On Saturday October 2, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and the University of Central Asia’s School for Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) held a ceremony for 144 graduates of the Bokhtar Learning Center, according to press release issued by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) Office in Tajikistan.

The Bokhtar Learning Center reportedly offers technical and vocational education in entrepreneurship and business planning, English, computing, and other subjects to youth and adults in Khatlon.

Mr. Dilovar Butabekov, Director of SPCE, stated “Today we celebrate two special days - the 15th anniversary of SPCE, along with the 30 years of Tajikistan's independence. SPCE is active in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan. The most learning centers have been established in Tajikistan, which proves how close and productive our cooperation is with the government of Tajikistan in terms of improving the lives of people through professional and continuing education."

The ceremony was attended by the Deputy of the Khatlon Education Department, representatives from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), staff from AKF and SPCE, as well as the graduates and their families and friends. As part of the ceremony, AKF and SPCE organized an exhibition with smallholder producers and other agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network as well as a cultural program.

“AKF is honored to have helped SPCE expand from Gorno-Badakhshan to Khatlon through opening the Bokhtar Learning Center in 2019, and is proud to continue supporting its entrepreneurship courses under the Thrive Tajikistan program,” proclaimed AKF’s Head of Programs, Mr. Javlon Hamdamov.

Thrive Tajikistan: Partnership for Socio-Economic Development is a five-year (2018-2023) program jointly funded by AKF and the United States Agency for International Development, with the overall goal of enhancing socio-economic development in Khatlon and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).  Specifically, Thrive engages SPCE and Accelerate Prosperity to promote entrepreneurship and the growth of start-up and early-stage businesses.

To date, the program has helped 197 students access entrepreneurship courses at the centers in Bokhtar and Khorog, and 137 students successfully defend their business plans. This will lead to the creation of new businesses and the expansion of existing businesses across the country.