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The problem of secondary education accessibility has been practically solved in our country. However, the problem of securing one hundred percent attendance still persists. The President stated that this problem must be the highest priority among other eight objectives set before the Government in 1998. The Ministry of Health, Education and Sports, local authorities and education bodies work together in order to locate and bring back to school those children who are not covered with educational programmes, and local education bodies furnish regular reports on the status of universal education. Resolution #812 on Measures to Promote Further Reforms of Secondary Education System in the Republic of Kazakhstan dated August 28, 1998 played an important role in resolving problems of universal education and in rendering assistance to indigent families. This Resolution stipulated that Universal Compulsory Secondary Education Funds should be set up at general education schools. Such Funds have already been set up in nearly all schools of the Republic. These Funds are raised by cash and in-kind allocations from local budgets in the amount of not less than one percent of school current operational costs, with this amount being earmarked by local budgets; by selling services by schools; and by getting sponsorship and humanitarian assistance. The raised funds are to be used to buy clothes, footwear, textbooks, training aids, stationery, meals at school, to render monetary assistance, to pay for trips to curative resorts or children's summer camps, and to organise cultural and sports events for schoolchildren.

The above-mentioned funds had to be set up because of underfunding from the budget. For example, 24.5% of the budget expenditures or 5.7% of GDP were spent for education in 1990, while the respective percentages in 1998 were 11.2% and 3.0%. Starting 1991, public schools were year-to-year underfunded by the budget, which negatively affected their inventory base and resulted in increased number of teaching hours per teacher, while support personnel was widely retrenched and its numbers reached the critical minimum. Further decrease in funding will cause both irreversible degradation of school inventory and dramatic deterioration of the quality of secondary education.

Teachers Working in Primary Education

Financial problems have aggravated the situation with proper staffing. Low salary rate and regularly delayed pays made over 40 thousand educators to resign from school by the end of 1990s.

However, schools still meet staffing requirements and teachers' qualification is still maintained high. Though, percentage of teachers who have no pedagogical background is increasing.

While collecting data for Indicators 9 and 10, we used information gathered by regional (oblast) and city Departments of Education in addition to the data of annual statistics reports on number and qualifications of schoolteachers. Such additional data made it possible for us to fill out Table 6 (Indicators 9 and 10) for 1997 and 1998 by region (oblast).

By minimum academic qualifications required in compliance with the state standards, we mean that a primary school teacher must have higher or secondary vocational training in pedagogy.

While assessing the number of primary school teachers who hold their certificates of minimum required formal (theoretical and practical) education, we take into account those teachers who have been qualified as primary school teachers. They are the teachers graduated from higher education institution with their vocation specified as "pedagogy and methods of primary education" or those graduated from a pedagogical college with their vocation specified as "teacher of primary school."

Analysis of Indicator 9 shows that during the last decade, share of primary school teachers having pedagogical background has been 97-98%. However, review of the quality of primary school teachers by region over the last two years shows that this index is lower than average for the Republic and is equal to 94 to 96 percent for Pavlodar, Almaty, Aktyubinsk, Akmolinsk, West Kazakhstan and other regions (total number is 9). At the same time, it reaches 99% in Atyraou and Kyzylorda regions and 100% in the cities of Almaty and Astana.

Over the period in question, primary schools in Kazakhstan (except for the cities of Astana and Almaty) still had on the staff teachers with just secondary general education. Number of such teachers varied from 1,500 to 1,800 or from 2.3 to 2.8% of the total number of teachers. However, in 1999 academic year, number of teachers having just secondary education dropped down to 865 or 1.49%. Probably, it can be explained by the fact that in addition to graduates of teacher training institutions, teachers who resigned some time ago, get back to teaching.

Indicator 10 shows that up to 6.5% of primary school teachers do not have the qualifications of primary school teacher. A large number of such teachers work in schools of Kostanai region (12.8%), West Kazakhstan region (11.1%) and Akmola region (8.1%).

