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Abstract

Building on an examination of comparative and international literature and their research and development experiences, the authors highlight a number of continuities, changes, and issues between Soviet and post-Soviet, international and Central Asian experiences of borrowing and lending of education reforms. Even though Central Asian actors and institutions are not totally helpless victims and though international experts and NGOs appear well-meaning in these globalizing education transfers, the processes are leading toward reproducing global and local dependencies and inequalities.The trajectory of education reforms in Central Asia echo those of other developing countries. In response, the authors urge local policy makers and comparative educators to join in a critical and reflexive strategic venture of re-encountering and reshaping the global and neoliberal offers to serve the needs of interconnected local and global justice.

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Introduction and method This article builds on the scholarly literature on globalization, aid, and education in Central Asia (e. g., De Young, Reeves, & Valyaeva, 2006; Silova, 2011; Steiner-Khamsi, Silova, & Johnson, 2006), our own research on, and professional engagement with post-Soviet education in Central Asia in general and Tajikistan in particular (e.g., Niyozov, 2001-2012; Niyozov & Dastambuev, 2010), and a limited number of interviews with the educators representing public and international agencies in Tajikistan. We also examine the broader literature on globalization, culture, and education in developing countries (e.g., Chisholm & Steiner-Khamsi, 2009; Klees, 2008; Popkewitz & Rizvi, 2009; Silova, 2010). The key concern of the article is that the current (post-Soviet) globalization has been leading Central Asian education systems and societies to reproduce their dependence on external forces with serious implications for their societies’ futures. They have moved from being dependent consumers of Soviet outside-in, top-down policies and practices to becoming similarly dependent consumers of western-led, neoliberalist, top-down, outside-in reform policies and practices. There is a debate on whether globalization and neoliberalism are or are not the same things/phenomena. We are of the view that while globalization may be inevitable and even desirable, neoliberalism is not and should not be its only face and outcome. Globalization is a product of human minds and actions. It is an outcome of the human’s evolutional/historical journey (social, economic, technological, cultural, and ideological). There is a need to de-monopolize and de-essentialize the discourse of globalization. Honest exposition of the contradictory nature and trends in globalization and its destructive and constructive sides is long due in Central Asia. In addition to drawing insights from the past and outside, new social imaginings should be produced for the post-socialist, post-neoliberal globalized world. Human history has seen many globalizing efforts not simply sequentially, but simultaneously. The recent existence and struggle between communist/socialist and capitalist systems was but one of such historical examples of competing globalizing discourses. The current, post-Soviet globalization is an outgrowth of the unprecedented intensification and extensification of cross-border interactions and flows between humans (as individuals, communities, nations, interest groups, transnational agencies), and human products (goods, ideas, technologies, cultures). Globalization’s type, however, is not just due to the speed and volume. Its nature is based on the purposes these interactions and flows serve, the forms they take, their consequences on humans, institutions, ecology, the solutions they engender, as well as whom they simultaneously benefit and marginalize. In other words, there are various globalization discourses, contingent their actors’ contexts, power, knowledge, and ethics. Apart from human capital, these include social-

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in order to critically read the “best travelling policies”, and produce better alternatives. It is not late for Central Asian and global-justice scholars to jointly develop perspectives, skills, and methods of analyzing globalization, its trends, modus operandi; who benefits and loses from it, and what alternatives might be available in the local tradition and globally. This may include a synthesis of their Soviet, Islamic and the new western ideas. More debate, wider participation, and transparency among globalizers and glocalizers in dealing with globalization is required so as to make it inclusive and equitable to all. There is a need to de-monopolize and de-essentialize the discourse of globalization: While globalization might be desirable and inevitable, neoliberalism is not its only and inevitable option. Honest exposition of the contradictory nature and trends in globalization and its destructive and constructive sides is long due in Central Asia. It may be ironic to state that neoliberalism too is a human construct, and could be re-balanced if there is a genuine will. In addition to drawing insights from the past and outside, new social imaginings should be produced for the post-socialist, post-neoliberal globalized world. Globalization should be engaged not just from pan-Islamic or pan-nationalist standpoints, but also from other standpoints such as neo-Marxist, post-colonial, and political economic perspectives (Adams, 2008, Waljee, 2010).

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