Impact of Trilingualism in Kazakhstan

5226 words (21 pages) Essay

9th Jul 2018 Education Reference this

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Identify any ONE education reform policy/measure recently adopted by a Ministry of Education that you are familiar with, critically examine how different stakeholders have tried to shape this education policy and how the change has been introduced. Analyse and evaluate the selected education reform policy/measure in light of the literature you have read.

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Introduction

In Kazakhstan, as in many other countries, education is highly influenced and controlled by the state education policy-makers. Tensions and difficulties arise within various stakeholders due to new policies and reforms adopted by Ministry of Education. This paper aims to analyse potential issues related to one of the new adopted reforms, namely trilingual education in schools. In this essay I will discuss how this reform was introduced by government. Intentions and strategic plans expressed through education system will be also analysed. Then perspectives of various stakeholders regarding trilingualism are discussed, drawing on data from different case studies and interviews. This topic might be important because of its novelty and scope in nowadays realities, where governments around the world try to apply different reforms to correspond with global trends. I would like to focus on this topic in order to examine potential outcomes and consequences for the future education of Kazakhstan. I will also compare and take into account my own experience since I studied and worked in a multilingual school.

Introduction of the Trilingualism in Kazakhstan

‘What is the ideal model of education system?’ There is no simple answer to this question in the international professional community. In 2016, Kazakhstan celebrates the 25th anniversary of independence. Kazakhstan is actively integrating into the global community; where a fierce competition of economy, technology, education systems and etc. take place. Consequently education reforms should be done according to global mainstream.

Nowadays, two trends are becoming more popular among the global education systems: (Smith & Sandvik (2012))

  1. The rapid development of information and communication technology education (e-learning, smart training, etc.)
  2. Improving the educational level of the population, primarily due to the expansion of access to education.

Moreover, the education reforms carried out by developed countries can be divided into four main blocks:

  • Education system management
  • Lifelong learning
  • The content of education and ensuring its quality
  • The development of vocational education system

Analysis of Kazakhstan’s educational policies in the framework of the State program of development (2010) shows five changes in the education system:

  1. Expansion of pre-school provision
  2. Implementing trilingual education in schools.
  3. E-Learning
  4. Developing pedagogy through the Centres of Excellence programme
  5. Extension of secondary education to 12 years of schooling

According to this reform, from the 2019 year science lessons will be taught in the English language. In this section, I will discuss how this debatable and controversial reform was introduced by the government.

Ongoing reforms in the education sector of the Republic Kazakhstan provide a number of initiatives, including the introduction of the trilingual education system at all levels of education, which aims to shape the future generation, fluent in Kazakh, Russian and English languages. While this reform might seem positive and meaningful, indeed due to several reasons as a time to implement the change and teacher training thus makes schools and management team struggle in the successful implementation of this reform.

The objectives of language policy of the modern Kazakhstan reflects in the address of President of Republic of Kazakhstan, N. Nazarbayev, “Kazakhstan in the new world” (2007), in which the framework of competitiveness of country and its citizens, proposed phased implementation of the cultural project called “The unity of three languages”, aimed to the development of three Languages: Kazakh as the state language, Russian as the language of international communication and English as the language of successful integration into the global economy.

And worth to note that, the University of Cambridge became a strategic partner of Kazakhstan in this education reform process. (10) Wilson, Reform at Scale: Teacher Development in Kazakhstan (2013). There has been created ‘Kazakhstan Programme’ by the cooperation of Kazakh and English educators.

The university of Cambridge, the faculty of education website states:

The University of Cambridge Faculty of Education supports an ambitious and far-reaching programme of educational reform in Kazakhstan through training, research and consultancy all designed to build local capacity. [15]

In accordance with the State program of development Education of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020 (2010), the English language should be studied not only as a foreign language but also be used as the language of instruction at all levels of education.

Starting from September of 2016 elementary schools must implement some changes. For instance, first-grade students will be taught English in a very accessible and entertaining way. Major innovations await children and their parents from 1 September 2019 in all schools, regardless of the language of education, history of Kazakhstan will be taught in the Kazakh language, and world history – in Russian. In the 2019-2020 academic years, the 10-11-graders will be conduct four subjects in English – chemistry, physics, biology and Computer Sciences. Learning the terminology in English on subjects like “Computer Sciences” and “Natural Science” for students of 5 and 6 grades will begin in 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years respectively. Due to large-scale implementation of trilingual education, there is an urgent need for teachers who can teach their subject in the English language. This problem requires special attention since the English language is not widely used in everyday communication, unlike Kazakh and Russian languages. And this is in line with Ball (1997) who states, policymakers expect that teachers are familiar and be able to successfully implement changes; also individual policy-makers do not normally take into account complexity of the environment where changes intended for.

The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan (MoES) is currently developing the Roadmap development and implementation of trilingual education.

