University of Central Asia and Seneca College Build on Commitment to High Quality, Affordable Higher Education
The University of Central Asia (UCA) has reaffirmed a commitment to improving education in the region through an innovative partnership with Canada’s Seneca College.
Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, UCA’s Executive Chairman of the Board Executive Committee and Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in the Kyrgyz Republic and Seneca President David Agnew commemorated the partnership at a signing ceremony at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, Canada on 14 April 2016.
|The agreement was signed by Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Executive Chairman , UCA Board Executive Committee, and David Agnew, President of Seneca College at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, Canada.
“We are pleased to deepen our existing collaboration with the University of Central Asia as they prepare to welcome their first cohort of undergraduates this fall. Seneca and UCA share a common belief that a world class education is one that offers a global perspective while empowering students to create social change both locally and internationally. We look forward to supporting UCA’s efforts in Central Asia,” Agnew said.
The partnership between UCA and Seneca is made possible by the financial support of Global Affairs Canada and Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC).
Mahmoud Eboo, the AKDN Representative in Canada and Khalil Z. Shariff, Chief Executive Officer of AKFC, spoke about Canada’s support to a broad range of AKDN initiatives in Central Asia and the role of education in improving quality of life in the developing world.
In 2015, UCA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Toronto-based Seneca to develop the English, mathematics and science curriculum for UCA’s Preparatory Programme. The Programme will be offered to the first cohort of undergraduates at the UCA campus in Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic starting in September 2016.
Under the agreement, Seneca assessed the needs of Central Asian students for additional academic preparation to succeed at the university level. The resulting one-year curriculum encourages students to develop new ways of thinking and working through assignments with logical reasoning, critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Seneca also designed and delivered a professional development programme for UCA faculty, including training in Central Asia and Canada, and will provide in-class assessments and longer-term online resources and video conferencing support.
“The University of Central Asia is strengthened by our dynamic partnership with Seneca College, a global institution in every sense. Our partnership with Seneca and support from the Government of Canada is rooted in a shared belief that a university should provide the highest calibre of education to all qualified students, regardless of their background. With Seneca’s support, our inaugural class of students will receive a rigorous academic programme that will prepare them for a truly international standard of education,” Kassim-Lakha said.
Thursday’s ceremony was held as part of the Smart Global Development conference in Ottawa, bringing together international experts to explore higher education’s potential to contribute to sustainable development goals.
President Agnew also announced Seneca’s support of 12 scholarships for talented students from Central Asia. Seneca will award Entrance Scholarships to four incumbent students, and will award four additional Merit Scholarships annually following a student’s first year based on Grade Point Average (GPA) and demonstrated community service. Four Post-Graduate Tuition Scholarships will also be awarded to UCA alumni to pursue a one-year post-graduate certificate at Seneca in Canada.
Canada supports several UCA research and teaching initiatives in Central Asia and Afghanistan through Global Affairs Canada and the International Development Research Centre, including support to establish the University’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration (IPPA). Global Affairs Canada has also supported UCA partnerships with the University of British Columbia, Carleton University and the University of Alberta.
UCA is building three residential campuses of the same stature, facility and standards, and the Naryn campus will enrol its first students in September 2016, offering Communications and Media and Computer Science. The second campus opening in Khorog, Tajikistan in September 2017 will offer Economics as well as Earth and Environmental Sciences. The third campus, at Tekeli, Kazakhstan is anticipated in 2019 and will offer Engineering Sciences and Business and Management.
Central Asian and Canadian Educators Put UCA-Seneca Partnership into Practice
Bunyod Tusmatov, mathematics lecturer at UCA noted that Seneca's approach addresses deficiencies in the ways that Central Asian students currently learn essential subjects like mathematics.
UCA's faculty Bunyod Tusmatov, who was recently trained at Canada's Seneca College, mentoring students in mathematics
“The traditional approach to teaching mathematics in Central Asia is through basic math skills and memorisation. But society and the modern labour market require students to think quantitatively and use creativity in their problem solving. The progressive mathematics curriculum designed by Seneca integrates group activities, games, puzzles and individual projects requiring students to move beyond memorisation and towards applied thinking and learning,” Tusmatov explained.
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