Access to high-quality textbook: when will it happen?

In recent years, most people, especially parents argue that there are a lot of textbook errors in schools. It is worth to mention here that school textbooks such as  history of Kazakhstan, English, Kazakh and Russian languages, science subject textbooks have grammatical, spelling, punctuation mistakes as well as “absurd” errors. We can easily find a number of examples on the Internet. For instance, this example shows that some test questions don’t have correct answer in one English textbook, whereas litle children know that Yury Gagarin was a Russian.

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Many textbooks don’t take into account the age of children at all, because there are a lot of complicated tasks for primary school children which are difficult even for adults to find an answer. Likewise, most of you might be familiar with mistaken questions in UNT like chronological dates of history.

One common factor is that many arguments and complaints are about textbooks in Kazakh language because of direct translation. Sometimes it seems that these textbooks are translated by “uneducated experts” who definitely have no proficiency in Kazakh language. You will lose yourself reading these illiterate pieces of work in terms of meaning of complex sentences, terms and inequivalent translations of phraseological units and etc. It is evident for everyone that we are elaborating a trilingual education policy which also draws attention on expansion of Kazakh language. So, if mistakes in Kazakh textbooks will continue on, not mentioning about Kazakh education quality, how will we preserve our mother tongue?!

Overall, I have no idea who is in charge for high-quality school textbooks (publishers? or authors?) and why experts allow publishing textbooks turning a blind eye. So many school textbooks are being printed last time and can not get rid of errors though it costs a lot of money. Despite the fact that journalists and teachers are debating many times about textbook content and structure, no serious steps are still undertaken.

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10 thoughts on “Access to high-quality textbook: when will it happen?

  1. Actually, you raised an important issue. Translation mistakes from another language to Kazakh language, might be caused by totally different grammar structure and vocabulary of our native language. I am agree with that it is crucial to realize that the role of those people, who translate textbooks etc., is very substantial. It is a huge necessity to educate and prepare the professional translaters, in order to be confident that all aspects of language (as grammar structure and idea) are correctly tranferred.
    Additionally, it should be pointed out that publishing textbooks is also business with commercial aims. The private publishing companies tend to save more money and economize where it is possible; whereas professional translators require correspondingly high salary.
    However. despite dominating commercial aims, publishing organizations should attentively revise all translated materials and take responsibility for consequences.

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  2. The reality is that nobody, except parents and teachers, cares about the students who are suffering from the, as you said, ‘turned blind eye’. We will probably see changes when there are more people ‘above’ who will by all means care about and control what is going on with the quality of textbooks and the system in the whole.

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  3. Almazhaysabidulla, it is really great to discuss the issue of existing textbooks of poor quality. Of course, it is important to find those who are in charge, but, as it was told by one of our professors, earlier MoES used to be interested in quantity, rather than quality. It is awful to admit that this principle has resulted in piles of rubbish scholarly literature (in both Kazakh and Russian languages).
    However, we are moving on and there are some really good English textbooks like Primary colours or Our Discovery Islands (adapted and published in cooperation with Cambridge and Pearson respectively). Noteworthy, they appeared after several purely Kazakhstani variants of English textbooks. Nevertheless, not all schools can afford these textbooks. Additionally, the quality of teaching also depends on teachers’ professionalism.
    So, I hope that the process of providing students with adequate literature won’t take too long.

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  4. In addition, I have found one case of textbook issue. One man, father of 2-nd year school child argues that textbooks of his child’s school have “absurd” questions such as: “labor rights”, “human rights”, “retirement age” and etc, which are improper to the age of primary school children. Here is the link to this news: http://m.tengrinews.kz/ru/kazakhstan_news/v-uchebnike-dlya-vtoroklassnikov-nashli-absurdnyie-zadaniya-268567

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  5. Thank you for the post!
    I agree that textbook issue is on of the most important problems of education in Kazakhstan. I think as future leaders we should analyse this question in complex way. For example, in Soviet Union, authors were provided by special vacation in order to write the quality textbooks. However, now in Kazakhstan, authors have to share the main job responsibilities with writing. People just physically do not have enough time. We should think about the improvement of conditions for authors. Another problem is the market direction of textbooks creation. Private publishing companies afraid of not receiving a profit.
    So, in my view, not only the government is responsible for the textbook issue, but also all stakeholders should think and solve this problem.

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  6. I am afraid this issue will remain as long the textbook division remains a rigorous business between and competence the printing houses. However, teachers can also find a solution thanks to the XXI sentury facilities. I would like to draw your attention on foreign textbooks. For example, what do you thik about the quality and validity of English language textbooks used in Kazkhstan? Thank you in advance!

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    1. I think, nowadays, especially English textbooks used in classrooms are more better than Kazakh textbooks. Yes, there were mistakes in textbooks which we had from the Soviet time as Ayapova, etc. But today, more and more new, colourful and updated English textbooks are being used, and they are quite enough having different additional providers for English teachers. Moreover, as all modern technologies can speak in English, I think there may not be problem for English teachers to make it more interesting and compelling!
      P.S. I have a little practice working as an English teacher in schools. May be, you have some ideas about English textbooks???

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  7. thanks for the post!
    I completely agree with quality of the textbooks but what about tests for other international tests which also are translated from English or Russian on state language.
    for instance I was one of the persons who was involved in PISA testing 2015 and i have seen the burning issue of translations on those piece of papers too.
    first of all I would like to emphasis that the words was translated directly that is why it caused the difficulties during the test, another aspect was the construction.
    so dear cohort members, how we can talk about results on PISA even if we could not provide our students with applicable test materials?

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  8. I work at an odinary secondary school and our students are ttought according State Standard by Ayapova. Some schools gymnasiums can afford those wonderful books you mention. However, last year during attestation in order not to have problems even they had to dismiss them and to switch to our Kazakhstani books. I actually have been teaching for 13 years and each year I have to make changes in my planning not because the changes in the contest of the textbook. The book itself remains the same, they only rearrange units in it. The most absurd is the fact that their contests do not coincide with those of the learning program which should be observed.
    We have to jump from one page to another throughout the year explaining children and their parents that it is according new curricula.
    I do agree that due to the fact that we live in the Internet era the opportunities to implement ICT are available. I was happy when my colleagues worked a project with British Council that completely meets the requirement of our state standard. I still cannot implement it either as Internet accesses in my classroom lass much to be desired. I am sure that by far not many EFL teachers at ordinary schools take advantage of ICT (only on paper) in city’s schools not mentioning the rural ones..
    Still I am optimistic (I am supposed to be as an educator, am I not?) and I believe that one day we get properly written textbooks, by that time maybe I will have been retired. Who knows

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  9. Some time ago I did some trilingual translations.I can say exactly that all translations can be done by linguists and that is why some technical terms or mechanism can be mistranslated or misinterpreted. it is obvious one of the translation stages. However, I would like to suggest to organize independent expertse from each field of science where they can point out egregious mistakes. i think this kind of approach can be precondition for a textbook quality.

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