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Our Story

Our Story

Our Story

Our Story

TajRupt's story is one of disruption.

Tajikistan has come a long way since the civil war of the 1990s that had left the country at a state of socioeconomic ruin. The GDP has risen eightfold since 2000, poverty has fallen from 83% in 2000 to 31% in 2016, child mortality has decreased threefold, and life expectancy has reached the global average.  

However, chronic challenges are still present across all fronts - from economics to education. Today, Tajikistan remains the poorest country in Central Asia, its economy continues to be dependent on migrant remittances from abroad, it was ranked 159th out of 167 countries on EIU's 2017 Democracy Index, and its education system has sustained systemic weakenesses of the Soviet-era model.

To tackle existing issues and develop new initiatives, we look to the youth - the largest demographic in the country. We believe in the role of extracurricular education in equipping the youth with civic awareness necessary for implementing local change. In this regard, the youth who are able to think critically - that is, those who can reason logically, engage in evidence- and data-based analysis, and appreciate diversity of viewpoints - become the most effective leaders and agents of change in their communities. 

A World Economic Forum report had identified critical thinking as the second most important skill necessary for success in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In the United States, critical thinking has been emphasized as one of four key skills for educators to prioritize in the public school curriculum by the National Education Association. In Europe, development of critical thinking has been identified as one of primary goals of the higher education system as part of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

Empirical research has reaffirmed positive correlation of critical thinking with outcomes across fields - from greater research utilization among nurse educators, to reduction in student biases. A meta-analysis of 117 studies on critical thinking in education with over 20,000 participants concluded the following: "These findings make it clear that improvement in students' critical thinking skills and dispositions cannot be a matter of implicit expectation. As important as the development of critical thinking skills is considered to be, educators must take steps to make critical thinking objectives explicit in courses."

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Therefore, TajRupt's mission is to empower the youth to lead change in tajikistan through critical thinking and civic engagement.

TajRupt was launched in 2016 with a goal of disrupting Tajikistan's educational landscape that is methodically deficient of critical thinking development. We became the first NGO from Central Asia to receive funding from the European Endowment for Democracy in May 2017. Subsequently, we launched the Extracurricular Resource Center (ERC) located in Khujand - the administrative center of Tajikistan's northern Sughd region - as a pioneering space for youth activism in the area. 

In a year of operations, the ERC has enabled hundreds of students to gain critical thinking skills while learning about democracy, global affairs, gender equality, and innovation. Moreover, students have become civically engaged through volunteerism, community service projects, and social impact campaigns - leading change at a grassroots level. Now, we are expanding our efforts in civic education to encompass technology and its growing impact on education. Scroll down to learn more about these initiatives.

The ERC in Khujand was opened in July 2017.

The opening ceremony was attended by the United Kingdom's Ambassador to Tajikistan Hugh Philpott. At the ceremony, Ambassador Philpott delivered the following remarks to TajRupt's students:

I think you are all very lucky. I think even in my country, I wish I had had this sort of opportunity. I will do everything I can to support it in the future
— Hugh Philpott, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the Republic of Tajikistan

Civic Education

Civic Education

Civic Education

Civic Education

Civic Education

According to Freedom Houseless than half of the world's population now live in countries classified as free - a trend that some scholars have described as a global democratic recession. Meanwhile, Tajikistan was ranked in the bottom-10 among 167 countries in terms of its state of democracy on the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2017 Democracy Index.

Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, who had coined the term "democratic recession", recently stated:

Civic education is an essential instrument in ensuring that young people become socialized respecting democratic values
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TajRupt's civic education initiative tackles the issue of low civic participation of the youth in Tajikistan by providing high school and university students access to a curriculum of activism courses. The courses aim at nurturing critical thinking skills among participants by combining theoretical learning with practical activities. The curriculum is delivered in English language in order to stimulate student exposure to alternative sources of information in a region where the news sphere is dominated by Russia's state-run media. Activism courses are structured into 10-week sessions at the ERC, with competitive enrollment open to students in an after-school setting free of charge.


The 10-week civic education curriculum focuses on four thematic areas:


Gender Equality & Empowerment

More than 30 participants aged 15-22 have been trained as gender equality activists in HerStory

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Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

More than 30 students have learned about the work of the United Nations, while over 50 students have participated in Model UN simulations

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Media & press

Two dozen students have gained skills in journalism through State of Affairs

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Free market and entrepreneurship

Two cohorts consisting of 5-person teams have become familiarized with free market economics and prepared pro-bono consulting reports

Data analysis of student surveys is at the core of our model. Here are some of the highlights:

students who completed erc activism courses experienced a change in their viewpoint.

9 in 10

of graduates would recommend enrollment in erc activism courses to a friend.


somoni - equivalent to 15% of monthly wage - is the reported value-added from free erc services to the students.