One of the challenges of living in remote mountain communities is the limited access to affordable, world-class, local education.  In response to this, in 2012 the University of Central Asia (UCA) began offering the Academic Achievement Program (AAP) – a suite of English, Information Technology, Mathematics and Science courses offered to students as of Grade 7 and until the end of secondary to help improve their chances of gaining admission to reputable colleges and universities, according to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

Offered at UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE), the program has so far benefitted over 1,600 learners across Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.  To extend this reach UCA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Aga Khan Foundation in Tajikistan on October 15, 2021 to provide AAP in schools in the rural districts of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).

Students enrolled in the program develop skills and competencies to secure admission in international universities.  They are also trained to succeed in regional and international competitions and examinations, such as the Olympiads and International English Language Testing System, amongst others.  An alumni survey conducted in Tajikistan during 2019 showed that 91 percent of graduates had gained admission to reputable universities.

After successfully completing AAP several students have continued their undergraduate studies at UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences.  

Recognizing the importance and impact of improving the quality of education in mountain communities, AKF and UCA have kickstarted the project by initially delivering AAP to 11 schools in GBAO.  They will also provide professional development training to teachers to help them improve their skills, and in turn, boost student outcomes.

“The provision of AAP in rural districts will offer an opportunity to talented kids from remote mountainous areas to learn languages, technology, math and science disciplines. These acquired skills will help them to compete with other teenagers of their age, and gain admissions in universities,” said SPCE Director Dilovar Butabekov.