Obtaining Religious Education
In recent years, the relationship between religion and education has increasingly gained the attention of governments of individual states and international institutions. The article explores the basic principles and trends in the legal regulation of religious (theological) education in the Kyrgyz Republic. Obtaining theological education, the development of a system of theological education, as well as its regulation constitute important organizational and legal guarantees for the implementation of fundamental human rights and freedoms and, at the same time, address such pressing issues as the progressive spiritual development of society and the fight against dangerous manifestations of extremism.
- 1. The concept of “religious education” in a modern open democratic society
- 2. Theological education and its difference from religious studies
- 3. Theological education in the Kyrgyz Republic: legal and regulatory practice
- 4. The right of religious organizations to conduct educational activities in accordance with the legislation “On education” of the Kyrgyz Republic
- 5. Obtaining theological education under the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic
1. The concept of “religious education” in a modern open democratic society
The term “religious education” can be understood in different ways, therefore, a distinction should be made between “denominational (confessional) religious education” and “non-denominational (non-confessional) religious education”.
Denominational (confessional) religious education has traditionally been regarded as a theological education whose aim is to produce religious commitment to one particular faith or, in other words, to strengthen a “student's belief in a particular religious tradition”. In the US, for example, Protestants use the term “Christian education” to describe religious education which includes the formative and sometimes also evangelistic activities of the church in developing Christian beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. Increasingly, however, denominational religious education in public schools in many countries differentiates between religious studies as part of public education in schools and theological education of a particular religion (Christianity, Islam or Judaism) in their own constituencies.
Non-denominational (non-confessional) religious education aims to familiarize students with various religious beliefs and practices without endangering students’ belief or a desire to participate in religious life. One form of non-denominational religious education is “teaching about religions”. This term denotes nonconfessional study of the beliefs, values and practices of one or another religion. The aim is to bring about the knowledge and understanding of religion as a sphere of human thought and action. In this non-confessional education about religions, it is intended that young people learn about the tenets of different faiths in order to develop the social tolerance to which democracies aspire.
School programs that teach about religion teach the role of religions in the historical, cultural and social development of different countries, and religion ideally is discussed in a neutral, objective and balanced manner. Teaching about religions has two forms. It can be taught as a specific school subject or as an integral part of other regular subjects (such as history, ethics, philosophy, arts, civic education, etc.). The integration of content about religions in other subjects is more or less present in all countries, while religious studies as a subject exists only in some countries.
Teaching about religion(s) usually is provided either in countries where confessional religious education legally forbidden in public schools (as, for example, in Slovenia, and some states in the US) or in those where it is offered as an alternative subject to confessional religious education (Norway before 1997) to those students who, in the name of freedom of religion, opt out.
The term “non-denominational religious education” is used also for describing the multi-faith approach to religious education (such as is found in Finland, Wales, Scotland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway after 1997), which includes teaching about major world religions, but does not include any catechism that is distinctive of any religious denomination. This form of nonconfessional religious education may be structured only around increasing knowledge about religions. The teaching can also include reflective and critical activities in which students engage with material from the religions in order to clarify their own views, whether these may originate in religious or non-religious ways of life.
With regard to religious education in the public school system, the Committee, in its General Comment on Article 18 of the ICCPR in the case “Hartikainen et. al. v. Finland”, expresses the view that “the provisions of Article 18, para. 4, permit teaching of general history of religions and ethics in public schools, provided that such teaching is conducted in a neutral and objective manner”. Public education that includes teaching about a particular religion or belief “is inconsistent with Article 18, para. 4, unless provision is made for non-discriminatory exemptions or alternatives that would accommodate the wishes of parents and guardians” (para. 6).
The term “open society” refers to a “society based on the recognition that nobody has a monopoly on the truth, that different people have different views and interests, and that there is a need for institutions to protect the rights of all people to allow them to live together in peace. Broadly speaking, an open society is characterized by a reliance on the rule of law, the existence of a democratically elected government, a diverse and vigorous civil society, and respect for minorities and minority opinions”.
The concept of the “open society” was elaborated in “Open Society and Its Enemies”, written in 1945 by the prominent twentieth century philosopher K. Popper. He emphasizes some essential characteristics of the open society, which should be taken into consideration when discussing religion and schooling in an open society.
First, an open society is “the society in which individuals are confronted with personal decisions”.