According to ‘State Programme of Education Development for 2011-2020’ and ‘Roadmap’ (2010), it’s expected that the percentage of the population speaking state language, by 2020 will reach 95%, in the Russian language will be speaking 90% of the population, and 20% of people will speak English. In fact, the policy of trilingualism will create the conditions for the children to study Russian and English language rather than the Kazakh language. However according to Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan, Erlan Sagadiyev:

Why do we need to develop trilingualism? Today there is no doubt that the future of knowledge, science, information, and the competitive ability of any nation, will depend on the knowledge of the English language. This must start from school. And gradually increase the amount of English language in order to start school subject teaching at the senior school. However we need to understand the most important meaning of the implementation of trilingual education in Kazakhstan – is the total knowledge of the Kazakh language by our population. The priority of the learning the Kazakh language was, is and remains. [11]

It is expected that current reforms probably will slow down usage and development of state language. A shift in language knowledge and usage of it in the workplace and private lives of citizens has taken place over the past decades. Due to historical events, the North Kazakhstan is dominantly Russian-speaking, while South part of the country mainly Kazakh speaking. According to the 2009 census, the urban citizens tend to be linguistically speaking Russian-dominant. The Russian language remains the most widely spoken, with 94.4 % population indicating that they understood spoken Russian and 84.8 % indicating that they can read and write the language. In comparison, 74% reported that they understood spoken Kazakh and 62% reported that they could read and write Kazakh. This is huge numbers for the country where 65.5 % of the population are Kazakhs and 21.5 % are Russians (2014 census) [14]. All these lead to the logical conclusion that the government must take a mission to improve the quality of Kazakh language. Kazakh-medium education needs to be improved and Kazakh people will have to use Kazakh more often in their work and private lives.

In order to pilot the trilingual education in the sector of secondary education in 2007 “Daryn” network of educational institutions for gifted children was created. According to Ministry of education, currently trilingualism “is being successfully implemented in 117 secondary schools”, in 33 “Daryn” specialised schools, 30 Kazakh-Turkish lyceums, 20 Nazarbayev Intellectual schools (NIS).

It’s worth to specifically note that, the Kazakh-Turkish lyceums (Grades 7 to 11), are actively implementing trilingual education. Subjects like Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Computer Science are to be taught through English. Kazakhstan History, Kazakhstan Geography, Physical Education and Military preparations are to be taught through Kazakh. Turkish and Russian are to be taught in language arts classes. These schools are one of the most prestigious and successful in the country. I have graduated from one of Kazakh-Turkish lyceums. Moreover after graduated from university I have experience working there for 2 years as a teacher. The main reason for their success is quality teachers, teaching material and excellent management and leadership skills of school administration. Additionally, apart from English language Turkish is also taught there. The presence of native Turkish teachers also plays a big role in the quality learning of the Turkish language. The next reason is that those lyceums are situated in cities; therefore they have sufficient funding from government and different private sponsors for implementing various projects. Then there is an entry examination to get enrolled in lyceum. There are only 30 lyceums in Kazakhstan, so this makes 1 or 2 lyceums in each city. There are only 2 new classes accepted each year; this means 50 new students per school get a chance to study there. Still, there is a strong competition among students, and mainly excellent and good students get accepted.

The policy makers’ perspective

The general task of the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) is controlling the education system by making policy and legislative decisions in order to improve. The MoES website states that:

The mission of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan:

Development of intellectual potential of the nation, the formation and implementation of state policy in the sphere of education and science, ensuring competitiveness and sustainable socio-economic growth.

Although the primary focus of MoES is nation’s education, it’s undeniable that government is highly aware of the nation as a part of the economic structure of the country.

It is clear that education must be looked at from this point of view since the purpose of education in large part is to protect the economy of the nation. Nevertheless, the economic way of treatment education – paying more importance to money than the intellectual progress of the nation (Ball, 1997, Tikly and Barrett, 2011)

However, there are some people who support changes. One of them professor B.Bekturganova ‘The evidence is that the information in English-language on a global scale is greater than in German, Spanish, Chinese and any other language. To keep up with the latest innovations and developments students must be proficient in English.’

The educators’ perspective

A bottom-up approach works best when new policies, reforms and changes are introduced. Jones, Potter & Ebrahim (2001) also suggest that teachers should be given the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions; this will lead to the creation of shared approach for effective change. Another reason is that majority of teachers are willing to influence the design of quality systems in order to bring meaningful change to themselves and their students as shown in Jones, Potter & Ebrahim (2001).

Knowing and speaking three languages is wonderful skill, but this should not be done at the expense of other important subjects. For example, in rural areas, where the teachers are incredibly insufficient, who teach several subjects, trilingualism might turn to complete disaster.

In my opinion, the first thing that happens after the start of the implementation of educational reforms – teachers will leave schools, who taught all their lives in the same language. There is a doubt that universities will not have time to prepare a sufficient number of specialists who will be able to replace the “old cadres” within three years. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the young teachers will be willing to travel to distant villages and rural areas. Additionally, there is a lack of quality teachers even in cities. More teachers are leaving state schools in order to work for private schools, where the salary is considerably higher. The level of education will deteriorate, due to which the reform had begun. No doubt that trilingual education is a matter of time, and in the near future, it would be probably implemented. It seems current reforms do not fully calculated, and are made for the sake of short-term economic and political interests. If the Ministry of education, in fact, decided to modernise the education system, he would have understood that this would take time for preparation and implementation. Action should be done step by step. Firstly to prepare teachers, secondly the material base and then introducing a “novelty” in one sector, then in another, etc. However, in fact, government frantically trying to implement reforms altogether. Unfortunate teachers do not rest at all and taking language courses to be able to work at school.

