First group of Afghan women arrived in Kazakhstan as part of EU-funded educational project

Kazakh Foreign Ministry photo

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (TCA) — Almaty Management University (Alma U) on October 18 hosted an official reception on the occasion of the arrival of the first cohort of Afghan women in Kazakhstan that will start their studies as part of a project funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kazakhstan.

The event was attended by the EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan Sven-Olov Carlsson, Kazakhstan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roman Vassilenko, UNDP Resident Representative Yakup Beris and Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Kazakhstan Mohammad Farhad Azimi, UNDP in Kazakhstan reported.

Students from Afghanistan took a week-long introductory course at Alma U, where they learned about the program of the upcoming training, had a tour around the campus and gained an understanding about the conditions of the University, as well as the cultural peculiarities of Kazakhstan. Now they will have an 8 months-long course of in-depth study of English language with further admission to the bachelor’s, master’s and technical programs in Kazakhstani universities.

“We believe that women are central to economic growth and sustainable development and that their economic empowerment is crucial to each country’s progress and prosperity. At the core of the common approach between the EU, Afghanistan and Central Asia, is our firm conviction that investing in education by connecting three countries like Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, we can help strengthening the social and economic linkages among them, thus also contributing to addressing common security challenges and promoting a more peaceful and prosperous world,” said EU Ambassador to Kazakhstan Sven-Olov Carlsson.

The European Union will finance a grant of EUR 2 million for a triangular cooperation project that will enable Afghan women to graduate from higher education and vocational training institutions in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

“Promoting women’s economic empowerment, ensuring gender equality, and facilitating easy access to education are priorities UNDP continuously works on around the world. Here in Kazakhstan, we promoted education opportunities for women from Afghanistan in the past as part of the cooperation with the Government of Kazakhstan. I am very happy that this new initiative is building on this past experience and is entrusted by the European Union to UNDP for implementation. We see this as partnership in action and will work towards building its sustainability,” said UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan Yakup Beris.

“Kazakhstan vigorously supports the implementation of various financial, technical and humanitarian assistance programs for the comprehensive reconstruction of Afghanistan. To date, we have provided more than 80 million US dollars worth of assistance to Afghanistan. In recent years, this figure included 3.5 million US dollars for the construction of medical, education centres, and the reconstruction of roads and bridges in various provinces of Afghanistan,” said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roman Vassilenko, as reported by the Kazakh Foreign Ministry’s website. “We believe that for Afghanistan to succeed in building a stable and prosperous state, it needs an educated generation of young people. As a result, 50 million US dollars have been allocated as part of the government-funded programme to educate 1,000 Afghan students in Kazakhstan’s top universities since 2010.”

Between now and 2025, 50 students will attend bachelor’s, master’s and technical degrees in agriculture, applied statistics and mining at academic establishments across Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In addition, UN Women will organize summer schools that will train the women in entrepreneurship and networking to contribute to their post-study employment and thus economic empowerment.

The initiative is expected to help create new business and employment opportunities for the women and their communities back in Afghanistan. According to the 2018 UNDP Human Development Report, 11 percent of all adult Afghan women have reached at least a secondary level of education and only 19.5 percent are employed, while these numbers are 37 percent and 87 percent for men, respectively. In 2016-2017, more than half of the Afghan population was living below the poverty line.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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