During the video conference, participants discussed the situation with coronavirus in four Central Asian countries and plans for future collaboration.
Young journalists and analysts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan participated in the online meeting. They are alumni of the CABAR.asia School of Analytical Journalism and CABAR.asia School of Analytics held in 2018 and 2019.
These Schools are aimed at developing analytics and analytical journalism in the countries of the region and strengthening professional connections between representatives of the countries. This year, IWPR Central Asia plans to hold the third CABAR.asia School of Analytics.
Analyst from Kyrgyzstan Anna Zubenko and journalist from Tajikistan Timur Timerkhanov moderated the meeting.
The online meeting took place amid the fight with the coronavirus spread in Central Asian countries and responding to problems caused by it. The participants exchanged opinions on this issue.
As part of the IWPR Central Asia educational programme, journalists and analysts regularly publish their materials on CABAR.asia regional analytical platform. Since the “corona crisis” began, a number of participants published materials on this topic.
At the meeting, participants discussed certain aspects of the dangerous problem that arose due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Tajik analyst Muslimbek Buriev informed that despite official recognition of the coronavirus cases in his country, a quarantine has not been introduced. Only certain regions, for example, the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) and Sughd Region partially restricted the movement. In his opinion, the population has become more selective about the information about the coronavirus that it receives from the local media.
Kazakh expert in the field of education Zhaslan Nurbaev shared the problems of distance education in his country’s regions. He emphasized that secondary education was affected the most since the Internet connection failed the test of matching the needs of online education. Nurbaev noted the difference between central cities and regional villages, where the connection is weak or completely absent. He expressed concern that “education process will deteriorate and the number of students dropping out of school will increase”.
Uzbek analyst Yuriy Sarukhanyan said that the situation in his country is generally similar to the situation in other countries of the region. The distinction is that Uzbekistan did not introduce emergency, but mandatory self-isolation. He highlighted the authorities’ efforts to establish effective communication with the population.
Journalist from Bishkek Asel Sooronbaeva, in turn, spoke about fake news on different platforms in Kyrgyzstan during the quarantine period and cited the case of the joint activity of several media in exposing it.
Analysts noted the civic engagement of the population in each country, when concerned citizens mobilized to provide assistance and support to vulnerable segments of the population, doctors and even the state.
Timur Timerkhanov said that he was observing the consolidation of society in Tajikistan for the first time in a long period. Zhaslan Nurbaev noted that assistance was provided not only in big cities, but also in districts and villages of Kazakhstan.
During the meeting, participants discussed topics for future joint materials, which include anti-crisis measures to stabilize the countries’ economies, measures to prepare for countering a new wave of COVID-19 infection, and analysis of the countries’ actions during quarantine, their similar and different aspects.
At the end of the meeting, participants shared their vision on how to strengthen networking among alumni and participants of IWPR Central Asia events and discussed plans for the future.