Mongabay.com seeks to raise interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife, while examining the impact of emerging trends in climate, technology, economics, and finance on conservation and development (more)
The constitution of 1995 specifies that education through secondary
school is mandatory and free, and that citizens have the further right to
compete for free education in the republic's institutions of higher
learning. Private, paid education is permitted but remains subject to
state control and supervision.
In 1994 Kazakstan had 8,575 elementary and secondary schools (grades
one through twelve) attended by approximately 3.2 million students, and
244 specialized secondary schools with about 222,000 students. In 1992
about 51 percent of eligible children were attending some 8,500 preschools
in Kazakstan. In 1994 some 272,100 students were enrolled in the
republic's sixty-one institutes of higher learning. Fifty-four percent of
the students were Kazak, and 31 percent were Russian.
The educational situation since independence is somewhat difficult to
judge because of incomplete information. The republic has attempted to
overhaul both the structure of its education system and much of its
substance, but the questions of what should be taught and in what manner
continue to loom large. A particularly sensitive and unresolved issue is
what the language of instruction should be, given the almost equal
distribution of the population between ethnic Kazaks and ethnic Russians.
In 1994 most instruction still was in Russian because Kazak-language
textbooks and Kazak teachers were in short supply. Enrollment was
estimated to be 92 percent of the total age-group in both primary and
secondary grades, but only 8 percent in the postsecondary age-group.
Serious shortages in funding and resources have hindered efforts to
revamp the education system inherited from the Soviet Union. Even in 1990,
more than half the republic's schools were operating on two and even three
shifts per day; since then, hundreds of schools, especially preschools,
have been converted to offices or stores. Elementary- and secondary-school
teachers remain badly underpaid; in 1993 more than 30,000 teachers (or
about one-seventh of the 1990 teaching staff) left education, many of them
to seek more lucrative employment.
Despite the obstacles, efforts have been made to upgrade the education
system, especially at the highest level. Kazakstani citizens still can
enroll in what once were the premier Soviet universities, all of which are
now in foreign countries, in particular Russia and Ukraine. In the
mid-1990s, however, such opportunities have become rare and much more
expensive. This situation has forced the upgrading of existing
universities in Kazakstan, as well as the creation of at least one new
private university, Al-Farabi University, formerly the S.M. Kirov State
University, in Almaty. The largest institution of higher learning in
Kazakstan, Al-Farabi had 1,530 teachers and about 14,000 students in 1994.
A second university, Qaraghandy State University, had about 8,300 students
in 1994. In addition, technical secondary schools in five cities--Aqmola,
Atyrau, Pavlodar, Petropavl (formerly Petropavlovsk), and Taldyqorghan
(formerly Taldy-Kurgan)--have been reclassified as universities,
increasing regional access to higher education. Altogether, in 1994
Kazakstan had thirty-two specialized institutes of higher learning,
offering programs in agriculture, business and economics, medicine, music,
theater, foreign languages, and a variety of engineering and technical
fields. In the area of technical education, the republic has taken
aggressive advantage of offers from foreign states to educate young
Kazaks. In 1994 about 3,000 young people were studying in various foreign
countries, including the United States.
One trend that particularly worries republic administrators is the
pronounced "Kazakification" of higher education, as the
republic's Russians either send their children to schools across the
Russian border or find it impossible to enroll them in local institutions.
Kazakstan's law forbids ethnic quotas, but there is evidence of
prejudicial admittance patterns. The class that entered university in
1991, for example, was 73.1 percent Kazak and only 13.1 percent Russian.
Data as of March 1996