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President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s Address to the Oliy Majlis

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Distinguished deputies and senators!

Esteemed compatriots!

Dear guests!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

This time around, I am addressing the Oliy Majlis and the people of Uzbekistan in a rather complicated situation, in contrast to what it used to be in the past.

We are well aware that today, humanity is experiencing a deep crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This is likely the biggest global disaster in a century.

According to the latest data, more than 81 million people in 191 countries fell ill with coronavirus infection, while 1 million 765 thousand of them died.

The pandemic is damaging the global economy in the amount of, please note, about $ 400 billion a month. To date, 500 million jobs have been lost worldwide.

Unfortunately, this calamity brought about quite unexpected and tricky problems to the entire humanity, including our nation. Moreover, natural disasters and man-made catastrophes in Bukhara and Sardoba came to be other trials for our country to endure.

Thanks to the unyielding will, selfless work and steadfastness of our people, we have courageously overcome all these trials with the joint effort of the wider public and government bodies.

From the initial days of the pandemic, the entire governance and management system, all medical institutions switched to emergency operation mode.

Within a brief span of time, about 30 thousand medical beds were organized across the nation. Healthcare institutions were provided with essential medicines, cutting-edge protection means and diagnostics equipment. Over 200 thousand medical workers, as well as 150 highly qualified doctors and specialists from abroad were engaged in combating the pandemic.

More than 600 thousand compatriots around the world were taken back to the native land. Assistance has been organized for about 100 thousand of our citizens who found themselves in difficult situation abroad.

To mitigate and eliminate the consequences of the pandemic, the state took comprehensive measures for a total of 82 trillion soums. In particular, the Anti-Crisis Fund was set up, more than 16 trillion soums were allocated from the budget for measures to combat coronavirus, support the population and business. Along with this, practical assistance was provided to state enterprises and more than 500 thousand business entities as well as almost 8 million citizens in the form of tax benefits, deferred repayment of loans and financial aid totaling 66 trillion soums.

Within the framework of the national movement Compassion and Support, with the active participation of our generous compatriots, over 800 thousand low-income families received financial help for more than 1 trillion soums.

The systemic actions we took promptly and in a timely manner allowed us to prevent widespread contagion of this dangerous disease. Relaxed life and sustainable economic development have continued in Uzbekistan.

From the bottom of my heart, once again I sincerely thank our resolute, noble people, who took lockdown requirements with due understanding. I am deeply grateful to our dedicated healthcare workers who have courageously performed their duty, and all entrepreneurs and citizens who took active part in the national movement Compassion and Support.

I would like to express my gratitude to the top executives of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, international financial institutions, the leaders of Russia, China, the United States, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Japan, Germany and other countries for the practical assistance provided to Uzbekistan in countering the pandemic.

I am greatly honored to express my appreciation and best wishes to the distinguished ambassadors of foreign nations and representatives of international organizations who are making a remarkable contribution to the consolidation of friendship and cooperation with our country.

Esteemed members of parliament!

Dear friends!

This year, in accordance with the State Program “Year of Science, Education and Digital Economy”, we continued reforms across spheres with resolution, designed to build a new Uzbekistan.

Estimates of the International Monetary Fund and international rating agencies suggest, Uzbekistan has managed to maintain positive rates of economic growth this year, despite the trials and among the few countries in the world.

In close cooperation with the European Union, important steps were taken to introduce the system of extended trade preferences, GSP+, in our country. This scheme will make it possible in the future to export more than 6 thousand titles of domestic products to the European market duty-free. In the textile industry alone, this will make it possible to increase the sales of goods abroad by almost $ 300 million a year.

In 2020, access to international financial markets expanded; for the first time, government eurobonds in national currency worth 2 trillion soums were placed at low interest rates.

This year, 197 large enterprises, thousands of small and medium ones and infrastructure facilities have been built in the country. In particular, a complex for the production of ammonia and urea and a plant for nitric acid in Navoiazot JSC were commissioned, so were the installations for the production of liquefied gas at the Mubarek, Gazli and Shurtan oil production enterprises, as well as the Tashkent Metallurgy Plant.

In the energy sector, the construction of six new power stations has begun on the basis of public-private partnerships with foreign investors. Their total cost is $ 2 billion, the total capacity is 2,700 megawatts.

Two new underground metro stations and an 18-kilometer-long over-ground metro line were commissioned in Tashkent.

Reforms in agriculture, the transfer of land to private clusters and cooperatives made it possible to increase cotton yields by an average of 10 percent in just a year.

