The NUWG is a blog for English language writing at Nazarbayev University, created by the Graduate School of Education. Check out the How to Participate and the Blogging Guidelines pages to get started!NUWG Logo colorGuild: n. /ɡild/
1) an association of people for mutual aid or the pursuit of a common goal.
2) a medieval association of craftsmen or merchants, often having considerable power.


The impact of globalization on “brain drain” in developing countries (deconstruction)

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      The scholars from one of the Kazakhstani universities Zhatkanbaeva, A., Zhatkanbaeva, J., and Zhatkanbaev, E. (2012) published their analysis of brain drain with the title “The impact of globalization on “brain drain” in developing countries”. They claim that brain drain causes complication to the developing countries asserting that “the problem of “brain drain” is considered as a threat to national security” (p. 1490). To solve it, they suggest some recommendations as to recognize brain drain as a problem and reform the educational system. I appreciate that scholars have their recommendations on solving this controversial issue, despite the lack of supporting details and justifications for their claim. Seems that their thesis statement is not clearly structured in the introduction which consists of three paragraphs with separate ideas that resulted in the loss of the main idea. Moreover, the lack of roadmap made the article even vague.

          While reading it for the first time, some incomprehensible details appeared that could have been improved or prevented. Firstly, the article is not about “developing countries” as it was stated in the title. But only about Kazakhstan. It might be suggested to use the exact context in the title to make it distinct. Secondly, the definitions of major concepts are missing. As the paper analyses the concept of “brain drain”, it is useful to consider defining the term first. Thirdly, the article comprises a list of obscure details and ideas that make the work feeble. For instance, the first three paragraphs of “Heading styles” (I suppose, it to be a body paragraph), where the word “erudite” was thoroughly defined. The scholars jump from one idea to another without ending the first one. If you remember, the introduction was opened with the “globalization of education”, whereas, the body also contains some general information about globalization which could have been mentioned in the introduction. It could be the case to remind that “a sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences” (Struck & White, 2000, p. 23). Moreover, the scholars keep repeating some words, phrases and even sentences to emphasize its importance as in: “accommodation and flats” and “perspectives of career growth and position” (p.1492). The below given two sentences might show the repetition of weakly paraphrased sentences and an irrelevance to the context. The first excerpt is written in the introduction and the second one in the main body. Although the relevance to the context might be negotiated, both excerpts devoid of further clarifications in the kind of measures that make these statements deceptive.

Kazakhstan has been taking a series of comprehensive measures of a legal, social and organizational character. What is worth speaking about is the formation of Kazakhstan’s way based on the experience of different countries to overcome this problem” (p. 1490).


Kazakhstan undertakes a number of complex measures of legal, social and organizational character. We should mention the formation of Kazakhstan way of overcoming the stated problem, which combined the experience of a number of countries” (p. 1492).

            The other things I have to mention are the assumptions and a lack of justifications for their claims in the statements. Let’s have a look at some of them:

The problem of “brain drain” is considered as a threat to national security” (p. 1490).

I agree that brain drain probably brings some economic, social and educational problems to the country. But to argue it to be a “national threat” without any clarifications of why should it be a threat and without any justifications to support makes it a feeble argument.

“We have to state that schools and universities provide only the basic education” (p. 1491).

Zhatkanbaeva et al. (2012) assumed that schools and universities provide only basic education based exclusively on their teaching experience in the university. Although it might be true to some extent, the statement cannot be generalized to all schools and universities without any research done to support it.

“[Developing countries’ curriculum] … does not meet the international standard requirements, although these requirements do not exist” (p. 1492).

The other statement which is worth to mention. It seems that scholars again speak from their perspective, based on their experience of living in a developing country. The first assumption made is the developing countries’ curriculum which does not correspond the international standards, could have been explained in what way it does not meet it. However, I would argue that those reform changes that the government makes aim to fit those international standards.  The other speculation is rejecting those “international standards”, here, they contradict their own words.

            The article is written from the first person. The scholars mostly use “we” to refer to themselves in their recommendations and use their personal and work experiences in making the examples, not evidence.

            I guess that intended audience of this article are students and educators. The scholars presented their work mostly based on their practice without intelligible explanations and pieces of evidence to support their claims. After reading the article I wasn’t convinced at all with its content, rather got confused with their ideas, where they argue that “educational international standards do not exist”, on the other hand, they asserted that “Kazakhstan reforms its educational system based on the experience of different countries to overcome problems”. I greatly admire their effort in analyzing one of the debatable issues of our society, but to improve their article, I would advise to totally rewrite the introduction, body paragraphs, and write concluding paragraph (which is missing), support it with credible pieces of evidence and of course, to avoid making assumptions and bias. And remember to find a reliable peer-reviewer that makes the writing more credible.