Analysis of Indicators 9 and 10 brings us to the following conclusions:

These problems must be solved urgently, because it is anticipated that all schools will start using the new generation textbooks in the year 2000.

Majority of primary school teachers in the Republic of Kazakhstan are women (96-97%). Number of male teachers at general school in the Republic does not exceed 20%. Obviously, it would be worthwhile to start relevant vocational adaptation courses for young men, improve the image of teacher, especially primary school teacher, and make this profession more attractive for men.

Schoolteachers are trained by 25 universities and higher education institutions in over 20 professions. These professions are mainly teachers of specific subjects taught at school, basic and secondary stages. Higher education institutions also train primary school teachers. In addition, primary school teachers are trained by pedagogical colleges. On the whole, primary schools and grades 1 through 4 of all general education schools are properly staffed.

Basic General Education

The aim of basic education school is to create conditions required for the students to get basic general education. This is the stage (Stage II) when students develop their interest in certain subjects and realms of knowledge.

Single requirements that are set for general education of basic school students do not imply any uniformity of such school. Compulsory (non-optional) subjects that are taught in compliance with the requirements take 75 to 80% of the schooling time. The rest of the time is dedicated to study a number of subjects incorporating national and regional peculiarities, as well as some optional subjects. During this basic stage, various optional courses, out of school activities and various level programmes are offered to the students that are aimed at developing their abilities and gifts.

Graduates from basic school have a free hand to choose when and how they will complete their secondary education and they may choose to start working and continue their education on a part-time basis.

Secondary General Education (High School)

As was noted before, in compliance with Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan (1995) all people have a right to get secondary education that is provided by a variety of educational institutions, such as secondary general education schools (high school) with the schooling period of 11 years, part-time (night) secondary general education schools with the schooling period of 12 years, specialised and vocational training schools, lycčes and colleges. Training is given on the basis of basic school. Vocational training classes are set up within high stage of innovative schools, students of such classes major in physics, mathematics, the humanities and other professions. There are 303 public schools and 175 colleges in the Republic that provide vocational training, where students get primary and secondary vocational training in addition to secondary general education.

New social relations started developing when Kazakhstan became independent and sovereign state and preconditioned the development of secondary general education. Key reasons that caused the school crisis are being analysed and the work is done to create proper environment for school development on a new motivation basis. We realise what kind of methodological mistake was made in the past in formulating the aim of education, therefore, the school nowadays is oriented at developing children's abilities and their creative potential.

Development of individuality implies that education process is organised in the way that every child is actively involved in it, that such process must be efficient and it is the new motivation basis for reforms in content and day-to-day education and training provided by school.

Kazakh Academy of Education named after I. Altynsarin currently drafts theoretical, training and methodical basis for functioning and improving the general education school, given the changes that are going on in the society. These new ideas made the foundation for a number of conceptual and regulatory documents, which were approved by the Ministry of Health, Education and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Such documents are as follows: Concept of General Education School Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Concept of Education Content for General Education School of the Republic of Kazakhstan, State Baseline Teaching Plan for General Education School. These documents form the basis for national standards for secondary general education.

Secondary general education school of Kazakhstan has become many-profile and develops in six directions that have different objectives and education curricula, such as linguistics, social sciences and the humanities, physics and mathematics, biology and geography, fine arts and aesthetics, and pre-vocational labour. Schools of new type, such as grammar schools and lycčes are being set up on the basis of many-profile schools.

Newly structured schools and new education content are being put into practice gradually, year to year. With this regard, measures are taken to create new generation of teaching and methodical materials for each subject in each grade.

Despite the economic difficulties, the secondary education system, in general, has been preserved and is developing.

School reform that is taking place in the republic changed the goal as the fundamental component of the system. Today the goal is to develop such an individuality in children that they will be able, based on the knowledge acquired, to find their own bearings, will be capable of self-accomplishment and self-development, of taking correct decisions in complicated and changing life.

In the context of demand formulated by society that was promulgated as the conceptual directive by the President, a new approach was taken to the third stage of general education school. Such approach consists in wider and deeper differentiation, deeper pre-vocational training and profession-oriented education are introduced.

