Co-operative Education at UCA: Blazing a New Trail in Central Asia

Date: 17 August 2018
Other languages: Русский язык |
Co-operative education is a new concept in Central Asia. UCA's Co-operative Education Programme creates opportunities for students to gain hands-on work experience via structured job placements during three consecutive summers of their five-year course of study. 

UCA staff met with various employers and attracted 145 placement options for 68 undergraduate students across 16 cities in 5 countries: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The students had an opportunity to apply for placements in fields such as communications and marketing, monitoring and evaluation, business, finance, IT, geographic information systems, project management, research, human resources, and education.

Adelina Almazova, UCA student from Bishkek, facilitated a training session with local community members on Social Entrepreneurship. The training was conducted in Bokonbayeva village in Issyk-Kul oblast as part of her internship with Good Neighbors.
Throughout the placements, UCA’s co-op department conducted meetings with managers and students to ensure the programme was running smoothly, and that students were gaining new competencies.

“My job at the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat concentrated on the design of a new website. As one of their main communications projects, I was given a lot of responsibility. I improved my skills in visual design, colour theory, and learnt how to work with Adobe Photoshop,” said Sear Ahmad, undergraduate student from Balkh, Afghanistan. “All in all, the skills I gained will definitely benefit me in my professional life.”

One host organisation was Good Neighbors International in the Kyrgyz Republic (GNIKGZ), where four students interned. “Over 3 months, students worked with us in the Chui and Issyk- Kul regions. They delivered presentations to school children on children’s rights, worked with data management systems, developed project proposal forms and more,” said Elvina Kazakbaeva, Sponsorship Service Department Officer at GNIKGZ. “Students completed their tasks efficiently, worked well in challenging environments, and were always ready to take on new tasks. We look forward to cooperating with UCA again.”

Firuzai Muzaffar (right), UCA student, with Shuhrat Sharipov, Communication Officer at the British Embassy in Dushanbe.
Firuzai Muzaffar, an undergraduate student at the Naryn Campus worked as a Communications Intern at the British Embassy in Tajikistan. “Firuzai was an essential part of the team and helped us explore new areas for our public diplomacy, including setting up and running an Instagram account,” said Shuhrat Sharipov, Communication and Project Manager at the British Embassy. "She had great ideas and enthusiasm for helping us to shape content for our young audience, which helps us build a bridge between UK and Tajikistan by highlighting the work we do in the country."

Co-operative education applies practice-based learning, offering students an opportunity to apply in-class learning to real life professional experiences within their fields of study across private, public, and community-based sectors. Learning takes place throughout the process, from seeking employment, to learning valuable interpersonal skills and on the job training, as well as participating in field studies and jointly conducting student development evaluations. This programme is developed in partnership with the University of Victoria (UVic) in Canada.

UCA and UVic representatives visited the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) office in Kyrgyzstan, where two students completed their internships. L to R: Myrza Karimov, Head of Co-operative Education Programme at UCA, Nora McRae (UVic), Fred Huston, Regional Director of IDLO, Beknazar Jumabaev, Computer Science student, Suiuna Dadybaeyva, Computer Science student, Karim Ramji (UVic), and Munira Amidkhonova, Co-op Programme Manager at UCA.
UVic representatives Norah McRae, Executive Director, Co-operative Education Program and Career Services, and Karima Ramji Manager, International Co-op and Career Program visited UCA and its co-op programme employers in June. “It has been a pleasure working with the UCA team as they develop and establish co-operative education in Central Asia. Considering how new this concept is to the education industry, students and faculty in Central Asia, UCA is taking on a significant undertaking,” highlighted McRae. “The progress made to date is something to be truly proud of. It will be wonderful to hear about the many successes and contributions that the graduates from UCA's programmes will be making in the future.” During the visit, UCA and UVic representatives also worked on a co-op policy and are creating a manual for UCA co-ops across Central Asia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
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