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|Central Asian States, Aga Khan sign treaty to launch regional university|
|..........DUSHANBE (August 29)
: The University of Central Asia is being established by an international treaty being signed here on Monday and in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic on Wednesday.|
..........Twenty five million people who depend for their lives and livelihoods, on highest mountain ranges, will benefit from the world's first university dedicated exclusively to education and research on mountain regions and societies.
..........At the ceremony here, the Aga Khan announced an initial endowment of $5 million allocated for the university's programmes in Tajikistan.
..........Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmonov and Kyrgyz Republic President Askar Akaev, who will represent the first founding states, will sign the treaty in their respective capitals with His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims.
..........The establishment of the university was recommended by an international commission of mountain experts, academicians and regional specialists appointed in 1995 shortly after President Rahmonov and the Aga Khan signed an agreement to facilitate the work of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in the region.
.........."Mountain populations experience extremes of poverty and isolation as well as constraints on opportunities and choice," said the Aga Khan in announcing the launch, "but at the same time, they sustain great linguistic, cultural, ethnic and religious pluralism, and show remarkable resilience in the face of extraordinarily harsh circumstances."
.........."By creating intellectual space and resources," he continued, "this university will help turn the mountains that divide the nations and territories of central Asia into the links that unite its peoples and economies in a shared endeavour to improve their future well-being."
..........The university is intended to serve people in the mountainous parts of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
..........The regional university will be distinctive in a number of ways. Its charter, academic standards, curricula, faculty and students, academic partnerships and linkages will be international.
..........It will emphasise distance learning and the use of information and computer technologies, and will create satellite facilities and programmes across the region.
..........The post-graduate programme will foster research on issues critical to sustainable development e.g. geology of mountains and mining, hydrology, seismology, mountain ecology, natural resource management, high-altitude agriculture and development economics.
..........An interdisciplinary residential undergraduate programme will cover a wide range of subjects e.g. forestry, environmental engineering, disaster management, agronomy, civil engineering, mining, energy, computer sciences, economics, business, accounting, sociology, regional languages, anthropology, history, philosophy and ethics.
..........The university will draw on the expertise and experience of the AKDN in operating educational facilities. The Aga Khan University already created under an international charter in Pakistan in 1984, and its academic programmes in East Africa and Europe, will contribute in a number of ways to the new university.
..........Copyright 2000 Business Recorder (www.brecorder.com)