Written by Björn Laurin Kühn
Kazakhstan is a rapidly developing country in Central Asia that has made significant progress in recent years in terms of its educational development. Nonetheless, the country still faces several challenges that need to be addressed in order to improve the quality of education and provide better opportunities for its citizens. This report will explore the educational challenges in Kazakhstan, their causes, and possible solutions.
Educational challenges and solutions in primary education:
To begin with, primary education in Kazakhstan covers the first four years of schooling. One of the significant challenges facing primary education in Kazakhstan is the low quality of teaching. According to a report by UNESCO, many teachers lack the required skills to provide quality education, leading to poor educational outcomes which has an influential burden on the country (UNESCO, 2019). Additionally, there is a lack of modern teaching materials, especially in rural areas, where many schools lack access to modern facilities and resources. Outdated curricula are also cited as a significant challenge to primary education in Kazakhstan (Karatayeva et al., 2019).
The lack in access to modern facilities and resources has essentially played a crucial role during the COVID-19 pandemic, when nationwide restrictions were introduced after a surge of infections. The following months were followed by a strict lockdown which was detrimental to the educational system in Kazakhstan (Marteau, 2020). This can be observed in the following graph:
Consequently, to address the challenges in primary education, the government has implemented several initiatives. The “New Humanitarian Education” and “New School” programs were launched in 2011 to improve the quality of primary education (Nurmukhametov, et. al, 2015). These programs aimed to introduce modern teaching methods, modern teaching materials, and new curricula that reflected modern trends and demands to prevent a stagnation within the country and its education system. The government also invested in teacher training programs to improve the skills of teachers to further improve the quality of the educational system in Kazakhstan.
However, despite these efforts, significant disparities in education quality exist between urban and rural areas which became augmented after COVID-19. In rural areas, schools experience lower quality education, with many schools lacking the necessary facilities, materials, and qualified teachers. Because of this persisting problem, the government has launched several initiatives to address these disparities, including the “New Village” program, which aims to improve the quality of education in rural areas (Yakavets & Dzhadrina, 2014). The program provides funding for the construction of new schools, rehabilitation of existing schools, and training of teachers. This is extremely crucial for the educational system of Kazakhstan, since the majority of citizens live in rural areas, located far away from developed infrastructure, thus being highly dependent on the educational proposals initiated by the government.
Educational challenges and solutions in secondary education:
Secondary education in Kazakhstan covers grades five to eleven. The quality of teaching in secondary schools is generally better than in primary schools. However, the curriculum is outdated and does not reflect modern trends and demands which develop at a fast pace due to the impact of globalization and development of technology. The implications of an outdated curriculum used in many Kazakhstani schools are that students are not adequately prepared for the modern workforce. Updating the curriculum and ensuring that it is aligned with the needs of the modern economy can be achieved by involving industry experts in its development and providing teachers with the necessary training to deliver it effectively (Rakhimova & Gabdulhakov, 2018).
Furthermore, there is a shortage of qualified teachers, especially in rural areas, essentially posing the same challenges as in the primary educational system (Karatayeva et al., 2019).
To address these challenges, the government has launched several initiatives. The “Digital Kazakhstan” program was launched in 2018 to modernize education and introduce digital technologies into the learning process. The program aims to provide students with access to digital resources, such as e-books and online learning platforms. The government has also invested in teacher training programs to improve the skills of teachers and to attract qualified teachers to rural areas to provide more accessible educational sources to those who live in the countryside of Kazakhstan.
Educational challenges and solutions in tertiary education:
Tertiary education in Kazakhstan faces challenges such as a shortage of qualified professors, outdated curricula, and a lack of academic freedom. Corruption and academic plagiarism are also prevalent issues in the country’s higher education system which places a detrimental burden on the academical as well as the professional job perspectives of Kazakhstan (Karatayeva et al., 2019).
To address these challenges, the government has launched several initiatives. The “Modernization of Higher Education” program was launched in 2010 to improve the quality of tertiary education in Kazakhstan (Yakavets & Dzhadrina, 2014). This program aimed to attract more qualified professors, improve the quality of research, and modernize curricula to overall improve the education in universities. The government has also invested in the development of digital technologies in higher education and the establishment of new universities to make education even more accessible.
However, despite these efforts, challenges in tertiary education persist. The shortage of qualified professors is still a significant issue, especially in science and technology fields which are increasingly important in a globalized world. Moreover, the curricula in some universities are still outdated and do not reflect modern trends and demands in the 21st century. Besides, corruption and academic plagiarism are also prevalent in the country’s higher education system.
Funding is another issue, especially evident in the tertiary education, that needs to be addressed in the education sector in Kazakhstan. Although the government has increased its investment in education, funding for higher education is still limited compared to other countries. Increasing investment in education and exploring alternative sources of funding, such as private investment and international aid, can address this issue (Sultanbekova & Turgunova, 2018).
Educational challenges in Kazakhstan: Possible solutions
One may conclude that Kazakhstan has made significant progress in its educational development, but there are still several challenges that need to be addressed. Addressing these challenges will require a concerted effort from the government, educators, and other stakeholders in the education sector. By working together, Kazakhstan can improve the quality of education and provide better opportunities for its citizens. To address the challenges in the education system, several steps can be taken. The government should increase its monetary investment in education. The country’s education budget should be increased to provide adequate funding for the construction of new schools, rehabilitation of existing schools, and the provision of modern teaching materials.
Marteau, J. (2020). Post-COVID education in Kazakhstan: Heavy losses and deepening inequality. World Bank Blogs. Retrieved from: https://blogs. worldbank. org/europeandcentralasia/post-covid-education-kazakhstanheavy-losses-and-deepeninginequality#:~: text= Before% 20COVID% 2D19% 2C% 20six% 20out, more% 20students% 20i nto% 20functional% 20illiteracy.
Nurmukhametov, N., Temirova, A., & Bekzhanova, T. (2015). The problems of development of distance education in Kazakhstan. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 182, 15-19.
Rakhimova, A., & Gabdulhakov, R. (2018). The challenges of modernizing the educational system of Kazakhstan. Journal of Education and Practice, 9(6), 23-29.
Sultanbekova, S., & Turgunova, L. (2018). Education financing in Kazakhstan: Challenges and solutions. European Journal of Education Studies, 5(5), 28-38.
UNESCO. (2019). Education in Kazakhstan. Retrieved from: https://en.unesco.org/countries/kazakhstan/education
World Bank. (2018). Kazakhstan Education Sector Assessment. Retrieved from: https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/kazakhstan/publication/kazakhstan-education-sector-assessment
Yakavets, N., & Dzhadrina, M. (2014). Educational reform in Kazakhstan: Entering the world arena. Educational reform and internationalisation: The case of school reform in Kazakhstan, 28-52.
Zhanar, B. (2020). Modernization of Education in Kazakhstan: An Analysis of Successes and Failures. Journal of International and Comparative Education, 9(1), 49-61.