Thus, the first graduation ceremony of the students of the University of Central Asia (UCA) has
taken place in the cities of Khorog, Republic of Tajikistan and Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, and works are
underway in Tekeli city of the Republic of Kazakhstan. These moments have come a long path.
Such a short period of time from the first brick foundation ceremony of the university to the
students’s first graduation is a rare phenomenon in the history of education in the world.
On the eve of the UCA's graduation ceremony we spoke about yesterday, today and future of the
University with the Resident Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network in
Tajikistan (AKDN), Ambassador Qozidavlat Qoimdodov. In fact, Ambassador Qozidavlat
Qoimdodov in his capacity of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan’s coordinator of
AKDN programs in Tajikistan (1993-2006) was directly invoved from the moment of
announcement of the initiative, the laying of the first brick of the University until the
graduation ceremony. Through his efforts for the three Central Asian countries, this first
experience, the development, consent and direct support of the heads of states, a unanimous
consent was reached for the construction of this great project.
- Mr. Ambassador, most of the UCA's founding documents have now entered the archives of
history. At the same time, the participants of this historic project still have fond memories.
However, you as the project coordinator and organizer, explain the factors and the need for
the establishment of the UCA.
- The development of a cooperation program with AKDN, especially with His Highness Prince
Karim Aga Khan IV, in the early 90s, after four years of state’s independence, was a
complicated, intertwined and confusing, and laborious path. Because the simplest laws of
cooperation and international relations, documents related to diplomatic status were almost non-
existent in those years. Only for dialogue and initial communication it became necessary to open
the way to the AKDN through the second and third countries. However, due to the consistent
efforts and diligence of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Leader of the Nation,
diplomatic and procedural problems were resolved, and at the end of 1994, relations were
reestablished. In May 1995, the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan signed a Cooperation
Agreement with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). This agreement is considered to
be the the first in the history of Tajik diplomacy to cooperate with international organizations as
development partners. The Leader of the Nation Emomali Rahmon personally invited His
Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan IV to Tajikistan and accompanied him to GBAO. In the
course of one of the talks the Leader of the Nation Emomali Rahmon and His Highness Prince
Karim Aga Khan discussed the training of personnel and specialists who will be matching to the
global economic process, the international situation, the introduction of new forms of
governance, economic management in a market economy, trade expansion and else. Mavlono
Hazir Imam emphasized this issue during his meeting with teachers, lectures and students of the
Khorog State University named after Moensho Nazarshoev on May 26. Later, on May 29 of the


same year, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan gave instructions to develop measures for
cooperation in the field of education and health, and world-class education.
It is not a secret that except a small number of specialists and a few foreigners in project
management, development of business programs, development of anti-crisis programs, there was
no tripartite social cooperation between the government, civil society and local business. Even in
neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan there was a need for this intellectual group. The
establishment of such a center or university for Tajikistan was again discussed at the meeting of
the AKDN working group in Tajikistan in 1998.
AKDN has already completed the investigation phase of the establishment of educational
networks. Until now, in the development and implementation of the project AKDN specifically
short-term courses, trainings and workshops are conducted.
- Mr. Ambassador, please kindly provide information on discussions and disputes on the
name, location and participation of the partners. Because according to the information in
your archive there is a complete record of the presentations of the working group.
- Initiating high-level projects requires a great deal of responsibility. Following a verbal
agreement, a Working Group was established to develop legal documents and implement the
project. The best experts from the United States, Pakistan, Russia, Germany, Britain,
Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan were involved in the development of the project. At the same time,
as a coordinator of AKDN programs by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, I started
to study AKDN educational programs and social projects. Unfortunately, in comparison with
today, there were no technological resources for communication and the Internet. We had to
translate and read magazines and articles in English and German day and night. On April 4,
1998, the Working Group began its work in the building of the Supreme Council. The UCA
name was first considered, a group suggesting it as the Regional University of Central Asia, and
another group recommended the Mountains University of the Aga Khan. It should be noted
that at that time the partners from other republics were not yet known. I reported to the President
about the course of the first presentation. The Leader of the Nation took a keen interest in the
establishment of UCA. Because it was evident to him that annually only 30 people from
Tajikistan went abroad to study. While up to 1,500 people a year from the Republics of
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were enrolled in education abroad. In the second presentation, the
hypothesis of the "University of Central Asia" was adopted by a majority vote. Now, the key
questions of “why in Khorog”, financial stability and investment attraction were also key
questions for project. Experts Shams Kassim-Laha from Pakistan, Badenkov from Russia, Batir
Beshimov from Kyrgyzstan, Tom Kissinger from the USA described the UCA Charter and other
legal regulations (the current UCA Charter was largely based on the Tajik Charter). The answer
to the question of UCA's location was there in the UCA's statutory purpose. Because UCA's main
goal was to train specialists for the mountainous regions of Central Asia. Detailed information on
UCA's funds and financing was also provided. Later, His Highness Prince Karim Al-Husseini
allocated the necessary funds for the establishment of UCA. Along with the Working Group, I
involved a group of domestic and foreign experts to consult on the project. In August 1998, the
project was prepared for presentation at the George Washington University. With the Working