Strunk, W., & White, E.B. (2000). The elements of style (4th ed.). Longman

Zhatkanbaeva, A., Zhatkanbaeva, J., & Zhatkanbaev, E. (2012). The impact of globalization on “brain drain” in developing countries. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 47, 1490 – 1494. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.848

Teaching STEM subjects in English: experiences and challenges of secondary school teachers

As one aspect of becoming a competitive country the Education system of Kazakhstan set a long-term goal that states: Secondary school science teachers should be able to conduct their lessons in English language. The disciplines to be taught in English were biology, chemistry, physics and computers and the international research term for the science subjects was known as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The plan of how this reform might be implemented ‘lit a bulb’ in my head. I decided that this should my thesis topic and started to investigate the experiences and challenges of teaching STEM subjects in a local context.
There were very few schools in Kazakhstan which had an experience of teaching science subjects in English. Having interviewed my interviewees I came across interesting findings.
The main experiences of these teachers were regarding terminology issues. For instance, there was a dispute about whether to restrict the usage of L1 and L2 or whether to allow code-mixing during the lesson. Teachers also shared their practice on their teaching approaches. Thus, in order to make a lesson more engaging teachers were using ICT, gamification and CLIL approaches. The surprising factor of these teachers was that they spoke a lot about teacher’s personality. From this, I concluded that how teachers act and try to collaborate with students during the lesson are, perhaps, the basic skills that help them to overcome the challenges.
There were three major findings that came from teachers’ responses about the challenges. Majority reported that there are difficulties with mixed-ability of learning of students. Some students understood the content in one lesson, when others had to repeatedly put efforts. There were also existing stereotypes regarding students’ gender in learning STEM. Female students were believed to be less successful at science subjects. One last finding about the challenges was about language barriers. The same as students had different abilities to learn, pupils also had different English proficiency levels. This, set new obstacles for teachers.
In conclusion, I believe that the country is on the right track and that this reform will be successfully implemented in Kazakhstan. Right time never comes if you do not go for it and when, if not now?!science-clipart-nature-6


Atheism 2.0 by Alain de Botton (deconstruction)


Looking at the title, you probably thought that this is a sequel of (often) controversial religion versus atheism debates. But when you watch the video thoroughly, you understand that it is much more different and worth discussion. In this Ted talk philosopher Alain de Botton suggests his upgraded version of atheistic philosophy: atheism 2.0. According to him, atheism 2.0 stands from ‘stealing’ useful elements from religions and at the same time being consistent to atheistic principles. He claims that atheism should go to the next steps and this philosophy should directly begin from “of course there is no God” phrase rather than debating existence of God. He gives examples of six aspects that ‘secular world’ could learn from religions: education, time arrangement, oratory, physical sermons, art and institutionalisation. While some of his examples are individual matters such as experiencing ‘spiritual moments without belief’, others aspects might carry social implications.
He suggests that modern education institutions should not be limited with teaching ‘information’ or ‘data’, but they also should help people with ‘morality, guidance and consolation’, like churches and mosques do. Also, he argues that universities should return from lectures (he defines it as ‘secular mode of delivery’ that gives ‘a bit of information) to sermon traditions (religious mode) where one can teach how to live. At the first glance, this very attractive opinion seems very objective and beneficial. However, how proper would it be if a public university is preaching morality or the way of living that one or some professors decided to be right? I think such so called ‘secular sermons’ would create a tremendous ‘opportunities’ for brainwashers to imbue any dogmatic ideology to their students. Time arrangement, oratory, physical sermons and art are indeed aspects that most religions embraced in a more natural way and this might be a lesson for modern secular world. Of course, one looking from religious perspective could argue its realization because de Botton excludes believing in the doctrine while religions usually develop them for worshiping purposes. Once it has relatively less social impacts when it is not used to promote dogmatic minds, here, de Boton’s version is undeniably personal choice to practice it or not.
In my opinion, word choice of the speaker in the video reflects his biased opinion. In the beginning of his talk, he prefers the word ‘stealing from religion’  for the benefits of secular world rather than saying ‘learning from religion’ or ‘religion could contribute’ to the whole society. He uncarefully uses the phrase ‘secular world’ without any explanation. Though the word secular obviously means being independent from religion or from any other supernatural beliefs, it does not necessarily mean ‘no religion’ or ‘only atheistic views’. Rather, in my opinion, the secularism and /or ‘secular world’ is usually understood as having multiple religions and non-religions without their influence on political powers. So, he views ‘modern secular world’ as a property of only secular people. Similar proposition is given in the his example of how people ‘replaced religion by culture’. Though he explains it as his personal conclusion from historical facts, he probably would not be able to prove it because religion (and atheism as well) is a part of culture rather than a different concept.
Despite my critical analyzes above, I agree to his central message of pluralism and open-mindness. The speaker’s bias shows how his focus is intended to only one audience. More in-depth explanation of how he views the idea in practice, more objective word choice and focusing on the benefits of the whole society rather than one group would make the message much stronger and fruitful.

