Central Asian Universities Adapt to Online Teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic with the Help of UNODC’s Education for Justice Tools

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools and universities to shift rapidly from in-person to online learning. There are many challenges facing educational institutions during these processes, such as availability of online materials and tools for educators and access of learners to reliable online platforms.

At the tertiary level, UNODC’s Education for Justice (E4J) Initiative offers educators and academics access to open-source educational modules and resources to transmit knowledge and create a deeper understanding of rule of law related issues, particularly in the areas of  crime prevention and criminal justice, anti-corruption, organized crime, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, firearms, cybercrime, wildlife crime, counter-terrorism as well as integrity and ethics.

In Central Asia, about 30 tertiary level educators from at least 12 universities have been using and championing the E4J modules since 2018. These modules are now also available in Russian language on the E4J online learning platform.

To support academia in their efforts to shift to distance learning during the COVID-19 outbreak, UNODC conducted two online workshops for academics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. These workshops, held on 28-29 May 2020, brought together 50 educators from leading universities of these three countries and contributed to raising their awareness about the E4J University Module Series.

During the webinars, E4J champions from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan shared their experiences using the E4J Modules in their educational programs.  Ms. Irina Chernykh, Professor of the Kazakh-German University in Almaty, noted “the rich content of the E4J Modules on Counter-Terrorism, which includes a comprehensive overview of the international legal framework, offers a rich bibliography and is supported by video and other materials enabling interactive learning and discussion”.

Ms. Bermet Tursunkulova and Ms. Kanykei Kasybekova, Associate Professors from the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek presented their innovative multi-disciplinary pilot course on Cybersecurity and Society. Professors developed the course by adapting the E4J Modules on Cybercrime and successfully integrating the teaching tools, student exercises and assessment under this Module Series. 

Mr. Marufjon Kurbonov, Senior Lecturer of the Tashkent State Law University noted that students perceive very well to the Modules. “As there are plans to open new law faculties in universities and colleges in Uzbekistan, I am eager to introduce the E4J Modules on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to other educators.” – he said. “By using the E4J tools, I believe we will be able to teach our students more effectively on crime-related topics”.

The two online workshops demonstrated interest and great engagement of Central Asian academia in teaching on the rule of law. Both events provided a platform for academics to discuss opportunities to use the E4J resources and promote the E4J initiative in their respective institutions and countries, as well as to find innovative solutions in enhancing the role of education in advancing a culture of lawfulness and achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.