Group consisting of Dr. Jay Pratt USA, Minister of Education of the Republic of Tajikistan
Munira Inoyatova, Dr. Shams Kassim Lakha (Pakistan), Dr. Abdusalom Mamadnazarov
(Tajikistan), Dr. Bakhit Beshimov (Kyrgyzstan), Dr. Francisisatto USA, Chairman of GBAO
Alimamad Niyozmamadov, Dr. Khusrav Sodiqov, Tajikistan, Dr. Fredrik Starr (USA), Dr. Yuri
Badenkov (Russia), Dr. Klaus Lampe (Germany), Professor Khayolbek Dodikhudoev
(Tajikistan), Dr. Tom Kesinger (USA) we present the UCA program, design and Charter in the
USA. In fact, the presentation came as a surprise to USA professors and experts. Then all legal
and technical documents were fully prepared in Tajikistan. AKDN leadership requested the
Government of the Republic of Tajikistan to consider the participation of other Central Asian
During one of the working visits of Askar Akayev, the former President of the Kyrgyz Republic
to Tajikistan, according to the official protocol, I, as Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Council
of the Republic of Tajikistan welcomed and accompanied Askar Akayev at the airport. During a
short conversation, he asked about the progress of AKDN programs in Tajikistan, because that
year Mavlono Hazir Imam was planning to visit Bishkek. I provided him with detailed update
about UCA. Askar Akayev as a scientist and educator liked this project. He said that he would
instruct his assistant to investigate the issue. Some time later, the Kyrgyz Republic agreed to set
up a university campus.
The 6-years efforts had finally ended on August 27, 2000. An International Treaty on the
establishment of UCA was signed on August 28 in Dushanbe with the participation of the
President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and His Highness Prince Karim Aga
Khan al-Husseini. Then on August 30 in Bishkek an International Treaty on the establishment of
UCA in the Kyrgyz Republic and on August 31 in the Republic of Kazakhstan was signed with
the participation of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and His
Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan al-Husseini.
Upon take off at the airport in Astana, His Highness was delighted to say: "We have done a
miraculous "fantastic"work in three days, that will create favorable conditions for improving
the living standards of these people."
Following the signing and laying of the foundation stone in the cities of Khorog, Tajikistan,
Naryn of Kyrgyzstan, and Tekeli of Kazakhstan, the international community called the project
"the best international initiative" in the Central Asia. At the same time, Mavlono Hazir Imam
during the signing of the agreement summed up the content of all dreams of this project:
"Along with creating the intellectual environment and resources, this University will enable
the mountains that divide people and borders, to connect human connection chain and the
region's economy focusing their efforts on improving well-being."
Today, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the volunteers who at that time did
not spare their intellectual energy for this project. Special thanks to the dedicated work
and service of Mr. Shams Kassim Lakha, Munira Inoyatova, Jorubov Muzaffar,
Khayolbek Dodikhudoev, Mamadsho Ilolov, Alimamad Niyozmamadov, Khusrav Sodiqov,
Sharofat Mamadambarova, Mirgand Shahbozov and Abdusalom Mamadnazarov.


