Civic engagement is the active participation of citizens in addressing issues of public interest. Civic engagement is when people are not indifferent to what is happening in their region, city or country. They can engage in civic activities by taking part in political and non-political actions to solve both social and economic problems.
Every year the citizens of Kyrgyzstan face many problems in the social environment they live in. According to the analysis of the data obtained (2019), the main issues of our capital – Bishkek – are as follows:
To clarify, the activists identified the problems above based on the surveys conducted among the residents of Bishkek only. However, it is crucial to take into account the fact that there are about 30 cities and 453 villages in Kyrgyzstan, in total, which means that the scale of social problems that the citizens of our country face every day is much wider. Therefore, every citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic should be aware of the importance of being a caring citizen, fighting for and ensuring a high-quality and safe life for every citizen.
To illustrate, the Youth in Action movement is a vivid example of demonstrating the importance of civic engagement in our country. For the Citizens in Action project, our activists from the American University of Central Asia decided to focus on the disadvantaged areas of Bishkek, and presented the main problems that concern the residents of Ene-Sai and Maevka districts. Most of the problems were related to the lack of road signs, speed bumps and lighting. In addition, activists from the southern regions of Osh, Jalal-Abad, and Batken have done a tremendous job with local residents, solving problems with the bridge and transport in the village of Avtovokzal. Indeed, the cohesion of active citizens can be a great impetus and motivation for solving any problems in society.
As a result of unique teamwork within the framework of the Citizens in Action project, it was possible to achieve the allocation of funds: the Kemin District Development Fund transferred the necessary amount for the purchase of special equipment. The problem of lack of equipment was solved thanks to the activities of the initiative group and assistance from the authorities. Successful joint work of activists with the executive and representative authorities encouraged them to continue what they started and work on the existing problems in the village. In addition, residents have learned from their own experience that they have all the capabilities to solve problems and improve their own living conditions.
The act of civic engagement can be carried out in different ways. To clarify the different types of engagement that are commonly held in Kyrgyzstan and to better understand how activists are involved in civic issues and community organizations, projects have been analyzed and categorized into four different classifications.
The following are the types of Civic Engagement in Kyrgyzstan (based on the work done by the Youth in Action movement):
Civic Engagement is deeply rooted within the values of AUCA as it strives to prepare future leaders of the Central Asian region. Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are among active participants in their communities. Serving the community, knowledge sharing, giving back to society are instilled through the spirit of our academic institution.
Certificate in Civic Engagement: OSUN Program
Freshmen, sophomore and junior students, who have some experience in the field of civic engagement, are eligible to apply for the Certificate in Civic Engagement offered by the Open Society University Network (OSUN) & Bard College!
Program overview: The Certificate in Civic Engagement provides a structured path for undergraduate students interested in deepening their knowledge and understanding of civic and community engagement by merging curricular and co-curricular interests. The certificate sets out expectations that students will be knowledgeable about theories of citizenship, democratic participation, civil society, and social action, familiar with their local community, and cognizant of ways in which the local, national and global are linked. Courses that are a part of the certificate focus on themes related to civic engagement and/or the practice of it. The certificate is acknowledged on each student’s transcript.
Additionally, students can apply for the Student Initiative Development Program (SIDP) in order to develop their culminating project under the program and receive financial support (up to $1000 USD). The criteria for the projects is to address any social, economic, environmental, and educational challenges in the community. Students can learn more on the SIDP website.
To learn more about the CE Certificate: