Kyrgyz Journalist and IMTAK Participant wins National Journalism Award with Article on UCA

Date: 21 November 2013
Other languages: Русский язык |

Naryn-based Tenir Too journalist, Klara Esenalieva, was recently awarded first place in the Development Policy Institute’s Movement for Budget Transparency national journalism competition in the Kyrgyz Republic. One of her winning articles, entitled UCA is the Future of Naryn, was published on 26 March 2013 by Tenir Too press. It highlights how the University of Central Asia (UCA) addressed community concerns regarding the construction of its Naryn campus. 

Esenalieva is an accomplished journalist with over 15 years experience with respected Kyrgyz newspapers. She started with Jibek Jolu newspaper and now writes for Tenir Too. She is passionate about the importance of investigative journalism; “The role of the journalist is particularly important in the formation of a democratic society. Journalists have the ability to affect the population with the words they write. It is important that they understand their role and its importance. Journalists should always be objective and this is something that I’ve worked hard to develop and maintain.”
Esenalieva at work at her Tenir Too office.
The seeds for the award-winning story were planted in March 2013 when Esenalieva attended a lively public consultation in Naryn. UCA organised the event to inform the community of UCA activities and address concerns. Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, UCA Director General, highlighted the University’s accomplishments, including the handover of the Naryn State Road to the Kyrgyz Government in 2010 and the official opening of UCA’s Town Campus in Naryn in 2011. He also addressed questions related to construction delays. 
Esenalieva decided to counter community complaints by highlighting UCA’s efforts to create opportunities. “In writing this article, I learnt more about the University and was able to share that understanding more broadly. I think it helped change many attitudes about the UCA project. I know that even my perception of the University has changed,” said Esenalieva.
This is not Esenalieva's first journalism award. In 2012, she won several national competitions in the Kyrgyz Republic. “For me, participation in these competitions is my motivation,” says Esenalieva. To remain competitive, she actively builds her skills, identifies resources and engages in community events as a journalist. 
In 2004, Esenalieva was one of just three journalists from the Kyrgyz Republic selected to attend a Journalism and Democracy training course at the Fojo Institute in Sweden. In 2011 and 2012, she participated in an18-month World Bank training on Budget Reporting for Journalists and Media.

The course was facilitated by UCA in partnership with the Development Policy Institute, the Alliance for Budget Transparency and the Kyrgyz Stock Exchange Press Club. It was part of the government Information Matters Transparency and Accountability (IMTAK) initiative, Kyrgyz Republic, which sought to build the capacity of media to ensure transparency and heighten awareness of budget processes.
“UCA's journalism training programme and public engagements provide us with opportunities to collaborate with investigative journalists like Klara. She understands the power of the media and takes her responsibilities seriously,” said Nisar Keshvani, UCA Head of Communications. 
SPCE Naryn staff Shahida Atabaeva introducing Esenalieva to UCA’s cultural heritage publications.
On 28 March 2013, Esenalieva attended another briefing for Naryn media, this time on initiatives of UCA, the Aga Khan Development Network and its agencies. The event was facilitated by UCA, the Aga Khan Foundation, Kyrgyz Republic and the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme.
Participating journalists received media cards allowing them access to the UCA-SPCE Town Campus Library and a copy of the Russian-Kyrgyz-English Glossary of Terms and Concepts in Public Finance and Budget Progress, published by UCA in 2012 to facilitate investigative writing by journalists on these topics. 
Last month, Esenalieva was one of 20 journalists from across Central Asia who attended UCA’s most recent media briefing. The event officially launched the construction of UCA’s main Naryn Campus. Her article on the event, The First Phase of Construction Started, was featured in Tenir Too on 9 October 2013. 
Esenalieva hopes to write more articles about UCA; “I’ve gotten to know UCA and I respect what they are doing. I believe in the future of UCA”.
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