Second, the open society is one in which “men have learned to be, to some extent, critical of existing prohibitions and taboos, and to base decisions on the authority of their own intelligence (after discussion)”.
Third, the most important characteristics of an open society are not a particular type of State or the form of government, but the way of living together in a human society in which the liberty of the individuals, non-violence, the protection of minorities, and the defense of the weakest are important values.
Forth, an open society is based on the tolerance and on the respect of the opinions of others.
2. Theological education and its difference from religious studies
Before the collapse of the USSR, the development of the regulatory and legal framework for theological education in Kyrgyzstan was influenced by the legislation of the RSFSR and the USSR, which established the secular nature of education and completely excluded religion from the educational process. Since the early years of Soviet power, religious education was actually “outlawed”. In accordance with Article 9 of the Decree of the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR of January 23, 1918 “On the Separation of the Church from the State and the School from the Church”, teaching of religious beliefs was not allowed in state educational institutions, as well as in private organizations where general education subjects were taught. Religion could only be taught and learned “in a private manner”. As an explanation of the provisions of the Decree of the Council of People's Commissars, the People's Commissariat of Justice of the RSFSR specified as follows: “In view of the separation of the school from the church, the teaching of any religious beliefs shall in no case be permitted in state, public and private educational institutions, with the exception of special theological institutions” (Article 33). The complete exclusion of the religious element from the educational and the upbringing process was enshrined in a joint resolution of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR of April 8, 1929 “On Religious Associations”, according to which religious associations were forbidden “... to organize both children's, youth’s, women's prayer and other meetings, as well as general biblical, literary, handicraft, labor, religious teaching and other meetings, groups, circles, departments, as well as to organize excursions and playgrounds, open libraries and reading rooms, organize sanatoriums (health resorts) and provide medical services” (Article 17).
With the collapse of the USSR, the legislative approach to conceptualizing the principle of the secular nature of education began to gradually change in the post-Soviet space. The new conception of the principle allowed for teaching about religion not only in religious institutions, but also in state educational institutions.
For example, the Law of the RSFSR of October 25, 1990 No. 267-1 “On Freedom of Religion”, which, along with consolidating the secular nature of the state system of education and upbringing, allowed that the teaching of religious beliefs, as well as theological education to be carried out “in non-state educational and child-rearing institutions, privately at home or in a religious association, as well as optionally, upon request of citizens, by representatives of religious associations having a registered Charter in any preschool and educational institutions and organizations” (Article 9). In addition, the curriculum of state educational institutions was allowed to include religious-cognitive, religious studies and religious-philosophical subjects, provided that they are informative in nature and are not accompanied by the performance of religious rites.
In the Kyrgyz Republic, this issue is regulated by the Constitution of the KR, the Laws of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations” and “On Education”, which enshrine the secular nature of education:
- the right of everyone to freedom of religious confession of any religion either individually or collectively, including studying religious beliefs and obtaining theological education, or not professing any religion;
- access to various types and levels of education for all persons, regardless of their attitude to religion;
- the right of duly registered religious organizations for theological education of children and adults, in accordance with their Charters, to establish, maintain religious educational institutions (hereinafter - REIs), financed from their own funds, using their own premises for this purpose;
- the establishment of an educational qualification for persons teaching religious subjects in REIs, availability of a specialized theological education, certified by the relevant document and agreed with the relevant governing body of the religious organization, to which they belong;
- teaching of religious studies for all levels of education on an individual basis is prohibited;
- establishment of political and religious parties and organizations in educational institutions shall be prohibited.
The relationship between religion and education can be revealed not only in legislative acts. For example, the secular nature of education in the Kyrgyz Republic is also indicated in chapter 3.3 “Improvement of the system of theological education and religious studies” of the Concept of the state policy of the Kyrgyz Republic in the religious sphere for 2021-2026 (hereinafter - the Concept).
On this basis, the presence of religion in the educational legal relations of the KR occurs in two main areas:
- religious studies;
- theological education.
Both of these areas are indicated in the very title of chapter 3.3 of the Concept, which deals with the issues of theological education and religious studies. This area of state policy is connected with the systematization of the provision of theological education, promoting respect for the diversity of religions and beliefs, and is intended to raise awareness of the differences between religious studies (as a neutral academic education) and theological education (as a denominational learning and understanding of religion).