To put the Concept into life, it will be required to work out and implement a new Baseline Teaching Plan that would provide that students should master three languages: official, Russian and foreign; should get systematic training in computer skills, starting the middle stage; should study economics and business; and should get vocational training in high school.

Since educational institutions have been given wider autonomy, schools of different types are drafting plans of various profiles and various levels. Teachers of numerous educational institutions were given an opportunity to realise their creative potential, new approaches to education have been worked out and are being implemented. New strategy boldly opens the doors to reforms and novelties, while regarding child's personality as of paramount importance.

Primary and Secondary Vocational Education

Vocational training always took an important place in the education system of Kazakhstan. Such vocational training included initial training, re-training and continuous education courses for workers and specialists.

Initial vocational training is provided by vocational training schools and lycče on the basis of basic general education and is aimed at training people to become skilled workers/employees in various fields of activities. Training period at vocational schools is 2 to 3 years; at lycčes, 3 years; and for sophisticated professions and professions related to maintenance of sophisticated equipment, up to 4 years. Initial training in individual professions is based on secondary general education with shortened period.

Vocational training is also provided on-the-job, at training production facilities, training centres, courses and other training and production entities set up for workers and employees.

Secondary vocational training is provided by colleges and trade schools on the basis of basic general education and on competitive basis. It is combined with secondary general education and aimed at training specialists having secondary vocational training. Training period at a college is 3 to 4 years. People who have secondary general education and initial vocational training in related professions get secondary vocational training according to shortened or accelerated programmes. Colleges may provide initial vocational training, provided they are licensed to do so.

As of April 1, 1999, there were 303 educational institutions in the republic that provided initial vocational training and over 85 thousand students were trained there in over 300 workers' professions. Over 150 thousand people were trained by 175 state and 83 thousand private vocational training institutions, of which 76.9 thousand were funded from the budget. However, it should be noted that pursuant to the Budget Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the year 1999, colleges were classified as state-owned self-financed entities. Therefore, in 1999/2000 academic year, they started charging students for their services. Some colleges will work under State Order system. Such work order will be specified by relevant state authorities in the form of a plan of training qualified workers and specialists and will be implemented by getting budget funding.

The republic had a wide network of public educational institutions for vocational training. Practically every person who graduated from basic school could go to a vocational training school (lycče) or to a college. Vocational training network over the period in question and number of students enrolled are given in the table below for public educational institutions:

Table 7

Network of Primary and Secondary Vocational Training Schools and Number of Students Enrolled

Academic Year

Vocational Training Schools (Lycčes)

Colleges (Technical Schools)

 

 

Count

Number of Students (thousand people)

 

Count

Number of Students (thousand people)

1989-1990

474

243.0

244

255.4

1990-1991

474

243.3

247

247.6

1991-1992

471

225.7

244

238.3

1992-1993

446

203.0

248

230.8

1993-1994

438

189.0

247

222.1

1994-1995

424

166.0

251

214.3

1995-1996

404

147.0

251

199.0

1996-1997

404

127.6

245

174.9

1997-1998

339

108.9

179

137.8

1998-1999

304

91.5

175

121.0

Data source: Statistics Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Ministry of Health, Education and Sports

Fig. 5

Year-to-Year Change in Network an Number of Students of Primary and Secondary Vocational Training Schools

Courtesy of Statistics Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Ministry of Health, Education and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan

It should be noted that students of the vocational and technical training schools were granted significant benefits during the soviet time. They were provided with meals, clothes, footwear and scholarships. The majority of their students came from indigent families. Governmental expenses were high, that is why such schools started being closed during the economic crisis. On the other hand, a lot of young people with no vocational training flooded the labour market.

Colleges are considered more prestigious by the people, but currently, the bulk of their graduates cannot find jobs that would suit the skills they are trained in.

Many educational institutions of this type started implementing a 2-stage training. The first stage provides them a worker's profession, and the second one gives secondary vocational training.