For example, Anatoly Mazura Physics, a teacher with 30 years of teaching experience says:

‘Teaching Physics laws and rules in English Terminology is already complicated. Then, I guess I’ll just have to leave a school. Not all children are able to learn in such way. There are, of course, children who can learn material fast, on the other hand, there are children who need more time, and if they all will be taught in English, unlikely that they will understand anything.’

There are a lot of teachers who are in the same situation as Anatoly Mazura. These teachers are thinking seriously about his future career. They need to make a choice: stay in school or to change the profession. Anatoly is not sure that he will be able to learn English in two years and to communicate with students properly, as required by the new educational reform.

Innovations made by Ministry of Education scare not only teachers but also school head teachers. Irina Smirnova said that teacher staff is not able to perfectly speak, write, and also qualitatively explain the subject in English since most of the teachers are of old age.

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The school administration organised compulsory English classes for all teachers. Every teacher must study ten hours of theory and practice of English ten hours per week. Studying grammar and rules take most of their time. In the remaining time, teachers must practice speaking and writing skills.

According to Irina Smirnova – Majlis deputy, ex-principal of the school-lyceum â„- ’48 Almaty, Kazakhstan

‘Tough we have experience in trilingual education through Kazakh-Turkish schools’ and ‘Nazarbayev intellectual schools’. However, nowadays according to state program there are not any English classes for 4th-grade students in secondary schools and only one hour a week at 1,2,3rd grades. It is impossible to learn a language in this situation. If we want students to know three languages, not necessarily mathematics, physics, chemistry should be taught in the English language. It is better simply to teach the language more intense, and maybe one subject which will not affect cognitive abilities of students could be taught in English. The subject “technology” – why not do in English? I think this is a hasty decision that could lead to serious problems.

Although a positive viewpoint on the subject is that Ministry of Education officials know about the level of training of Kazakhstani teachers and therefore prepare to massively retrain teachers all over the country.

According to Minister of Education Erlan Sagadiyev, there are 365,000 school teachers in Kazakhstan. In general 32 000 senior school teachers who know English needed for successful implementation of the reform.

As the Ministry of Education reported, teacher training for the implementation of the program and trilingual education is already being implemented as following:

  • Nazarbayev University will prepare 675 subject teachers (chemistry, physics, biology, computer science);
  • “Nazarbayev Intellectual School” and JSC “Orleu” will prepare 69 teachers through the updated program
  • “KATEV” will teach 18,250 children in summer language camps; 680 subject teachers (chemistry, physics, biology, computer science) 84 teachers from regional specialised school for gifted children; 800 science teachers.

In accordance with ‘State Programme of Education Development’ (2010) teachers who teach science and math in English, is expected to increase to 15% by 2020. (3)

However, rural schools in distant regions of the country will face most problems. Because even physics or chemistry teachers not enough there. In some rural schools, teachers combine two roles of math and physics teachers. According to the Ministry, the solution to this problem is to provide internet access to such schools and retrain teachers by distance learning technologies. The Ministry plans in the next three or four years to provide 90% of Kazakhstani students access to broadband Internet (today it is – 76%). Also, apparently this reform will cost huge money and resources for the government.

The students’ perspective

According to the information-analytical centre and the “Public Opinion” Research Institute, 1055 pupils of 9 and 11 grades (66% from school with the Kazakh language of instruction, 34% – from the Russian language of instruction) participated in the survey. A survey showed that only 15% of students are fluent in English. The vast majority of students (68%) do not want to study computer science, physics, chemistry and biology in English. They believe that they will learn neither English language nor the subjects due to the low quality of education, many of them consider it would be useless for their future work.

It is important to note that students of schools, colleges and universities of the country are already living in a trilingual environment, so for children learning English is not a problem. Fear of studying languages is projected by parents, thus hindering students’ development says officials from Ministry of Education.

In my perspective, I think the choice of the student to study subjects in a foreign language must be voluntary and not compulsory. Parents should have a choice whether they let their children study or not in trilingual school. Subjects in the English language should be taught only in senior schools, and only as an optional. Because today level of English language of secondary school students is not enough to adequately understand the teaching material.

School teachers, who will teach subjects in English, should have an appropriate certificate, for example, TKT, CELTA, CELTYL (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Young Learners), ICELT (In-service Certificate in English Language Teaching). This will mean that teachers completed needed course. Therefore head teachers and more importantly parents will know that subject teacher has qualifications and certification to teach in English.

The Parents’ perspective

Most parents in Kazakhstan still support the introduction of trilingual education in schools. “For” voted 66% of mothers and fathers, while 81% said they want their children to know especially English. The information-analytical centre in cooperation with the “Public Opinion” Research Institute studied parents’ opinion about the transition to a new model of education and the level of students training. 1000 parents (urban – 53.5%, rural – 46.5%) took part in the survey. Researchers found that half of the respondents fully satisfied with the quality of English education in Kazakhstani schools, rest satisfied partially, the negative attitude expressed by 6%. As already mentioned the implementation of trilingual teaching was supported by 66% of parents. A quarter of respondents were against MoES initiative and 9% of parents had problems to answer. Main reasons of their concerns are related to the lack of teachers’ personnel and weak educational – methodological base.

