Now “Artificial Intelligence” Can be Studied at The Universities of Tajikistan
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Now “Artificial Intelligence” Can be Studied at The Universities of Tajikistan

The educational project “Upskill 1.0: Improving the capacity for artificial intelligence among teachers and students of universities in Tajikistan” was completed in Tajikistan. Within its framework, teachers of Tajik universities were trained in the skills of working with artificial intelligence.

The effective implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) technology requires qualified specialists, a system and available technologies. It was decided to conduct training in AI in Tajikistan as part of the implementation of the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence of the Republic of Tajikistan.

The development of the Strategy was the first step to launch the AI ​​industry in Tajikistan and was supported by the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of the country.

A project to build capacity in the field of artificial intelligence among teachers and students of Tajik universities started in April 2022. The project was initiated by the United Nations Development Program in Tajikistan, the Council on Artificial Intelligence under the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of the Republic of Tajikistan and the NGO “TajRupt”.

Within the framework of the project, in the new academic year, the specialty “Artificial Intelligence” has already been introduced in five universities of Tajikistan for both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As part of the Strategy, it is planned to introduce AI lessons into the school curriculum.

To teach someone, you must learn yourself

The main goal of the project is to prepare a personnel base for conducting classes on AI for students studying at relevant faculties at local universities.

To do this, out of 120 teachers of IT, economics and other areas related to AI, 50 people were selected through tests and exams. Since the project is nationwide, the teachers were selected from all over the country. In total, more than 11 universities were involved.

“If we want to train someone, we need people who can teach others,” says Firuzjon Sodikov, project coordinator. “It is difficult, but possible, to train existing teachers in artificial intelligence. teachers in one place turned out to be impossible, it was decided to conduct distance learning.

During the entire course, which lasted six months, participants had to master three main parts: statistics, programming in Python, and machine learning.

In addition to theoretical classes, teachers also met at offline trainings, where knowledge was consolidated with practical skills. Trainings were held in Dushanbe, Isfara and Guliston.

“At such offline meetings, each teacher could abstract from their current work, focus on the topic and practice real cases with the trainer. It was important to learn how to work with individual projects,” Firuzjon explains.

Staff training was one of the goals of the project, but the main barrier for universities and teachers was the lack of a developed curriculum for implementation in the educational process. Thanks to this project, such a program has been developed and is now available to teachers in three languages.

Unlimited possibilities in minutes

Most of the classes were conducted by specialists from the Academy of Artificial Intelligence. Domestic personnel acted as machine learning instructors.

Council on Artificial Intelligence under the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of the Republic of Tatarstan

The project also took into account gender issues – about 30% of all participating teachers were women and girls.

Nigora Numonova is one of the course participants. She teaches programming at the Khujand Polytechnic Institute at the Department of Digital Economy and today works as a project assistant.

“I took AI practical courses online and offline with great interest, along with other teachers. Using machine learning algorithms allows me to work and process large amounts of statistical data and more accurately predict results,” says Nigora.

Today, generators such as GPT-4, DALL-E 2, Midjourney, do a unique job and have unlimited possibilities to solve certain problems in minutes. The introduction of this specialty in the country’s universities will allow a deeper understanding of AI and will contribute to the development of various generative AI algorithms in various areas of development.

“If you already have basic knowledge of Python and statistics, then the study of artificial intelligence can be quite accessible. However, it is worth noting that artificial intelligence is a fairly wide area that includes many technologies and approaches, such as machine learning, neural networks etc. In order to become a professional in this field, a deeper and more thorough study is required,” Nigora explains.

From classes to labs

In January 2023, the training of the first group of teachers was completed, however, in seven groups, each of 3-4 people, they continue to work on their individual projects, which are aimed at creating algorithms used in various fields of activity, such as medicine, construction and services

For the sustainability of the project, the organizers plan to create AI Labs based on the infrastructure of universities, coordinators of which will be teachers who have been trained.

For top students, job prospects will be open at the Academy of Artificial Intelligence, as well as opportunities for further employment.

This educational initiative is aimed at achieving the goals of the Medium-Term Program for the Development of the Digital Economy in the Republic of Tajikistan for 2021–2025, the State Program for the Development and Implementation of Information and Communication Technologies and the National Strategy for the Development of AI in the Republic of Tajikistan.

The initiative is implemented within the framework of the project “Empowering youth through the development of professional skills and the promotion of innovation in Tajikistan”, funded by the Trust Fund “Russian Federation – United Nations Development Program for Development”. 

Source: Asia Plus