About 500 clusters and cooperatives have been set up in fruit and vegetable cultivation, grain growing and animal husbandry. As a result, despite the negative impact of the pandemic, $ 1 billion worth of fruits and vegetables were exported.

This year, 91 thousand hectares of land have been reclaimed. Water-saving technologies have been introduced on 133 thousand hectares, which is twice as much as last year.

In order to widely support entrepreneurship, many benefits and preferences were provided. Business entities have been allocated 100 trillion soums of loans – almost 4 times the figures in 2016.

The year 2020, without exaggeration, has become a turning point in the field of social protection.

First of all, having recognized the poverty of a certain category of the population for the first time, we began a lot of work to reduce it.

A fundamentally new system of targeted work with low-income families, women and youth has been introduced in all districts and towns, in every mahalla. Within a short period, 527 thousand people were employed through this system.

In addition, owing to the provision of tax benefits to the self-employed population and the removal of many restrictions, the legal labor activity of 500 thousand people has been secured.

The allocation of 300 billion soums of soft loans and subsidies for the development of dehkan farms and household plots became the dawn for a new direction of social support for the rural population.

More than 500 modern companies kick started in IT parks established in Tashkent, Andijan, Jizzakh, Kashkadarya, Samarkand, Syrdarya and Ferghana regions.

This year, 3 trillion soums were allocated to improve centralized drinking water supply, which is 5 times more than in 2016. As a result, the degree of provision of the population with clean drinking water reached 73 percent.

This year alone, the group of recipients of social benefits has doubled to reach up to 1.2 million people. For their support, fivefold more funds were allocated from the budget compared to 2016.

The coverage of young children with preschool education has doubled in 4 years, reaching 60 percent. The number of kindergartens has tripled and exceeded 14 thousand.

In 2020, the parameters of admission to higher education institutions have increased 2.5 times compared to 2016, and the level of coverage of our youth with higher education has increased from 9 to 25 percent.

For the first time, about a thousand girls from low-income families were admitted to higher educational institutions on the basis of special state scholarships.

In the International rating of open data, Uzbekistan came 44th, having moved up 125 positions. An important factor in this was the introduction of the practice of publishing indicators in 20 areas in the field of state and public administration.

Another international recognition of our reforms is in the Index of Economic Freedom, where Uzbekistan has risen by 26 positions.

Reforms in the judicial sphere continued consistently, including the liberalization of the system of criminal penalties. As a result, 74 percent of the defendants this year were sentenced to non-custodial sentences.

616 people who were serving sentences but considered firmly on the path of correction were pardoned.

This year alone, 719 citizens were acquitted thanks to the provision for independence of courts.

Wherever the citizens of Uzbekistan are, their constitutional rights are reliably protected. This is suggested by the operation Mehr-3, thanks to which 98 more compatriots, mainly women and children, were returned to our country from Syria.

In the context of complex global geopolitical processes, the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing global economic crisis, Uzbekistan is actively pursuing an open and pragmatic foreign policy. Owing to our efforts and decisive actions, the country’s standing in the international arena has been growing.

For the first time in history, Uzbekistan was elected member of the UN Human Rights Council. The recent removal of our country from the list of nations of special watch in the field of religious freedom by the US State Department is also a recognition of our ongoing wide-ranging democratic reforms.

Our global and regional initiatives, launched from the high rostrum of the United Nations General Assembly, were met with great interest and supported by the world community.

Dear people’s representatives!

Honorable compatriots!

As you know, our national independence will turn 30 in the coming year 2021. Surely, together with you, with all our people, we will widely celebrate this historic date on the basis of the noble idea “We should live in a new Uzbekistan – a free and prosperous country!”

Today, while defining our plans and programs for the coming year, we will certainly pay special attention to the development of the most important and priority areas, to the consolidation of our achievements over the years of independence.

It should be noted that the pandemic has once again shown that radical reform of the primary healthcare system, the ambulance service, and the sanitary-epidemiological structure is a vital necessity for us.

The next wave of the pandemic and the risks that are currently being observed in other parts of the world require that all of us be even more vigilant and attentive.

Therefore, using the available opportunities and potential, the experience gained during the pandemic, as well as advanced foreign achievements, we need to raise the cardinal reforms in the field of protecting and strengthening the health of the population to a new level. At the same time, one of our most critical priorities should be the widespread adoption of healthy lifestyle, especially among young people.

Generally speaking, the decisive role in the progress of any society is played by the healthy and harmonious development of the growing generation, on which the future of this society depends. That is why in matters of expanding and further increasing the effectiveness of our reforms, we consider our energetic, proactive, comprehensively advanced youth with modern knowledge and skills to be our support, our backbone.

