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Interview with Anita Vahere-Abražune, Deputy Director, Department of Policy Initiatives and Development Ministry of Education & Science, Latvia and ETF Governing Board member

From Nick Holdsworth - November 22, 2022

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As DARYA – the European Union’s new project in Central Asia – that aims to bring people and ideas together to create new opportunities for young men and women in the region gets underway, the European Training Foundation is talking to key figures involved in education, training, the labour market and economic development to better understand what can best help develop skills, and key 21st century competences including green, digital and entrepreneurial aptitudes.

DARYA – Dialogue and Action for Resourceful Youth in Central Asia – will work with people across the public and private sectors in education and the labour market in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as organisations and peer groups in Europe during the coming five years to support self-sustaining, long-term strategies for skills and labour market development.

Anita Vahere-Abražune, Deputy Director, Department of Policy Initiatives and Development Ministry of Education & Science, Latvia and an ETF Governing Board member, says that Latvia has a long-standing relationship with Central Asia, particularly in the area of development cooperation.

“Central Asian countries have a similar historical experience that has influenced the development of these countries, including the education system and labour market,” she notes.

“A lot of attention is paid to issues of common interest – the quality of education, the development of skills and compliance with the requirements of the labour market, promoting inclusiveness, as well as the economic growth of countries.”

She adds: “The experience of Latvian education policy reforms is close to the priorities set by the Central Asia countries, which provide the potential for the successful exchange of good practice.”

Latvian national Guidelines for Development Cooperation define the goal to support priority partner countries in implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – and one of those, SDG4 is Quality Education, including priority areas such as the development of educational policy, administrative approach, availability, quality improvement and matching knowledge and skills with labour market needs.

Since it joined the EU, Latvia has been involved in the promotion of dialogue with Central Asia, including activities of the Central Asian Education Platform (CAEP).

“This has helped institutions in Latvia gain important experience, and is the basis for strengthening cooperation and promoting the exchange of experience with Central Asia countries.”

Latvia’s “active role within CAEP” offered the country an opportunity to “get involved in DARYA activities, ensuring progamme-linkage, succession and sustainability.

“In the countries of Central Asia, significant educational reforms are ongoing. Latvian experts could share good practice and experience, contributing to the implementation of DARYA.”

Such a contribution to “the implementation of education and labour market development reforms” in the region, would also “promote Latvia’s contribution to strengthening cooperation between Europe and Central Asian countries,” she notes, adding that Latvia’s experience from 2014-2020 on CAEP was a firm foundation to build on.

“Since [Latvia’s participation in CAEP], Latvia has organised various events and activities with Central Asia countries with the framework of cooperation development, both in-person and online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are certain that our best practice and experience in education policy can be an important asset in ensuring successful education reforms in Central Asia, and we are looking forward to working together with our partners.”

DARYA can also be of benefit to EU member states, she believes.

“Cooperation is never a one-way street - it always moves in both directions.”

It offers:

  • The experience of “watching their best practice make a difference”
  • A better understanding of Central Asian educational experience, their “fresh view and new approaches to reforms”
  • Shared experiences also with EU members states – seeing “old processes in a new way, helping find new possibilities and opportunities.”

“It is important to emphasise that DARYA is not only a way for the EU member states to help promoting skills and employability of young people in Central Asia,” she observes, “but also rethinking their own education systems, contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals and democratic values.”

In conclusion, she remarks: “It is time to work together to offer young people in Central Asia opportunities to study, work and build their lives in a bright, stable and sustainable future.”