Teachers in Uzbekistan are no longer just lecturers, but are facilitators, managing their classrooms to ensure students participate actively during lessons. The British Council was a key driver of this change, according to Yayra Abduraimova.
Today, Yayra is the head of the English language studies department at Uzbekistan State University of World Languages. In 2005, when she first participated in a project led by the British Council, she was working as a teacher at the same university. This was the Hornby project, which was dedicated to teaching the latest teaching methodologies. Later, she participated in the PRESETT project, which introduced a new curriculum for training English-language instructors.
Precisely because of this, PRESETT was able to bring together working groups from university instructors and provide them with support from seasoned overseas professionals, including Rod Bolito. The program was developed, piloted, refined, and improved for four years. Since 2013, the curriculum that emerged from the project has been implemented in 17 universities of Uzbekistan, where English language teachers are trained.
"In order to effectively explain the new curriculum to teachers in the capital and the regions I underwent a special set of training which developed not only my pedagogical skills but also my organisational skills and leadership qualities. British Council programs allowed me to regularly gain new skills and transfer them to my colleagues so that we could all progress together,”- said Yayra.
Through this experience, Yayra has become an expert in her field, someone who clearly understands the differences between the old methodological system and the current one. This achievement applies not only to Yayru but also to the other teachers who have passed through the British Council’s programmes.
“When teachers at regional universities first got acquainted with innovative approaches in methodology, they generally believed that changes on the ground would be impossible.But from training to training, which were usually held several times a year, their pessimism changed considerably. Today the graduates of these trainings proudly consider themselves representatives of PRESETT in their universities. The British Council's influence can be seen in the actions of these people, who are committed to make a difference,” - Yayra emphasised.
Instituting new teaching methodologies can have profound impacts for students. Yayra explains that whereas in the old system, instructors focused their time on explaining grammar, today, 80 percent of class time is devoted to eliciting participation from students, asking them to contribute their answers, questions, and ideas. Students respond positively to group activities and pair assignments and are encouraged to take their education into the real world, for example by presenting their classwork outside the university’s walls. This more communicative and interactive methodology of teaching was largely introduced to Uzbekistan, “with the support of the British Council” - according to Yayra.
As the organization marks its 25th anniversary of operations in Uzbekistan, Yayra is grateful to the British Council for its contribution to the development of higher education in the country. In her view, the British Council’s projects “have opened Uzbekistan not only the best international experience, but also allowed educators from different countries to get to know each other, expanding their horizons.”