Kazakhstan to introduce ‘blind’ peer review of new school textbooks

NUR-SULTAN – The Ministry of Education and Science is seeking to improve and renew the quality of school books through a system of blind peer review, reported zakon.kz.

Photo credit: zakon.kz.

Experts would not know the author’s names, freeing them from undue pressure, said Minister Askhat Aimagambetov at the government meeting. 

He criticised the existing system of issuing school books and proposed a number of measures including author training, reducing the size of educational manuals and textbooks and blind peer review.  

“In implementing the state programme, we have changed the approach to the school books’ peer review and elaboration. Now, the pedagogical community and experts are involved in discussion on textbooks’ layouts in the regions. All the books are placed in the public domain on the Internet for process transparency,” he added. 

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev drew attention to textbook quality in his state-of-the-nation address, noted Aimagambetov. As a result, the ministry is taking specific measures to provide schoolchildren with appropriate educational tools.

To facilitate the educational process and decrease schoolbag weight, books for grades 1-10 have been available on the ministry website since Sept.1 in in EPUB (e-book) format. 

Considering regular appeals from students, parents and even the teaching staff, officials support all efforts to minimise public criticism regarding the poor quality of school books. 

“We have to agree the majority of claims on book quality are justified. The mistakes and problems really exist; somebody can consider them just misprints or technical errors, but the public has no interest in how it occurred,” he said.

The problem is systemic and the main reasons are poor publishing expertise, lack of editors’ responsibility and the small number of board members participating in the adoption process, according to state body data.