As a rule, today, educational institutions are established in accordance with the demands of the
economy, market needs and the needs of the population, and their effectiveness is measured by
economic statistics. Fortunately, these factors are already evident on UCA's two operating
campuses. Recently, while getting acquainted with the graduation process in Khorog, I was
convinced that UCA graduates will enter the labour market at the right time, in the right place
and in the moment of economic development. More than 60 percent of graduates already have a
job application, often working as a professional. Today, UCA is the only world-class university
dedicated to supporting the world's poorest people and those in need of reforms, deprived of the
city's extensive communications, while developing a market economy. It is also known in
Europe and among other world universities as the " University of Development”.
UCA makes a significant contribution to the formation and strengthening of ties, friendship,
regional cooperation, rapprochement of peoples and nations, the integration of cultures. The
younger generation of the Central Asian will overcome all national, traditional, and local
- Mr. Ambassador, please kindly provide more information on UCA's structure, objectives and
financial sustainability.
- I have all the speeches of the leaders of the three countries in my hands. I do not have
comments on the sincere words of Nursultan Nazarbayev and Askar Akayev, but the emphasis of
the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon very wisely stated the content,
purpose and essence of the University of Central Asia: “In the course of the recent years, the
Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, along with the implementation of reforms at all
levels of education, has done a lot to bring the level of higher education in line with
international standards. The UCA in Khorog, which today initiates its activities based on
international programs, is a new page in the country's higher education system”.
It is necessary to provide sufficient information about the structure of the university. Because
during business trips to Sughd and Khatlon regions there were much queries about it. UCA is a
secular, non-political, non for-profit, and independent educational institution that poses
international instruments. UCA is one of the few universities in the world, that was founded by
three Presidents. UCA enrolled its first students to the Faculty of Humanities and Exact
Sciences (MHSD) in 2016 on the Naryn campus. UCA Naryn Campus teaches “Computer
Science” and “Communication and Media”. By providing a five-year program, UCA provides
knowledge and skills that enable and present new approaches to problem’s settlement and
innovation in professional and community activities.
The Khorog Campus teaches “Economics” and “Earth and Environmental Sciences”. The Tekeli
campus, which is scheduled to be opened in 2022, will specialize in “Business and Management”
and “Engineering and Technical Science”

As a rule, all the famous universities of the world - Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Sorbonne, Yale
and Preston have initial first level bases. Similarly, the UCA has a School of Professional and