Pen or Pencil


“Pen licence” is an educational reform in the USA that was introduced in 2014. According to this system, in the early years of primary schools, children are required to write in pencil. They are not allowed to use a pen until they demonstrate fluent and legible writings. Only then they earn pen licence: a certificate that states that they are now allowed and expected to use ink for both schoolwork and homework. The point of crediting pencil is that pens can be difficult to hold and control, with the potential of the ink smudging, which makes it more complicated for children to master the basic movements of handwriting. However, in my opinion, it is not the basic ideology that lies behind this reform.

Getting pen licence means students need to have a great sense of responsibility for their writing product as writing with an ink is a mark for eternity. In other words, children have to think before they act because what they have already written with an ink is not erasable. But, the question is, what is the point of practicing writing with a pencil in order to master pen? That is because using a pencil is all about change and correction in their writings. It may indicate that mistakes should be put right and should not be ignored not only in their writings but also in their daily life.

In Japan, much of the writing in schools is done with a pencil. A saying in Japan is that “your writing reflects what your heart looks like”. Using a pencil makes it easier to erase mistakes – and to provide a flawless handwriting, even if it is not on the first try. As a result, Japanese have much less bias against pencil and feel much more comfortable using it. Hence, they have no problem with creating documents in pencil. Conversely, in most European countries, especially in Finland where typing is taught instead of handwriting,  pencil seems to have a dirty and uneducated feel, and people are much more hesitant to use pencil for documents someone else can see.

This can even be extended to a wider view of the difference between lean in Japan and lean in the European countries. In Japan, it is absolutely okay to fix, improve, and change until the result is flawless. In the Western world, the goal has to be achieved on the first try, even if there are a few smudges and spots left at the end. Amazing! The whole difference between Japanese and European lean boils down to what we write with at school!

As for Kazakhstan, practicing with pencil before switching to pen might be highly worthwhile, especially with the great number of work that teachers should do and with the less and less amount of time that they have. The reason is illegible handwriting is the primary cause for loss of staff time and prevents them from continuing their work-related task.


What do you think if the reform “Pen licence” will be implemented in Kazakhstan too?

Does it worth or it is a waste of time to educate writing with a pencil and then with a pen?

What are the other advantageous or disadvantageous points?



Let’s use video to reinvent education | Salman Khan (Deconstruction)

In the century when people are willing and drudgingly trying to change the current education system but still cannot succeed in it, Salman Khan has already started to reinvent education through the use of videos.

Video “Let’s use video to reinvent education” Salman Khan


Salman Khan is an American educator and entrepreneur who founded the Khan Academy in 2006. It is a non-profit educational organization creating hundreds of elaborately structured series of educational videos that help school students learn and understand math and other school subjects. First steps of such a big project were made in 2004 when Salman was tutoring his cousins in New Orleans. He put his first YouTube videos up as a supplement or refresher for the kids so that they could pause and repeat it anytime. To Mr. Khan’s great surprise his cousins preferred “the automated version of their cousin to their cousin”, and moreover, these videos became very popular on the internet among math learners as well. Producing a short lecture in the form of a video gave an impetus for the start of his noble career. Today thousands of students and even teachers are being educated through Khan Academy’s video lessons and using particular exercises for practice through their website.

At the beginning of his speech, Mr. Khan shows the audience a short montage of his videos. It becomes clear why his lessons are in a demand – Salman has a strong and articulate voice, a wonderful intonation, a good pace, in other words, he sounds like a professional public speaker. Additionally, he seems to know his subject very well; he explains the topics constructively, non-traditionally and confidently so that it is easy to understand him and impossible to get bored due to his style of explanation and relevant jokes.

