Study Tours

Study visit and participation of Turkmenistan education sector representatives in the International Forum “Cross-border Cooperation between the Baltic and Central Asian Countries for the Development of Higher Education”

12th – 15th December 2018, Riga, Latvia

Report

Submitted by:

KE3 Mr. Linards Deidulis

SNKE PhD Ogulsona Annamyradova

JNKE Gulshirin Annadurdyeva

With contribution from:

Mr. Mammedov Ezizmuhammet

Mr. Vekil Vekilov

1. Objectives, participants and dates of the Study Tour and international forum “Cross-border Cooperation between the Baltic and Central Asian Countries for the Development of Higher Education”

In the context of the implementation of Activities 1.1., 2.1.6., and 2.2.11 of the EU project “Support to the Education Sector in Turkmenistan”, the Project Team is seeking for opportunities for strengthening of international collaboration for the education sector institutions and representatives. Thereby in the period from 12th to 15th December 2018 the Project arranged a short and well targeted study tour for 4 Turkmenistan education sector representatives to attend the Forum of Baltic and Central Asian countries, organised by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia (www.izm.gov.lv) in cooperation with the Academic Information Centre of Latvia (www.aic.lv) with the financial support of the Development Cooperation budget of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia – “Cross-border Cooperation between the Baltic and Central Asian Countries for the Development of Higher Education” (hereinafter – “the Forum”), held in Riga, 14th December. Participation in the forum was enhanced by visits to educational establishments and related governmental bodies, aimed to establish direct collaboration and links between education sectors of the countries involved. The process was ensured by the KE3 Mr. Linards Deidulis and Senior Non-Key Expert of the Project Ms. Baiba Ramiņa, who was also one of responsible Latvian officials for the Forum. The short visits, described in Section 3 of this report were also aimed to evaluate opportunities for proposing of a well targeted study tour to Riga for selected TVET, general education and HE sector representatives from Turkmenistan on career guidance, innovative content development for TVET, e-learning and quality assurance in HE, and related issues.

Specifically, the participants of the study visit were the following:

  • 2 representatives were officially nominated by the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan:

Mr Mammedov Ezizmuhammet, Chief Specialist of International Cooperation Unit of the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan, coordinator of the EU project “Support to Education Sector in Turkmenistan”;

Mr Vekil Vekilov, Deputy Dean of the International Relations and Law Department, International University for the Humanities and Development. He was appointed to represent Turkmenistan officially in the Panel discussion of the Forum.

  • 2 representatives – national experts were nominated by the EU Project and agreed with the Ministry of Education:

Ms Gulshirin Annadurdieva, National Junior Expert on Education Policy and Strategy;

PhD Ogulsona Annamuradova, Senior National Expert on Continuous Education and Career Guidance.

Before the visit on 10th December 2018 an introductory presentation by the KE3 was delivered to participants with general information about the country to be visited, an overview of education system of Latvia with special emphasis to higher education and TVET, including legal background for collaboration development of education sectors of Latvia and Turkmenistan[1] All participants received folders with respective information materials, delivered to them both in printed and electronic formats.

2. Results, Findings and Achievements

Besides participation in the Forum the participants had 5 business meetings covering visits to Latvia University, 3 subordinate bodies of the Ministry of Education and Science and TVET College.  All visits and meetings were implemented as planned and described in the TOR of Request for Approval Nr 44 from 27th November 2018, ref: 305/AM, however the order of meetings was slightly changed. Meetings were well prepared by the Latvian hosts, including participation of senior officials of the institutions concerned, presentations in Russian were developed especially for this case.

Main conclusions:

    1. Both the higher education sector of Turkmenistan and the EU project were well represented in the Forum, its Panel discussion and work groups.
    2. Opportunities for development of direct collaboration between Turkmen universities and universities in EU as well as in Central Asia countries were enhanced.
    3. Senior officials from the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science and several Latvian institutions subordinated to the Latvian Ministry of Education (The State Education Development Agency, the Academic Information Centre and the National Centre of Education Content of Latvia) expressed a clear wish, ability and willingness to host a small groups (2 – 3 persons) of Turkmen education sector specialists, aimed to provide in-depth, detailed and exhaustive overview of various aspects of TVET, general and higher education modernisation experience in Latvia and EU countries. Particular possible themes to be covered during the visit were discussed during the meetings with leadership and senior officials of the institutions concerned.

4. Schedule of the Study TourWednesday, 12th December 2018:

Arrival by flight Ashgabat-Istanbul-Riga at 11.20.

Short introductory meeting with officials of the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science (Ms. Anita Vahere-Abražune, vice-director and responsible on EU and international cooperation issues of the Department of Political initiatives and Development of the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science and Ms. Agnese Andžāne, expert of the Department of Political initiatives and Development of the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science).

