Public Administration Academy Focuses on Practical Learning

ASTANA – Forming a professional and autonomous state apparatus was identified as the first reform of the 100 Concrete Steps Programme initiated by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2015. Fulfilling the reform will mean a shift to the career model of public service. The goal is to hire the most intelligent, talented and skilled workers for the state apparatus.

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Professor Fatima Zhakypova, rector of the Public Administration Academy under the President of Kazakhstan

The Astana Times interviewed Professor Fatima Zhakypova, rector of the Public Administration Academy under the President of Kazakhstan, to learn about the modernisation of the academy’s training programmes, new graduate programmes and international cooperation.

As Kazakhstan continues to develop, both the public and private sectors are in need of skilled, visionary managers who can lead teams facing the challenges of a fast-changing world. “We held a comprehensive revision of training programmes which resulted in a new list of five master’s and four doctoral programmes, including in state policy, public administration, state management and others. The programmes are based on the experience of Nazarbayev University and the world’s leading public administration schools,” Zhakypova said.

The core of the new programmes is professional training of civil workers based on practice-oriented study. The list of subjects and their content comply with international practice and reflect the current and future needs of both the public administration system and civil service.

“We also started work on the development of our own case base in collaboration with both Kazakh and foreign experts-practitioners. Training in the new programmes started this September,” she added.

According to Zhakypova, they are doing colossal work to modernise the system of retraining and advanced training of civil servants. The legislative consolidation of regular training is one the important factors of the professional development of civil servants.

“Now, training is necessary at least once in a three-year period. This regulation will enhance the role of vocational training in the transition to a career model of public service. New approaches to retraining and advanced training of civil servants were developed to improve the their training system with an emphasis on practice oriented learning,” she said.

The existing retraining and professional development programmes were analysed and new themes of the programmes were set in accordance with the implementation of the first institutional reform, forming a professional state apparatus. This reform centres on management issues including leadership and integration, strategic human resource management, applied aspects of management, development of business communications and compliance with civil service ethics, among others.

Short- and medium-term programmes will be introduced. Short term training supports professional and personal growth in developing competencies for staff members’ current positions; medium-term training will help improve existing competencies for promotion.

“Case solution assignments and project work combined with analytical and practical orientation teaching methods are a priority in order to reduce the gap between the required and actual competencies of civil workers at a certain position. We do our best to help ensure that the training is fully perceived as an element of human resource personnel of a public body and the civil service as a whole. A new model of vocational training is designed to comply with the new model of public service and correspond with the lifelong learning principle,” she said.

The institute is now moving away from scientific work in its classical presentation and is focusing on applied research. Thematic clusters in priority areas of public administration and civil service have been identified.

“Six research clusters have been developed to be integrated into the existing subjects of the studies,” Zhakypova said. “These clusters are devoted to the study of public administration, public service, community and political processes, anti-corruption policies and training for the civil service. The existing research capacity will be reinforced not only by the professors, but mainly through the involvement of graduate and doctoral students. In addition to applied skills, the civil workers will be able to acquire research and analysis skills.”

The academy has a wide geography of international partners. This September, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Civil Service College of Singapore.

“The Singaporean public service model is recognised as one of the best in the world due to its wise emphasis on human resources. We have great goals for our partnership with Singapore in terms of building the capacity of Kazakh civil workers and creating one of the most effective models of training for public administration,” she said.

A group of experts from Singapore held a two-week seminar for 200 civil workers on leadership, human resource management and economic development in October.

The academy also closely cooperates with the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. Over the past 10 years, its students have done internships at the Institute of Diplomacy and have won Hanns Seidel Foundation Scholarships.

“I would like to appeal to young people who are in search of work and those who are involved in public service. A Kazakh proverb says that there is no life without knowledge and there is no knowledge without learning. Today, civil workers have lots of opportunities to gain knowledge. The content of education is improved, as is our information and resource base. We strive to bring out talented people and create conditions through the transfer of knowledge and the development of competencies to realise their potential, both for their professional advancement and for the benefit of society,” she said

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