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  • A large majority of students who have completed the Academic Achievement Programme at UCA's School of Professional and Continuing Education have gained admission to reputable universities. (Photo taken prior to COVID-19.)
University of Central Asia
Preparing students in mountain communities for university

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 Programme (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. 

Offered at UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE), the programme 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 15 October 2021 to provide AAP in schools in the rural districts of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO).

“With qualified teachers, quality education and a state-of-the-art learning centre, I am graduating from SPCE with an intellectually curious mind. My years pursuing AAP has not only provided me with academic education, but also equipped me with interpersonal skills that will be an asset throughout my life,” said alumna Davlatsilton.

Students enrolled in the programme 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.


Students in Bokhtar, Tajikistan attending an English class as part of UCA’s Academic Achievement Programme. (Photo taken prior to COVID-19.)

After successfully completing AAP several students have continued their undergraduate studies at UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences. “My studies at SPCE left a huge impact on both my personal and professional growth. I decided to choose UCA, and I am certain that this decision will help fulfil my aspirations in life,” said Nilufar Sarbalandova, AAP alumna who is now pursuing a BA in Communications & Media at UCA.

Recognising 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.