Knowledge? Not necessary, just diploma, please.

In this post I will try to state some thoughts about the current situation in the Kazakhstani Higher Education system emerged by informal observations. I will discuss the issue of quality of Higher education and particular the problem of “purchasing” diplomas. This problem cannot be justified by official statistics but everybody knows about it.

What is “purchasing” diploma?

By words “purchasing” diploma I mean the notion when a student successfully admitted to the X University in Kazakhstan is not studying at all, but buying or copying almost all required course works and successfully graduating with diploma. Sometimes “with honor” or so called “red diploma”. So that all he needs are some money to spend and some time to be present at X University.

It is the bitter truth. Universities do not care about whether the student got any knowledge as long as he submitted required paper work (assignments, course works) and student do not care about whether he got anything from the study in head.

How to solve this problem?

Well, it is obvious that the system in whole should be changed. At least several solutions came to my head. Firstly, to teach children starting from secondary school to study not for grade but for knowledge. Of course, the grade is the important marker to know about how this student performs but is not the goal itself. The parents should not ask children the question “what grade did you get today?” but “What new did you learn today?” Thus children will know that their aim is to get knowledge not to get the good grade.

Secondly, there should be the strict anti-plagiarism policy everywhere, starting even from the kindergartens. So that the children will know that stating other people’s idea is a worst thing to do while producing own work. This will harm the person who copies even more than the person from whom it was copied. Because nothing is in his head left while he is copying or buying. Only through careful reflecting, analyzing, rethinking processes the knowledge can emerge.

The topic of education quality enhancement in Kazakhstan is too broad to be fitted into the one blog or even one paper frame. Nevertheless, I tried to identify one of thousands problem in contemporary Higher education system and reflect on possible ways to solve it.

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3 thoughts on “Knowledge? Not necessary, just diploma, please.

  1. Regrettably, the issue purchasing diplomas is not new to Kazakhstan’s system of education. Many of the students throughout the country are involved in this process. I am glad you touched upon this problem. In addition to your propositions, you managed to contribute positively to the increase of public awareness in this alarming field of higher education. Speaking of the proposed solutions, I would like to say all of them are pretty manageable and helpful. I would especially highlight the first one. I can sometimes see in my own and others’ behavior this strong desire to get a grade. To some extent, this happens because we were not trained to study for the sake of knowledge and understanding. You identified very precisely that this particular area is the root of evil. Thank you so much for being concise, consistent and very open. I really enjoyed reading your post.

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    1. I also would like to thank you for raising this issue, which is unfortunately true as mentioned both by you and Shynar. I support your recommendations as how to approach this problem. I wish each Kazakhstani educational institution has anti-plagiarism policy not on paper only, but in reality like NU does. From my personal experience, it is so painful to admit that not only students with low academic achievement, but those with high academic success plagiarize in Kazakhstan. Some NU foreign faculty mentioned that they are shocked that good students plagiarize here, whereas in their country it is a huge shame to plagiarize. And each time when they catch their students plagiarizing their heart breaks. What makes it worse, though, is that some parents when they realize that their children were punished for sharing their works with peers, they start blaming with such words as “you are teaching our children to be egoistic if you forbid them to help their friends.” It again confirms how deep are the roots of this problem, which requires complex approach.

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  2. Totally agree with your points. Nowadays, people are more concerned about diplomas and certificates rather than about knowledge and experience. In this context, “diploma mills” are becoming more and more popular all over the world, as well as in Kazakhstan. Diploma or certificate should play just the verification role of person’s knowledge and skills and do not be a guarantee of successful employment. People usually believe that with diploma you can find any job you want, but they do not think how they’re going to work there and how they will operate in the sphere without even basic knowledge. Hopefully, change of attitude towards diplomas and knowledge possession and increased awareness of academic honesty importance will lead to the positive transformations in our society.

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