Kyrgyzstan: Religious Authorities Order Closure of Illegal Madrasas

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A representative for the Spiritual Directorate of the Muslims of Kyrgyzstan has said that four madrasas have been shut down over the past week for failing to obtain proper authorization.

Kushtarbek Mamatov told that the schools were giving lessons without the correct papers and did not appear to know that they needed to register and obtain approval from a government commission.

“They have stopped their activities and sent children home. Now they are collecting all the required documents,” he told

Mamatov noted, however, that while the madrasas were operating without authorization, there is no evidence they were teaching anything improper.

“They only taught good and useful things there. Now it is simply a matter of legalizing it all. We explained everything to them,” Mamatov said.

The closure of several madrasas took place several days after a nongovernmental organization, the Bulan Institute for Peace Innovations published, a report detailing the need for a radical overhaul to religious education in Kyrgyzstan.

The report found that Kyrgyz madrasas often operate without proper permission and provide poor conditions for their students.

Religious affairs expert Orozbek Moldaliev said that the muftiate has repeatedly been petitioned to take action against delinquent madrasas, but has failed to do so.

“These are basically places that were opened by people who got funding and who are pretending to teach children. But if you barely have an education yourself, how are you going to start teaching others?” Moldaliev said.

Murat Imankulov, a member of a working group on the reform of religious education, said that many children finishing their studies in madrasas often find they are unable to enter the labor market.

“In some madrasas, they teach Kyrgyz, but they are failing to teach subjects like chemistry, biology, math. The certificates issued by the madrasas are not recognized by the state. So the question arises: where are they to find work?” Imankulov said.

Imankulov also said many young women emerging from these institutions often marry early before even completing their education.

“Basically, this is a whole bunch of monkey business that causes children to suffer by depriving them of an education and prospects for the future,” he said.

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