Conclusion

Kazakhstan is steadily changing its educational system towards corresponding to global trends. Educational reforms of Kazakhstan undoubtedly implementing to improve knowledge of students to become competitive in modern world realities. However, there are potential problems which may occur when implementing the reform. The main issues: a lack of teachers who can teach through English, lack of high-quality language learning materials, insufficient level of knowledge of teachers and students in rural areas. There is a general agreement amongst parents that subjects should be taught in the English language, however, some educators believe this is not possible in the current circumstances. In general, there is a concern that after implementation of trilingual education reform, development of state language will probably decrease as students will devote more time for both Russian and English language. The government should pay more attention to the development of intellectual and academic potential of students rather than the political and economic way of treatment education as shown in (Ball (1997), Tikly and Barrett, (2011)). Particularly research of Jones, Potter & Ebrahim (2001) has been useful in providing ideas that educators should be given the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions; this will lead to the creation of shared approach for effective change. A full-scale launch of the trilingual education can be successful if a sufficient number of teachers who could teach in English in rural areas would be trained. One solution could be hiring foreign subject teachers for a long term. This might considerably support the implementation of trilingual education; however, it will cost a lot for the government. Overall, a wide range of work must be done, which requires sufficient human resources, time, effort, and financial investments.

In this essay, I focused on the introduction of trilingual education in Kazakhstan and potential consequences of this reform in different stakeholders’ perspectives. I confirm that this topic should be investigated in more details since it was not possible to cover all the nuances due to resource, time and word limit constraints. The future research appears to be needed in the field of leadership and management of trilingual education in Kazakhstan.

References

Baimanov, D. (2016) ‘Astana is experiencing the shortage of teachers and educators’ [online] Available at: http://dknews.kz/nehvatku-uchitelej-i-vospitatelej-ispy-ty-vaet-astana/ [Accessed 13 January 2017]

Ball, S. J. (1997) Policy Sociology and Critical Social Research: A Personal Review of Recent Education Policy and Policy Research, British Educational Research Journal, 23, 3, pp.257-274.

Bekturganova, B. (2016) ‘We are responsible for our children’s future’ [online] Available at: http://www.inform.kz/ru/b-bekturganova-o-reforme-obrazovaniya-v-rk-my-otvetstvenny-za-buduschee-nashih-detey_a2892951 [Accessed 13 January 2017]

Bridges, D (2014) ‘Educational Reforms and Internationalisation: the case of School Reform in Kazakhstan’, Cambridge University Press.

Jones, Potter and Ebrahim (2001) Managing Curriculum Change in Schools, ERIC p20

Kapital. (2016) ‘66% of parents for the three languages in schools’ [online] Available at: https://kapital.kz/gosudarstvo/50391/za-trehyazychie-v-shkolah-66-roditelej.html [Accessed 14 January 2017]

Kuchma, V. (2016) Reward and punishment of the Ministry of Education (Why the extension of the school year being criticised?) [online] Available at: https://kapital.kz/gosudarstvo/49389/knut-i-pryanik-ministerstva-obrazovaniya-rk.html [Accessed 13 January 2017]

Kuchma, V. (2016) ‘Big change in Kazakhstan’s schools’ [online] Available at: https://kapital.kz/gosudarstvo/49775/bolshaya-peremena-v-shkolah-kazahstana.html [Accessed 13 January 2017]

Nazarbayev, N. (2007) Address of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, to the People of Kazakhstan. [online] Available at: http://www.akorda.kz/ru/addresses/addresses_of_president/poslanie-prezidenta-respubliki-kazahstan-nnazarbaeva-narodu-kazahstana-28-fevralya-2007-g [Accessed 18 January 2017]

Nazarbayev, N. (2012) Address by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Leader of the Nation, “Strategy Kazakhstan-2050″: new political course of the established state” [online] Available at: http://www.akorda.kz/en/events/astana_kazakhstan/participation_in_events/address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-kazakhstan-leader-of-the-nation-nnazarbayev-strategy-kazakhstan-2050-new-political-course-of-the-established-state-1 [Accessed 14 January 2017]

Sagadiev, E. (2016) ‘The meaning of the introduction of trilingualism in Kazakhstan – the total knowledge of the Kazakh language by population’ [online] Available at: http://www.inform.kz/ru/erlan-sagadiev-smysl-vnedreniya-treh-yazychiya-v-kazahstane-total-noe-znanie-kazahskogo-yazyka-naseleniem_a2897529 [Accessed 13 January 2017]

Smith & Sandvik (2012) ‘Four Global Trends in Education (And Why They Matter)’ in MetaMetrics.

The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan(2010) State Program of Education Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020. [online] Available at: https://kaznmu.kz/eng/state-program-of-education-development-in-the-republic-of-kazakhstan/ [Accessed 18 January 2017]

The Ministry of national economy and of the Republic of Kazakhstan Committee on statistics (2014) [online] ‘The official statistical information’ Available at: http://www.stat.gov.kz/faces/wcnav_externalId/publBullS14-2014?_adf.ctrl-state=17nhn6hpxp_4&_afrLoop=14098389396800612#%40%3F_afrLoop%3D14098389396800612%26_adf.ctrl-state%3Dere6z4bhw_9 [Accessed 13 January 2017]

Tikly, L. & Barrett, A. (2011) Social Justice, Capabilities and the Quality of Education in Low-Income Countries, International Journal of Educational Development.

