Uzbek and British students sharing in sustainability education
The National Union of Students and the Environmental Association for Univeristies and Colleges (EAUC) were invited to Tashkent, Uzbekistan in January 2017 by the British Council in Uzbekistan to deliver training on sustainability in higher education.
This training engaged rectors and pro-rectors of nearly all universities in the country as well as other academics and students in three days of workshops. NUS and EAUC also visited the National University of Uzbekistan and the training centre for senior leaders in higher education. Through pre- and post- surveying, NUS and EAUC are assessing the long-term impact of this intervention.
A key component of the visit was to launch a sustainability competition for students across Uzbekistan. University students were invited to propose a sustainability project for their campus. The student leaders of the two winning projects, selected by a committee including the British Council in Uzbekistan, state Committee for Nature and Environment protection and Parliament member, were invited to visit the UK for one week in November 2017.
The NUS sustainability team welcomed two students: Bakhshillo Abdurakhmonov from the University of Bukhara and Azizbek Ramazonov from the National University of Uzbekistan. Bakhshillo�s winning idea was to develop a green space on campus which would encompass an outdoor learning space, informal study space (with solar-powered device chargers and wifi), and a community garden. Azizbek�s project involved creating his university�s first-ever sustainability club and he has already developed a network of representatives from every faculty. The students were accompanied by Sevara Dultaeva from the British Council in Uzbekistan.
Quinn Runkle, NUS Education for Sustainable Development Programme Manager, who co-facilitated both the earlier training in Tashkent and this visit, said:
�NUS is glad to work with our colleagues in Uzbekistan to facilitate this learning exchange. It�s been hugely beneficial to both British and Uzbek students to share their sustainability ideas and practices and inspire one another with new approaches.�
The NUS sustainability team delivered two days of training in education for sustainable development, leadership skills and campaign management to engage the students in sustainability work and provide them with practical skills to take back to their campuses and communities.
Pearl Costello, NUS Sustainability Project Officer, who led part of the training, said:
�We were delighted to collaborate with the British Council in Uzbekistan on this project and see the empowerment for students to deliver sustainability campaigns. Sevara, Azizbek, and Bakhshillo fully engaged with the training and visits and gave us an insight into sustainability in Uzbekistan - it was great to work in partnership�.
The students visited the University of Worcester and Worcester Students� Union to experience sustainability principles in action. Katy Boom, Director of Sustainability, and Eleanor York, Student Engagement Coordinator, showed the group the University and Students� Union and hosted a sustainability lunch with visiting students from the USA. After lunch, they provided a tour of The Hive � an innovative building with environmental, social, and economic benefits.
Steve Martin, who had co-delivered the earlier training on behalf of EAUC and visited with the students, said:
�It was wonderful seeing our Uzbek colleagues again after our training in January. This is the type of long-term impact we had aimed to achieve and meeting the students who are leading sustainability in Uzbekistan has been inspiring.�
The students also attended the NUS Student Sustainability Summit at Coventry University Students� Union - the year�s biggest gatherings of students and students� union staff devoted to all things sustainability � where they heard from inspirational speakers, networked with other students, and gathered ideas to develop their own campus projects.
Throughout the visit, the students worked on a video blog, documenting their experiences to share with their peers in Uzbekistan. Their visit was also featured on Uzbek National Television.
Reflections from Azizbek, Bakhshillo and Sevara
Sevara Dultaeva, programmes and customer service co-ordinator at the British Council Uzbekistan, said:
�Being British Council green coordinator in Uzbekistan, I always wanted to do more out of the office. As education is main focus of our programmes here, the Education for Sustainable Development programmes was ideal to marriage these key subjects. Both the training in January and the national competition, engaged more than 450 students, was extremely successful and gave us great opportunity to find fantastic partners, academic supporters and army of talented students to work on the agenda with. We want to continue our partnership with both NUS and EUAC - in particular, the study tour of the NUS office, the fascinating practice of Worchester University, and the Student Sustainability Summit gave us wonderful chance to plan more for the future."
The week finished back in London with some sightseeing and exploring and a chance to reflect on their learning outcomes.
Bakhshillo Abdurakhmonov, Bukhara state University student, competition winner, said:
�The topic of the contest was very exciting and important, that is why it attracted us. With a great team and support of the University we developed some projects, applied for the contest. We were absolutely delighted to win and to get support to implement our project. We gained lots of new experiences from the study tour, particularly in leadership qualities and working in a team.�
Azizbek Ramazonov, student of National University of Uzbekistan, said:
�I am excited to be part of the students� sustainability team, as sustainability is global team work. The Student Sustainability Summit was a fantastic platform to network and share ideas. Coming back to Uzbekistan, I took part and won the Youth Summit organised by the Youth Union and I became Youth parliament member, which is an exciting chance to influence the sustainable development agenda. Our study tour to the UK was extremely inspiring for me.