Higher Education and Youth Agency for Sustainable Development: An Exploratory Study from Kyrgyz Republic
(American University of Central Asia)
Gulnur Esenalieva (American University of Central Asia )
With half of its population under age 25, and one third of its population being youth (defined 14 - 28 years of age), Kyrgyz Republic (KR) is a young country today - embodying the hopes, challenges and potentials that youth represent in an interconnected global era. The significance of this youth dynamism was affirmed emphatically in the National Sustainable Development Strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic (2013 - 2017): "The youth is an important development resource for the society, because it is highly mobile, intellectually active, it has good health, it is open to new things and are willing to make their contribution towards betterment of the country." (Kyrgyz Republic 2012). Consequently, the capacities and aspirations of young people to engage in sustainable national development is a question of critical importance to KR today. This precisely is the scope of the proposed research project. Specifically, the current research focuses on youth in higher education institutions of KR, and examines their knowledge, skills and values to address the issues of extreme poverty and social inequality in the country - admittedly the most fundamental threat to sustainable development in any society (Doyle & Stiglitz, 2014). By analyzing the preparedness of the future professionals and leaders of the country in addressing social inequalities and creating sustainable futures, the paper will fill a critical gap in the current scholarship on youth in Central Asia - which continues to be dominated by studies on employable skills and religious perspectives. By uncovering the educational and social-relational attributes of university students that correlate with their capacities and aspirations for bridging the economic and social divides, the proposed research would inform higher education strategies to unleash the potential of youth agency for sustainable development in Central Asia.
Social Structures and Youth Agency - Examining Education and Inequality in Central Asia