At a meeting with rectors of higher educational institutions on April 26, 2003 Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev has put new key problems in development of higher education in the country. The first and most important problems for education in the nearest years are formation of mass information culture and construction of information society in our country. So, important steps have taken in the republic to achieve this purpose: the base telecommunication infrastructure is constructed, development of private business in telecommunications sector is provided, the national summit " Information and communication technologies for development " is carried out and national strategy on development of information technologies is developed. But creation of an infrastructure itself will not result in occurrence of an information society, it is necessary to form mass information culture at our citizens and expansion of professional training in the field of information technologies. The role of education system in the decision of this problem is huge, and rates of construction of information society will depend on success of realization of the program on development of human resources in IT sphere and its use in our country in the near future.
The Kyrgyz scientific and educational computer network
Without creation of the modern information-communication network infrastructure on the basis of high technologies education and science in Kyrgyzstan will not have prospects of the development. Taking into account it, since 1998 in Kyrgyzstan construction of Kyrgyz scientific and educational computer network began on the basis of modern information-communication technologies at support of the NATO scientific program. Now Kyrgyzstan has the best in Central Asia the scientific and educational computer network connecting research institutes of the Academy of sciences and conducting high schools of Bishkek in uniform information-computer network.
Main channels of the academic network are constructed on the basis of high-speed optical-fiber liaison channels with speed of data transmission up to 100 megabyte/sec with the opportunity of transition in the subsequent speed up to one gigabyte/sec. The connection of the universities to the main channels is realized on the basis of the allocated copper communication lines with use of DSL-modems with speed of data transmission up to two megabyte/sec. But since 2003 many leading high schools plan to proceed to connection to the educational network on the basis of optical fiber cable. The allocated liaison channels, which have been connected to the universities, give real quality of the Internet, opportunity of the organization of distant education and realization of videoconferences.
The academic network has incomparable potential in the use of distant training, distribution of high-quality multimedia teaching materials. Many high schools of KR already develop the own curriculums focused on interactive application. In January, 2002 the Association " Kyrgyz scientific and educational network ÀkNåò " which structure included leading high schools of the country and the National academy of sciences is created and is legally registered. Its problems include closer integration of science and education, development of distant education, creation of information resources, further development of infrastructure, financial stability of the association.
Maintenance of high-speed access to information resources of global Internet network
Last years, development of the Internet in Kyrgyzstan in sphere of education and science was interrupted by expensive satellite channels and absence of sufficient number of the optical fiber cables having access to the global communication networks. Thereof speed of data links was strongly limited and did not satisfy growing needs of high schools for information. Started in January of this year, the project of the scientific program of the NATO " Virtual Silk Road " having provided high-speed access to information resources of Internet for the academic community of the republic will allow to strengthen development of education and science in the country and to reduce available digital break between Kyrgyzstan and industrially-advanced countries.
The concept of the project " the Virtual Silk Road "
The Great Silk way was in the past not only a trading path, but also the important means of the communications for transfer of the information, exchange of knowledge, mutual enrichment of cultures of the main regions of the world. The new international telecommunication project " the Virtual Silk high-speed way " is aimed at increasing considerably, information exchange between the academic communities of the Central Asian countries, Caucasus and Europe on the basis of advanced satellite technologies, effective access in Internet, to the European scientific and educational networks, and thus, to integrate the academic computer networks of our countries in global information space.
The academic communities of the countries of the Central Asia (Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia) will be connected to a global computer network to the European scientific and educational networks by the use of the single satellite channel. The new technology allows have for each country the minimal strip of transfer of frequencies on the satellite channel and at the same time use the free volume of satellite channel of other countries members. For example, thanks to different time zone, Central Asian countries can use the satellite channel of Caucasus in the morning when Caucasus can use the free volume of the channel of Central Asia in the evening. The configuration of the Silk project consisting of satellite aerials and the communication equipment in eight countries of the Central Asia and Caucasus, connected through satellite EurasiaSat with the central distributive unit (hub) in the Western Europe (Hamburg, Germany), having the satellite aerial, the communication equipment and access in a global Internet network.
The silk project is highly effective at cost and will allow essentially reduce expenses of the academic communities of countries - participants of the project on payment of access to the Internet. Purchase of the capacity of the satellite channel for access to the Internet at once for eight countries has allowed during the tender to lower cost on data transmission for one megabyte/sec. By the NATO scientific program the under the given project it is spent 2,5 million dollars for purchase of the equipment and payment of the satellite channel up to the end of 2004, CISCO Corporation gives the communication equipment for countries - participants of the project, and German electronic centre (DESY) has undertaken maintenance of functioning of the operational centre of network in Hamburg (Germany). The capacity of the satellite channel under the project will accrue in each half-year in process of connection of new participants of the project. Kyrgyzstan from the very beginning has supported idea of the international project " the Virtual Silk way " and has accepted active participation in its preparation and realization. The official opening ceremony was held on January 20, 2003 in Bishkek with participation of the President of Kyrgyz Republic Askar Akaev. During this ceremony, the on-line videoconference between Bishkek and Hamburg was held, showing the technical opportunities of a new satellite liaison channel.
It is necessary to note that the Silk project is a practical embodiment of the ideas incorporated in the doctrine of the President of Kyrgyz Republic Askar Akaev " Diplomacy of the Silk way " on the basis of the newest information and communication technologies. The natural and objective necessity of revival of the Great Silk Road on qualitative new basis was proved in the doctrine in 1999 " Revival of the Great Silk way at the present stage allows create all necessary conditions for transformation of the region into zone of stability, safety, friendship, cooperation and equal in rights partnership ".
Now all conducting high schools of Bishkek, the National academy of sciences and the National cardiological centre already are connected to Kyrgyz scientific educational network ÀkNåt and the project " the Virtual Silk way ". In the near future, the libraries will be connected to the educational network, and formation of electronic information resources of a network, databases, the creation of electronic textbooks will begin. There is a problem in expansion of a network in the regions, to connection of schools, on the basis of the Kyrgyz scientific and educational network of single information-educational space of the republic. In the conclusion, it would be desirable to note that information technologies are devoted to, first of all, young people. Developing information technologies, we, first of all, care of young generation and about our future. It is important for our youth to learn to use the Internet for individual development and work, but not for entertainment. In this connection, the project " Virtual Silk highway " created Kyrgyz scientific and educational computer network should become catalyst of formation of mass information culture and construction of information society in our country, development of the economy based on knowledge.
By A.Kutanov, President-rector of the Academy of Management under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, academician of National Academy of Sciences
KNNA Kabar/"Slovo Kyrgyzstana", June 04, 2003