After that participants visited Riga College of Tourism and Creative Industries (Address – Nīcgales iela 26, Rīga, http://www.rtrit.lv/en/, hereinafter “The College”). Director of the College Ms. Silva Ozoliņa and representatives of the College staff presented detailed overview on status, tasks, administrative, pedagogical and methodological work with special emphasis to international collaboration. Using of MOODLE platform and e-learning opportunities for the College students were presented. After that numerous classrooms and auditoriums were visited with emphasis on using of the technical equipment and ICT solutions during the learning process in the context of contemporary pedagogical methods and competence-based learning. Participants enjoyed warm welcome, discussions and visits to various departments of the College, open communication with the College leadership and representatives of Latvian Ministry of Education, as Ms. Anita Vahere-Abražune participated in the meeting, delivering opinion of the Ministry on various aspects on international collaboration and respective opportunities and responsibilities of the Latvian education establishments.

Thursday, 13th December 2018:

In the morning from 09.30 to 11.00 two parallel visits were arranged:

1) Ms. Gulshirin Annadurdyyeva and Mr. Vekil Vekilov visited Academic Information Centre (www.aic.lv, address – hereinafter – the AIC). Director Ms Baiba Ramiņa presented scope of work of the AIC with special emphasis to HE diploma recognition as well as processes and practical procedures, implemented by the respective department of the AIC[1], dealing with accreditation of HEIs and study directions, licensing of study programmes, as well as the implementation of other tasks related to higher education quality assurance.

2) Another meeting with senior officials from the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science and specialists from the National Centre of Education Content of Latvia (www.visc.gov.lv, address – Vaļņu 2, Rīga, hereinafter – the VISC) for Mr Mammedov Ezizmuhammet and Ms Ogulsona Annamuradova was arranged in the premises of the VISC. Vice-director of the VISC Mr. Jānis Gaigals, vice director of Vocational and Adult Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Science Ms. Baiba Bašķere, head of Vocational Education Content Unit of the VISC Mr. Ronalds Saksons as well as other senior specialists presented an overview about the TVET reform process in Latvia during the period from 1991 – 2018, followed by sharing experience on curricula modernization, collaboration with business/social partners, role of sector councils and professional standards development, e-content development and effective using of MOODLE platform. A detailed presentation (in Russian) on modernisation of the TVET content was delivered (included in the Annex 1 of this report). Mutual discussion were active and competent, Latvian side expressed a clear interest and wish for future cooperation.

3) The next meeting from 11.15 to 13.00 took place in the State Education Development Agency (VIAA, address www.viaa.gov.lv), chaired by Director of VIAA and Board Member of the European Training Foundation Ms Dita Traidās with main emphasis on 2 themes:

– As Ms Traidas is also President of Worldskills Europe[2], upon prior request of the Turkmen side organizational and national preparatory and selection procedures for participation in Worldskills/Euroskills contests and involvement procedure of countries in the Worldskills network were presented;

– Another theme of the meeting was the necessity, history of development and main contemporary aspects of Career Guidance System in Latvia, presented by the former Head of the Career Guidance Department of VIAA and present SNKE of the EU project Ms. Aleksandra Joma. Ms. Joma as well as acting specialists of the VIAA shared their experience in the development and practical activities of Career Guidance Network in Latvia and in EU countries. Presentations delivered during the meeting are included in Annex 1 of this report. Latvian side expressed a clear interest for future cooperation with Turkmenistan institutions and experts.

4) In the afternoon the Turkmen delegation together with other participants of the Forum visited the Academic Centre of University of Latvia (address – Jelgavas iela 1, https://www.tornakalns.lu.lv/eng/  ) – a new, modern Academic centre of the Latvia University, aimed to house all the faculties and institutes, promoting interdisciplinary approach to studies, sharing infrastructure and creating interaction among students, academic personnel and researchers. Participants visited the first operation unit of the new Academic Centre – “House of Nature”, open in September 2015 and currently housing three faculties – Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, Faculty of Chemistry and Faculty of Biology, offering 24hours availability of library and other individual learning opportunities for students and researchers. Visit was conducted by representatives from the International Relations Department of the Latvia University, non-formal discussions on collaboration opportunities took place.

Friday, 14th December 2018:

Participation in the Forum:

The Forum was implemented according to initially planned agenda[1] and all members of Turkmen delegation participated in its work. Main presentations delivered during the Forum are available in Annex 2 of this report. During the Panel discussion Mr. V.Vekilov presented an excellent overview on recent developments within the modernisation process of the higher education system of Turkmenistan (Annex 3 of this report). All members of Turkmen delegation actively participated in 3 parallel workshops of the Forum:

– Mr. Vekil Vekilov participated in the Workshop I Internal Quality Systems in Higher Education Institutions;

Ms Ogulsona Annamuradova participated in the Workshop II Study Programmes for Teacher Education;

– Ms Gulshirin Annadurdyyeva and Mr Mammedov Ezizmuhammet participated in the Workshop III Interregional cooperation projects and mobility.

