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University of Central Asia opens its doors in Kyrgyz city Naryn

University of Central Asia opens its doors in Kyrgyz city Naryn

KARACHI: The Uni-versity of Central Asia (UCA) has officially opened its first campus in Naryn in the Kyrgyz Republic, said a statement issued by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) on Thursday.

“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,” the statement added.

According to the statement, the first phase includes 14,000 square metres 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,” it said.

“When the final phase is complete, the campus will accommodate 1,200 students and span 125,000 square metres. The secular, internationally chartered, not-for- profit university is a partnership between the governments of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan and AKDN,” the statement added.

The ceremony held under the patronage of President Almazbek Atambayev was officiated by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sooronbay Jeenbekov and the Aga Khan.

Prime Minister Jeenbekov spoke to the UCA students and said 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”, the prime minister expressed special gratitude to the Aga Khan for his long-term vision. He went on to say, “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,” the statement quoted His Highness the Aga Khan as 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 added.

He went on to note that the UCA was “not a typical start-up university,” remarking on the university’s school of professional and continuing education, which had already taught over 90,000 people ranging from members of parliament to computer technicians, the statement said.

The Aga Khan also shared details about the humanities project, which had 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 were 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 will 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), said the statement, adding that the undergraduates in Naryn earned a seat in the inaugural class through a competitive and merit-based 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,” said the statement.

“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 are women,” the statement added.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2016

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