Mawlana Hazar Imam will deliver a virtual address at the University of Central Asia’s first-ever convocation on 19 June. The ceremony will honour the first class of undergraduate students at the School of Arts and Sciences and will be livestreamed from the University campuses in Khorog, Tajikistan and Naryn, Kyrgyzstan.

The Governors of Naryn and Gorno Badakhshan will be in attendance along with the Ministers of Education for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The University of Central Asia (UCA) was founded in 2000 as a private, not for profit, secular university through an International Treaty signed by Mawlana Hazar Imam, along with the Presidents of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. The university is also officially registered with the United Nations.

UCA’s mission is to promote the social and economic development of Central Asia, particularly its mountain communities, by offering an internationally-recognised standard of higher education, and enabling the people of the region to preserve their rich cultural heritage as assets for the future. The University brings with it the commitment and partnership of the broader Aga Khan Development Network.

The University also has three main schools: the School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Development, and the School of Professional and Continuing Education.

At the inauguration ceremony of the Khorog campus in 2018, Board of Trustees Chairman Dr Shamsh Kassim-Lakha spoke about the School of Arts and Sciences, which will see its first class of students graduate during the virtual ceremony.

“Students receive a broad-based education in the tradition of liberal arts, that is, a general education that opens their minds to the humanities, arts and sciences before specializing in their chosen disciplines. Here in Khorog, all will learn the beauty of the Tajik language, study the rich history of the Somoni Empire, and absorb the culture of Tajikistan,” he said.

UCA has established three campuses away from major urban centres, and attracts two-thirds of its students from secondary cities, small villages, and rural areas — evenly split between male and female. The first residential campus was built in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan in 2016; the second campus, in Khorog, in 2017; while the third campus is expected to open in Tekeli, Kazakhstan in the coming years.

In a TV interview in May 2009, Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke about the importance of creating a university for the high mountain population of Central Asia.

“My experience, at least, is that very often inequities in society are due to absence of access to educational opportunities,” he said. “The quality of life in high mountain areas is very important both for my own community and for other populations. If you take the Central Asian area we’re working in, there are about 25 million people who are dependent on these mountain environments. Well, believe it or not there is not one university in the world today that is specialised on educating high mountain populations. And that is the reason for which this University of Central Asia was created.”


Watch the convocation live at or on 19 June at 8:00 am (Toronto), 1:00 pm (London), 4:00 pm (Dubai). Tune in 30 minutes earlier for a pre-show introducing the graduating class.