Educators and trainers forge a digital transformation in Central Asia
Educators and trainers in Central Asia have their sights set on supporting a digital transformation in their countries, a European Training Foundation webinar heard August 25.
The webinar, "How digital skills are developing in Central Asia", hosted representatives of three key NGOs from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan - all of them involved in pushing digital learning and IT skills up the agenda in their region.
Moderated by the ETF Communications Officer Maria Lvova Zolotarevskaya, the Russian-language event, looked at the latest developments in digital training in the context of the Covid pandemic - which has accelerated an existing trend toward the use of technology in education - and future aspirations in Central Asia.
Azizjon Azimi, founder of Tajikistan's TajRupt - an NGO working in the field of artificial intelligence and online technologies, which organizes educational courses for high school and university students - said his ambition was make "Tajikistan a reference point for digital education in Central Asia."
TajRupt has created a range of dedicated short course for IT and AI specialists, with the aim of training qualified workers for local finance and telecommunications companies. By demonstrating that young people - including young women, who currently make up only around 20% of students in the IT sphere - can be trained to work local companies, or divisions of global firms, and earn good salaries, Azizjon hopes to keep Tajikistan's brightest in the country, and even become a magnet for students from other countries.
"We aim to train students for areas where there are guarantees of work offered after they graduate within Tajikistan," Azizjon said.
"All those who finished our first courses - have found work, young women and men -in banks or telecoms. That process is already speeding up. Local companies want to employ local people if they are sufficiently well trained for the jobs they have on offer.
"It is always better for local firms to be able to find for example, software engineers, locally - even if those companies are part of global holdings. But such jobs really do offer premium salaries in Tajikistan, so this is very attractive for young people."
"Initially when we launched our first course, it was challenging to find qualified staff, but that is no longer a problem," she said.
"We already have graduates from our first course working as mid-level specialists, for example - project managers, and are also seeking to actively encourage young women to sign up for our courses."
The association, which benefits from EU donor support now, puts on events with speakers to showcase 'success stories' and, like in neighbouring Tajikistan, also seeks to attract student, particularly young women, from other countries.
"Our slogan is that people from all over the world can study in Kyrgyzstan," Shirin added.
In Kazakhstan, Alima Ibrasheva, Deputy Chair of the National Centre for Advanced Training 'ORLEU', has more than two decades experience of working in teacher professional training.
The pandemic pushed digital and online education to the top of the political agenda, forcing policymakers to respond to urgent needs to upgrade continuous professional development for trainers and vocational teachers, she noted.
"Throughout the pandemic we succeeded in continuing training for our pedagogical staff, we delivered programs under very difficult circumstances. But we succeeded in coming through this. We have managed to raise the level of our staff during this challenging period and maintained quality education in Kazakhstan."
Looking to ahead, she believes that swift changes in the labour market and technological progress will create a much greater demand for shorter, flexible training courses throughout a person's working life.
"I think that digital education will become the norm in the future. Teachers will take on more the role of facilitators than the teachers of old."