Preparing young Kazakhs for the modern workplace

29 Sep 2021 As in much of the world, COVID-19 dramatically disrupted the education system in Kazakhstan, affecting young people’s opportunities and future job prospects. While many educators saw the transition to online learning as a temporary set-back, John Smith Trust Fellow Diana Tsoy (Kazakhstan, 2019) has used the challenging circumstances created by the pandemic to establish a forward-looking online training resource for her country’s young population. is an online support resource for young people […]

Reforming policy-making in criminal justice in Armenia

22 Sep 2021 Armenia has been on a journey to reform its criminal justice system for the decade. Changes to the penitentiary system, and specifically the probation services, have been an important element of the reform process, as the country has taken steps towards a more effective system of rehabilitating offenders and stopping cycles of criminal behaviour. As Head […]

Advancing gender equality, climate action and social justice in Ukraine and beyond

08 Sep 2021 Photo taken from 13th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament video, 6th September 2021

Championing human resource management reforms in Ukraine

05 Aug 2021 Ukraine is going through unprecedented reforms to consolidate its path to a democratic, prosperous and peaceful future. In 2016, two years after the Revolution of Dignity, the international donors who support good governance in Ukraine introduced the Ukraine Reforms Architecture (URA). It is an innovative, comprehensive reform support program whose key instruments are dedicated Reform […]

Increasing Effectiveness and Accountability of Georgia’s Public Sector

29 Jul 2021 Georgia is striving towards the modernisation of its public administration. The process is seen as a prerequisite of the country’s EU integration and is therefore a key national objective. One of the central components of the country’s public administration reform plans is the development of an evidence-based policy-making system that responds to real needs and […]

Changing attitudes to sex education in Kazakhstan

20 Jul 2021 Karlygash Kabatova (JST, 2019) is changing attitudes to sex education in Kazakhstan. Her online platform Uyat Emes (‘Not Shameful’), which provides a safe space for young people and parents to learn about sexual and reproductive health rights, is about to reach a large new audience. Karlygash is working with UNESCO to launch a chatbot via […]

Protecting rights and making citizens’ voices heard in Uzbekistan

13 Jul 2021 When Uzbekistan’s new leadership set out to ‘modernise and liberalise all spheres of life’ in 2016, the government’s ambitions included the adoption of international standards in citizen participation. Many citizens have grasped the opportunity to make their voices heard using the plethora of new mechanisms that have been set up: community councils, online petitions, ‘people’s […]

Developing new tools for civic engagement in Armenia

29 Jun 2021 As Armenia emerges from a period of instability and political turmoil, the country needs active and engaged citizens who understand their civic rights and duties more than ever. Civic engagement is an issue close to the heart of JST Fellow Julya Sahakyan (Armenia, 2018) and an area that she has spent most of her career […]

Introducing community-led planning to Uzbekistan’s Covid response

31 Mar 2021 The Covid-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on governments across the world to support and protect vulnerable citizens. Like many countries, Uzbekistan has faced the challenge of ensuring that its package of support is equally accessible to all citizens, including those living in remote rural regions far from the capital, Tashkent. Through his work at […]

Supporting good governance through legal education in Russia

22 Mar 2021 The practical manifestation of Dina Biygishieva’s unshakeable belief in the power of good governance and the rule of law can be seen through her work as a lawyer in Russia where her guiding principle has always been helping her fellow citizens better understand the law and the rights it affords them. Dina’s work has taken […]

Empowering Georgian society through financial inclusion

12 Mar 2021 When, in 1995 at the age of 18, Archil Bakuradze founded the Charity Humanitarian Centre Abkhazeti (CHCA) to support internally displaced people in his country, little did he know that he was laying the foundations for a company which would one day become Georgia’s leading microfinance institution committed to ending poverty in the country.  Perhaps no surprise as the […]

Digital transformation in the Kyrgyz Republic

03 Mar 2021 (Find the story behind this photo at the bottom of the article). The Kyrgyz Republic has an ambitious digital transformation policy. And it needs to be ambitious! The country is almost entirely mountainous – 94% of the country lies at over 1000 metres above sea level – so building internet infrastructure is a challenge to […]

Fostering young journalistic talent and media literacy in Central Asia

18 Feb 2021 ‘Zira’ [cumin] is a key ingredient in the Central Asian rice dish plov. The spice is also the inspiration for the name of an online media platform – Zira Media – founded and run by Muhaiyo Nozimova (Tajikistan, 2018) which aims to develop journalistic skills and media literacy among young people in Central Asia. Muhaiyo […]

Advancing the integrity of Moldova’s justice system

12 Feb 2021 The landslide victory of the opposition candidate, Maia Sandu, in Moldova’s presidential elections in November 2020 signaled a decisive change in the country’s direction. Sandu, who favours closer ties with the EU, won the run-off by harnessing voters’ anger and exhaustion with political scandal and endemic corruption. ‘Moldovans need a state that does not steal, […]

Reshaping urban living in the Russian Far North

03 Feb 2021 The sun does not rise above the horizon at all between early December and mid January in Murmansk, the northernmost city in Russia and largest in the world above the Arctic Circle. Primarily an industrial city with a population of just under 300,000, Murmansk is also known as a place for prolific crab fishing and fantastic sightings of the Northern Lights. The North […]

Changing civil service culture in Ukraine

21 Jan 2021 Ukraine is lucky to have citizens like Artem Shaipov.  Young professionals who already have important day jobs but who also are driven to contribute to the advancement of their country’s development through pro bono work. In Artem’s case, he is a Cambridge-educated lawyer working on legal reforms but who has also taken on the huge […]

Reducing poverty – and increasing vegetarianism – in Tajikistan

15 Jan 2021 Almost 70% of Tajikistan’s population makes a living from the agricultural sector with 30% of the country’s rural areas living below the poverty line.  Steady progress has been made in growing the economy but as one of the least developed countries in the world, the effects of climate change on Tajikistan’s rural population hits hard, […]

Championing employment for persons with disability in Turkmenistan

08 Jan 2021 (PHOTO: Kumush Atayeva with the bust of John Smith in the Scottish Parliament) Kumush Atayeva is passionate about improving access to employment for people with disabilities and aiding their inclusion in the labour market.  She is making a significant difference in her home country of Turkmenistan where those living with disabilities have historically faced great […]

Public service reform in Uzbekistan

16 Dec 2020 At a recent John Smith Trust (JST) online event on digital governance, Mirzokhid Karshiev was reunited with Julie Kane, Head of Digital Strategy and Policy for the Scottish Government.  Mirzokhid, a governance specialist from Uzbekistan, had met Julie in 2017 while in the UK on a John Smith Trust Fellowship Programme.  Along with a number of […]

Pioneering Recycling Culture in Armenia

10 Dec 2020 Armenia has a massive rubbish problem.  Despite its small geographical size and a population of only 3 million, it is the sixth highest waste-producing state in the world according to the UN. Mkhitar Avetisyan (JST 2019), formerly a leading specialist at the Ministry of Nature Protection, is a recycling pioneer in Armenia.  In 2017, determined to improve the waste […]