“It should be noted with satisfaction that the project of the University of Central Asia is one of the most successful projects implemented by the Government of Tajikistan with development partners.  In close historical cooperation with the governments of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and their comprehensive assistance, the University of Central Asia in a short historical period has been able to find a stable position and gain a certain reputation,” said Ms. Niloufar Aslamshoyeva, Deputy governor of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO), while speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Class of 2022 of the University of Central Asia (UCA) in GBAO’s capital, Khorog, according to the Aga Development Network (AKDN) Resident Office in Tajikistan.  She was among a number of distinguished guests who spoke at the ceremony.

Niloufar Aslamshoyeva also noted that the Government of Tajikistan is satisfied that the study of the language, history and culture of the Tajik nation is included in the curriculum of the University, and foreign students get acquainted with the rich cultural and scientific heritage of the Tajik nation.  “In various schools of the University, hundreds of our citizens have had the opportunity to improve their skills through professional retraining and continuing education, and to be constantly trained to meet the requirements of the times,” she added.

On June 18, 2022, amid the majestic mountains of the Pamirs and Tien Shan, the graduation ceremonies at the two campuses in Khorog and Naryn (Kyrgyzstan) brought together parents, faculty and many distinguished guests who came to congratulate the students for their academic achievements, and promises of successes yet to come.

Although a year has passed since the historic first graduation of UCA, for the second batch of graduates the year went by much too fast.  Proudly displaying their graduation gowns, with its creative combination of motifs from the rich cultural traditions of Central Asia, the event began with a resounding applause as the graduates took their seats in anticipation of their degrees.

On behalf of the Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, who is also a trustee of UCA, conveyed a special message of congratulations to the graduates.  She also highlighted the global challenges of climate change, on which solutions and adaptive measures must be identified and implemented locally.

“The reason that UCA teaches Earth and Environmental Sciences is that climate change will affect Central Asia as it will the rest of the planet.  It will force changes to the ways you grow and distribute food; to your approach towards resources; and to the way you will build houses in the future.  It will also create a raft of new jobs and careers that will be essential in the decades to come”.

Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Chairman of UCA’s Board of Trustees, emphasized the significant role people skills play in professional success.  He added, “The education you have received was designed to instill in you a pluralistic mindset to help unify cultures and nationalities, prepare you for responsible citizenship, as well as ethical and enlightened governance; and to think logically and critically. In short, you have been provided resources to help you become leaders in whatever is your chosen career”.

Professor Sohail Naqvi, Rector of UCA, paying tribute to the students and their parents, noted that remaining true to the Chancellor’s vision, the graduates had strived to understand the needs and challenges of rural communities and how to chart a path for their development.

Sumaino Shakarbekova, the valedictorian of the class of 2022, expressed her gratitude to His Highness the Aga Khan, university administration, teachers, for the opportunity to receive a world class education. She shared her story as a young girl growing up in the remote Ishkashim District of GBAO, where girls don’t dare to dream big. But despite the odds she did dream big and achieved something no one from her village had.

International Treaty signed by the Presidents of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan; ratified by their respective Parliaments and registered with the United Nations.  The University is a unique institution of higher education focused on the development of mountain societies, with its School of Arts and Sciences campuses in Naryn (Kyrgyzstan) and Khorog (GBAO, Tajikistan), designed by award-winning architect, Arata Isozaki.  The Tekeli campus in Kazakhstan is currently in the planning stage.  UCA’s Graduate School of Development has five research institutes, and the School of Professional and Continuing Education with 17 Learning Centers has graduated over 200,000 learners since 2006.