For the last five years I have been engaged in a very interesting and exciting job – introducing newly developed Humanities Curriculum specifically designed for Central Asian undergraduate students.  This Curriculum consists of eight interdisciplinary courses that are supposed to be taught using student-centered teaching methods by using teaching skills such as critical reading, thinking, and writing. 


While this kind of curriculum as well as teaching methods are more or less common on international level, for Central Asian region it is a quite new thing. So the implementation of Humanities Curriculum was done by means of week-long intensive workshops  (6 days, 7 hours per day) for university faculty. While I was mainly responsible for administrative part of curriculum implementation, I enjoyed the on-going discussions during the workshops on various human and social issues, as well as pedagogical challenges existing in higher education. I was also excited to see how certain participants were changing their professional, and sometimes, even their life view-points by the end of the workshops! 


Thus I think I witnessed sort of social transformation via education. I saw that changes are possible within the focus of a certain group. But unfortunately I also saw that very local changes are not enough. I saw that these instructors realized the importance of changing and were willing to implement new things they have just learned, but existing the higher education system that was built up during decades of soviet regime simply does not allow them to change. 


Thus I realized that support for changes must also come from the top of education management that should introduce supportive policy, as well as its effective implementation mechanism.  Having worked in the sphere of higher education reforms for several years, I think I gained a lot of practical knowledge. I became acquainted with international standards of higher education. I learned certain aspects of current condition of local education. I have some ideas on what needs to be changed in local education system to approach international standards, but I have no idea on how to make those changes happen, what should be the mechanism for that. 


Feeling like I need to explore these issues, and to try somehow to contribute to progressive changes in higher education system of my country motivated me to apply for Graduate Program in Education Policy. One of the best opportunities to do so was offered by the Edmund S. Muskie Fellowship Program, funded by the US Department of State, and administered by IREX (International Research and Exchanges Program).  I was fortunate to be selected by this program and placed here at CIE, UMass. May be I sound a little too ambitious, but I am really ready to be one of those who makes to work effectively the mechanism of higher education policies in the Kyrgyz Republic, and I believe CIE is the right place to prepare myself for this.


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CIE Graduate