Salman argues that students get a lot of benefits from these video lessons, especially in situations when they do not understand the topic, get confused, leg behind, or “have to review something that they should have learned a couple of weeks ago, or maybe a couple of years ago”. Students can watch these videos and have some practice doing exercises on the website to succeed without any charge. He claims that the project he does is “more than just a nice-to-have”, but it can also be “of a social value” because even a few students with autism who had had a terrible time with math were able to get through it thanks to Salman’s videos. I imagine the speaker’s videos as a live interesting book that makes no pressure on the learning process and I believe that it is a really effective tool for students to improve their knowledge of math.

Salman Khan created a new format of lessons, he says “I assign the lectures for homework, and what used to be homework, I now have the students doing in the classroom”. In this case, teachers can monitor the rate of videos and exercises completed by students from the website or the number of repeatedly watched topics to identify the weak parts and gaps that students have. In addition, Salman Khan suggests teachers follow this rule because “by removing the one-size-fits-all lecture from the classroom and letting students have a self-paced lecture at home”, teachers will be able to use technology “to humanize the classroom”. In other words, students watching self-paced videos at home, along with their teachers increase classroom time for real human interaction between each other. I really like this project of Mr. Khan and would like to mention that when students communicate more with each other, discuss more with their teachers, their motivation and desire to study, to attend school every day and to solve problems will grow – and this is one of the important issues today in the field of education.

The greatest value of these videos is that children from poor countries, who have to work to help their parents and cannot attend schools, will be able to get access to education, later they even might share their knowledge as well. Observing Mr. Khan’s high interest to this issue, a few pieces of research conducted by him in order to reveal today’s problems in education, statistics he gives, bright emotions and gestures, it is seen that he is really concerned about humanity, about human education, about opportunities to help those kids. He indicates, “you can teach a child in Calcutta or Calcutta kid can teach your child”. It is a notion of a “global one-world classroom” that Khan Academy is trying to build through technology, and that is great.

The work Salman Khan and his team are doing for humanity is priceless. Today it is highly important to get an education in order to find a good job, feed families and simply survive. Khan Academy is creating great opportunities for people to enter the world of knowledge, no matter where they are. But I would not agree with Mr. Khan that the use of the videos can completely reinvent education. It is simply not enough for such a huge transformation. People can find multiple videos in internet teaching math, languages, history or physics with or without teacher participation, but the majority of them do not watch these videos because for some they are not the best learning method. However, I really like liked the idea of Salman Khan’s project and do believe that it can be used as an extra effective tool in the classroom for some subjects.

Education Killer


Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD one of the main abbreviations we have been encountered from the very beginning of our MA programme in Multilingual Education. “Educational Context and Reform in Kazakhstan” is one of those courses we were introduced to recommendations for further developments in education prescribed by OECD. Additionally, while writing one of my assignments on PISA, I “met” OECD again. The deed is that OECD sponsors the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA). The latter was also one of the issues we talked about with our professors. Interestingly, we almost never discussed the “dark” sides of OECD or PISA until yesterday I found the letter written to Dr. Schleicher, the director of PISA.

83 academics from all around the world expressed deep concern of PISA test and came up with some suggestions for the next round of assessment. In their words, countries after the results had been announced started to overhaul their education systems in order to elevate the rankings. Based on quantitative data, countries are racing for the best rankings. Finland’s sudden decline from the top describes that standardised testing system is imperfect but it still is labeling students, teachers, and administrators as well. Given recommendations assisst countries to climb the rankings and those required changes need time more than three years (PISA cycle)! Additionally, PISA narrows the area of measurable education features such as moral, physical, and artistic development. “Why PISA provides less autonomy for teachers and harms children around the globe?” – this question is seen between the lines in the letter. It does not even consider socio-economic inequality taking place among the countries. Moreover, member countries pay taxes – millions of dollars. We do not exactly know how many millions…

What can I say about all the mentioned concerns of professors? These educated people are practicing teaching and research on education. They know more than those from economic development organisation. Nobody would not pay attention if the academics’ number was about 5 or 10. But 83! It means something. How PISA measures students’ ability to apply their knowledge to solve real-life problems with a pen and paper? I do not know, do you?