University of Cambridge (2017) ‘Kazakhstan Programme’ [online] Available at: https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/centres/kazakhstan/ [Accessed 13 January 2017]

Identify any ONE education reform policy/measure recently adopted by a Ministry of Education that you are familiar with, critically examine how different stakeholders have tried to shape this education policy and how the change has been introduced. Analyse and evaluate the selected education reform policy/measure in light of the literature you have read.

Introduction

In Kazakhstan, as in many other countries, education is highly influenced and controlled by the state education policy-makers. Tensions and difficulties arise within various stakeholders due to new policies and reforms adopted by Ministry of Education. This paper aims to analyse potential issues related to one of the new adopted reforms, namely trilingual education in schools. In this essay I will discuss how this reform was introduced by government. Intentions and strategic plans expressed through education system will be also analysed. Then perspectives of various stakeholders regarding trilingualism are discussed, drawing on data from different case studies and interviews. This topic might be important because of its novelty and scope in nowadays realities, where governments around the world try to apply different reforms to correspond with global trends. I would like to focus on this topic in order to examine potential outcomes and consequences for the future education of Kazakhstan. I will also compare and take into account my own experience since I studied and worked in a multilingual school.

Introduction of the Trilingualism in Kazakhstan

‘What is the ideal model of education system?’ There is no simple answer to this question in the international professional community. In 2016, Kazakhstan celebrates the 25th anniversary of independence. Kazakhstan is actively integrating into the global community; where a fierce competition of economy, technology, education systems and etc. take place. Consequently education reforms should be done according to global mainstream.

Nowadays, two trends are becoming more popular among the global education systems: (Smith & Sandvik (2012))

  1. The rapid development of information and communication technology education (e-learning, smart training, etc.)
  2. Improving the educational level of the population, primarily due to the expansion of access to education.

Moreover, the education reforms carried out by developed countries can be divided into four main blocks:

  • Education system management
  • Lifelong learning
  • The content of education and ensuring its quality
  • The development of vocational education system

Analysis of Kazakhstan’s educational policies in the framework of the State program of development (2010) shows five changes in the education system:

  1. Expansion of pre-school provision
  2. Implementing trilingual education in schools.
  3. E-Learning
  4. Developing pedagogy through the Centres of Excellence programme
  5. Extension of secondary education to 12 years of schooling

According to this reform, from the 2019 year science lessons will be taught in the English language. In this section, I will discuss how this debatable and controversial reform was introduced by the government.

Ongoing reforms in the education sector of the Republic Kazakhstan provide a number of initiatives, including the introduction of the trilingual education system at all levels of education, which aims to shape the future generation, fluent in Kazakh, Russian and English languages. While this reform might seem positive and meaningful, indeed due to several reasons as a time to implement the change and teacher training thus makes schools and management team struggle in the successful implementation of this reform.

The objectives of language policy of the modern Kazakhstan reflects in the address of President of Republic of Kazakhstan, N. Nazarbayev, “Kazakhstan in the new world” (2007), in which the framework of competitiveness of country and its citizens, proposed phased implementation of the cultural project called “The unity of three languages”, aimed to the development of three Languages: Kazakh as the state language, Russian as the language of international communication and English as the language of successful integration into the global economy.

And worth to note that, the University of Cambridge became a strategic partner of Kazakhstan in this education reform process. (10) Wilson, Reform at Scale: Teacher Development in Kazakhstan (2013). There has been created ‘Kazakhstan Programme’ by the cooperation of Kazakh and English educators.

The university of Cambridge, the faculty of education website states:

The University of Cambridge Faculty of Education supports an ambitious and far-reaching programme of educational reform in Kazakhstan through training, research and consultancy all designed to build local capacity. [15]

In accordance with the State program of development Education of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020 (2010), the English language should be studied not only as a foreign language but also be used as the language of instruction at all levels of education.

Starting from September of 2016 elementary schools must implement some changes. For instance, first-grade students will be taught English in a very accessible and entertaining way. Major innovations await children and their parents from 1 September 2019 in all schools, regardless of the language of education, history of Kazakhstan will be taught in the Kazakh language, and world history – in Russian. In the 2019-2020 academic years, the 10-11-graders will be conduct four subjects in English – chemistry, physics, biology and Computer Sciences. Learning the terminology in English on subjects like “Computer Sciences” and “Natural Science” for students of 5 and 6 grades will begin in 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years respectively. Due to large-scale implementation of trilingual education, there is an urgent need for teachers who can teach their subject in the English language. This problem requires special attention since the English language is not widely used in everyday communication, unlike Kazakh and Russian languages. And this is in line with Ball (1997) who states, policymakers expect that teachers are familiar and be able to successfully implement changes; also individual policy-makers do not normally take into account complexity of the environment where changes intended for.