We have set ourselves a great goal, namely, securing the foundation for a new Renaissance in our country, and for this purpose we must deliver an environment and conditions for nurturing new Khorezmis, Berunis, Ibn Sinos, Ulugbeks, Navois and Baburs. Crucial factors in this historic process, an integral part of our national idea, are the development of education and enlightenment, science and innovation, promotion of healthy lifestyle.

Our highest priority should be to empower youth to set and achieve ambitious goals. Only then will our children become a real force that can fulfill the age-old dreams of our people.

To this end, we will carry out large-scale reforms, guided by the idea “New Uzbekistan starts from the doorstep of the school, from the system of education and enlightenment”.

First, we organize high-quality upbringing and education of the younger generation in kindergartens, schools and universities, we mobilize all capacities and opportunities so that the younger generation grows physically healthy and spiritually mature, dedicated to its native land and people.

Second, on the basis of modern knowledge and experience, national and universal values, we will foster young people with independent thinking and the best human qualities.

Third, we will pay special attention to training our boys and girls in modern professions in demand, developing their industriousness and entrepreneurial skills, as well as implementing their initiatives, providing jobs and housing.

In a word, an integral and continuous system will be created, whereby from the moment of birth until reaching 30 years of age, a person will be provided with comprehensive support and assistance so that they can take a well-deserved place in life.

As the world experience shows, investments in the harmonious development of the young generation return to society tenfold, hundred times.

Let us recall the words of our great scientist Abu Ali ibn Sino: “Courageous people are fearless of difficulties”.

I was very pleased with the bold ideas and initiatives expressed by our youth at recent meetings in the Kashkadarya, Khorezm regions and Tashkent’s Chilanzar district.

Especially, at the recent Youth Forum in Tashkent, seeing the eyes of our young men and women burning with enthusiasm, their desire for knowledge, I received a huge boost of energy. And once again I was convinced that they are the very brave and spirited young people Ibn Sino spoke of.

If we are able to combine the knowledge, life experience, foresight of the older generation with the enthusiasm, courage and determination of our youth, we will certainly achieve our goals.

I am confident that together with such an educated youth with a powerful creative potential, we will build a new Uzbekistan.

In order to continue the work we have begun in these important areas and to raise it to a new, higher level, I propose to name the coming 2021 in our country as the Year of Support for Youth and Public Health Promotion.

We need to carry out extensive work on radical reform and further development of the directions defined in the title of 2021.

First, the most critical period in a child’s life is preschool age, when mental activity develops, moral and aesthetic ideas are formed along with physical qualities.

In this regard, our strategic objective in the development of preschool education for the coming years is to create the necessary conditions for its full coverage of all children.

Next year we have to increase the coverage of preschool education to 65 percent, and to 75 percent by the end of 2023. Also, due to the allocation of 600 billion soums of subsidies from the budget, 2,000 non-state kindergartens will be established, the share of the private sector in this area will grow to 25 percent.

Along with this, in 2021, the free school preparation system will cover 560 thousand, or 82 percent, of children aged six years.

In remote villages, the use of alternative forms of preschool education will expand. In collaboration with UNICEF and the World Bank, a model of early childhood education at home for kids with disabilities will be launched.

Second, reforms will be accelerated to radically improve and perfect the quality of school education with the delivery of decent living and working conditions for teachers.

In the new year, 2 trillion soums will be assigned from the budget for the construction of 30 new schools, to repair and step up the material and technical base of 320 schools.

In the next two years, we will apportion 250 billion soums for the introduction of a unified system of electronic education.

In order to radically perk up the quality of education, first of all, it is necessary to bring curricula, teaching aids in line with advanced international standards.

To develop children’s analytical and creative thinking skills, we need to create meaningful and understandable textbooks for them. In this regard, in the next academic year in the elementary grades, based on the best foreign experience, a National Curriculum will be introduced, which will not overload the child.

The quality of school education should be equally high both in the capital city and in remote villages. To this end, it is necessary to implement a special program to provide schools in remote areas with qualified personnel and elevate the quality of education. Specifically, teachers who work in a remote school in another district will receive a 50 percent salary increase, and those teaching in another region will receive a 100 percent bonus.

Also, subsidies will be allocated from the budget to stimulate the activities of private schools in the regions.

A continuous system of developing the abilities and potential of young people will be created.

Next year, 10 Presidential schools, 197 specialized schools in chemistry, biology, mathematics and information technology will start operating in the country.

In order to create conditions for the deep development of high technologies and knowledge by our young men and women, for the training of national personnel of a new formation, we will open a new modern university in the city of Tashkent. We will invite leading foreign scientists and educators to train young people here in accordance with state-of-the-art learning programs.

