Responsible Governance, Civic Education, and Citizen Participation in Central Asia

Delegation discusses program objectives at US State Dept meeting

This two-year project provided enhanced training in civic education and citizen participation for educators and youth workers, with a goal of stimulating dialogue and interest among government representatives, educators, and NGO leaders. The results built new capacity and skills at universities, NGOs, and in communities in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan.

The  participants conducted mini-grants on civic education and engagement at their universities, NGO’s, and their communities. Projects included creating curricula, teaching students to do action projects, starting a Civic Education Center at a university; embedding civic education in existing university courses, holding debates, & training students in election law.

Project topics included disseminating clothing and medicine to the poor; promoting tolerance and anti-corruption, targeting environmental and teen health issues and election law and responsibility. 

US Program

Central Asian delegates explore electronic voting

A delegation of 12 Central Asia professionals (policy-makers, university administrators and pedagogical teachers, representatives of NGOs that work with youths, school administrators and teachers) spent 3 weeks in the United States, studying accountability, transparent and responsive government, and public administration. Activities in the U.S. included site visits to schools, government offices, NGOs and citizen organizations; skill-training sessions, and meetings with U.S. professional peers.

Mini Grant Results

Active engagement in Civic Education at Taraz State University

10 Central Asian participants who were trained in the US conducted mini-grants ($500 each) valued at a total of $5000. All participants gave seminars in civic education and engagement; some created curriculi, taught students to do action projects, created a Civic Education Center at a university; embedded civic education in existing university courses, held debates, & trained students in election law.

More students are expected to benefit from the pilot courses developed by the teachers of International University of Kyrgyzstan (IUK) and Kyrgyz State University (KSU) involving at least 1000 students in the 2008-2009 school year.  Civic education training was given to 200 teachers and students in 100 Tajik schools. 100 action projects are being planned for the 2008-2009 school year

Kyrgyzstan Mini Grant Results

Debates at International University of Kyrgyzstan

Civic Education in Building Sustainable Democracy in Kyrgyzstan”
International University of Kyrgyzstan (IUK), Kyrgyz State University (KSU), and Interbilim (CIB, an NGO) worked cooperatively to train teachers and students in civic education and implement projects to engage citizens. Jointly they trained 25 teachers and 15 NGO representatives in civic education methodology learned in the US; those 40 then trained 350 students.  Students then developed community service initiatives and teachers and students applied for sub mini-grants.

A Civic Education Centre was set up at KSU to continue activities that were recommended by teachers who had received training. A room and staff were allocated for these purposes:

  • Embed civic education elements into existing programs
  • Conduct seminars, elective courses
  • Hold information campaigns (actions, publications, mass-media programs, etc)
  • Sponsor round tables, forums, conferences 

Actions against corruption at Kyrgyz State University

Civic Education training at IUK & KSU:

Five university professors embedded civic education interactive methodologies into their current coursework or created pilot coursesfor the 2008/2009 school year.

They are as follows:

  • 18 hour course focused on gender issues, social injustice
  • 10 hour practicum on  “Social injustice in Kyrgyzstan”- includes civic education, society, tribalism, regional pecularities.
  • 4 academic hours in Sociology department- “Citizenship and its Culture”
  •  3 chapters or modules for seminars in Politology – includes discussion /debate, analysis of different political systems
  • Computer science and Civic Education- currently being piloted; includes discussion of topics of family budgeting, economic situation professions, citizens rights and responsibilities while using diverse computer programs for analysis.

JSU participants working in small groups on Civic Education exercises

In Jelalabat, Lailikan Kochkorbaeva, Language Chair at JSU held seminars with 80 students, 60 teachers at JSU, and 60 English teachers at a conference at Osh University.

Sub-mini grants involved:

  • A series of debates in two universities on “Corruption at the University level”,
  • A cross cultural series of events, “Week of Nations Friendship”  stressing tolerance among all nations;
  • A theatre group spoof of Patriotism in positive ways to show the difference between forced and voluntary patriotism.

Kazakhstan Mini Grant  Results

Akerkin presents specific methods and principles to colleagues

Akerkin Eraliyeva, lawyer and professor at Taraz State University, created a extensive Civic Educations CD that was given to all participants of her seminars. Audiences of 3 presentations included the JSU staff, Secondary school personnel, NGO leaders, and Taraz State Pedagogical Institute staff.

Enjoying the process of civic education interactive methods.

Serikkali Aubekerov, Lawyer, and Executive Director of NGO Young Researchers, conducted a series of seminars to encourage critical thinking about laws and voting procedures in Western Kazakhstan. Participants included students of Uralsk Academies of Labour and Social Relations, Humanities, Information Technologies and West Kazakhstan State University.

Tajikistan Mini Grant Results

Petition on non-smoking in public places

Four participants conducted grants in Dushanbe, Rumi district, and Kulyab.

Farkhod Ulugov, Project Manager, Youth 21(ngo) held trainings on civic education and organized  participants from 20 high schools of 25 districts in TJ into 4 actions plans.

Help the Neighbor – students collecting toys, clothes, to give to the orphanage, home disabled, elderly homes

They resulted in collecting 100+ kilos of  second-hand clothes  for local orphanage, a public opinion survey on non-smoking in public places, 15 seminars on Health Lifestyles, and energy saving making devices to make classrooms warmer.

Full Participation and interest by professors even amidst the cold!

Nodira Hamraeva, psychologist at Tajik State National University conducted trainings at two universities, to teachers of school #20 and at a special school.

Matluba Sirodzhova, Civic Education trainer, Social studies teacher, and member of  NGO”Farahnush”  held two seminars with rural women in Rumi district and with teachers at secondary school # 50. Rumi housewives  were inspired to volunteer to help veterans, do clean ups, and become involved in their children’s education.
Matluba was subsequently asked to give seminars through Urban Institute in Dushanbe on women’s rights and gender issues as a result of her Civic Education seminars.
Full Participation and interest by professors even amidst the cold!

Dodarbek and participants in interactive activity

Dodarbek Saydaliev, Executive Director of the  NGO “Shahrvand”  organized a series of “Train the Trainer” seminars for History teachers of secondary schools in Kulyab, in southern Tajikistan. Additionally, through a working group consisting of an associate professor at Kulyab University, a teacher at Lyceum #1; an educational consultant and himself developed a civic education curriculum. Staff  created a video lesson and conducted an open lesson at the Lyceum.

  Summer Camps

Summer camp educators

Following the mini-grants, summer camps offered Civic Education training to 200 students and teachers. One hundred action projects are planned for 50 Dushanbe and 50 Sughd regions for the 2008/2009 school year.

Seminars in Central Asia by US Presenters

Six US presenters, including Legacy staff, gave a total of 62 seminars at  universities in Almaty Kazakhstan, Bishkek Kyrgyzstan, and Dushanbe and Kulyab Tajikistan

“I learned a bit more about the issues in higher education, as well as the social issues that impact the citizenry.  This was also the first time that I heard how some people wish to go back to the Soviet educational system.  The differences appear to be generational, but more study is needed.  I also learned that curricula on American Popular Culture in foreign countries could misrepresent the United States in serious ways.  The students (as students or novices often do) paint the entire US citizenry in the same images as popular culture and reduce the multiple cultures into one stereotype”. ~ Susan G. Magliaro 

 Key Partners:

  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
  • Roanoke County Schools
  • International University of Kyrgyzstan
  • Kyrgyz State University
  • Jalalabat State University
  • Kazakh National Pedagogical University, School of Basic Management
  • Tajik State Pedagogical University
  • Kulyab State University