Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, UK
This article aims to discuss education and effectiveness of higher education in Kazakhstan in the changing world. The idea that education of high quality can provide stability in the economy and social life of a country is presented. The effectiveness of higher educational institutions can be evaluated by the ability to educate high qualified specialists. Therefore, it addresses the role of tertiary education and some problems with the teaching profession in Kazakhstan.
Keywords: Kazakhstan higher education, effectiveness of higher education, teaching profession
Introduction In the new global world, education has become a central issue for discussion. The Asian Development Bank’s policy and strategies paper (2002: 1) states that education is a ‘prerequisite for development’. The Republic of Kazakhstan also shares the idea that education of high quality can provide stability in the economy and social life of a country by helping to advance ‘human potential’ (MDG 2007: 23) and improving its competitiveness. Education is a long process that provides basic skills and is essential in shaping our future lives, as Dewey (2004: 2) clearly points out: ‘education is the means of social continuity of life’. To be highly qualified means to have completed higher education, however, an important question is what kind of educational organisation an individual has graduated from.
In the previous paragraph attention has been drawn to a set of opinions about education and what education means in our society. At this point, consideration will be made in more detail of how the points of view above relate to the subject of this paper, namely what quality of higher education institutions means, as quality is the key point in the effectiveness of higher education institutions. After that, the role of tertiary education and problems with the teaching profession in Kazakhstan will be discussed. Finally, a conclusion on the topic will be presented.
Quality of higher education institutions Quality and efficiency are perceived as the level and volume of educational product provided according to expectations of the market and society at a certain stage of development and with the real capability of a graduate to compete both within the country and abroad (MDG 2007: 26).
In the World Conference Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century: vision and action, the following main mission of higher education is stated:
… to educate highly qualified graduates and responsible citizens able to meet the needs of all sectors of human activity, by offering relevant qualifications, including professional training, which combine high-level knowledge and skills, using courses and content continually tailored to the present and future needs of society (UNESCO 1998: 21).
By achieving the above mentioned expectations higher education institutions can become effective organisations, as the quality of education is evaluated to the degree of an education organisation’s ability to achieve the main goals of a changing world.
It is widely known that the effectiveness of higher education institutions include their quality, for it is considered to be the main factor of economic and social development of a society. However, as Bloom and Rosovsky (2001) point out the quality of tertiary education has not classically been the main area for many international agendas, and the World Bank is not an exception. There is an increase in concern that some areas of education, like pre-primary, secondary and tertiary are being disadvantaged as all international agendas concentrate on the improvement of primary education. ‘Countries need primary, secondary and tertiary education. All three are vital to human, social, and economic development and all three are in the public interest’ (Bloom and Rosovsky 2001: 253-254). Therefore, higher education institutions also need to be prioritised as they are the basic social institutions of a society. Hansen and Lehmann (2006) make similarly point that there is a strong link between quality in primary, secondary and higher education systems:
Universities educate decision-makers of tomorrow in both public and private sectors. To do this they are dependent on a bottom up supply of students and the national primary and secondary education systems must be maintained and tuned accordingly (p. 822).
The Republic of Kazakhstan made steps towards decentralisation its existing control mechanisms and gave academic freedom to higher education institutions to improve the quality of higher education (OECD 2007). It is believed that above mentioned steps will help to advance the country`s higher education institutions towards the developed world`s level:
Without adequate higher education and research institutions providing a critical mass of skilled and educated people, no country can ensure genuine endogenous and sustainable development (Stephens 2009: 16).
It can be seen that quality and effectiveness of higher education institutions are important issues in a global world. The effectiveness of higher educational institutions can be evaluated by the ability to educate high qualified specialists; therefore, the next section will now discuss the role of tertiary education and problems with the teaching profession in Kazakhstan.
The role of tertiary education and problems with the teaching profession in Kazakhstan It has been argued that by looking at the quality of teaching the power of a country`s educational system can be seen (Thomson and Crossley 2000). Preparation of teachers for future profession is a special topic affecting economic, demographic and political problems (Porter 1996). It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the importance of higher education in the preparation of teachers. Unlike the UK, in Kazakhstan the right to prepare teachers is the responsibility of higher education.
One of the main aims of higher education is to educate competent teachers, with great subject knowledge, an ability to think critically, open to activities and flexible to changes in the world.
In a world undergoing rapid changes, there is a perceived need for a new vision and paradigm of higher education, which should be student-oriented, calling in most countries for in-depth reforms and an open access policy so as to cater for ever more diversified categories of people, and of its contents, methods, practices and means of delivery, based on new types of links and partnerships with the community and with the broadest sectors of society (UNESCO 1998: 24).
The role of an educational organisation with its active methods of teaching is the important one, as the efficiency in formation of professional competence of teachers mostly depends on an educational context, pedagogical approaches and conditions of educational process of higher education organisations. For the aim of achievement of educating competent teachers educational institutions should organise an educational environment that will supply transition from cognitive types of activities to professional ones.
Countries can benefit by providing high quality education to their citizens. In this process the role of teachers is an important. Kazakhstan faces some potential labour shortages in teaching, especially at school level, so the Ministry of Education and Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan (MoES) has made an effort to provide more government scholarships to teaching professions. However, students going to the teaching profession choose it not because of eagerness to become a competent teacher, but just to get free higher education, as the competitiveness in the teaching profession is lower. In other words, there is a greater chance to get higher education free of charge. Consequently, the country tends to end up with graduate teachers, who are not willing to teach.
Chapman et al. (2005: 523) argue that in Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan included, ‘the inadequate level of teacher compensation is recognized by educators and government’. They further claim that individuals with high ability are discouraged from entering or remaining in the field as teachers because of low salary. This is still the main discouragement factor from becoming a teacher in Kazakhstan.
In order to reduce the problem the Government has made major emphasis on the status of teachers. In 2010 the MoES constructed a new State Education Development Programme for 2011-2020 (MoES 2010) where the increase in prestige of the teachers’ profession is targeted. The key aims are to provide the country with high quality specialists and to improve the state support for the work of pedagogical staff. As in the UK (School Teachers’ Pay and Condition Document 2003), in Kazakhstan teachers are paid according to their numbers of years in profession (UNESCO 2008). The new programme (MoES 2010) states that a new model of payment will be introduced. It is believed that the realisation of these aims can improve the effectiveness of the HE system and to improve its quality.
Conclusion To conclude, it is important to stress that analysing effective educational organisations is a complex issue. Higher education should be able to respond to the needs of individuals and whole societies, and today`s globalised world demands educational institutions to be flexible to all chances. Effective educational organisations should be managed from where new teachers with intent to work as a teacher will graduate. By reducing workload and paperwork, raising teaching salaries by making it more competitive with private sectors salaries and providing better carrier opportunities it can be possible to make teaching profession prestigious as stated in the new state development programme.
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