For the formation of work skills in children from school age, we will introduce a vocational training system.

Another issue that will be in the center of our attention is improving the qualifications of teachers, stimulating their hard work.

As you may know, until now, teachers have undergone advanced training every 5 years. And now they will need to improve it constantly on the basis of the principle of ‘lifelong learning’. The criteria for assigning professional categories to them based on knowledge of their subject, pedagogical skills and psychological preparation will also be revised.

I want to stress once again: the teaching profession should become the most respected and esteemed in society. And the task of the state is to delivery all the conditions for teachers to first of all take care of providing children with quality education, as well as self-improvement. Next year, work will continue to ensure decent wages for teachers, mentors and methodologists.

For these purposes, 330 billion soums will be channeled to regional funds for stimulating public education workers. The amount of additional payment for classroom guidance to more than 240 thousand school teachers will be increased by 1.5 times, an additional 400 billion soums will be assigned from the budget for this.

Third, special attention will be paid to enhancing the coverage and quality of higher education.

Starting next year, the number of state fellowships for higher education will grow by at least 25 percent.

We will double the quota of scholarships for girls from low-income families and bring it to 2 thousand. Special scholarships will be introduced for girls in need of social support who study excellently.

At present, young people strive to be admitted to the most prestigious universities, but there is no competition among those institutions to attract the gifted and talented youth. In this regard, a system will be introduced to provide private universities with a state order for the training of specialists in demand.

In order to strengthen the continuity between universities and the lower layers of the education system, 65 academic lyceums will be transferred to the jurisdiction of higher educational institutions, and 187 technical schools will be assigned to specialized universities and industry enterprises.

It is necessary to strengthen ties with leading foreign universities, research and innovation centers, expand cooperation with them in the field of personnel training.

In this regard, the number of young people sent to study for graduate and doctoral studies in foreign higher education institutions through the El-Yurt Umidi Foundation will increase fivefold next year. Through the Foundation, we will send 100 of our boys and girls to pursue undergraduate degree in other countries for the first time. In subsequent years, their number will grow 2-3 times.

In the new year, 30 leading universities in the country will have the right to independently develop curricula, determine admission quotas and solve financial issues.

Fourth, science and innovation create the foundation for the country’s development.

Next year, the number of doctoral students in universities and research organizations will reach 4.5 thousand, which is thrice the figures in 2017. An additional 240 billion soums will be allocated from the budget for these purposes.

Based on the best international experience, the scientific councils of the leading universities of the republic will be delegated the authority to confer the academic titles of associate professor and professor, academic degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Science.

This year, for the first time, measures were taken to comprehensively develop mathematics, chemistry, biology and geology as priority areas of education and science. In particular, 98 specialized schools and the University of Geological Sciences have been established. The curricula were radically revised, the salaries of teachers were increased.

Now we need to define priority areas on this front for the next year.

As history shows, physics has served as the fundamental basis for almost all discoveries and technologies in the world. Indeed, without a deep understanding of the laws of physics, it is impossible to achieve results in such relevant areas and industries as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, IT, water and energy saving technologies.

I think it would be appropriate in this context to quote the words of the great Alisher Navoi, who wrote:

“Leaving in search of knowledge, I am more than convinced

That I will be able to find them not by luck, but by hard work”.

Indeed, a person who seeks to acquire knowledge and master new professions must work hard, including on foreign languages, without which it is impossible to reach high levels in the contemporary world.

Following these requirements, I propose to define the study of physics and foreign languages ​​as a priority for the next year.

Relevant systemic work is already underway at all levels of education, including the improvement of the quality of teaching these subjects, creating specialized schools, and attracting qualified teachers.

The Ahmad Fergani International Scientific Olympiad in Physics will be organized. Additional measures will also be taken to expand the scale and improve the quality of research in the field of physics, and create the necessary conditions for young scientists.

Fifth, we will focus our attention on youth employment and entrepreneurship support.

To this end, next year the vocational education system will be reformed based on new approaches in accordance with the requirements of the labor market and international standards.

From now on, the availability of qualifications will become a key requirement for blue-collar jobs.

In this regard, the Government is instructed to introduce a system for assessing the professional qualifications of citizens in demanded professions from January 1.

As you know, at the recent Youth Forum, we decided to allocate $ 100 million for youth entrepreneurship and employment.

In addition, 1 trillion soums and 50 million dollars will be allocated to finance business projects for young people and train their professions.

Sixth, a new system of special support for children from low-income families, full orphans, children with disabilities and those in need of treatment will be introduced.

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