Central Asian Ministers of Education discuss regional cooperation on higher education


On 17-18 June 2021, a conference of Central Asian Ministers of Education took place in Turkestan, Kazakhstan, in the framework of the establishment of the Central Asian Higher Educational Area. This initiative is based on the example of the European Higher Education Area of the 49 Bologna Process countries, wherein Kazakhstan is a member.

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The representatives of the Ministries of Education in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, together with universities of Central Asia and representatives of ETUCE member organisations from the respective countries focused on new developments in higher education, eg. the impact of digitalisation on management, teaching and administrative work of the universities. ETUCE and other consultative members of the Bologna Follow-up Group[1] also took an active role to discuss how to bring the higher education systems of Central Asian countries closer to the principles of the Bologna Process.

The Central Asian Ministers of Education adopted the Turkestan Declaration and several other important documents such as:

  • The Memorandum on the Creation of the Alliance of Central Asian Universities,
  • The Memorandum of Intent on cooperation in the field of recognition of educational documents, academic degrees and titles, and
  • The Memorandum of Intent on cooperation in the implementation of student initiatives.

Through the Turkestan Declaration, the Ministers acknowledged the importance of providing leadership and guidance for the further development of higher education, enhancing the quality and relevance of learning and teaching, and shaping more inclusive education systems. While the Declaration mentions the learners, it does not refer to academics and the support they require in the context of changing higher education systems, along with fundamental values such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy. In other words, the declaration text is a contribution to the Bologna Declaration of 1999. It does not contribute to the Rome Communiqué adopted by the Bologna Ministerial Conference in 2020.

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“Academics are key in making inclusive and quality higher education systems” said Andreas Keller, ETUCE Vice-President, while actively contributing to the conference. ETUCE supports the cooperation of Central Asian countries on higher education and the Bologna Process’ goals. The importance of increasing teacher support in higher education has also been clearly stated in the Rome Communiqué which emphasised the need to improve working conditions and career paths for higher education teachers: permanent jobs for permanent tasks, job security, reliable career paths, a supportive working environment and appropriate continuous professional development. ETUCE calls for the effective involvement of the trade unions of academics and researchers to achieve these goals both in the EHEA and at national as well as Central-Asian level.


[1] The Council of Europe, the European Commission, European Students’ Union, ENQA, EQAR