The conference is one of the closing events within the international project “Higher Education for Food Production Systems and Standards in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan” (HECAFS), which aims to provide professional training of personnel in both countries that know modern standards, meet the requirements of the global market and could further implement and maintain compliance with these production standards.
While summarizing the efforts taken in the field of modernization of educational programs, the teachers of the two countries discussed issues related to improving the quality of higher education, as well as existing barriers to establishing close and sustainable cooperation between representatives of the academia and food producers.
The meeting was attended by teachers of the Tajik Agrarian University named after Sh. Shotemur, Khujand Polytechnic Institute under the Technical University of Tajikistan, representatives of the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Agency for Standardization, Metrology, Certification and Trade Inspection under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan "TajikStandard", the National Association of Small and Medium Business, representatives of the private sector, consulting companies of Tajikistan and the media.
It was noted that in the course of three years of the project implementation, a total of 9 training programs for the two countries were modernized, out of which 5 programs were implemented in Tajikistan. For the Tajik Agrarian University, 11 syllabuses were modernized, as well as European colleagues lecturing students jointly with Tajik colleagues on 11 disciplines.
“As a result of introducing a new content on the Global GAP standards system in the curriculum, students of TAU studied the principles of business management, taking into account the conditions and requirements of the Global GAP standards system; establishing ways to optimize food safety management systems, and the ability to assess the risks of production infrastructure, confirming its suitability for production bearing the food safety, environmental protection and healthcare in mind; preparing the necessary documentation for Global GAP certification, as well as maintaining documentation and the internal audit system” said Muborak Khalikova, HECAFS Technical Project Executor at the Tajik Agrarian University, during her presentation.
The Khujand Polytechnic Institute has upgraded 20 syllabuses on 20 disciplines. Major work has been undertaken to improve and change the content, as well as modification of training materials for the existing 8 courses.
“During the project implementation in Tajikistan, six meetings were held with representatives of the industrial sector of the republic where issues of syllabus content, the need to introduce new food safety disciplines in terms of the HACCP standards system were discussed. Producers stressed that they are in need of specialists in the field of determining the quality of raw materials and finished products according to regulatory documents and international HACCP standards, specialists familiar with new technologies in food production, applying new trends in packaging, who know how to use food additives and how to market ”- noted during her presentation Dilrabo Komilova, Head of Department, Food Products and Agrotechnology, KPI TTU.
Speaking further about the Project results, Irina Kulitane, HECAFS Project Manager, Latvian Agricultural University stressed that “during the implementation of the Project in Tajikistan 11 teachers from European universities conducted a pilot training of 198 Tajik students. A plan was developed to ensure and assess the quality of the modernized curricula, and its implementation in TAU and KPITTU has already been launched. Two of these universities acquired 213 textbooks and held 14 meetings with the participation of more than 320 participants-representatives of universities, industries and relevant government agencies.”
The participants agreed that today there is an urgent need in increasing the capacity of both teaching staff and university students, so the involvement of teachers in the content part of the educational process is important and will certainly affect the quality of students' knowledge. For better education in specialties, attention should be paid to basic subjects at the secondary school level in order to further improve the quality of education in the institutions.
This conference was organized by a consortium helmed by the Latvian Agricultural University, in the framework of the Project “Higher Education for Food Production Systems and Standards in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan” (HECAFS), funded by the European Union's ERASMUS + Program.
The main objective of the HECAFS Project is to support modernization of the higher education system for implementation of international systems and standards in food production and processing in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, thus increasing the export potential of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).