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United Nations conference on sustainable development

RIO +20, United Nations Conference on sustainable Development
Higher Education Sustainability Initiative – Osh State University-OSU


Organization(s) making commitment


Osh State University-OSU


Achievement of Commitment


Inclusion of environmental studies in Osh State University curricula in undergraduate and graduate studies; 
– Organize trainings on sustainable development for professionals and practitioners in related fields; 
– Fostering a human and social policy (diversity, equality, equal opportunities, quality of life, solidarity, human development); 
– Encourage sustainable lifestyle on campus; 
– Reinforce research and practice in environment and sustainability; 
– Participation in regional partnership for sustainable development; 
– To be actively involved in regional and national sustainable development projects; 
– Share our increasing knowledge and expertise on sustainability more widely through partnerships and community engagement.


How this will be achieved


Through maintenance of projects already underway.


Deliverable Date
Participation in regional partnership for sustainable development 2015
Reinforce research and practice in environment and sustainability 2015


Resources devoted to delivery
Type Details
Staff / Technical expertise Expertise of student and faculty dedicated to sustainable development

– See more at: http://www.uncsd2012.org/index.php?page=view&type=1006&menu=153&nr=178#sthash.r1ytkWfn.dpuf













The following opinions, recommendations, and conclusions of the author are his/her own

and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IREX or the US Department of State. 1

W W W . I R E X . O R G







Buttercup was right. In Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S.

Pinafore, she sang, “Things are seldom what they

seem” (Let’s Sing It, 2005). Three recent

publications on higher education in Central Asia

make the same point. Voldemar Tomusk (2011),

writing about the spread of the European-originated

Bologna Process and reforms related to it in Central

Asia, notes (57) that the Bologna Process “appears

in the Central Asian context largely as a political

and economic instrument,” rather than as a

mechanism for educational improvement. Todd

Drummond (2011), recalling the work of Margaret

Archer, writes (130): “Because societal needs are

not always the driving force when political actors

with their own … interests push agendas …

determining actors’ rationales and motives and

interpreting behavior is not always a straightforward

task.” Alan DeYoung (2011) almost quotes

Buttercup: “Nothing is quite as is seems in Kyrgyz

higher education,” he writes (143), noting that

“mandatory” attendance policies are not mandatory,

that “deals” regarding failed exams can be

arranged, and that latent functions of higher

education, such as keeping masses of youth out of

the job market, are more important than the

manifest functions of education.


In attempting to describe the current status of the

three major universities in Osh – Osh State

University, Osh Technical University, and the former

Kyrgyz-Uzbek University, which, in the last year,

has been calling itself Osh State Social University –

I encountered the Buttercup problem. The

ethnicized violence of June 2010 (Reeves, 2010) is

never far from anyone’s mind (Tucker, 2011), and

friends in Osh told me horrific stories, yet I also was

assured on a number of occasions that colleagues

of different ethnicities who had worked together for
















Osh State University, main building, with a

sign welcoming applicants (in Kyrgyz) and

Suleyman’s Mountain in the background.


curricula faculty will need to teach have not yet

been written by the Ministry of Education;

designs for a new system for faculty

compensation, necessary since the current one

is based on contact hours, have not yet been

considered; arrangements for licensing every

degree offered anywhere in the country (since,

except for the few Bachelor’s and Master’s

already offered, they will all be new degrees)

appear not even to be on the drawing board;

and confusion extends even to which degrees

will be included, with an administrator at the

Ministry of Education who did not want his/her

name to be used telling me that Engineering

would remain a 5-year degree and former pro-

rector at Osh Technical University telling me

Engineering would become a 4-year degree

(Tashbaev, A. M. 2011). Such educational

questions remain unanswered because

improved teaching and learning are not the

reasons for the change. Entering “the world

educational space,” not being left behind when th

years in the universities continued to do so with no ill

will, and that educated people did not become

involved in such conflict. The major issue everyone

in the universities was discussing was the planned

shift from diploms and kandidat nauks to Bachelor’s

and Master’s degrees, and the accompanying shift

from a contact hour system to a credit hour system,

mandated for the 2012-2013 academic year, yet the

neighboring Kazakhstan has become the 47

country accepted into the Bologna Process, the

belief that Kyrgyzstani diplomas will be accepted

anywhere in the world and that graduates can

work anywhere in the world if only those

educational structures were changed – these

were the considerations I heard, from all except

a few observers, at both the Ministry of

Education and at the universities in Osh. 2



My methodology combined being a participant

observer with face-to-face interviews and multiple

visits to the university campuses, including all six

Osh State locations. In a week in Bishkek and three

weeks in Osh, I conducted seventeen formal

interviews and held many informal conversations

with faculty, students, graduates, and former

administrators. Four of the formal interviews were

with staff at the Ministry of Education in Bishkek, six

interviews were at Osh State University, three at

Osh State Social University (an administrator, a

professor, and a student), three at Osh Technical

University, and one with a professor from the Osh

Humanitarian and Pedagogical Institute. I also

collected printed university documents, where

available, took photographs of information posted

on bulletin boards on the various campuses, and set

up a Google Alerts for each university. I reviewed a

total of sixteen issues of thirteen different

newspapers distributed in Osh, three based in Osh

and eleven nation-wide, six in Kyrgyz, seven in

Russian, looking for advertisements for the

preomnayii komissii (applicant intake periods) for

the universities. (Although I do not read Kyrgyz, I

can recognize the names of the universities, and

one nation-wide Kyrgyz-language paper contained a

Russian-language advertisement for a Bishkek




My first “finding” is less a finding of the research

than a finding about doing research in Kyrgyzstan.

Although my aim, as outlined in my proposal, was

simply to describe the current status of the three

major universities in Osh, information has value,

particularly in a post-conflict environment in a

presidential election year. Therefore, information is

not readily shared. For example, I wanted to obtain

enrollment numbers for the universities for 2009-

2010 and 2010-2011, and projections for the 2011-

2012 academic year. This data is not available from

the sources I have consulted, including the Ministry

of Education website and university websites (when

operating) and Facebook pages, with the exception

of some OSU data found in an RFE/RL article (Few

Turkmen, 2010). A Kyrgyzstani colleague with close

connections to the Ministry of Education has been

trying to assist me in obtaining this data, so far

without success.


A related “finding” concerns the reticence of

individuals to make comments for the record,

even when speaking in their official positions

about topics such as the transition to the

Bachelor’s and Master’s degree structure and

the implementation of credit hours. For example,

none of the four people I interviewed at the

Ministry of Education was willing to have his or

her name used, even though all clearly were

speaking in their official roles about policies that

had been approved at levels above them.

Similarly, a highly-placed administrator in Osh

insisted that he was not authorized to speak for

his university and would neither sign a consent

form nor allow me to mention his name, even

though a substantial part of our conversation

consisted of his describing the university’s

international linkages and student achievements


in Olympiads and other contests.