The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan (MoES) is currently developing the Roadmap development and implementation of trilingual education.

According to ‘State Programme of Education Development for 2011-2020’ and ‘Roadmap’ (2010), it’s expected that the percentage of the population speaking state language, by 2020 will reach 95%, in the Russian language will be speaking 90% of the population, and 20% of people will speak English. In fact, the policy of trilingualism will create the conditions for the children to study Russian and English language rather than the Kazakh language. However according to Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan, Erlan Sagadiyev:

Why do we need to develop trilingualism? Today there is no doubt that the future of knowledge, science, information, and the competitive ability of any nation, will depend on the knowledge of the English language. This must start from school. And gradually increase the amount of English language in order to start school subject teaching at the senior school. However we need to understand the most important meaning of the implementation of trilingual education in Kazakhstan – is the total knowledge of the Kazakh language by our population. The priority of the learning the Kazakh language was, is and remains. [11]

It is expected that current reforms probably will slow down usage and development of state language. A shift in language knowledge and usage of it in the workplace and private lives of citizens has taken place over the past decades. Due to historical events, the North Kazakhstan is dominantly Russian-speaking, while South part of the country mainly Kazakh speaking. According to the 2009 census, the urban citizens tend to be linguistically speaking Russian-dominant. The Russian language remains the most widely spoken, with 94.4 % population indicating that they understood spoken Russian and 84.8 % indicating that they can read and write the language. In comparison, 74% reported that they understood spoken Kazakh and 62% reported that they could read and write Kazakh. This is huge numbers for the country where 65.5 % of the population are Kazakhs and 21.5 % are Russians (2014 census) [14]. All these lead to the logical conclusion that the government must take a mission to improve the quality of Kazakh language. Kazakh-medium education needs to be improved and Kazakh people will have to use Kazakh more often in their work and private lives.

In order to pilot the trilingual education in the sector of secondary education in 2007 “Daryn” network of educational institutions for gifted children was created. According to Ministry of education, currently trilingualism “is being successfully implemented in 117 secondary schools”, in 33 “Daryn” specialised schools, 30 Kazakh-Turkish lyceums, 20 Nazarbayev Intellectual schools (NIS).

It’s worth to specifically note that, the Kazakh-Turkish lyceums (Grades 7 to 11), are actively implementing trilingual education. Subjects like Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Computer Science are to be taught through English. Kazakhstan History, Kazakhstan Geography, Physical Education and Military preparations are to be taught through Kazakh. Turkish and Russian are to be taught in language arts classes. These schools are one of the most prestigious and successful in the country. I have graduated from one of Kazakh-Turkish lyceums. Moreover after graduated from university I have experience working there for 2 years as a teacher. The main reason for their success is quality teachers, teaching material and excellent management and leadership skills of school administration. Additionally, apart from English language Turkish is also taught there. The presence of native Turkish teachers also plays a big role in the quality learning of the Turkish language. The next reason is that those lyceums are situated in cities; therefore they have sufficient funding from government and different private sponsors for implementing various projects. Then there is an entry examination to get enrolled in lyceum. There are only 30 lyceums in Kazakhstan, so this makes 1 or 2 lyceums in each city. There are only 2 new classes accepted each year; this means 50 new students per school get a chance to study there. Still, there is a strong competition among students, and mainly excellent and good students get accepted.

The policy makers’ perspective

The general task of the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) is controlling the education system by making policy and legislative decisions in order to improve. The MoES website states that:

The mission of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan:

Development of intellectual potential of the nation, the formation and implementation of state policy in the sphere of education and science, ensuring competitiveness and sustainable socio-economic growth.

Although the primary focus of MoES is nation’s education, it’s undeniable that government is highly aware of the nation as a part of the economic structure of the country.

It is clear that education must be looked at from this point of view since the purpose of education in large part is to protect the economy of the nation. Nevertheless, the economic way of treatment education – paying more importance to money than the intellectual progress of the nation (Ball, 1997, Tikly and Barrett, 2011)

However, there are some people who support changes. One of them professor B.Bekturganova ‘The evidence is that the information in English-language on a global scale is greater than in German, Spanish, Chinese and any other language. To keep up with the latest innovations and developments students must be proficient in English.’

The educators’ perspective

A bottom-up approach works best when new policies, reforms and changes are introduced. Jones, Potter & Ebrahim (2001) also suggest that teachers should be given the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions; this will lead to the creation of shared approach for effective change. Another reason is that majority of teachers are willing to influence the design of quality systems in order to bring meaningful change to themselves and their students as shown in Jones, Potter & Ebrahim (2001).

Knowing and speaking three languages is wonderful skill, but this should not be done at the expense of other important subjects. For example, in rural areas, where the teachers are incredibly insufficient, who teach several subjects, trilingualism might turn to complete disaster.