In order to improve vocational training, international links are being established and new effective models of education are being introduced that take into consideration the Kazakhstani conditions. Positive contribution into this process will be made by the experience accumulated while implementing the Kazakhstani-German project Assistance in Enhancing Vocational Training in Kazakhstan, as well as the support on the part of European Education Fund and activities related to UNESCO programmes.

Since at the Second World Congress on Vocational and Technical Education which was held in Seoul in April 1999 UNESCO declared the XXIst century as the century of vocational training, the Ministry of Health, Education and Sports worked out a special programme.

Secondary Education Standards

In order to guarantee constitutional rights of the people of the Republic of Kazakhstan to get secondary education that would comply with the requirements of world educational system and in order to avoid any petty tyranny while implementing the state policy in education, the Republic of Kazakhstan has been gradually introducing compulsory secondary education standards starting 1994.

Baseline Teaching Plan of general education school lays the foundation for such standards.

Baseline Teaching Plan (BTP) of general education institutions is the main norm-setting document that regulates organisation of educational process, covers main activities of children and ensures that they they get comprehensive education and development. Two aspects of training process planning can be identified, namely: baseline and operational. Baseline Teaching Plan will be approved by the central administrative body for education and will have the following items:

Such baseline plan will be taken as the basis to work out operational training plans with due account of their specific features, as well as specific characteristics of a particular educational institution and students enrolled in such institutions. Operational plans shall be approved annually.

Main factor to determine the structure of subjects taught and their content, as well as allocation of schooling hours were as follows:

Educational content is constantly renovated. This process includes not only improvement of the content of various courses, but the choice of courses and choice of subjects included into each course.

Therefore, such Baseline Plan includes three structural blocks as follows:

Block I - Baseline content of education.

Block II - Alternative compulsory subjects that can be selected by children.

Block II - Optional subjects.

Public general education institution shall ensure that two components of educational content are implemented, such as:

Baseline Teaching Plan combines two aspects, namely: differentiation and integration of the system components. Differentiation will mean that certain subjects are considered more important from the pedagogical point of view, while other subjects are considered less important or they are incorporated in other courses. New courses are introduced at the expense of other courses, but it does not mean elimination of pedagogically less important courses, they are just incorporated into some other courses. In addition, when such integrated courses are used, it results in decrease of the number of school subjects and substantial reduction in schooling load (from 42-44 hours to maximum 34-36 hours).

Integration of education content is a pedagogic category related to purposeful merging of separate disciplines into taught subjects that form relatively independent courses targeted at building an integral structure of general education and vocational knowledge and skills. With this in mind, the following integrated courses are incorporated in the Baseline Teaching Plan:

  1. World belle-lettres (Russian and foreign literature).
  2. Social science (new and modern history, ancient history, man and society).
  3. Basics of ethnic and cultural Weltanschauung (ethics, psychology, habits and traditions of different people).
  4. Environmental science (getting to know the environment, natural history, ecology).
  5. Geography of foreign countries, of Kazakhstan and of the local area (social and economic geography of foreign countries, physical and economic geography of Kazakhstan).
  6. The Arts and culture (drawing, music, singing, choreography, theatre, eurythmics).

Approved standards of primary education characterise the development level of children currently graduating from primary school, independent of the age they enrolled in such school. As is noted earlier, main objective of primary education is to ensure the first stage of personality formation, to identify and develop children's ability and zeal to get studies. The standards were drawn up and improved based on the general purposes of primary education. These very purposes identify areas of general education that are relevant to the primary stage and that are realised in various subject curricula, training plans, and textbooks.

The main reason why we move to the new education content is that the education purposes in the existing curricula are separated from the age-group characteristics and capabilities of pupils, which makes the teaching activities incompatible with learning process. Formulation of new purposes for primary education must be of significant impact on education content, on early childhood education and development. Change of priorities in primary education also changes the relations between the so-called "main" and "secondary-importance" subjects (fine arts, music, physical exercise, etc.). Such process sets up the basis for drafting new teaching subjects that would closer correspond to the task of developing individuality in children and would open broader prospective for introducing selection of alternative compulsory and optional subjects that take a significant time during the first stage of general education.

