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Primary school in Kazakhstan

Primary school in Kazakhstan starts at age 6 and runs from years 1 - 5. Classes typically run in two sessions, from 08:00 until 13:00 and from 13:00 until 17:00, with students either going to class in the morning or in the afternoon. All primary schools are state-owned and primary and secondary education are constitutionally protected rights.

The curriculum for both primary and secondary school is established by the Ministry of Education, with little choice left to the individual schools. Textbooks are given by the government to the schools for the students. Primary school is provided free to all citizens and residents of Kazakhstan and parents typically pay only for extra-curricular activities such as sports programs, music programs, and sometimes lab equipment or other special equipment.

Lower secondary school in Kazakhstan

Students continue in lower secondary school from grade 5 to year 9. This roughly corresponds to what is called in the USA junior high school, or middle school. Typically a student in year 8 is 14-15 years old. The curriculum is a general education curriculum covering subjects like literature, the students first language, Russian or Kazakh language (depending on the general language of the school), History, Physics, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Foreign language, and so on. 

Higher secondary school in Kazakhstan

Once leaving lower secondary school, there are three tracks available. Students are free to choose any track of higher secondary education but are required to pursue one track. Graduates of all three tracks are eligible to enter university. 

The first track is a general secondary school which covers years 10 -11 and provides general education covering a variety of subjects.

In addition, there are two curriculum tracks for vocational education: Initial vocational education which is provided by training schools and lycees, and secondary vocational education provided by colleges and trade schools.

Initial training schools are designed to train students in a skilled profession. The program is usually two or three years, (typically ages 16 - 18), but for some professional training four year programs are required. Students who graduate can go on to Colleges for advanced vocational training or attend university.

Lycees also provide basic vocational education to prepare students for skilled professions, but also include general academic education. The course of study is three years. Colleges give a program that provides both academic general education and advanced vocational education.

Colleges, if licensed, can also provide initial vocational education. Programs last for three or four years (grades 10 - 12, 13). Accelerated programs exist for students who have already completed both general secondary education and initial vocational training in the same field. Graduates may go on to university or may begin working.

The curriculum for both primary and secondary school is established by the Ministry of Education, with little choice left to the individual schools. Textbooks for secondary school are sold in bookstores throughout the country and are purchased by the students themselves.

Like primary school, secondary school is subsidized by the government and parents only pay for extracurricular activities such as sports programs, music programs, and sometimes lab equipment or other special equipment.

Tertiary Institutions in Kazakhstan

Students who are accepted to university at any level apply under a specific major, and the curriculum is set by the university (according to State legislation) for each major. For example, Economics majors will all study in the same courses in the same order, separate from English majors who have a different curriculum. Some courses are required for a variety of majors and there is a possibility of switching majors but typically classes do not transfer to the new major and the student is expected to re-enter in the new major as a first year.

The government is currently pursuing a program to adopt a credit-system which would allow students to study more easily internationally, and to add the possibility of a curriculum with electives and student-chosen courses.

There are four levels of tertiary education in Kazakhstan: a Bachelor`s degree is typically a four-year degree. A specialist degree is typically a five-year degree and more intensive than the Bachelor`s Master`s degree is typically a two year degree, roughly corresponding to the Western Master`s. A Doctoral degree is typically a five year programme.

Universities are usually headed by a rector, appointed by the President of Kazakhstan, who wields considerable authority over the institution, approving all decisions including those regarding curriculum, personnel, and admission. Thus Kazakhstani universities are more centralized than their Western counterparts.

The top two universities in Kazakhstan are al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty and Eurasian National University located in Astana. Karaganda State University is also well-regarded. 

In addition, there are a few international universities such as KIMEP, which is a joint program, 40% owned by the government of Kazakhstan, but education is based on the Western system. The Kazakh-British Technical University and the Kazakh-American University represent joint projects between Kazakhstan and the UK and the USA, respectively. In all three institutions, the language of instruction is English. The University of Central Asia, founded jointly by the Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and by the Aga Khan, is affiliated to the Aga Khan Development Network. Its Kazakhstan campus is located in Tekeli. A number of specialist universities also exist.

Private universities, typically profit-making institutions, are subject to the same regulations regarding curriculum but are free to set tuition and salaries as they see fit. Public universities are subject to the same regulations as other government-owned organs, regarding not only fees and salaries, but also administrative structure, contracting and subcontracting, and ownership of property.

State owned universities receive funding if their enrollment reaches 86,000 students or 34%. A small number of universities are financed through a budget line in the Republic budget, such as art academies or international universities.

Transfering to a Credit System  in Kazakhstan

The main challenge for education in Kazakhstan is to ensure that everyone has the knowledge, skills, competencies, and values needed for improving human and economic development. There is robust evidence that knowledge and skills are important determinants of economic growth and social development. Education plays a crucial role in fostering the development of the human capital needed. As we all know today’s labour market demands new skills that help to foster social networks, norms and values that are essential for well-functioning democracies with the active participation of citizens. To achieve this the education and training should be available to as many people as possible including those with disabilities, members of vulnerable socio-economic groups, ethnic minorities and others facing disadvantages.

Last Updated on Monday, 07 November 2011 09:51