In my opinion, the first thing that happens after the start of the implementation of educational reforms – teachers will leave schools, who taught all their lives in the same language. There is a doubt that universities will not have time to prepare a sufficient number of specialists who will be able to replace the “old cadres” within three years. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the young teachers will be willing to travel to distant villages and rural areas. Additionally, there is a lack of quality teachers even in cities. More teachers are leaving state schools in order to work for private schools, where the salary is considerably higher. The level of education will deteriorate, due to which the reform had begun. No doubt that trilingual education is a matter of time, and in the near future, it would be probably implemented. It seems current reforms do not fully calculated, and are made for the sake of short-term economic and political interests. If the Ministry of education, in fact, decided to modernise the education system, he would have understood that this would take time for preparation and implementation. Action should be done step by step. Firstly to prepare teachers, secondly the material base and then introducing a “novelty” in one sector, then in another, etc. However, in fact, government frantically trying to implement reforms altogether. Unfortunate teachers do not rest at all and taking language courses to be able to work at school.

For example, Anatoly Mazura Physics, a teacher with 30 years of teaching experience says:

‘Teaching Physics laws and rules in English Terminology is already complicated. Then, I guess I’ll just have to leave a school. Not all children are able to learn in such way. There are, of course, children who can learn material fast, on the other hand, there are children who need more time, and if they all will be taught in English, unlikely that they will understand anything.’

There are a lot of teachers who are in the same situation as Anatoly Mazura. These teachers are thinking seriously about his future career. They need to make a choice: stay in school or to change the profession. Anatoly is not sure that he will be able to learn English in two years and to communicate with students properly, as required by the new educational reform.

Innovations made by Ministry of Education scare not only teachers but also school head teachers. Irina Smirnova said that teacher staff is not able to perfectly speak, write, and also qualitatively explain the subject in English since most of the teachers are of old age.

The school administration organised compulsory English classes for all teachers. Every teacher must study ten hours of theory and practice of English ten hours per week. Studying grammar and rules take most of their time. In the remaining time, teachers must practice speaking and writing skills.

According to Irina Smirnova – Majlis deputy, ex-principal of the school-lyceum â„- ’48 Almaty, Kazakhstan

‘Tough we have experience in trilingual education through Kazakh-Turkish schools’ and ‘Nazarbayev intellectual schools’. However, nowadays according to state program there are not any English classes for 4th-grade students in secondary schools and only one hour a week at 1,2,3rd grades. It is impossible to learn a language in this situation. If we want students to know three languages, not necessarily mathematics, physics, chemistry should be taught in the English language. It is better simply to teach the language more intense, and maybe one subject which will not affect cognitive abilities of students could be taught in English. The subject “technology” – why not do in English? I think this is a hasty decision that could lead to serious problems.

Although a positive viewpoint on the subject is that Ministry of Education officials know about the level of training of Kazakhstani teachers and therefore prepare to massively retrain teachers all over the country.

According to Minister of Education Erlan Sagadiyev, there are 365,000 school teachers in Kazakhstan. In general 32 000 senior school teachers who know English needed for successful implementation of the reform.

As the Ministry of Education reported, teacher training for the implementation of the program and trilingual education is already being implemented as following:

  • Nazarbayev University will prepare 675 subject teachers (chemistry, physics, biology, computer science);
  • “Nazarbayev Intellectual School” and JSC “Orleu” will prepare 69 teachers through the updated program
  • “KATEV” will teach 18,250 children in summer language camps; 680 subject teachers (chemistry, physics, biology, computer science) 84 teachers from regional specialised school for gifted children; 800 science teachers.

In accordance with ‘State Programme of Education Development’ (2010) teachers who teach science and math in English, is expected to increase to 15% by 2020. (3)

However, rural schools in distant regions of the country will face most problems. Because even physics or chemistry teachers not enough there. In some rural schools, teachers combine two roles of math and physics teachers. According to the Ministry, the solution to this problem is to provide internet access to such schools and retrain teachers by distance learning technologies. The Ministry plans in the next three or four years to provide 90% of Kazakhstani students access to broadband Internet (today it is – 76%). Also, apparently this reform will cost huge money and resources for the government.

The students’ perspective

According to the information-analytical centre and the “Public Opinion” Research Institute, 1055 pupils of 9 and 11 grades (66% from school with the Kazakh language of instruction, 34% – from the Russian language of instruction) participated in the survey. A survey showed that only 15% of students are fluent in English. The vast majority of students (68%) do not want to study computer science, physics, chemistry and biology in English. They believe that they will learn neither English language nor the subjects due to the low quality of education, many of them consider it would be useless for their future work.

It is important to note that students of schools, colleges and universities of the country are already living in a trilingual environment, so for children learning English is not a problem. Fear of studying languages is projected by parents, thus hindering students’ development says officials from Ministry of Education.

In my perspective, I think the choice of the student to study subjects in a foreign language must be voluntary and not compulsory. Parents should have a choice whether they let their children study or not in trilingual school. Subjects in the English language should be taught only in senior schools, and only as an optional. Because today level of English language of secondary school students is not enough to adequately understand the teaching material.

School teachers, who will teach subjects in English, should have an appropriate certificate, for example, TKT, CELTA, CELTYL (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Young Learners), ICELT (In-service Certificate in English Language Teaching). This will mean that teachers completed needed course. Therefore head teachers and more importantly parents will know that subject teacher has qualifications and certification to teach in English.