Thus, as stated in the Concept, the first area - religious studies - implies the observance of the principle of independence of education from political and religious institutions as well as the secular nature of education in state and municipal educational institutions. To this end, the state shall:
- provide education that is not influenced by the teacher’s personal beliefs, the dominance of a particular religion in the society, and the stereotypes that have developed in public and research practice in relation to representatives of various religious movements and atheists;
- provide teaching materials in the context of the development of global, regional and national cultures in the process of teaching religious studies;
- encourage the establishment and development of scientific fields and institutions that study the history of religions in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia, their historical and cultural heritage as well as the activities of religious organizations;
- introduce a relevant subject in religious studies into the school system, and develop advanced training and professional development courses for teachers and employees of relevant state bodies, civil society institutions and other stakeholders aimed at improving the level of religious studies and awareness-raising.
Thus, with a view to implement these provisions, the Presidential Decree of the KR of June 7, 2022, No. 177 “On the introduction of the subject “History of the development of religions” in schools from the 2022–2023 academic year” was issued; pursuant to paragraph 1 of this Decree the subject “History of the development of religions” was introduced into the basic curriculum from the 2022-2023 academic year for 9th grade students of general educational institutions of the Kyrgyz Republic, regardless of types and forms of ownership.
However, paragraph 3 of the above Decree states that the right to teach the subject “History of the development of religions” is granted, among others, to persons with higher theological education, which has caused great discussions in society about the meaning and definition of “theological education”. The List of areas of higher professional education, confirmed by the awarding of a “Bachelor’s degree” to a graduate, approved by the Government of the KR as of August 23, 2011 No. 496, includes such areas as “Religious Studies” and “Theology”. However, why should persons with a theological background be admitted, and why not religious scholars, or both.
To answer this question, let us refer to the notion of the term “theologian”, which has the following definition in dictionaries:
“Theology (a tracing of Greek θεολογία from Greek θεός “God” + Greek λόγος “word; teaching, science”) is a systematic exposition and interpretation of a religious teaching, the tenets of a religion”.
Accordingly, the wording “persons with higher theological education” should be understood as persons expounding and interpreting a religious teaching, the tenets of a particular religion. It turns out that in order to comply with this paragraph of the Decree and to observe the equality of all before the law, the state should then ensure the provision of teaching by representatives of all religions, which is difficult to implement, therefore, it should be replaced with “religious studies background”.
At the same time, it is important to note that the subject “History of the development of religions” should be taught with strict observance of the prohibitions and restrictions established by the Constitution and other laws of the KR - a prohibition on the use of awareness-raising and educational activities for:
- inciting social, racial, inter-ethnic or religious hatred,
- agitation promoting the exclusivity, superiority or inferiority of citizens on the basis of social, racial, national, religious or linguistic affiliation, their attitude to religion, including through the provision of false information about the historical, national, religious and cultural traditions of peoples,
- incitement to actions that are inconsistent with the Constitution of the KR.
The second area - theological education - as it is understood in the Concept, is the process of education and upbringing carried out on the basis of a particular religious belief, which is exactly what theological education is all about. The state recognizes the right of religious associations to carry out religious educational activities, as well as the right of parents or persons “in loco parentis” to educate their children in accordance with their own beliefs. In view of the need to integrate students of religious educational institutions into modern social processes and prevent their isolation, the state, through its bodies, shall:
- promote the introduction of minimum general education subjects in the curricula of religious educational institutions and provide the necessary educational and methodological support;
- encourage the introduction of the basics of legal culture, civic identity, religious diversity and tolerance, the values of harmonious coexistence of secular and religious lifestyles into the curriculum content of religious educational institutions;
- in cooperation with religious organizations, establish an information base on the relevant foreign educational institutions, which will contain exhaustive information about their activities.
The issue of the principle of secularism in education was raised in 2020 by the Kyrgyz Republic in one of the decisions of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of the KR, in which the Chamber came to the following conclusion:
“The Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic, which proclaims the Kyrgyz Republic a secular state, in which no religion can be established as state or obligatory one, and religion and all cults shall be separated from the state <...>, proceeds from the fact that the principle of secularism implies the separation of the state from religious dogmas, however, does not mean the exclusion of religion from public life, providing for the possibility of their tolerant coexistence, and is a sign of genuine democracy. The principle of secularism contributes to the delimitation of the spheres of influence of the state and religious organizations while preserving the role of the state as the main form of organization of socio-political power”.
