Kazakhstan launches Qazaq Epos contest to promote folk culture among youth

ASTANA – Kazakhstan will launch the Qazaq Epos project to encourage school students’ spiritual development through the prism of the nation’s rich ethno and philosophical legacy in folk eposes.

Kobylandy Batyr. Photo credit: sauap.org.

The competition is open to sixth-tenth graders throughout the country. Participants must recite “Kobylandy Batyr,” a 107-page epos, by heart; explain the meaning of different archaisms and respond in the Kazakh language to literature questions based on the school programme.

“The focus will be on studying historic eposes. This includes learning the work by heart, expressively reading it out load and being able to explain the meaning. The knowledge of poetic texts will develop the other personal perception of history, its main eras and consequences. The poetic texts will also positively affect speaking manner and writing literacy and will lay a foundation to a more conscious choice of literature. This project will have a big effect on the formation of the nation’s code,” said Minister of Information and Communication Dauren Abayev at a Feb. 4 conference.

The competition is expected to reach 50,000 school students and 25,000 teachers from 5,000 schools nationwide. It will begin at the district level, followed by regional and national level contests.

Prizes vary by level, with 150,000 tenge (US$396.25) the main prize at the district level. The regional winner’s presentation will be streamed live on Khabar TV and the individual will receive one million tenge (US$2,642).

“There are similar competitions organised worldwide. For example, Shakespeare readings in English-speaking countries or Pushkin’s in Russia. Their goal is similar, which is trying to convey the beauty and richness of the mother tongue to the growing generation, the beauty of the poetic heritage of our ancestors,” said Abayev.

A similar competition held in November involved Almaty school children reading the “Alpamys Batyr” epos. The winner was No. 180 school ninth grader Aruzhan Absattar, who received a 1.5 million tenge (US$3,962) prize.