. 49).
The Law of the Republic of Tajikistan "On Information Protection" sets the goals of information protection: prevention of leakage, theft, loss, distortion, forgery of information; prevention of unauthorized actions to destroy, modify, distort, copy, block information; prevention of authorized and unauthorized actions that may entail intentional or unintentional destruction, blocking, distortion (forgery), theft, copying, leakage, modification and transformation of information (p. 1).
The Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Information” establishes “general legal norms for obtaining, using, disseminating and storing information, establishes the right of the subject of information relations to information in all spheres of public and state life of the Republic of Tajikistan, as well as the information system, its sources, determines the status of participants in information relations, regulates access to information and ensures its protection, protects the individual and society from false information” (p. 3).
The Law of the Republic of Tajikistan "On Informatization" establishes “the conditions for protecting the legitimate interests and rights of the state, individuals and legal entities in the implementation of activities for the creation, accumulation, storage, transmission and dissemination of information by means of modern information technologies.” (p. 1).
2.4.1. Data privacy
The information security system is an integral part of the national security system of the Republic of Tajikistan and should, by improving the organizational and legal framework and engineering and technical measures, ensure the overall security of the state.
One of the information security programs is the Information Security Program of the Republic of Tajikistan dated June 30, 2004 No. 290. This was developed in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan dated November 7, 2003 No. 1175 "On the Concept of Information Security of the Republic of Tajikistan". The program is aimed at implementing and supporting the foundations of the state policy to ensure information security, as the main component of national security.
In Tajikistan, there is the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan On Security, which defines information security as “the state of security of state information resources, as well as human and civil rights and the interests of society in the information sphere” (p. 2)
Decree of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan No. 532 of 05.12.2003 "On state support for the formation, use and protection of national information resources of the Republic of Tajikistan" is another important document affecting the protection of national information resources.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
There is no law in Tajikistan to control cyberbullying. However, every year on the second Tuesday of February, "Safer Internet Day" is celebrated. On this day, open lessons are held in schools across the country and for students in grades 4-7, which talk about possible threats on the network, reliable educational resources, etc.
According to Article 31 of the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan "On Education", the main governing bodies in the field of education are: the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan; the authorized state body in the field of education; ministries and departments that affiliate training and educational institutions; local public authorities; local educational authorities; self-government bodies of settlements and villages (p. 18).
The Law defines the powers of each of the governing bodies.
According to the Regulation on the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan approved by the Decree No. 145 of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan dated March 3, 2014, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan is the central executive body of state power in the field of education and science, which implements a unified state policy and regulates legal standards in the field of education and science, training, scientific and technical activities, guardianship and care, as well as support and social protection of students and pupils of educational and scientific institutions (p. 6).
The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan is the authorized body responsible for technology in public educational institutions (p. 6).
The activities of non-state educational institutions of primary vocational education in terms of compliance with state standards of primary vocational education are regulated by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan or the authorized state body in the field of education (p. 5).
According to Article 14 of the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan On Secondary Vocational Education, the management system of Secondary Vocational Education includes the central executive body of state power in the field of education and science, local executive government bodies, public administration bodies for secondary vocational education, the founder (founders) of educational institutions of secondary vocational education and the administration of educational institutions of secondary vocational education (p. 8).
The duties of the Minister include: management and organization of the activities of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan; management of the heads of institutions and other subordinate organizations of the Ministry and controls their execution; submission to the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan of a proposal on the establishment, reorganization and liquidation of state institutions and other organizations, etc. A more detailed list of duties is accessible in the Regulations of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan [Regulation 2014, p. 6-7].
The Minister has several deputies who are responsible for individual departments in the field of education and science of the Republic of Tajikistan. The department responsible for information and communication technologies in the field of education is the Department of Statistics and Information System of Education and Science Department.
Article 25 of the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Education” states that the use of mobile phones by pupils and students is prohibited in educational institutions of general, primary vocational and secondary vocational education. In universities, students, graduate students, doctoral students, teachers and other employees of universities are not allowed to use mobile phones in the learning process. Thus, the learning environment of schoolchildren, students and teachers is not suited to study and use educational content on a wide variety of devices (p. 24)
The use of mobile phones by pupils and students in educational institutions of general, primary vocational and secondary vocational education is prohibited. A similar prohibition is explicitly stated in the law “On Primary Vocational Education”. The regulatory document states that students are prohibited from bringing and using mobile phones in a primary vocational education institution, and engineering and pedagogical workers of educational institutions of primary vocational education are prohibited from using mobile phones during the educational process (p. 5-6).