UL System to Sign Education Agreement with Kazakhstan

BATON ROUGE, La. – The University of Louisiana System will form an agreement with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan that will promote educational opportunities between the UL System’s eight universities and Caspian State University of Technology and Engineering.

UL System President Randy Moffett and representatives of the Kazakhstan delegation will sign a memorandum of understanding tomorrow (Wednesday), as part of a broader international partnership between the oil-producing former Soviet republic and Louisiana.

WHEN: 1:15 p.m., Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WHERE: Camelot Club, 21st Floor, 451 Florida Street in Downtown Baton Rouge (in the Chase Building)

“As the democratic nation of Kazakhstan develops its economy, there will be a growing need for professionals in business, engineering, teaching, education and health care – careers that our universities supply in great abundance. Kazakhstan is looking to our universities to help prepare the workers it needs to propel its economy forward, and we consider it an honor to share our expertise with them,” Moffett said. “It also creates great opportunities for our students and faculty to explore new cultures, a critical factor in an increasingly global marketplace.”

The agreement, which will also include Caspian State University of Technology and Engineering, will provide academic opportunities at the UL System’s eight institutions, which include Grambling State University, Louisiana Tech University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette and University of Louisiana at Monroe.

In September, the UL System signed an agreement with The Pôle Universitaire Léonard de Vinci in Paris, and its campuses have signed international pacts with universities around the world. These provide students and faculty opportunities to study and teach abroad.

Besides Moffett, the Louisiana delegation will consist of officials from Louisiana Economic Development, the South Louisiana Economic Council and key Louisiana business leaders representing Louisiana’s oil and gas, technology and food processing industries. The visiting delegation will include Kazakhstan Ambassador to the United States Erlan Idrissov, the Deputy Akim of the Mangistau Region Askar Nurgaliyev and the director of the Port of Aktau’s Special Economic Zone Zinulla Kaziev. Also accompanying the delegation will be the President of the Caspian State University of Technology and Engineering, the Chairman of the Mangistau Regional Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers and leadership of six major oil and gas and telecommunication interests from the region.

The meeting is the third visit of delegations from Kazakhstan to Louisiana as part of an ongoing initiative to share technologies developed and produced by Louisiana companies that are in demand in the Mangistau Region’s offshore drilling and production operations. The initiative is the outgrowth of long-term relationships built through U.S. Congressman for the Third Congressional District Charlie Melancon and the South Louisiana Economic Council, a regional business development organization serving business interests in the parishes of Assumption, Lafourche, St. Mary and Terrebonne.

About Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia, northwest of China, and a small portion is west of the Ural River in easternmost Europe. The country has a population of approximately 15,340,533.

Kazakhstan is ethnically diverse, with only a slight majority of Kazakhstanis being ethnic Kazakh. Other ethnic groups include Russian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, German, and Uyghur. Religions are Sunni Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, and other. Kazakhstan is a bilingual country. The Kazakh language has the status of the “state” language, while Russian is declared the “official” language. Russian is used routinely in business; 64.4 percent of the population speaks the Kazakh language. Education is universal and mandatory through the secondary level, and the literacy rate is 98.4 percent.

Kazakhstan is the largest of the former Soviet republics in territory, excluding Russia. The country possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves and plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has a large agricultural sector featuring livestock and grain. Its Gross Domestic Product is $102.5 billion.

Kazakhstan is a constitutional republic with a strong presidency. Presidents are elected by popular vote and serve a seven-year term. The next election is scheduled to be held in 2012. The United States was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan, on December 25, 1991.