Surrounded by the Pamir mountains in the heart of Khorog, Tajikistan, students like Jonbegim Mukhtor have the opportunity to participate in a university experience like no other.

Jonbegim Mukhtor is a final-year student at the University of Central Asia (UCA). Born and raised in the remote and mountainous town of Khorog, in Tajikistan, she has been in schooling operated by AKDN since high school, when she attended the Aga Khan Lyceum.


Jonbegim Mukhtor is a final-year student at UCA.
Jonbegim Mukhtor is a final-year student at UCA.

Studying economics at UCA, Jonbegim has always loved math. “It was my favorite subject at school, so I wanted to study something related to that.”

The University of Central Asia is a private, not for profit, secular university, founded by the Presidents of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan, and Mawlana Hazar Imam. The university is a part of a larger partnership and commitment with the Aga Khan Development Network.

The university is divided into three schools: the Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Development, and the School of Professional and Continuing Education. Since it is a relatively new school in Jonbegim’s region, she was particularly attracted to the international programme based in her hometown. 

“I was very eager to experience an international environment and study with a diverse group of students coming from different parts of the world,” said Jonbegim. 

In addition to the international programme, her student life is distinctive. With the school being relatively new in comparison to most universities, there are only 25 students in each cohort per campus. 

“This feels as if we are still at high school where we are taken very good care of. Moreover, at UCA we are living as one big family with very tight connections to each other, which makes this experience very unique for me,” she said.

Naryn, Khorog, and Tekeli, the cities in which the three campuses are located, are both ecologically and culturally rich, being located along the Silk Road, where trade and transportation historically flourished. Additionally, its unique location in smaller cities and rural communities adds to the school’s appeal. 

“Its mission of contributing to the economic and social development of the mountainous regions in Central Asia attracted me the most,” Jonbegim added. She attends school at the Khorog campus, in the eastern part of Tajikistan among the Pamir mountains. 

In this distinctive setting, students like Mukhtor have an opportunity like no other to experience the beauty of their region, and the tight-knitted nature of a one-of-a kind-campus community.