Our country points out qualitative education as one of its main priorities, and lately Kazakhstan has been very active at the national level improving the quality of qualified staff training.
The head of state set a clear action plan for further development of the national educational system and science in the National Plan “100 steps on implementation of five institutional reforms.” Drawing on the expertise of the countries that had succeeded economically due to the competitiveness of human resources, such as Korea, Japan and Finland, a goal has been set for us to introduce new academic standards of school education that would let us step away from the “passive” system of knowledge transfer to the development of creative skills, perceptive activity and independent thinking.
Measures for implementation of a 12-year education system, a new model of multi-language education in high school and universities are aimed at the renovation of educational content as well.
Education policy updates will give an opportunity to set a Mangilik El (Eternal Nation) values system as the basis for programmes at all levels of education. Its ideas will be integrated in school programmes through academic subjects, research and extra-curricular activity, complementary education and elective courses.
To help train highly qualified professionals for the six priority economic fields, more than 2,000 industry specialists will be brought to universities and colleges. Twenty-four university laboratories and 57 college laboratories will be equipped within the Nurly Zhol governmental programme. Expansion of academic and administrative freedom will be started stepwise, considering the experience of Nazarbayev University.
As for science areas, it is planned to develop two innovative clusters based on the Astana Business Campus of Nazarbayev University and the Alatau Innovative Technologies Park. There will be corporate research and development centres, high-tech projects of small- and medium-sized businesses, start-ups and the creation of an innovative ecosystem.
Also the law on “commercialisation of scientific research” will be drafted and a scheme of scientific grants and programmes will be redirected towards the needs of the State Programme of Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development (SPAIID) of Kazakhstan.
A great role in implementation of the 100 steps Plan of the Nation is devoted to the Bolashak International Scholarship of the President of Kazakhstan.
This year the official administrator of the Bolashak Programme “Centre for International Programmes” turned 10 years old. Today, the centre supports active cooperation with more than 200 foreign partner universities in 25 countries and 750 employer organisations in Kazakhstan. The Center provides control of education and job placement process of about 11,000 scholars and alumni. It is notable that the centre won the nomination of national business ranking’s research Field’s Leader 2015 according to “Long Term Assets. Balance” criterion.
At present a new five-year strategy has been drafted and approved for the realisation of the Bolashak Programme, which is one of the most successful models of specialist training in countries with developing economies today.
Comparing it to similar governmental scholarships in China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Vietnam and Russia, international experts highlight the inter-balance of Bolashak basic administrative instruments, reflected through the wide access and target-specific approach of specialist training for the national economy.
This policy of target-specific training made it possible to redirect the programme to train staff for the projects of the 100 steps Plan of the Nation. For example, economic and legal experts preparing for work in the future Astana International Financial Centre and Arbitration Court, judicial system’s workers for International Council at the Supreme Court, civil servants and others have the opportunity to study or complete an internship in leading universities and production centres of the world.
Training top managers at MBA and Executive Education programmes in the world’s top 10 business schools (according to Forbes ranking) will become a totally new format for Bolashak.
A new split Ph.D. scientists’ model of training, which had been successfully practiced at Nazarbayev University, is outlined as a separate direction of the programme. This year it has been integrated in the study process of 10 universities, training specialists for the SPAIID. The project’s uniqueness lies in the possibility to conduct national research at the best world laboratories.
Taking into account the changes listed above, the ministry reconsiders the lists of majors and universities approved for Bolashak scholars studying abroad. Recommended higher education institutions will be presented in the top 10 positions of international subject rankings published by QS World University Rankings, Academic Ranking of World Universities and Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which respectively raises the requirements for the academic background of the applicants.
Moreover, this year all scholars take language courses in Kazakhstan, in language centres based at Nazarbayev University in Astana and al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty.
Foreign representative offices of the Centre for International Programmes and the Bolashak Alumni Relations Office provide close networking with all of the programme’s scholars and Kazakh students studying abroad aside from the Bolashak scholarship.
The leading dialogue platform is the Bolashak Alumni Forum – Bolashak Alumni Reunion Conference and Education Fair (BARCEF). Today it is the largest educational fair in Central Asia, uniting annually representatives of more than 60 foreign and Kazakh universities and more than 4,000 Kazakh high school and university students.
This year, BARCEF will take place in Astana on Oct. 16. Besides the usual participants, leading international experts in international education have been invited from the British Council, German Academic Exchange Service DAAD, Campus France; ranking agencies and representatives of the departments involved in specialist training for 100 steps projects.
Within the forum, issues on the export potential of Kazakhstan’s education and national universities’ opportunities in competitive staff training will be discussed. Besides that, a recruitment campaign for Kazakh students and a traditional meeting of Bolashak Alumni with alma maters will take place.
Hence, within implementation of the 100 steps and the Plan of the Nation an important role is devoted to the issues of highly educated, competitive and qualified staff who will be able to contribute greatly to economic prosperity of independent Kazakhstan.
The author is Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan.