University of Central Asia opens its first campus as part of
broad commitment to fostering social and economic development in
Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic.
Chitral Times Report
Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic: The University of Central Asia (UCA),
created to be a catalyst for social and economic development in the
region’s mountain societies, officially opened its first
campus in Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic.
The new buildings on the Naryn Campus represent the first phase of
a larger plan for the 252-hectare site, which was a gift from the
Kyrgyz Government. Phase I includes 14,000 m˛ of space that can
accommodate 150 students. It features state of the art classrooms,
a library and laboratories; secure, modular student dormitories;
faculty and staff residences; and athletic facilities of an
international standard. When the final phase is complete, the
campus will accommodate 1,200 students and span 125,000m˛.
The secular, internationally chartered, not-for-profit University
is a partnership between the governments of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz
Republic and Tajikistan and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
The ceremony, under the patronage of President AlmazbekAtambayev,
was officiated by Kyrgyz Prime Minister SooronbayJeenbekov and His
Highness the Aga Khan.
Prime Minister Jeenbekov spoke directly to UCA students by
declaring that the University would provide them with “the
knowledge and skills necessary for you to become future leaders in
different areas”. Calling this “a gift for all of us”, he expressed
his special gratitude to His Highness the Aga Khan for his
long-term vision going on to say that, “the future of our country
is in the hands of our youth. Quality professional education must
therefore facilitate the preparation of young people.”
“It is important to know that what we are doing here will be a
valuable example of international cooperation for the future not
only here in the region, but also for people far beyond the
region,” said His Highness the Aga Khan speaking at the ceremony.
“What this University is all about is not only the power of
education, but also the power of international cooperation. It is a
power that can change peoples’ lives.”
He went on to note that UCA was “not a typical start-up
university,” remarking on the University’s School of Professional
and Continuing Education, which has already taught over 90,000
people ranging from members of parliament to computer technicians.
He also commented on the Humanities Project, which has attracted
support from 77 other universities and colleges throughout Central
Asia, and two of the University’s research arms, the Institute of
Public Policy and Administration and the Mountain Societies
Research Institute which are already doing “path-breaking research”
and cooperating with international partners on issues that will be
central to the region’s progress.
The launch of the Naryn Campus is to be followed by the
construction of campuses of equal size and stature in Khorog,
Tajikistan (scheduled to open in 2017) and in Tekeli, Kazakhstan
(expected to open in 2019).
The undergraduates in Naryn earned a seat in the inaugural class
through a competitive, merit-based and needs-blind admissions
process. The University is providing financial aid to every member
of the Class of 2021; no qualified student was denied admission
because of economic circumstances. The students come from urban
centres, secondary cities and small villages across the Kyrgyz
Republic, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nearly
40 per cent of the first 71 students who joined in September 2016
Also addressing the gathering, ErajUzoqov, a student at the Naryn
campus, remarked: “Not only are my classmates diverse, our faculty
and staff are also from different parts of the world. They come
from as far away as Canada, US, Philippines, Germany, Azerbaijan,
Pakistan and as close as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
Your Highness, you have spent years advocating for pluralism and
diversity around the world, and I humbly submit that this Naryn
Campus is an embodiment of your vision.”
The economic impact of the University’s three campuses is projected
to be more than US$ 750 million in the Central Asian region. In the
first phase of construction, UCA created 600 new jobs in the Kyrgyz
Republic as well as 800 at the Tajikistan site. The University’s
approach to planning and building is part of a larger strategy to
boost local economies by sourcing local and regional materials,
strengthening existing enterprises and promoting the establishment
of new ones.
His Highness the Aga Khan used the opportunity of the inauguration
ceremony to announce the appointment of ShamshKassim-Lakha as the
first Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University.
Following the ceremony, the Prime Minister and His Highness the Aga
Khan joined Naryn Governor AmanbayKayipov for the inauguration of
SeitaalyJakypov Park in the centre of Naryn. As part of AKDN’s
broader commitment to the Naryn area, the Aga Khan Trust for
Culture rehabilitated the Park, creating space for leisure, play
and exercise. The nearby Medical and Diagnostic Centre was built
and is operated by the Aga Khan Health Services.