The same decision of the highest court states that “...religious freedom is one of the semantic and fundamental values that plays an important role in the spiritual and moral self-determination of the individual, and guarantees freedom of conscience and religion as one of the fundamental individual rights, including the right to profess any religion either individually or collectively or not to profess any religion, freely choose, have and disseminate religious and other beliefs”.
Thus, the state, while appreciating the importance of religion and religious freedom for the spiritual and moral development of an individual and society as a whole, does not imply the exclusion of religion from public life and its most important sphere, such as education. Secularism does not mean an absolute departure from all religious matters in education, and therefore courses on religious studies can be taught in public and private educational institutions and religious studies departments can be created.
Based on the above, it can be concluded that according to the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic, religious studies, in its meaning, constitute non-denominational religious education, while theological education constitutes denominational religious education.
Thus, the state affirms the need for the development and dissemination of knowledge about all religions among its citizens. In this context, “religious studies” (non-denominational religious education) as part of public education contributes to the progressive spiritual development of society and the establishment of inter-confessional harmony and religious tolerance in society. Respect for the religious beliefs of citizens does not arise by itself - for this purpose, citizens must have basic knowledge about the history of religions, the basics of religious teachings, as well as other aspects of theological education. This explains the gradual departure from the understanding of the principle of secular education as “an area completely free of religious elements”. It is being replaced by a balanced use of theological education for the spiritual development of society.
3. Theological education in the Kyrgyz Republic: legal and regulatory practice
Theological education is a borderland between the implementation of the right to education and freedom of conscience. Both rights are related to human rights and have a constitutional basis, the implementation of which, in practice, raises problems of their observance, characterized by their conflictogenity.
Another contributing factor is the complex system of legal regulation of this sphere of public relations, which includes both domestic legislation and international legal treaties of the Kyrgyz Republic. In its turn, the applicable legislation is represented simultaneously by two branches of legislation - on freedom of religion and religious organizations (1) and on education (2).
Thus, Article 6 of the Law of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic” deals directly with the relations between religion and education, in particular, between religious organizations and secular educational institutions as well as with the activities of religious educational institutions (REIs), while Article 40 (para. 5) of the Law of the KR “On Education” deals with the procedure for issuing a license to educational religious organizations (associations) for carrying out their educational activities.
Let's start with the content of the fundamental concepts describing various types of activities related to theological education and used by the Law of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic” (Articles 3, 4, 6, 8). In particular, these are the following three concepts – “theological education”, “teaching of religion” and “religious upbringing”.
In the process of theological education, relations, regulated by the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic on freedom of religion, are developed, which differ depending on the modality of its implementation – through specifically established educational institutions or through modalities determined by the internal rules of religious organizations.
According to Article 6 of the Law of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic”, religious organizations, in accordance with their Charters, have the right to establish and maintain REIs (higher or secondary), financed from their own funds and using their own premises for the purpose of delivering theological education to children and adults, namely, for the training of clergy and relevant religious personnel.
It follows that theological education in the Kyrgyz Republic is understood as a special education obtained in a religious educational institution, which is accompanied by a relevant document certified and issued by such institution, for the training of clergy and other relevant religious personnel required by religious organizations.
The answer to the question of whether theological education refers to educational activities within the meaning of the Law of the KR “On Education” is negative. Since educational activities are carried out by educational institutions that implement state educational programs in accordance with state quality standards of the respective level of education, on the basis of a license for educational activities, which is included in the licensed types of activities, while the list of specialties of secondary and higher professional education does not include such branch of study, except for, as noted above, “Theology” and “Religious Studies”.
Thus, theological education in the Kyrgyz Republic is regulated exclusively by the provisions of the legislation on freedom of religion and religious organizations, i.e., REIs do not have legal personality in the field of educational activities within the meaning of the Law of the KR “On Education”, therefore, they cannot become a party to educational legal relations, and the requirement for licensing of educational activities is not applicable to them. Accordingly, theological education does not refer to educational activities within the meaning of the Law of the KR “On Education”, which requires licensing.
As for the teaching of religion and religious upbringing, the types of activities defined by these concepts also do not refer to educational activities under the legislation of the KR. And this, in our opinion, is the right position from the perspective of exercising freedom of religion, otherwise the activity of professing and disseminating faith collectively, which actually is the purpose of religious organizations, and which includes teaching of religion and religious upbringing, would be subject to licensing by the authorized body in accordance with the legislation on education. Obtaining a license to carry out educational activities would, to some extent, lead to restrictions on freedom of conscience and religion and would cease to be a freedom. The same conclusions can be applied to theological education.