Embedding Russian into Kazakh songs

Language mixing in colloquial Kazakh is not something unusual or rare in Kazakhstan. People use Russian words like “уже” [already], “еще” [still; yet], “давно” [long ago], “по-любому” [in any case], “вообще” [overall], “пойдет” [it’s ok] very often in their everyday speech in spite of knowing their equivalents in Kazakh. More often these words sound more natural in speech than Kazakh equivalents of them. However, mixing languages in songs occur more rarely, and interestingly, when Russian is used in songs it sounds artificial or gives the song humorous tone. I attempt to analyze mixing Russian and Kazakh in two popular songs by the group Dos Mukasan by looking at similar patterns and contexts.

In both songs insertional language mixing takes place: Russian language (embedded language) is inserted (in the form of single words or of larger constituents) into the grammatical frame defined by Kazakh language (matrix language) (Auer & Muhamedova, 2005). A song called “16 қыз” [16 girls] is a joky song written by an unknown author in the early decades of the twentieth century. It was popularized by a group called Dos Mukasan in the 1970-80s. The language variation we can notice in the song is embedding Russian words and phrases into the Kazakh text. Each line of the two verses contains a word or phrase in Russian. In the first verse the words “генадушка”, “немножка” and “молодушка” end the first, second and third lines, which might have been done for easy rhyme:

Астыма мінген атым генадушка,

Шабамын көңіл ашып немношка.

Не стоит на свете жить етуге,

Азырақ ойнап-күлмей, молодушка.

In the original version the performers pronounce these words with a strong Kazakh accent, probably to emphasize the playful nature of the song. Here, the grammar of the matrix language (Auer & Muhamedova, 2005), Kazakh, is kept and Russian words are embedded without any change. But the most interesting case of inserting is seen in line three: the whole line is in Russian, but Kazakh ending is added to the word “жить” [live]. “жить” is a full verb in Russian that does not need an ending, whereas in Kazakh most verbs are used as a combination of two or three verbs. So instead of Kazakh “өмір сүруге” [to live], or Russian “жить” [to live], they say “жить етуге”. The phrase “жить етуге” is four syllables, which better fits the line, while “өмір сүруге” has five. So that might also be a reason for inserting a Russian word in that line.

In the second verse the pattern is different, as Russian words and phrases appear at the beginning or in the middle of the lines, not at the end. However, there is another use of Kazakh ending in a Russian word “сорт+тар” [sorts] in the third line. In this case a Kazakh plural ending is added to a Russian noun:

Қарағым, айналайын, черный көзім,

Никогда не забуду айтқан сөзің.

Второй сорт, третий сорттар толып жатыр,

Первый сорт қайдан тудың сенін өзің?

The chorus is mainly in Kazakh, except for some Russian female names and the last line which says “Я люблю тебя, Рая”. Although the embedding in the song is intentional, it clearly shows the social linguistic context of that time, when a lot of Russians were coming to Kazakhstan.

Another song of this group called “Су тасушы қыз” [literally: A lady who carries/delivers water] is about a girl who drives a water carter. As the word “водовоз” does not have a translation in Kazakh it was used in the song. The song was written by the group in the late 1970s and it might have been influenced by the song “16 қыз” [16 girls], as it has some similar use of Russian embedding. For example, the word “большой удар” [a big punch] in the second verse, rhymes with the Kazakh word “кейбір қулар” [some sly fellows]:

Әкелген бал-бұлақтан мөлдір су бар,

Сылтаулап шөлдей берер кейбір қулар.

Жасырда бұл совхоздың қыздары ыстык,

Абайла, алып қалма большой удар.

Overall, the song “Су тасушы қыз” has fewer cases of mixing Russian than “16 қыз”, but the tone and manner of two songs are very similar. Intentional use of Russian-Kazakh mix in a joky manner might be the reason for the popularity of the songs, and in more serious songs mixing languages would not have such an effect.


[Aleksandr Z] (2016, Oct 2). Дос Мукасан – 16 Кыз 1977 [Video File]. Retrieved from

[Дос-Мукасан] (2014, Jul 19). Дос-Мукасан – Су тасушы қыз [Video File].Retrieved from

Peter Auer & Raihan Muhamedova, (2005). ‘Embedded language’ and ‘matrix language’ in insertional language mixing: Some problematic cases. Italian journal of linguistics, 17(1), 35-54. Retrieved from

The WCU: a necessity or a whim?

