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Transition to 12-year education postponed: Kazakhstan's Education Minister

23 january 2015, 14:58
Kazakhstan's Minister of Education and Science Aslan Sarinzhipov. ©Turar Kazangapov
Kazakhstan's Minister of Education and Science Aslan Sarinzhipov. ©Turar Kazangapov

Transition to 12-year education model will be postponed in Kazakhstan, Tengrinews reports citing Kazakhstan’s Minister of Education and Science Aslan Sarinzhipov as saying after the yesterday's plenary meeting of Senate, the upper chamber of Kazakhstan’s Parliament. The transition was supposed to start this year.

“As you know, the country was running a pilot project: there were several schools, where we were testing the new 12-year education standard. The experiment ends in May. After we review the results of this experiment, we will make suggestion about  amending the state education program, but for now, amid the existing situation, the transition to the 12-year education model is going to be postponed,” Aslan Sarinzhipov said when answering the question of a Tengrinews journalist.

When speaking about the reasons behind such decision, he noted that multiple factors were in place, including financial ones. “We will consider it for a time. So far we have made the decision based on existing situation, the ministry’s capabilities and goals that we had in this experiment (…). We will see later on. There is a number of factors, including financial ones. The government is working out different economic scenarios now, upon the President’s instruction. Taking this into account, we decided to postpone (the introduction of the 12-year eduction system) a little,” Sarinzhipov explained.

But he assured that the results obtained from the 12-year standard experiment will be put to use in the existing 11-year education system anyway. “We have around 400 schoolchildren that are studying under this experimental program. We developed separate rules for the United National Testing and enrolment in universities (for this experiment). But the entire work and the results that have been received during the experiment would be used to improve the 11-year education model. The methods like competent approach, multilingualism will be implemented, but within the framework of the 11-year schooling. The structure will remain the same: primary school – 4 years, secondary school – 5 years and high school – 2 years,” he said.

Besides, he commented on the suggestion of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Education and Science to start schooling of children in Kazakhstan at the age of 6 instead of the current 7. “The law On Education says that children may go to school at 6 or 7 years old at their parents' discretion. Earlier there were various suggestions, but today we propose to keep it the way it is,” the Kazakh Minister said.

In line with Kazakhstan's State Program of Education Development for 2011-2020, Kazakhstan was expected to start its transition from the current 11-year to 12-year education system in 2015 and planned to fully switch to the new system by 2020. The new education system is also expected to be based on 5+5+2 method where primary school is from the 1st to the 5th grade, secondary school is from the 6th to the 10th grade, and 11th and 12th grade is high school.

The transfer to the 12-year education model is not the only goal in the program. It focuses on improving access to quality education, training of highly qualified personnel, enhancing the education management and many other measures aimed at modernizing Kazakhstan's education system.

The program also takes in to account the rapidly changing environment that calls for adjustment of eduction methods. In addition, the experience of other countries shows that investments in human capital, which also includes education from early to advanced stages, eventually bring huge benefits to the country’s economy and society as a whole. Therefore, since Kazakhstan is aiming at entering the list of the world's 30 most competitive countries by 2050, reforming the education system is of prime importance.

However, not everyone agrees that introducing the 12-year education model is a good idea. In mid-January, the parliament faction of Communist People’s Party of Kazakhstan opposed this project. "This year, another reform designed to radically change the secondary education is the implementation of the 12-year education model in schools. Will our children become smarter and healthier by going to school at the age of 6 and studying there not 10, but 12 years? Does the society really need the 12-year secondary education? We are strongly against the introduction of the 12-year education model in schools," a member of the party Galina Baymakhanova said addressing Prime-Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Massimov.

There is a shortage of qualified teaching staff and places in school, she explained. In addition, Kazakhstan still has three-shift schools and schools that are in disrepair.

The deputy also believes such transition will require enormous amount of funding. “We can see what can come out of it looking at the education reforms that are still hanging in the air," she added.

There are 136 countries that use 12-year education including Australia, Canada, the U.S., France, Japan and other countries included into the list of top 50 competitive countries. Post-Soviet countries that have switched to 12-year education model include Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Estonia.

Reporting by Asemgul Kasenova, writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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