Within the workshop Ms. O.Annamuradova delivered an overview on in-service training for teachers and pedagogical staff in Turkmenistan (Annex 4 of this report). Participants also established contacts and implemented  with representatives from HE institutions from Central Asia and Baltic countries.

Saturday, 15th December 2018:

Before the departure each participant filled 2 evaluation forms of the visit – an evaluation form on visits and meetings during 12th and 13th December (Annex 6 of this report), as well as an overall evaluation form of the whole visit (Annex 7 of this report), followed by a work meeting/discussion of the participants and KE3.

Organisational aspects were evaluated as “excellent” by three participants and “good” – by one participant. All participants as “excellent” evaluated the visits to the visited Riga College of Tourism and Creative Industries visit to the Academic Information centre, State Education Development Agency and Latvia University. Visit to National Centre of Education Content of Latvia was evaluated as “excellent” by 1 participants and as “good” by 1 participant.  In the evaluation sheets participants proposed to strengthen interaction with available EU initiatives (like Erasmus+), aimed to develop interregional cooperation, to arrange study visits to education establishments of Latvia, to study experience of TVET Competence Centres, image improvement of TVET.

Within the overall evaluation forms all participants expressed overall positive evaluation of the Forum. All participants stated, that no one of the visits may be considered as useless. Summary of overall recommendations of the participants of the Study Tour are expressed in the Section 5 of this Report.

  1. Visibility
  2. a) Detailed publication about the Forum is available on the web portal of the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science (in Latvian)

http://www.izm.gov.lv/lv/aktualitates/3296-foruma-diskute-par-baltijas-un-centralazijas-valstu-parrobezu-sadarbibu-augstakas-izglitibas-attistibai

Particular information about visit of Turkmen delegation was published on the Facebook profile of the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science (in Latvian)

https://www.facebook.com/Izglitibas.ministrija/photos/pb.518862558163654.-2207520000.1544733629./1966351616748067/?type=3&theater

  1. b) Publication about participation in Forum is available on the webpage of the EU project:

https://education-turkmenistan.eu/public/news/837/ ,including presentation of Mr. V.Vekilov for the panel discussion and publication of Ms O.Annamuradova as downloadable documents.

  1. c) Ms O. Annamuradova has prepared an article for national media (as mentioned above, available on the project web page and not published yet in the national media, Annex 5 of this report).
  1. Evaluation, Conclusions and Recommendations

The study tour was implemented successfully. The delegates’ interest, active participation and receptivity throughout the study visit ensured that the visit has fully met its main objectives. Study visit also offered the possibility for closer cooperation among institutions involved in the study visit with Latvian counterparts and results have to show up in a closer cooperation with the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan according to the Terms of References of the project.

Thereby the overall conclusions of the visit are as following:

  1. In order to promote project contribution to the overall reform process of the education sector of Turkmenistan in may be useful to arrange a study tour to Latvia with exhaustive and well targeted content, dealing with the following priority themes:

– Bologna process and development of quality assurance in higher education, development of international cooperation and mobility of students and academic staff;

– Internal evaluation and other methods of quality assurance in education establishments, with special emphasis to self evaluation procedures of HE, TVET and general education institutions;

– Development of Career Guidance system, elaboration of career guidance approaches and procedures, development of respective manuals, training of career guidance specialists;

– Content modernisation of TVET via strengthening links with labour market and entrepreneurship – development of National Qualifications Framework, interaction of TVET institutions with entrepreneurs, development of occupational standards and new job profiles;

– Evaluation of work of a particular TVET school/college with emphasis on study process organisation and implementation, pedagogical and methodological approaches, career guidance, work base learning, e-learning opportunities, examinations, external and internal evaluation procedures of school and staff, and other aspects of school work;

– Teacher training system, including organisation of in-service training;

– Observation of national selection procedures and all related preparatory events for participation in Euroskills/Wordskills contests.

– other related issues, requested by the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan.

  1. To ensure effective interaction with host institutions, study tour may be arranged for a small groups of selected Turkmen experts (2 – 3 persons) on each particular theme.
  2. Optimal duration of study visit may be from 5 up to 7 working days for each group.
  3. The agenda of study tour may include examination of respective procedures, manuals and instructions, meetings with officials, experts and specialists in the governmental bodies concerned (the State Education Development Agency, the Academic information centre, National Centre For Education Content of Latvia), enhanced by visits to TVET, general and higher education establishments, meetings with students and academic staff.
  4. Detailed agenda of the Study Tour (s) should be timely prepared and discussed well in advance between all parties involved and confirmed by the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan.
  5. Study tour (s) to Latvia may be proposed to be included in the work plan of the EU Project for 2019.