Speech by Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, Director General, University of Central Asia

Date: 05 October 2011


Your Excellencies, Dear Totu Sydykova, Honoured Guests,

We are here to launch the book Kyrgyz Küüs written by Asan Kaybilda uulu who regretfully is not with us today. We are also here to celebrate and honour the achievement of this remarkable scholar and educator. There is much discussion today about the need to develop Kyrgyz cultural heritage and that is good.

But it has to be stressed, and this is especially an appeal to young people to appreciate cultural diversity and understand that developing culture requires more than declarations. To thrive, culture must be studied, researched, documented, interpreted and this must be done at a professional level. And this requires education, a great deal of hard work and dedication. Asan Kaybilda uulu spent 20 years of his life studying Kygyz melodies.

We are honoured to have been able to publish his two-volume study. We took great effort in printing this book to ensure that the product will be a fitting tribute to his memory.

A word about the University of Central Asia – it was founded by an International Treaty between the governments of the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and His Highness the Aga Khan that was ratified by Parliaments and registered with the United Nations.

We are building three fully residential campuses in each of the countries – and in Kyrgyzstan – in Naryn. In the meantime we have a number of operational programmes: the School of Professional and Continuing Education that offers programmes giving young people and adults, professional and technical qualifications.

The School operates in 6 locations in Central Asia and since its launch in October 2006, it has engaged more than 30,000 learners. In Kyrgyzstan almost 10,000 learners have participated in our programmes. The School has published some 170 textbooks.

The Aga Khan Humanities Project is, another one of our programmes, that offer courses based on eight textbooks in partnership with 35 institutions including
9 secondary schools in three countries; taught by 154 faculty reaching 7,500 students annually.

Next year, we will publish our ninth book on Central Asian Music. We have a vibrant research programme – the Mountain Societies Research Centre, and a powerful Knowledge Management Centre with extensive documentation. We also have the Central Asian Faculty Development Programme which sends young scholars to top universities to obtain doctorates with the understanding that they return and teach at our university – some 30 students are currently participating in this programme.

Construction of the campus – where bachelors and master’s programmes will be offered at a high international level – is proceeding. UCA has invested some US$28 million to date in preparing the site, infrastructure works, and architectural design. We employ 200 people annually.

Agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network such as the Aga Khan Foundation are also active in Naryn establishing kindergartens, and other institutions are working on projects such as the rebuilding of the Naryn airport. We are trying to take a comprehensive approach to the development of Naryn. When built, the University will transform the town. Some 600 people will work on construction, and we will employ 500 people, to operate the university.

We are all impatiently waiting for the opening of the campus. According to our plans, construction of the first buildings will start in 2012. This year, we are bringing some heaving equipment to the site. We hope to complete construction in 2015 and open the University for bachelor’s and master’s programme in 2016. To achieve this will require the close cooperation with government and the community’s goodwill. We know that we can count on both.

In conclusion, I have to express deep gratitude to Totu Sydykova, the wife of the author, to the editor, Ernis Turnuov, and the printer VRS. And a special thank you to Dr Elmira Kochumkulova who worked exceptionally hard to bring the manuscript to light. Elmira is an example of what we want to accomplish at UCA. Elmira spent 12 years studying in the United States, where she also obtained her doctorate. We are proud that she returned to Kyrgyzstan and is making a significant contribution to Kyrgyz scholarship. A word of thanks to Dr Nasreen Dhanani, UCA’s Director of Research who supported this project with enthusiasm.

The University of Central Asia is an international university, Central Asia’s only truly regional university. Its mission is to promote the socio-economic development of Central Asia while at the same time help the different peoples of the region to preserve and draw upon their rich cultural traditions and heritage as assets for the future. This book is an example of our deep and abiding committee to this mission.


Dr Bohdan Krawchenko
Director General
University of Central Asia


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