However, this does not mean that the state has no control over them. The legislator imposes certain restrictions on them. For example, the teaching of religion and religious upbringing should not prevent citizens from receiving compulsory secondary basic and general education. The adverse consequences of activities that prevent children from receiving compulsory education include the liquidation of a religious organization, the prohibition on the activities of a religious organization, judicial actions (part 2 of Article 14 of the Law of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic”).
When analyzing the content of these concepts, one should take into account the provision of Article 1 of the Law of the KR “On Education”, which defines the term “education” as a continuous, systematic process of upbringing and teaching for the harmonious development of the individual, society and the state, i.e., the process of education includes the processes of teaching and upbringing.
Accordingly, education, on the one hand, and teaching and upbringing, on the other hand, are correlated as a whole and its parts. In this sense, theological education can be considered as an educational activity, the substantive feature of which is the implementation of knowledge about religion and religious tenets, the result of which in the first case will be the completion of theological education, whereas in the second case - the completion of religious studies.
Thus, under the current legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic, a religious organization can register and carry out its activities both to collectively profess and disseminate the faith, and it can register its REIs and carry out educational activities, only in accordance with the legislation on freedom of religion and religious organizations.
4. The right of religious organizations to conduct educational activities in accordance with the legislation “On education” of the Kyrgyz Republic
As mentioned above, the right to conduct educational activities by educational religious organizations (associations) and obtain / issue a license for its conduct is provided for in Article 40 of the Law of the KR “On Education”.
According to the meaning of this provision, it follows that religious organizations, which at the same time must qualify as educational institutions, have the right to obtain a license to conduct educational activities, if the following preconditions are met:
- the submission must be made by the leadership of the respective denomination;
- the consent of the authorized state body for religious affairs has been given;
- the requirements, established by the legislation on licensing, are observed (Temporary regulation on the procedure for licensing of educational activities in the Kyrgyz Republic approved by the Decree of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic of July 23, 2018 No. 334).
Part 1 of the same Article 40 of the Law of the KR “On Education” states that educational institutions, except for state and municipal educational institutions that implement programs of preschool, primary general, basic general, secondary general and out-of-school education, start implementing educational programs only after obtaining the relevant licenses (Part 1, Article 40 of the Law of the KR “On Education”).
Moreover, only educational institutions that have been duly accredited in accordance with the requirements of the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic on accreditation have the right to issue state-recognized documents (or documents of their own design) to their graduates at the discretion of the educational institutions themselves.
Accordingly, in order to carry out educational activities in accordance with the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic “On Education”, a religious organization must obtain a license and undergo accreditation. However, for these purposes, a religious organization shall establish an educational institution.
However, according to part 2 of Article 6 of the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations of the Kyrgyz Republic”, it is prohibited to establish religious organizations within educational institutions, except for religious educational institutions, likewise it is prohibited to establish educational institutions by religious organizations for the aforementioned purposes.
Religious organizations shall have the right, in accordance with their Charter, to establish and maintain religious educational institutions (REIs) financed from their own funds, using their own premises only for the training of clergy and the religious personnel they need, in the manner prescribed by the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Since Part 3 of Article 6 of the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations of the Kyrgyz Republic” states that citizens shall be admitted to study at higher and secondary religious educational institutions, religious organizations have the right to establish REIs with a view to obtain higher and secondary theological education.
From the systemic interpretation of the above provisions, it follows that religious organizations are not entitled to establish educational institutions that carry out educational activities within the meaning of the Law of the KR “On Education”, and their religious educational activities are regulated by the provisions of the Law of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations of the Kyrgyz Republic”
At the same time, the standards of theological education (the list of subjects, curricula, education programs) shall be developed by the denominations on their own, while the secular part of the religious standard shall be developed by the authorized state body in the field of education.
5. Obtaining theological education under the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic
In accordance with part 3, Article 6 of the Law of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic”, citizens shall be admitted to higher and secondary religious educational institutions upon completion of compulsory general secondary education in accordance with the Law of the KR “On Education”.
