WENR, August 2007: Russia & CIS
Expelled Belarusian Students to Study in Poland
The coordinator of the Belarusian opposition’s committee for support of political victims, Ala Karol, told the Belapan news agency on August 6 that 44 students who were expelled from Belarusian universities will be provided with training under the Polish government’s Kastus Kalinouski educational-assistance program for politically persecuted Belarusians this year. The Kastus Kalinouski program was instituted in March 2006 by the Polish prime minister and the rectors of several Polish universities for Belarusian students punished earlier that year for their participation in the campaigns of opposition against presidential candidates or post-election protests. More than 200 young Belarusians were reportedly enrolled in Poland last year. This year’s applicants — who mostly opted for places on courses in economics, sociology, history, Belarusian studies, and arts — will begin their studies in September after taking a course in the Polish and English languages.
August 7, 2007
US Institution Establishes Regional Health Research Center
Columbia University has set up the first university research center on global health in central Asia. The Global Health Research Center in Almaty, Kazakhstan, will develop solutions to health problems in a region that has one of the fastest-growing HIV epidemics in the world. The center will serve Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
“In some regions, the number of people affected with HIV has doubled annually since 2000. The sharp rise in health epidemics in Central Asia demands innovative and scientifically based approaches to prevention and social policies,” Nabila El-Bassel, a professor of social work at Columbia, told the Times Higher Education Supplement.
– The Times Higher Education Supplement
August 10, 2007
Republic of Georgia
President Pledges to Ease University Entry for Minority Students
Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has pledged to try to stem the outflow of young people from minority backgrounds to colleges and universities abroad, and to make it easier for them to study in Georgia. However, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting suggests that is likely to prove difficult, given that a new national entrance exam requires knowledge of Georgian, in which ethnic minorities are not generally fluent. Most commonly, this is a problem for ethnic Armenians of whom there are 250,000 (or five percent of the Georgian population) and Azerbaijanis – estimated at approximately 280,000. Most ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijanis going on to higher education end up studying in other countries.
A December 2006 report by the United Nations Association of Georgia, a non-governmental organization, as part of its National Integration and Tolerance in Georgia Program found that ethnic minorities felt increasingly estranged from the rest of society because they lacked fluency in the national language. In Soviet times, this was not an issue because Russian was commonly accepted as the lingua franca, and fluency in Georgian was not compulsory for university entrants. Following independence in 1991, the Georgian authorities stressed the importance of the language but put few resources into teaching it to minorities.
As a result of recent education reforms, all higher-education applicants have to take three entrance exams covering general knowledge and ability, Georgian plus a foreign language. The government has launched programs worth US$1.2 million to provide Georgian-language tuition for would-be students from ethnic minorities. As part of the plan, a “preparation center” will start operating in Tbilisi from September to teach citizens of Armenian and Azerbaijani ethnicity Georgian and coach them for the new national exams.
– The Institute for War and Peace Reporting
August 9, 2007
Iran, Tajikistan Sign Exchange Agreement
Iran and Tajikistan have signed a detailed agreement which will see the two countries work together on scientific research and set up an exchange scheme involving university students and professors, according to the Iran Daily citing the IRNA. As part of the tie-up, Tajik and Iranian researchers will participate in scientific conferences, while Iran has granted scholarships to 100 Tajik students for the next academic year.
– AME Info
July 23, 2007