The Parents’ perspective

Most parents in Kazakhstan still support the introduction of trilingual education in schools. “For” voted 66% of mothers and fathers, while 81% said they want their children to know especially English. The information-analytical centre in cooperation with the “Public Opinion” Research Institute studied parents’ opinion about the transition to a new model of education and the level of students training. 1000 parents (urban – 53.5%, rural – 46.5%) took part in the survey. Researchers found that half of the respondents fully satisfied with the quality of English education in Kazakhstani schools, rest satisfied partially, the negative attitude expressed by 6%. As already mentioned the implementation of trilingual teaching was supported by 66% of parents. A quarter of respondents were against MoES initiative and 9% of parents had problems to answer. Main reasons of their concerns are related to the lack of teachers’ personnel and weak educational – methodological base.

Conclusion

Kazakhstan is steadily changing its educational system towards corresponding to global trends. Educational reforms of Kazakhstan undoubtedly implementing to improve knowledge of students to become competitive in modern world realities. However, there are potential problems which may occur when implementing the reform. The main issues: a lack of teachers who can teach through English, lack of high-quality language learning materials, insufficient level of knowledge of teachers and students in rural areas. There is a general agreement amongst parents that subjects should be taught in the English language, however, some educators believe this is not possible in the current circumstances. In general, there is a concern that after implementation of trilingual education reform, development of state language will probably decrease as students will devote more time for both Russian and English language. The government should pay more attention to the development of intellectual and academic potential of students rather than the political and economic way of treatment education as shown in (Ball (1997), Tikly and Barrett, (2011)). Particularly research of Jones, Potter & Ebrahim (2001) has been useful in providing ideas that educators should be given the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions; this will lead to the creation of shared approach for effective change. A full-scale launch of the trilingual education can be successful if a sufficient number of teachers who could teach in English in rural areas would be trained. One solution could be hiring foreign subject teachers for a long term. This might considerably support the implementation of trilingual education; however, it will cost a lot for the government. Overall, a wide range of work must be done, which requires sufficient human resources, time, effort, and financial investments.

In this essay, I focused on the introduction of trilingual education in Kazakhstan and potential consequences of this reform in different stakeholders’ perspectives. I confirm that this topic should be investigated in more details since it was not possible to cover all the nuances due to resource, time and word limit constraints. The future research appears to be needed in the field of leadership and management of trilingual education in Kazakhstan.

References

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Ball, S. J. (1997) Policy Sociology and Critical Social Research: A Personal Review of Recent Education Policy and Policy Research, British Educational Research Journal, 23, 3, pp.257-274.

Bekturganova, B. (2016) ‘We are responsible for our children’s future’ [online] Available at: http://www.inform.kz/ru/b-bekturganova-o-reforme-obrazovaniya-v-rk-my-otvetstvenny-za-buduschee-nashih-detey_a2892951 [Accessed 13 January 2017]

Bridges, D (2014) ‘Educational Reforms and Internationalisation: the case of School Reform in Kazakhstan’, Cambridge University Press.

Jones, Potter and Ebrahim (2001) Managing Curriculum Change in Schools, ERIC p20

Kapital. (2016) ‘66% of parents for the three languages in schools’ [online] Available at: https://kapital.kz/gosudarstvo/50391/za-trehyazychie-v-shkolah-66-roditelej.html [Accessed 14 January 2017]

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Kuchma, V. (2016) ‘Big change in Kazakhstan’s schools’ [online] Available at: https://kapital.kz/gosudarstvo/49775/bolshaya-peremena-v-shkolah-kazahstana.html [Accessed 13 January 2017]

Nazarbayev, N. (2007) Address of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, to the People of Kazakhstan. [online] Available at: http://www.akorda.kz/ru/addresses/addresses_of_president/poslanie-prezidenta-respubliki-kazahstan-nnazarbaeva-narodu-kazahstana-28-fevralya-2007-g [Accessed 18 January 2017]

Nazarbayev, N. (2012) Address by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Leader of the Nation, “Strategy Kazakhstan-2050″: new political course of the established state” [online] Available at: http://www.akorda.kz/en/events/astana_kazakhstan/participation_in_events/address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-kazakhstan-leader-of-the-nation-nnazarbayev-strategy-kazakhstan-2050-new-political-course-of-the-established-state-1 [Accessed 14 January 2017]

Sagadiev, E. (2016) ‘The meaning of the introduction of trilingualism in Kazakhstan – the total knowledge of the Kazakh language by population’ [online] Available at: http://www.inform.kz/ru/erlan-sagadiev-smysl-vnedreniya-treh-yazychiya-v-kazahstane-total-noe-znanie-kazahskogo-yazyka-naseleniem_a2897529 [Accessed 13 January 2017]

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The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan(2010) State Program of Education Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020. [online] Available at: https://kaznmu.kz/eng/state-program-of-education-development-in-the-republic-of-kazakhstan/ [Accessed 18 January 2017]

The Ministry of national economy and of the Republic of Kazakhstan Committee on statistics (2014) [online] ‘The official statistical information’ Available at: http://www.stat.gov.kz/faces/wcnav_externalId/publBullS14-2014?_adf.ctrl-state=17nhn6hpxp_4&_afrLoop=14098389396800612#%40%3F_afrLoop%3D14098389396800612%26_adf.ctrl-state%3Dere6z4bhw_9 [Accessed 13 January 2017]

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