We are talking about something of the order of 40m people who live in the highest mountain ranges in the world, with the Karakorum and the Pamir…. In Afghanistan I think [the univeristy] will have a role. In north-west Pakistan I think it will have a role; in western China also. And Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey — all these countries that have high mountain populations…. (BBC, 5 July 2004)

We are celebrating the foundation of a unique institution. By creating intellectual space and resources, the university will bring the power of education and human ingenuity to the economic and social challenges of mountain societies in Central Asia and elsewhere…. There are two measures of success of any university. The careers of its graduates, and the quality of research, which is carried out in the universities and then is used for the benefit of the communities that the university serves.

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President Emomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan, joined His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims on 6th July, in laying the foundation stone of the Khorog campus in Tajikistan – the first of three campuses of the University of Central Asia (UCA). The Vice-President of Afghanistan, Nematullah Shahrani also attended the ceremony. The second campus of the UCA was inaugurated in Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic on 8th July, by His Excellency the Prime Minister of Kyrgyz Republic, Mr. Tanaev, in the presence of Prince Amyn Aga Khan and Governor Salymbekov.

Private, secular and non-profit, the UCA may be characterised as a “development university”. Its faculty will teach and undertake research in fields and disciplines that are relevant to mountain economies and societies.

We are celebrating the foundation of a unique institution. By creating intellectual space and resources, the university will bring the power of education and human ingenuity to the economic and social challenges of mountain societies in Central Asia and elsewhere.

Forming and sustaining young faculty from within the region will be a major undertaking, but indispensable if the university is to become part of the societies and cultures of the region. The most promising teachers and scholars from this region, young Tajiks, Kyrgyz and Kazakhs will be identified and offered opportunities for additional training so that they master the latest approaches to teaching and research in the fields required by a new curriculum.

There are two measures of success of any university. The careers of its graduates, and the quality of research, which is carried out in the universities and then is used for the benefit of the communities that the university serves [concluded the Aga Khan].

The third campus of the UCA, in Tekeli, Kazakhstan will be inaugurated later this summer.

Comments to the BBC

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The Aga Khan told the BBC a huge number of people needed the university.

We are talking about something of the order of 40m people who live in the highest mountain ranges in the world, with the Karakorum and the Pamir. When we looked at their future, the question was how do you educate people to live in those environments successfully in the decades ahead (he asked)?

And it is not just for the Tajiks. The university should draw students from all across the mountain region.

In Afghanistan I think it will have a role. In north-west Pakistan I think it will have a role; in western China also. And Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey — all these countries that have high mountain populations.

The Aga Khan is due to lay the foundation stone on Wednesday.

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