ASTANA – Nurturing cultural and historical identity and prioritizing youth education are key pillars for fostering responsible citizenship to build a Just Kazakhstan, said President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during the second meeting of the National Kurultai (National Congress) in Turkistan on June 17.
The first National Kurultai took place in Ulytau last year, organized by President Tokayev’s initiative in an effort to “strengthen public dialogue and establish a broad discussion of issues and tasks affecting the future of our country.”
This year the Kurultai adopted a fresh approach gathering deputies of Mazhilis, the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament, civil society and political parties representatives on the opening day discussions on June 16. The first day’s agenda covered three sections including education and science; culture, art and spirituality; and social consolidation.
Tokayev emphasized that the country had undergone a remarkable transformation within one year.
“In a short time, we have formed a qualitatively different configuration of key institutions of power, significantly expanded the participation of citizens in decision-making, and comprehensively strengthened the system for protecting human rights and freedoms. All of this has significantly increased the strategic stability and effectiveness of our political system, made it more fair, open and competitive,” said the President.
“In fact, Kazakhstan has become the only country in our wider region that has carried out such substantial changes in the political system in such a short time,” he added.
The government can conduct transformative political and economic reforms, but individual contributions are equally important, according to Tokayev.
“It is essential that our individual and social values and patterns of behavior are modernized, that our nation’s world view is changed. Without this, any transformation will be in vain,” he said.
In this regard, President Tokayev called to embrace what is required to make a responsible citizen, “adal azamat,” who can build a Just Kazakhstan.
“Our new social ethics should be based on the values of unity and stability, justice and solidarity, law and order, trust and responsibility. It should become the embodiment of patriotism, humanity, the cult of knowledge, professionalism, thrift and diligence. Above all, one of the most important qualities of the individual that should be valued is a reverent attitude to their land and country,” said Tokayev stressing that Just Kazakhstan and a responsible citizen should be considered the “unshakable pillars of our country.”
Developing national identity through history and culture
The role of building the national identity through history and culture is essential for enhancing centuries-long statehood, according to Tokayev.
“It is very important to strengthen the historical self-consciousness of the nation. All developed countries pay special attention to the formation of a canonical image of their past. The multi-volume research publication on the history of the country plays a key role in this,” he said.
A task to prepare a multi-volume history of Kazakhstan that meets modern scientific approaches has been undertaken and a seven-volume book will be released by the middle of next year.
“Our centuries-old history is the subject of our national pride, an important component of the cultural code of our people. Therefore, one of the primary tasks of the state is to create the necessary conditions for its comprehensive study, understanding and popularization,” said Tokayev.
It is important to ensure that Kazakh intangible cultural heritage is also preserved for posterity, according to the President.
“Kazakh culture is multifaceted. We have inherited a huge legacy from our ancestors, which we need to consistently modernize and promote all over the world,” he said.
From natural reserves to traditional music and games – these are all part of Kazakhstan’s natural and cultural heritage.
Burabay National Park and Markakol State Nature Reserve, as well as the Orteke musical and puppet art were recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during Director General Audrey Azoulay’s visit to Kazakhstan for the Astana International Forum on June 8-9.
The fifth World Nomad Games which are going to take place in Kazakhstan next year are also an example of how Kazakhstan manages to preserve national traditions.
Nurturing children and youth
Profound socio-cultural changes in society start from youth, according to Tokayev, who dedicated a large part of his speech to the education matters of the younger generation.
The youth value culture and traditions as much as they do development, according to him.
“Our youth revives our national spirit in a modern way, combining the experience of the past with the horizon of the future. The task of the state is to maintain and repeatedly strengthen this positive momentum. Having done this, we will create our own Kazakh renaissance and our own age of reformation,” said Tokayev.
In building a progressive society and state, no tool is more important than teaching Kazakhstan’s youth values of a responsible citizen from an early age, according to President Tokayev.
“The qualities inherent in being a responsible citizen must be ingrained in the minds of the younger generation. A new quality of the nation will be formed only through the development of education, science, and culture. These directions can be called the unshakable triad of spiritual development of our society,” said Tokayev.
According to him, instilling sound educational work by all individuals and entities involved in children’s upbringing was required to ward off any appeal of “the negative influences of globalization.”
Education is integral to involve more young people in protecting the environment and being responsible citizens with values of humanism and patriotism.
Engaging young people on the topics of critical thinking, comprehensive personal development, time and finance management and legal literacy is crucial and such topics should be learned at school, said Tokayev.
He said the popularization of books also had a key role to play in the development of an intellectual nation. Exposure to books can yield countless benefits, including a paradigm shift in society.
In this regard, Tokayev proposed to create a Children’s Library program that will collect books covering various periods and genres of Kazakh literature to promote traditional values.
Developing creative industry
President Tokayev said Kazakhstan should place the creative industry at the center of its future growth.
“We need to bring the creative industry to a new level. In today’s world, media, movies, TV shows, cartoons, sport and music shows, computer games and books constitute a single area aimed at shaping a progressive system of values and patterns of behavior. We have great potential for development in this area and need to take systemic steps to fully implement it,” he said.
Kazakhstan should also build a strong local foundation for the film industry.
“We need a comprehensive and consistent solution to the problems that have accumulated in the industry, treating the film industry as a separate sector of the economy,” he said.
Tokayev explained that this is done through concrete policies to make local films more profitable for creators by providing transparent monitoring, such as creating a digital system for determining the number of cinema visitors.
“This is the only way that will enable us to have decent movies about new heroes, significant historical figures, and important events of our country, which will be shot not only by the Kazakhfilm studio, but also by private studios,” he said.
“I consider the National Kurultai not just as a dialogue platform, but a stronghold of the nation and the vanguard of the country’s cultural and spiritual progress,” said Tokayev in his concluding remarks.
“At the meetings of the National Kurultai, issues of the formation of a new public ethics and a new development paradigm will be considered. This is not a momentary process, but painstaking daily work,” he added.
Tokayev proposed to hold the next National Kurultai in the Atyrau Region.