Dean has little to celebrate as his party plan causes offence

January 12, 2001

Plans for a new year party in the philological faculty of the Turkmen State University produced an unpleasant surprise for the dean; he was criticised on state TV for "ignoring national traditions".

Geldimyrat Yaylyyev collected money from the students to buy food and alcoholic drink for the party, at the rate of 60,000 manats (£8) a head.

A TV commentator said that this was not what a dean should allow in a place where students should be taught "professional skills, purity and honesty", and that 60,000 manats was a "very large sum" for a student. Instead, it was suggested, Professor Yaylyyev should have explained that new year parties were an "unnecessary and unsuitable" legacy from Soviet times that did not mesh with Turkmen national tradition.

Turkmens are 90 per cent Islamic but the state is officially secular.

The commentator said that Professor Yaylyyev's conduct, showed a "lack of rational thinking" - particularly at a time when Turkmen president Saparmyrat Niyazov was urging the universities to improve their teaching of "national traditions".

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