Lack of technicians and workers in Kazakhstan

PHOTO: personal file

Dauren Kaupynbaev

Recall that initially the President of the country announced that he intended to reform the Bolashak program and “put education on a technical path”, then representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan spoke of “restarting” the domestic education system.

Steps such as increasing the number of scholarships for technical specialties from 40 to 60% (from 20,000 to 30) and the inclusion of some Russian technical universities in the Bolashak catalogs have raised many questions in the public.

Which specialists are missing in the country? How should we start the transition of our educational system to the “technical rails”? What should be the role of the state in such a restructuring?

An education expert, founder of the largest network of private schools in Kazakhstan Tamos Education Dauren Kaupynbaev shared his view on the problem of lack of “technicians” in the country.

Waiting for the result …

Dauren, in your opinion, exists Access to good secondary education in Kazakhstan, including technology?

– I would say that in recent years, the polarity of access to quality education has increased significantly, in the context of the existence of such privileged forms as NIS, the opening of Binom schools (experimental public schools in Nur-Sultan, created in PPP format- F) and, conversely, a reduction in remote MKSHs (small schools) in rural areas. In my opinion, it is nonsense to develop a sample of individual schools at the expense of everyone else. The same NIS system was supposed to act as a flagship to pull all of secondary education forward, but it turned out the other way around.

I myself graduated from RFMS once, but for all its productivity, it was an artificially created “sieve” where children went through a double or even triple choice – the cream had already squeezed out of the cream. In this respect, I am closer to approaching those countries that are developing secondary education more uniformly. In the same America or Finland, there is a complete lack of difference between public and private schools – even for the professional look. There is no difference either in infrastructure, or in educational opportunities, or in teaching staff.

It should not be that if you were born in Nur-Sultan, then in advance, from the fact of birth, you can study in Binom, and if you are in Tyulkubas or Narynkol, then go to the toilet on the street, in a school with cracks on the ceiling and unskilled teachers. This is the worst we can leave to our children as a legacy.

If there are problems with infrastructure, maybe it is worth starting from a young age? Why do we need ambitious goals?

– There is a peculiarity of the country – and everyone understands it. Huge geographical distances, the irreversible force of urbanization, the centripetal attraction of cities. We have a strong outflow of population from rural areas. And paradoxically, the pandemic and quarantine have somehow benefited countries like ours: under normal circumstances, we would have gone another 20 years at the level of digitizing education we have now. And so in just a year and a half, we made an incredible technological leap. Thanks to the fiber optics installed at the time, the possibility of distance education appeared in almost 96% of the territory of Kazakhstan. And with such a rapid move towards online education, we, as a geographically vast country with a low level of local staff, need to develop hybrid, blended learning. This is an opportunity to seize.

What does hybrid learning mean?

– It is even more likely for a combined form – when some of the students are studying live with the teacher and some have been geographically removed from the classroom. This gives you incredible flexibility in learning.

However, not all schools coped with remote work, many returned to normal.

– Yes, but with a good attitude of the teachers and conscious cognitive learning of the children, the internet form is tomorrow, where we “look” thanks to the pandemic.

School as a weak link

Representatives of what specific specialties are we missing today?

We need all the work specialties, technologists, technicians and IT (without exception) but this market is quite limited). Builders, masons, carpenters, electricians, welders – we have very few specialists needed in production. This is the misfortune of the whole country, in which the mentality is imposed – we do not want to work with our hands. We have been talking about dual education for a long time, it is time to create it in practice.

When it comes to technical training, where to start, in the inyour appearance?

– In this respect, the weakest link is still high school – it does not deliver children as before. For example, 30 years ago, any secondary school in Almaty provided a good, uniform level of mathematical preparation. Now, against the background of complexity and gadgets, the lack of qualifications of the teachers themselves, mathematics suffers in the first place. The result is that one does not go into techniques, and much more work specialties. Of the grants awarded, only 10% is won – in 2020, only one applicant applied for 10 grants for technical specialties.

If there is such a deficit, then why do we need an additional 10,000 grants?

– This is a disaster that will have to be corrected in the next 20-30 years. The fact that a reference point for the technical specialties has now been announced is correct. But to solve the problem, it is necessary, firstly, to create equal educational opportunities for all children (with the help of new technologies, combined education in distance and small schools) and secondly, to change the TEC system (secondary specialization education – F)

Change in which direction?

– This system is completely outdated. First of all because of educational programs. According to NCE Atameken, in more than 180 college specialties in Kazakhstan, students can be trained not for 2-3 years, but for 3-6 months. I think that in the future the TEK system will be overcome, there will be certification centers that will train people in a short time and with better quality.

Recently MES PK decreasedabout list of qualifications for distance education in colleges. It will now be possible to study in absentia only in 53 specialties.

– I think this is the right measure, but we need to go further. I would leave only work specialties at TVE, not economics or humanities.

The market will fix everything

Increasingly, you can hear that foreign private universities are entering Kazakhstan. Often the state itself contributes to this. For example, a number of Russian technical universities were recently included in Bolashқ“, This fed the rumors of lobbying in their interests…

– It’s a lobby or a hasty decision, it does not matter. It is important that our children stay in the country. Like I said, now we really do not have such a need (candidates do not go to technical specialties – F), so far our market predicts itself. In addition, there are Polish and Italian technical universities that are ready to accept our graduates for free. In general, the demand for such children is always high, because there are few technically and mathematically gifted children. The market should not be subject to artificial barriers or, conversely, to preferences. Today, the same Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) can log in and graduate in combination or online. The problem of lack of technical specialists is not in the universities – they are private, flexible and ready to fulfill any mandate of the state. We have to start with schools. By the way, we are also opening experimental departments in the field of physics and technology.

What are the challenges facing education in Kazakhstan today?

– Over time, the proportion of Kazakhstan audience in Kazakhstan will increase to 9: 1, our grandchildren will definitely study in Kazakhstan. You already need to learn how to prepare high quality, live Kazakh content. Then no foreign private school will be able to compete with you, so they need a presence or a strong partner in Kazakhstan. As an example, I can give a case from Ukraine, which has become a champion in e-learning for 4 years, because it made high-quality content in Ukrainian.

How can the state contribute to the strengthening of the technical direction and the training of the technicians?

– I see only two steps that are necessary on the part of the state. The first is to recognize distance and online learning and equate it with traditional education. The second is to give vocational education and generally what is possible (except for primary and general education schools) to individuals. Set up and control the private traders only at the exit, and then everyone will run from point A to point B in their own way. And then efficiency will increase by 2-3 times, due to healthy competition, price will fall, due to technology and online form, private traders will be able to educate more children, quality will increase and the state will not have to additional schools are built. The market itself will regulate everything.

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