Continuing Education (SPCE) that was established in 2006. This school provides a continuing
and secondary education in a convenient environment for young people and adults, and aimed at
covering professional skills and increasing employment opportunities and creating a source of
income. SPCE has trained more than 130,000 people in 60 training programs and courses in 12
training centers in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. On February 15, 2020,
SPCE also held a graduation ceremony for 160 students at its training center in Bokhtar city. In
the future, according to the needs and demands of the market, this school will further expand its
activities. The Graduate School of Development has a special place in UCA.
The Graduate School of Development is part of the Institute of Public Policy and Administration
and manages the Mountain Societies Research Institute and the Department of Cultural Heritage
and the Humanities. This School has published more than 100 scientific articles since 2011,
which are available free of charge on the UCA website. The goal of the Graduate School of
Development is to create new knowledge of practical significance for Central Asia. The school
offers inter-disciplinary programs and is a postgraduate training institution
UCA operates within the framework of the laws and regulations of the Government of the
Republic of Tajikistan, as well as guidelines and regulations of the Ministry of Education and
Science of the Republic of Tajikistan and under the auspices and extensive support. At the same
time, this university keeping pace with the world's most famous universities and exercises the
experience and projects of their founders. Cooperation and collaboration with Seneca College of
Canada (preparation program), University of Technology of Sydney Australia (Communication
and Media), University of Toronto Canada (Computer Science), British Columbia University in
Canada (Earth and Environmental Science), Stockholm School of Riga (Economics), the
National Research University - Moscow Higher School of Economics (Economics) and Victoria
Konodo University (Internship Program) under the contract are continuing very effectively.
At the same time, the best practices of the world's universities have been exercised in the
management of UCA. The University is governed by the Founders, the Chancellor, and the
Board of Trustees. The Chancellor of the UCA is Prince Karim Aga Khan IV. Upon the
recommendation and request of the Board of Trustees he appoints the Rector and other key
positions at UCA. The members of the Board of Trustees monitor the activities of the Rector, the
quality of education, the development of UCA and actively cooperate in solving emerging
One of UCA's humanitarian objectives is to enable favorable conditions for step by step
periodically training of the local faculty. In the first phase, it should be 50 percent of the local
staff. Currently the University employs 90 percent of local faculty.
UCA is also the only university in the world that has established the Institute of Public
Administration as part of continuing education and periodic scholarships. In 2018, the Institute
started teaching and training Masters in Public Administration in Afghanistan. In the future,
according to the needs of the main areas of economic management, managers and qualified
Masters will be trained..


As part of UCA's programs, the Institute for Regional Studies and Mountain Society is engaged
in research of development of mountainous areas in Central Asia. It has long been said that “in
the first case, people flee to the mountains in the emergency situation, and in the second case,
people go to the mountains for recreation and rest. However, the mountains of the Central Asia,
which covers more than 60 percent of this territory, have become a region of sustainable
development, development of agriculture and tourism sectors. The program also promotes the
efficient use of mountain resources and natural disaster risk reduction.
It should be noted that the special attention of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Leader
of the Nation Emomali Rahmon servers as an engine of UCA's progress. The direct participation
of the Leader of the Nation in the opening of the University campus, the inauguration ceremony
and a number of working meetings with His Highness the Aga Khan IV where the future of
social development and education were discussed. In 2019 during the Paris meeting the further
development of cooperation in the field of education and health were also pointed out.
- Mr. Qozidavlat Qoimdodov, why for almost 12 years the UCA has been named the best
“International Social Initiative”?
- At the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central Asia, as a region with a poor
population but rich natural and intellectual resources, became the focus of global geopolitical
competition. Most of the superpowers pursued their geopolitical goals in the Central Asia. It
should be noted that in the early decade of the 90s several foreign and international universities
were established in the Central Asian republics. Unfortunately, along with vocational education,
the transfer of foreign policies and political goals has led to internal conflicts. Therefore, there
was a need for an independent non-profit university with the participation of the founders of the
countries. The initiative to establish the university also made an active contribution to the social
development of the region. The reason why UCA has been given this title in the West is that the
initiative has not yet faced any obstacles, but on the contrary its results have contributed to social

- Distinguished Mr. Ambassador, what are your wishes to the first graduates?
It should be noted that the University’s diploma is a pass to the practical work, which
contributes to the skills of management, leadership skills, emergency response awareness, the
culture of living in a progressive society and being a leader in professional activities.
The quality of the Diploma is the work in practice. I am confident that UCA graduates will
realizing their “first” responsibility physically and mentally and demonstrate the effectiveness of
the Diploma. Because the next generation of students will constantly watch them. This Diploma
is a biography of their future life, which will guide them to achievements and success. Your
dignity and status will be determined by this diploma. This slogan should be your life motto:
If your knowledge matching your practice,
Then your value from one to thousands.
Distinguished Mr. Ambassador, we sincerely express our gratitude for this pleasant conversation.
Thank you!


Interviewer: Farhod Mirjamolov
Member of the Union of Journalists of Tajikistan