Қазіргі уақытта университеттер мәдени және білім беру жуктемені ғана емес, онымен қатар ұлттық жетістік индекаторы болып табылады. Бұл үкіметтің жоғарғы білім беру жүйесін инвестициялауға ынталандырудын натежесі әлемдік университет деңгейін құруға мүмкіндік тудырады. Алайда, әлемдік деңгейдегі университет деген не, және ол, оның құрылуына жұмсалған қаржыны ақтай ма? Бұл жұмыс келесі осы мәселерді анықтауға тырысады.

Университеты в наши дни несут не только культурную и образовательную нагрузку, но и являются индикаторами успеха нации. Это стимулирует правительства инвестировать в систему высшего образования и зачастую результатом может явиться создание университета мирового уровня. Однако что такое университет мирового уровня и оправдывает ли он вложенных в его создание средств. Данная работа попробует разобраться в этих вопросах.

Nowadays universities no longer serve only cultural and educational purposes, but became indicators of nation’s success. This stimulates governments to interfere into tertiary education systems which results in the development of world-class universities. But what is a world-class university and does it justify public investments? The present work attempts to find the answers.

Nowadays universities no longer serve only cultural and educational purposes, but became indicators of nation’s success. This stimulates governments to interfere into tertiary education systems which results in the development of world-class universities (hereinafter WCUs). Globally different countries took the effort to establish WCUs starting from mega-merger Aalto University in Finland and ending with Excellence Initiative in Germany (Cremonini, Westerheijden, Benneworth, & Dauncey, 2014). However, worldwide ‘WCUs fever’ does not provide underpinning rationales behind the creation of world-class universities as well as comprehensive definition of ‘world-class’. As Altbach correctly noticed about WCUs “everyone wants one, no one knows what it is, and no one knows how to get one” (as cited in Salmi, 2009, p. 4). Nevertheless, I will try to understand the rationales behind the establishment of WCUs, and explore the concept of WCU by applying it to Nazarbayev University.


Cremonini, Westerheijden, Benneworth, and Dauncey (2014) connect the rise of WCU programs to league tables. Hazelkorn concurs with Cremonini et al. by specifying that “being in the ‘top 100’ has uncritically transformed the words ‘world-class’ into a national and institutional strategy and aspiration ” (2014, p. xi). Similarly, Ritzen (2010) claims that those countries which felt underrepresented in league tables started building new universities to improve their ranking performance.  Obviously, these authors do not consider any academic or economic rationales, but rather heavily discuss non-existent ‘show off’ rationales underpinning the establishment of WCUs. Then, what about NU? When president spoke about the establishment of NU (Nazarbayev, 2006) he announced that the university would serve educational purposes of the country. Three years later in 2009, he emphasized that NU would be the most important national project which would build the fundamental for Kazakhstan while combining national identity with the best international training and research praxis (Nazarbayev, 2009). Likewise, the mission of the university envisages NU “to be a model for higher education reform and modern research in Kazakhstan and to contribute to the establishment of Astana as international innovation and knowledge hub” (NU, 2013). Apparently, the main rationale underpinning the establishment of NU is academic. However, Koch (2013) asserts that NU owes its existence to political elites. She explains that knowledge economy discourse is used by political elites to demonstrate to the citizens that they are committing to national future, and ease the pressure from population for ‘pillaging’ the country’s resources (p. 49). Though I would argue with Koch by saying that knowledge economy discourse became a global discourse and not only in “ruling bargain”[1] (Koch, 2013, p. 47) states, but also in democratic states, there is a kernel of truth in her words. Therefore, I would suggest that both academic and political rationales underpinned the creation of NU.

WCU Concept

Having discussed the possible rationales it is timely to investigate the phenomenon of WCUs. There are conceptual (Salmi, 2009; Shin, 2012) and empirical approaches (Times Higher Education ranking, n.d.; Shanghai ranking, n.d.) to understand the phenomenon of WCUs. For instance, empirical observations of the universities in the top list of Times Higher Education and Shanghai rankings stimulated them to derive the ‘formula’ of a WCU. These rankings provide clear statistical indicators characterizing WCUs such as fixed amount of annual income per academic (THE), or average annual expenditures per student (Shanghai ranking), or particular percentage of international staff and students. However, it is not acceptable to derive such a ‘formula’ as the majority of the universities occupying top positions are either from the US or the Great Britain. Therefore, it appears that a WCU is inherently American or British. Shin (2012) abandons such utilitarian approach to understanding WCUs and proposes more abstract concept. He proposes WCU to serve global missions, produce globally influential knowledge and global leaders. Otherwise, any other top ranked research universities which do not meet these criteria are national-class or local-class universities (Shin, 2012).Though, Shin’s approach is rather ‘global’ it is still extremely vague and doubtful. On the contrary Salmi’s approach is neither utilitarian nor abstract. Salmi proposed more manageable definition of a WCU by asserting that superior outcomes of WCU, such as highly sought graduates, leading edge research, and technology transfer, are dependent on the following factors: concentration of talented faculty and students, abundant resources allowing the university to create sufficient environment and conduct research, and finally favorable governance features (Salmi, 2009, p. 19).