According to Article 16 of the Law of the KR “On Education”, school education is the main part of the education system and includes 3 stages:
- primary general education- grades 1-4;
- basic general education - grades 5-9;
- secondary general education - grades 10-11.
Primary general education, basic general education and secondary general education shall constitute compulsory levels of education for all citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Accordingly, it is possible to be admitted to higher and secondary REIs only after graduating from secondary general education, i.e., after completion of 11 years of schooling and receiving a certificate of secondary general education.
At the same time, there have been discussions in society regarding the compliance of the above provision with Article 46 of the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic, which stipulates that “everyone has the right to education” and “basic general education is compulsory”, i.e., 9 instead of 11 years of schooling, as it is stated in Article 16 of the Law of the KR “On Education”. The essence of this discussion boils down to the fact that one side believes that it is possible to be admitted to a REI after completion of 9 years of schooling in accordance with the Constitution, while the other side believes that the enrolment in a REI is possible after completion of 11 years of schooling. The current practice is that students who have been admitted to REIs after 9 years of study simultaneously attend a secondary school. This situation has developed due to different interpretations of the above provisions.
Thus, according to Article 46 of the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic, the obligation to obtain general secondary education, which corresponds to the level of 9 years of schooling, is indeed established. However, the issues related to obtaining theological education are regulated by the Law of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic”, under which, as mentioned above, it is possible to be admitted to higher and secondary REIs only after graduating from secondary general education, i.e., after completion of 11 years of schooling.
One of the priorities of the state is to ensure quality education. In this respect, the state sets the development of state, municipal and private educational institutions as its main objective, while the quality of education in private educational institutions is regulated through accreditation, certification as well as their competitiveness in the educational services market.
This raises the question of whether the state should also control the provision of quality theological education.
According to the SAMK (Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Kyrgyzstan), there are a total of 92 madrasahs in the country, of which 16 are for girls, 17 are mixed, and the rest are only for boys. There are 8 193 students attending religious schools. According to the head of the education department, only those who have completed 9 years of schooling are admitted to the madrasah. Christian, Buddhist and Jewish religious organizations and associations also have their own religious educational institutions and centers.
According to the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic, as per their status, these educational institutions shall be recognized as REIs established by the relevant religious organizations. According to part 3, Article 6 of the Law of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic” religious educational institutions, including madrasahs, regardless of whether they are secondary or higher educational institutions, must enroll students after completion of secondary general education, i.e., 11 years of schooling.
Part 6, Article 6 of the Law of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic” establishes the basic requirements for persons teaching religious subjects in religious educational institutions. Unlike secular educational institutions, the educational process of REIs involves studying mainly from the perspective of a particular religious beliefs and does not always contribute to the development of tolerance towards representatives of other faiths. Therefore, the state must exercise systematic control over the activities of teaching establishments and other educational institutions in the forms prescribed by law. Therefore, the level of education in REIs is under the scrutiny of the relevant state bodies and departments of the religious organizations themselves, in particular: the state of teaching, the procedure for monitoring educational and methodological programs, sanitary and hygienic conditions as well as the compliance of the level of education with the state policy in ensuring interreligious understanding and tolerance.
An important aspect is the level of education of persons teaching religious subjects in REIs and the availability of special theological education and permission to teach granted by the spiritual administration or center.
REIs issue documents on education and qualifications obtained by their graduates, the design of which is established by the religious organizations on their own. Religious education diplomas give their holders the right to be employed in accordance with their specialty only in the relevant religious or non-governmental organizations.
The document on the completion of a secondary REI will not allow its graduates to be admitted to other levels of education in the education system of the Kyrgyz Republic, except for theological ones. A graduate of a REI shall have the right to be admitted to other levels of education of the Kyrgyz Republic only on the basis of those documents on education that are established by the Law of the KК “On Education”, in particular, a certificate of secondary basic education (upon completion of 9 years of schooling), a certificate of secondary general education (upon completion of 11 years of schooling), a state-recognized diploma of secondary or higher professional education, issued by the Ministry of Education of the Kyrgyz Republic, and obtain the appropriate qualification of the relevant level of education.
Thus, it is possible to obtain theological education in the Kyrgyz Republic in religious educational institutions established and registered in accordance with the Law of the KR “On Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations in the Kyrgyz Republic”. A respective graduation document allows its holder to be employed only in accordance with his/her specialty, only in relevant religious or non-governmental organizations.