Pursuant to Education Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan, primary education standards shall be the state norm-fixing document that stipulates the required minimum content of main education curricula and maximum teaching loads. In addition, such standards shall stipulate the required level of education for children graduating from primary school.

The need for such standards stems from the current changes in the society and in education sector. Availability of clear-cut standards will help every teacher, pupil/student and parent to assess the level of learning of a child independent of school type he/she goes to.

Such primary education standards serves the purpose of providing fair opportunities to children to get education, will give incentives to every participant to reach higher results and will make the education process more child-oriented. Being the state reference for assessing education and learning level, these standards also reflect public purposes of education and take into account capabilities of individual schoolchildren. The standards have been drawn up and are being improved based on realisation of general and specific aims of primary education. These very aims identify areas of learning that are specific to primary education and that can be realised in various subject curricula, teaching plans and textbooks or , generally speaking, in methodical/training technique systems.

More and more public attention has been focusing on schoolchildren education and development such attention drawn not only to subject education and learning, but also to such important for primary schooler parameters as learning and speech activities, behaviour, learning ethical standards, etc., formation of which depends on contribution of each subject.

Education content currently is oriented to values common to the entire human race, which paves the way to reaching the objective of making primary education more humane and of depoliticising such education. With this in view, the new standards contain requirements that help to identify level of breeding of a primary school graduate.

Whenever schoolchildren meet the standards, it witnesses to the fact that such schoolchildren have acquired necessary knowledge, skills and values that help them to

This is the way to get not only subject knowledge and skills, but also to form qualitative characteristics that correspond to invariable (fixed) baseline components of active aspect of a personality, such as cognitive, communicative, ethical, labour, aesthetic and physical.

Education content at the stage of basic education has a clear-cut structure, which is reflected in the baseline teaching plan in the form of six blocks. A number of general education subjects that are included into the invariable part of baseline teaching plan guarantee that school education contents are functionally complete.

Literature and languages. Foreign language course is included into this block alongside with mother tongue, literature, and official language. Those schools that teach their pupils and students in their mother tongues (Uighur, German, etc.) use variable part of the education content in order to teach other languages (Russian, a foreign language) to the schoolchildren.

Use of intensive teaching technique, as well as relevant textbooks and teaching materials will help schoolchildren master a foreign language in compliance with requirements stipulated for certain educational stages. Around 30.9% of entire teaching time are allocated to this block.

Mathematics. This block includes mathematics, basic technical drawing and informatics. Taking into consideration existing approach to training in informatics, it is planned to include this course in education content of 5 and 6 grades. Twenty-six academic hours or 18.77% of total schooling hours are allocated to this block.

Natural science. This block includes such subjects as chemistry, biology, geography, physics and astronomy.

These subjects are to be taught as separate courses. First, sciences "underlying" each of these subjects are classified into different groups according to classification of main scientific areas. Second, after introductory courses of the 1st stage, students will have to master basics of these sciences according to cognitive characteristics of relevant age groups. Upon mastering the basics, students will be further trained in higher level of generalisation, that is during the 3rd stage of general education school. Third, there are no reasons to turn down the experience accumulated over the period of many years of teaching such subjects. Fourth, it is the middle schooling stage that is most appropriate for teaching these subjects as separate courses, since vocational training is started at the next stage. Vocational training can be started only after the stage when students have learnt the fundamental sciences.

On the whole, 30 hours (21.5%) are allocated to this block.

Integrated course "Man and Society". These courses will help students to dorm their own world-outlook, values and integral understanding of the development of human society as a whole. The course "Man and Society" will help student to develop profound understanding of relations between man and the environment, nature, and society. Duration of this block is 14 hours, which make 10% of invariable part.