The Case of NU

By concentration of talent Salmi implies the ability of WCUs to choose among the best students and hire the most accomplished foreign and domestic professors and researchers. Accordingly, NU positions itself as a merit-based institution which accepts the best and brightest through three-step admission process, under the responsibility of University College of London, sifting the rest of the applicants. Moreover, NU addresses the best hiring practices to build qualified faculty body (NU, 2013). At the moment the faculty of the university is primarily international as there are 200 faculty members and 85% of them are foreigners (OECD, 2017, p. 169).

Another defining characteristic of a WCU is abundant resources which include public budget resources, endowment revenues, tuition fees and research grants. In this regard, NU could be characterized as the only university in the country which enjoys unprecedented flow of public resources, is secured by Nazarbayev Endowment Fund and has highly-competitive faculty and researchers able to attract research grants. At the same time, it is difficult to define the share of tuition fees as the majority of students are holders of NU grants. Though it is impossible to say whether NU is attracting enough research grants or tuition fees, state appropriations compensate for all the budget ills.

The last characteristic is favorable governance which involves autonomy and academic freedom as well as strong leadership team. Here NU can boast its special status as an autonomous university sought to enjoy academic freedom. The Law on special status of the university was passed in 2010 by the Parliament’s Lower House (Seidimbek, 2013) and signed by the President in 2011 (NU, 2013). In accordance with this Law the governance structure of NU is presented by Supreme Board of Trustees, Board of Trustees and Executive bodies of the university (NU web-site). As the OECD team observed “Nazarbayev University provides one example of a workable governance model that other institutions in Kazakhstan can learn from” (OECD, 2017, p. 272).

Having applied Salmi’s framework, from the first glance, NU has the potential of becoming a WCU as it meets all of the criteria: it is a merit-based autonomous university which enjoys extensive public resources and attracts qualified faculty and staff. However, does it justify people’s trust and abundant public investments? One of the opinions suggests these resources better to be spent on existing higher education system (Koch, 2013). This opinion is opposed by NU supporters who believe NU experience to be translated onto other higher education institutions and bring systemic improvements. Unfortunately, these debates will continue as the novelty of WCU policy approaches, and long timescale necessary for producing the system-wide benefits, do not allow to analyze WCUP’s benefits ‘ex post’. Therefore, the issue remains open for public discussion giving a hope that future will settle this dispute.


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[1] Is a state where citizens exchanged their political rights for welfare state goods

The role of human emotions in science and research by Ilona Stengel [deconstruction #2]

A scientist Ilona Stengel states a very interesting point about feeling in science. She claims that people in science should find balance between facts and feelings, because they are integral parts of each other. It is also should be mentioned that she is telling the story in parallel between her experience and experience of a main hero Mr. Spock in Star Trek. It gives an opportunity for audience to understand the topic better. Moreover, this “trick” is an attractive approach to focus listeners’ attention to the topic and speech. In general, it was a speaker’s stance to science through feelings by the help of real and fictional examples.

If we look closer, it is clear that her speech does not found only on specific experiences of a person and character. She underpins her idea by the graph, which is likely to be quantitative research design. She demonstrates that dedication, belonging and empowerment trigger the elevation of results in OLED devices development. However, it might be only one of possible factors, which can influence the increase. In my opinion, it could be considered as an assumption, because she looks at the issue from one side, which is related to her topic. I would have improved the speech by investigating other impacts and mentioned various feelings except above-mentioned three. Looking at the topic, I have expected something different in comparison with what I have watched. Author should rethink the topic in order to encounter audience’ expectations. Another case that I would like to notice that she talks more about OLED devices. It can be seem that her speech is likely to be some kind of implicit promotion of these gadgets. Thus, her speech is only one side and looks like an advertisement.

Despite I really like author’s idea that feelings are compounds of science and vice-versa. I completely agree that scientific researches are carried out by humans, consequently humans’ feelings can play essential role in implementation. Instead of Ilona Stengel, I would have considered mood and emotions and their affects on the procedures according to the given topic. She talks more about team-building and their dedication to the purpose, which is a bit further than the theme is.

