The Regional Conference, “Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training” was held in Dushanbe on 18th and 19th May, organised in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan.
The 2-day event brought together senior officials from the Ministry, the EU Delegation and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland to the Republic of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with representatives of leading universities and colleges in Tajikistan, representatives of the Ministries of Education and Science of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and national accreditation agencies and education experts from the EU, Armenia, Poland and Latvia.
The theme of the conference was crystallized at the First Ministerial Meeting in Riga in June 2015, which reaffirmed the commitment to strengthen cooperation in the field of education within the EU-Central Asia Strategy. Quality Assurance and Accreditation is one of the most important and current topics for the region, along with Qualification Frameworks and Employment and Labour Market Needs.
The conference was conducted in close partnership with another EU initiative – European Higher Education Fairs (EHEF). The synergy between two projects provided participants with a unique opportunity to not only to establish contacts with EU counterparts, but also discuss current topics and exchange experience with colleagues in the region. A good example of collaboration between the two EU initiatives was the joint moderation of the first part of the Conference by the two Team Leaders – Mr Christian Wagner, Team Leader CAEP and Dr Stephen Webber, Team Leader EHEF.
In his opening speech Mr Bozorali Odinazoda, Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan, highlighted the need for colleges and universities to prepare highly qualified specialists, and told delegates about the existing collaboration with international donors and organizations, the EU being one of the most important and trusted partners. In his closing remarks, the Deputy Minister thanked the organizing committee and reassured conference participants that the Ministry of Education of Tajikistan is open for collaboration and will do its best to continue cooperation at all levels of the education system.
Mr Maciej Adam Madalinski, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Tajikistan, addressed the participants and highlighted the importance of the CAEP project as one of three current EU initiatives at the regional level, along with the rule of law and environmental platforms. H.E. Mr Piotr Iwaszkiewicz, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the Republic of Uzbekistan and Republic of Tajikistan, then spoke of the challenges that the region faces and the key role of education in tackling those challenges.
Dr Samvel Karabekyan from Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences, Armenia, also an HE Reform Expert, analysed how the process of transition to the Bologna process has been implemented in Armenia since 2005 and highlighted the relevance of QA and Accreditation in HE in the country. He also cited the active involvement of HEIs in EU Tempus and Erasmus Plus and shared best practice such as self-certification and the recent achievement of the accreditation of the National Centre of QA by the European Association of QA.
Dr. Zarrina Kadirova, Vice-rector for International Relations, Tajik State University of Commerce presented the results of the mobility report that was prepared within the CAEP project by EU experts, shared the position of Tajikistan in EU-funded projects including Erasmus Plus, and drew attention to recommendations from experts. She also highlighted the importance of regional collaboration by all 5 Central Asian countries.
In the last part of the joint CAEP-EHEF session representatives from Unzeilya Khassymova from Kazakhstan and Susarkul Alunbekova from Kyrgyzstan share their experiences and best practice in national quality assurance setting and accreditation.
The afternoon saw Ms Andra Šenberga, from the State Education Quality Service of Latvia and Mr Maciej Markowski, International Policy Advisor of Polish Accreditation Committee share the Latvian and Polish experiences of implementing QA and Accreditation, followed by round table discussions in which the delegates discussed the challenges faced and how to tackle them.
On the second day, participants engaged in lively dialogue through round table discussions and working groups, looking at areas such as integrating different types of learning into QA settings, how to make QA relevant to the labour market and optimising stakeholder involvement.
The Conference closed with an overview of the event by Mr. Claudo Dondi, CAEP Expert, and an outlook on future CAEP activities in the region by Mr. Christian Wagner, CAEP Team Leader.