The third panel was titled “Advancing Education: Challenges and Opportunities” and was moderated by Dr. Beishenaly Nasik Erkinova, Executive Director of the Institute for Analysis and Development Initiatives (JAIR). Dr. Andrew B. Wachtel, President of American University in Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, briefed the participants on the challenges present in the Kyrgyz education system and proposed a solution entailing a multilateral approach on all levels, beginning in elementary school and moving all the way up to higher education.
The Hon. Dr. Camila Duishebaevna Sharshekeeva, Professor and Provost of the International University of Central Asia (IUCA), shared strategies on improving aspects of education practices in Kyrgyzstan in areas such as curriculum, teacher preparation programs and evaluation systems in private and public schools. Despite these challenges in educational reform, Dr. Sharshekeeva expressed her optimism for the intellectual potential of the youth in Kyrgyzstan and their future prospects. Dr. Almaz Beishenaliev, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and External Relations at International Ataturk-Alatoo University (IAAU), offered policy recommendations on improving international education through cultural exchanges and study abroad programs. Dr. Darlene Opfer, Director at RAND Education Policy, provided insights on increased technology use in the classroom as a useful tool for knowledge acquisition and strategies design that would help to improve the relationships between students and teachers.
Dr. Faruk Taban, President of Turkic American Alliance (TAA), and Mary Kane, President and CEO of Sister Cities International (SCI), met with the Mayor Kubanychbek Kulmatov of Bishkek and discussed Bishkek’s current sister city relationship with Colorado Springs, Colorado. They also discussed ways to further activate the relationship through TAA’s member organizations in Colorado. In addition, Ms. Kane briefed Mayor Kulmatov on SCI’s ongoing programs and projects that may be of interest to Bishkek.