- Document the existing programs and opportunities related to intangible cultural heritage (ICH) at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions across four countries in Central Asia.
One of the priorities in the field of ICH for 2018-2021 is ‘Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Formal and Non-formal Education’. As a first response to this priority, the Central Asian Region developed a pilot survey to identify linkages that already existed and where networking opportunities could be further developed among TVET programs so as to strengthen ICH transmission.
A questionnaire was developed based on a previous study in the Asia-Pacific region and sent to a random sample of 71 TVET institutions. Approximately 1,400 TVET institutions exist across the region, of which more than 500 offer programmes that are linked to ICH in some way. Because TVET curricula are centralised in each country, responses submitted by the selected institutions offer insight into the broader state of ICH integration in TVET programmes across the region. Forty-nine surveys were returned and analysed along with the results of qualitative interviews and a desk survey of national curricula, online course descriptions and national coordinators’ reports. Institutions’ programmes were evaluated based on their current emphasis on ICH (using an ordinal scale of solely ICH-focused, highly-relevant and medium-relevant) as well as their interest in developing future ICH-related programmes.
Each country’s TVET institutions offer a variety of programs that focus on specific ICH skills, especially across the domains of traditional knowledge, crafts and performing arts. Generally, students gain hands-on experience directly from practitioners in their ICH-related TVET programs. However, none of the institutions’ curricula reflected a conceptualisation of ICH consistent with the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, suggesting the need for capacity building among curriculum developers and educators.
In addition, ICH is integrated into TVET institutions in different ways across the four participating countries. For instance, all college students in Kazakhstan study ‘Oral Folk Literature’ as part of their general education. A secondary school in Kyrgyzstan offers rehabilitation courses for visually- and hearing-impaired students, providing an opportunity to integrate ICH-related inclusive education across the curricula. Meanwhile, TVET institutions in Uzbekistan have benefitted from a series of national grants offered since 2014 to integrate ICH safeguarding into education. For example, the Tashkent State Institute of Culture already offers eleven ICH-related specialisations and is currently developing ten more. Programs offered in Tajikistan include short-term courses in ICH-related crafts, longer-term training in high-demand or rare types of craftsmanship, and even a shoemaking program at a school for people with disabilities.
The survey results informed a set of recommendations devised for governmental, civil and educational institutions. Specifically, the findings identified challenges such as a shortage of representation of ethnic minority cultures in ICH-related programs, lack of awareness of the international discourse and resources related to ICH, and primacy given to employable skills in the current labour market, which may exacerbate detrimental effects from the commercialisation of ICH. Direct stakeholders are encouraged to take advantage of the unanimous interest among TVET institutions to develop ICH-related programs. Emphasis is placed on the importance of devising national and regional networks to share skills, experience and knowledge related to ICH and to support the development of teaching tools and resources to benefit TVET institutions across the region.
- Analysis of a pilot survey of TVET institutions across four countries (see the full survey report: English).
Dr Aijarkyn Kojobekova
Role in the project
Dr. Kojobekova is an Associate Professor at the American University of Central Asia in the Department of Sociology. She served as the Key Coordinator for the Central Asian survey of TVET institutions for UNESCO and was responsible for developing the project’s questionnaire, analyzing the data submitted by the national coordinators in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and drafting the final report.
Do educators have the freedom to integrate ICH into TVET curricula?
“Generally in all sections or levels of education…they have their own curricula, and the majority of this curriculum is fixed and is usually approved by the Minister of Education because they develop educational standards, and all those things are fixed. But there is one part of this curriculum…which provides freedom for teachers and administration to decide which courses to offer or which topics to integrate. So, there is a kind of freedom for teachers and administration. It is not as much as we would like to have. In my personal dream, it would be good if all universities would have their autonomy. They would be able to compete on a free basis, thinking of their own curricula… But it is not that type of situation. So as I know teachers at, for example, elementary schools, they are able to integrate some topics from ICH as an extra curricular section, or they usually do it in some subjects as separate topics.…Some schools are trying to do it, but not many of them because it depends on their access to financial and technical resources…So it depends upon the capability of the institution itself. So there is some kind of freedom, which can be exploited.”
What were some opportunities for building upon what’s already been done to integrate ICH in TVET Institutions?
“I think for TVET institutions, it’s easier to integrate ICH compared to other formal educational institutions….Some of these institutions already do it. They have some specialties or majors, which are in some sense more or less connected with ICH. So we could see some institutions purely and fully connected with ICH, some of them with just a certain set of majors offered to students, and some of them have majors which are not directly connected with ICH but have some kind of indirect connections. So, we can say that generally the institutions which we interviewed at least understand that they can use these technologies and skills from cultural heritage in order to connect it with the market because TVET institutions are fully integrated into the labor market.…They fully understand that they can take advantage of the knowledge and skills, which their cultures have and they’re trying to as much as possible and as effectively and efficiently as they can.”
“Some of these TVET institutions are more successful because they have good connections with local communities. For example, they can invite practitioners to do some classes or to offer some courses, and they have internships for students who can go to the field and to work alongside with these practitioners. It is not very well proliferated, but some institutions practice this type of work.”
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