The project continues its journey on a positive trajectory although from a low level and within severe constraints. This statement strengthens similar evaluations from previous reports.
Constraints for a more substantial impact of project’s activities are rooted in gaps of values, interests and approaches as well as different socio-economic trajectories of Turkmenistan and the EU that requiring to walk a tightrope between conflicting demands. Turkmenistan’s prevailing management paradigm often reminds the Soviet bureaucracy during the 1960-is due to over-centralisation, an idiosyncratic mind-set, and insufficient skills and low self-confidence at all levels. It does not help that Turkmenistan increasingly closes its ranks due to an economic crisis since independence ignited by halved expert revenues. Until today it is not possible to meet officials without formal permission issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Despite one-year efforts within the approved assignment of functional analysis, the authorities did not grant an official meeting with the rector of the English-speaking Humanitarian University, the current flagman of modernisation efforts. An indicator for the stress of the existing institutional fabric and current absorption capacity is the refusal to permit a well-prepared 10.2 million EUR GIZ/EU funded TVET modernisation project end of December 2017.
During the reporting period, the President issued two concepts, on technology-enabled learning and foreign language teaching. Because the government did not allocate resources for their implementation, a window of opportunity emerged that allowed to align efforts of the Ministry with the project’s ToR. Indeed, formal cooperation intensified and the project had to redirect efforts and resources. For ill or good, managing expectation became a new task: neither can the project create the ecosystem for technology-enabled education overnight nor does it have the capacity to qualify 10.000 English teachers according to recognised international benchmarks.
Highlights of project implementation during reporting period (October 2017 – March 2018) were: the second Steering Committee (7 December 2017), joint seminar with ETF, functional analysis of the National Institute of Education and a university, activities on setting-up sector councils, the implementation of seven mini-projects, a strategic workshop, several seminars for further education of teachers on active learning methods, English and the Bologne process, an ICT course for Moodle administrators and web pages. The project organised 13 training events and provided 51 days of training with a total of 1,494 participant-days.
The main result learnt from the reporting period is that, in principle, the project has identified an implementation mechanism that fits demanding circumstances. There is growing confidence that conditions are ripe for a more significant impact and with a bit of luck and support by involved stakeholders the project might achieve its objectives.
Current circumstances define the outlook for the next reporting period: capitalise on existing achievements, enlarge the portfolio of ToR compliant activities, and confront the community and decision-makers with solutions how other countries exploit opportunities and address challenges. The project’s focus will start the shift from trial-and-error in finding ways to interact with the community towards higher operational efficiency.
Against this background, the implementation approach remains unchanged: the project keeps a low profile and posits itself as a contribution to incremental alignment with international standards in education that will serve as both a platform and a stimulus for broader transformation to come.