Kasha and Quality in Kyrgyzstan: Donors, Diversity, and Dis-Integration in Higher Education

Date: 10 June 2013

Speaker: Martha Merrill

Date: 10 June 2013. 4.00pm
Venue: 138 Toktogul Street, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. Conference Room on 3rd floor.

Kyrgyzstan’s relative openness to a diversity of ideas, combined with its poverty, has caused it to accept a plethora of international academic institutions and programs, often exported by the sender rather than imported at Kyrgyzstan’s request. These programs and institutions suggest a variety of visions of Kyrgyzstan’s future and of the political and religious identities of its citizens. The exported programs reveal a range of “donor logics,” including different ideas about what constitutes quality. The government of Kyrgyzstan now is trying to create a more unified system, through the required use of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and credit hours. This is being done in part to synchronize Kyrgyzstan’s higher education system with those of important partners, such as Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey, which are members of the Bologna Process. However, the government maintains standards for licenses and attestation that are based on universal input factors and not on mission-driven learning outcomes. Such standards do not correlate with the European Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance that are used by Bologna Process members, nor with many international discipline-based accrediting systems. This has led to a system lacking in integration, with new structures for degrees but old ideas of evaluation. The result is kasha – literally, porridge, with a little of this and a little of that added in, but in slang, a mess.

Please RSVP to nazgul.abdrazakova@ucentralasia.org with your name and affiliation. Please indicate if you require Russian translation. 

Martha C. Merrill, who worked on higher education reform in Kyrgyzstan from 1996 to 2001, has been involved in international education since 1982. Currently she is associate professor of higher education at Kent State University in Ohio and coordinator of the program’s International Education Certificate. Her degrees are in Russian literature (B.A., Michigan), Creative Writing (M.A., Boston University), College and University Administration (M.A. and Ph.D., Michigan) and Islamic studies (M.A., Columbia University). Her research interests focus on the globalization of quality assessment standards in higher education.


The presentation will be in English. Russian translation provided upon prior request.

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