The Arts. This block includes fine arts and technical drawing. Students get acquainted with different genres of the Arts. Students are involved in cognitive activities at the lessons of fine arts and music. Later on, aesthetic education is getting focused on literature, but not exclusively.

Table 8

Baseline Teaching Plan that has been used in the Republic since 1994

##

Education Blocks

Grades

Total

  Invariable (fixed) Part 5

6

7

8

9

Hours

Percent

I

Literature&Languages 10

9

9

8

7

43

30.9

1

 

2

 

3

Mother tongue & literature

 

Official language

 

Other languages

6

 

2

 

2

5

 

2

 

2

5

 

2

 

2

4

 

2

 

2

3

 

2

 

2

23

 

10

 

10

 

II

Mathematics 6

6

4

4

6

26

18.7

1

2

3

Mathematics

Informatics

Technical drawing

4

2

 

4

2

 

4

4

4

 

2

20

4

2

 

III

Natural Sciences 2

3

7

10

7

29

20.8

1

2

3

4

Biology

Geography

Physics

Chemistry

 

2

 

1,5

1,5

2

2

3

2

2

3

3

2

 

2

3

7,5

7,5

8

6

 

 

IY

Social Sciences 2

2

3

3

5

15

 

1

2

History

Man and society

2

2

3

3

2

3

12

3

 

Y

The Arts 3

3

     

6

4.3

1

2

Music

Fine arts

1,5

1,5

1,5

1,5

     

3

3

 

YI

Physical exercise and manual labour skills 4

4

4

4

4

20

14.4

1

2

Physical exercise

Manual labour skills

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

10

10

 

Total

Invariable Part

27

27

27

29

29

139

 

Variable Part

Optional Courses

5

5

5

5

5

25

15.0

Total maximum teaching load

32

32

32

34

34

164

100

Education Quality Control

Currently, assessment of learning achievements is done by way of annual grade-to-grade transfer examinations and state examinations for graduates from basic and secondary school. On the other hand, there is no running National programme in the Republic to assess learning achievements of primary school graduates. This primary education indicator is estimated by taking percentage of 4-formers transferred to the 5th grade and the repetition rate (Indicator 15).

To fill out tables for Indicators 12 and 13, we used number of children enrolled in primary school during 1994/1995 and 1995/1996 academic years in order to follow up a pupil cohort from the date they enrol in school and until their graduation from primary school. It was done in compliance with the Technical Guidelines of Consultative Forum Education for All: The Year 2000 Assessment.

Repetition rate for the first grade is usually zero in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Statistics reporting standards do not stipulate that information on sex distribution must be furnished. Therefore, this indicator was estimated based on a poll conducted for a sample of teachers. As the practice shows, repetition rate is higher for boys than for girls.

Repetition rate for the primary school does not exceed 0.7% for the entire Republic of Kazakhstan, with this rate being a bit higher in rural areas than in urban ones.

Probably, such phenomenon is caused by the fact that in urban areas it is easier for parents to hire tutors, library and other out-of-school institution network is wider, and so on. Any child can enrol in education courses and use additional teaching books. Besides, as is noted before, higher percentage of rural teaches do not have proper qualifications of a primary school teacher. In addition, enrolment in pre-school is nearly 10 times higher in urban areas than in rural ones. In 1998, 36% of urban first-formers had pre-school education, while this number for rural areas was only 3.6% (Indicator 2). Analysis of pupil cohorts for grades 1 through 4 shows that drop-out rate (without account of repetition rate) was 2 to 3% in 1994 and 1995.

Assessment of internal efficiency shows that survival rate is 93 to 96% for primary school. However, it should be noted that these data are just estimates, no actual data was gathered on the number of new entrants and drop-out rate.

First national monitoring of learning achievements in the Republic of Kazakhstan was conducted over a sample of 3,500 pupils of the 4th grade within the framework of EFA 2000 programme in May 1999. This work was done by the Ministry of Health, Education and Sports together with the independent agency Sange. This project report is given below. The data, to a certain extent, correspond to Indicator 15.


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