In conclusion, I would like to tell that I have been attracted by the topic, but the speech has not satisfied my expectation. Surely, there was the idea, which is connected with the topic, in spite of this fact she talks more about team work and dedication.

Linda Cliatt- Wayman: How to fix a broken school? Lead fearlessly, love hard (deconstruction)

As I remember from my school days, our school principal was one of the greatest persons who inspired students to build on their strengths, persuading to believe that all dreams and goals are achievable. This experience allows me to construe that the principal is the key figure in education who keeps the balance in schools. When I saw this videoLinda Cliatt- Wayman: How to fix a broken school? Lead fearlessly, love hard (deconstruction) for the first time, I was speechless, because it really touched me with highlights of the impact and asset that this strong woman brought to the society. It was manifest from her speech that principal, teachers and students in school are more than the system. Linda Cliatt-Wayman is a great principal in Strawberry Mansion High School in the North Philadelphia, who has the 20 years’ experience on a special education for low-performing schools.  She is a solid principal who triggered off a broken school to ameliorate; the woman who had established a student code of discipline among the students with the most outrageous behaviour. The school is defined as a school with the bad reputation and was in the hit list of Philadelphia’s authorities as a “persistently dangerous school”. Nowadays the school is being transformed in a positive direction.

That’s how it was.

She claimed that there was no one around who could be a powerful principal to this school in the last four years, and finally she volunteered to be a principal.  On the first day of work she had witnessed her students fighting each other, after it she moved on to first action toward improvement. During the meeting, one girl named Ashley asked her “Miss… miss, why do you keep calling this a school? This is not a school”.  Linda says that this sort of question made her think back to her low-performing school where she had studied many years ago. Exactly, this was not a real school, the doors were locked with the chains, and the classrooms were almost empty, students carried weapons and there were a drug addicts. What is the worst that even the teachers were afraid for their personal safety. She obviously did a huge work to transform everything in the school, she compel herself to persist these challenges. In this way, her famous slogans were used as leverage to struggle for change. Anyway it seems to me that everything is not easy as it described in her speech.

Her first slogan is: “If you’re going to lead, lead”.

Cliatt-Wayman asserts that everything happens in the school depends on the principal. Being principal requires her to be a leader. She pinpointed that the leader should not sit back in the office, delegate work on others, and cannot allow herself to be afraid of tackling her students’ issues. Also, she emphasized that there’s nothing to be done alone. So, to carry out this task Linda gathered around herself the most skilled staff, who have the faith on children’s potential. All staff including teachers, police officers work constructively, tirelessly and consistently to help the broken school recover. Necessary steps were taken to strengthen the discipline entitled as: “Non-negotiable.” As a result, the school removed from the persistently dangerous list, which in my opinion reflects her truly leadership skills to lead people fearlessly. As she highlighted “Leaders make the impossible – possible”.

The next slogan is: “So what. Now what?”

The principal asserts that the school encountered the low attendance rate, many students were from dysfunctional families, they did not place a priority to study, and this in turn led the school fall behind.  Taking into account conversations about appalling conditions, bad-tempered students, the low results on algebra and literature, she set the goal in front of her colleagues: “So what. Now what? What are we going to do?” Linda depicts development problems and solutions, so she made teachers to differentiate the methodology which might be effective to pay respect to individuality of students. She made every effort to deal with the problems she encountered, but in this video she described only the top of the iceberg. For instance, I was curious to know how they elevate the level of education in details, what exact methods teachers used? So, these questions still required more precise answers.

Her final slogan is: “If nobody told you they love you today, remember I do”.

Her students had financial, social and emotional problems, and no matter what they had she tried to support all of them, because she knows the feeling what it’s like living on poverty.  She believes that opportunities for education and life skills help them to improve their lives and rise from poverty. Linda has daily conversations with her students and  she elevates with pinpoint accuracy those moments when her students feel themselves special, essential and awfully safe.

Though truth be told, my favorite spot is that Cliatt-Wayman has gained the respect and support of the audience on the basis of her work and results. She made tough decisions; she set a clear goal in front of her students, reminding them on a daily basis that education can change their lives.

In her speech there is a powerful message for all educators who have an opportunity to change the world, we should not stand idly by, experience the negative effects of poverty, and be satisfied with promises of authorities. Since any change would require broad support across all sectors of society, she encourages people to let us be prepared to take minute steps toward development of education worldwide.