On Saturday 4 March 2017, a unique event took place in London: the first ever Uzbek school was opened. There is already a large Uzbek diaspora in the city and a growing number of restaurants, societies and other social facilities cater for their needs. Many of them also have young families. Their children (several of whom have been born here) attend local schools, speak perfect English and are completely at home in British society. They usually go home to visit their relatives in Uzbekistan at regular intervals. Inevitably, however, they are losing touch with their own culture and their own language. Members of the older generation are delighted that their offspring are growing up as true ‘Londoners’ and value this experience. Nevertheless, they began to feel a sense of sadness and regret that the youngsters were estranged from their own rich heritage. It was in order to redress this cultural and linguistic imbalance that a group of London-based Uzbek parents got together to found a Saturday school under the auspices of the Bilim Uzbek Cultural Centre.

The Bilim Uzbek Cultural Centre is a relatively new charitable organisation. It is based in the lively, multi-purpose Alpha Grove Community Centre (Canary Wharf, Tower Hamlets), which is home to a wide range of educational, social and art-related activities. The Uzbek School operates every Saturday from 14.00-18.00. It aims to teach and promote Uzbek language and culture. It is open to all, but there is special emphasis on children, starting from the age of four upwards. The curriculum, based on the Uzbek educational system, covers language, reading skills, history, nature studies and national traditions. The main Uzbek holidays ‒ such as Navruz (New Year), Eid, Independence Day and Uzbek Language Day are celebrated with special events and concerts performed by the children. It is already proving a success and the number of pupils is growing!

See further: http://www.bilim.co.uk (in Uzbek).

Odilbek Isakov, London, February 2018