A word on reforming teacher status

Currently, a teaching profession is unlikely to be prestigious among Kazakhstani population; however, teacher’s status is seen as one of the factors influencing the main purpose of education for stable economic growth (MES, 2010; MES, 2011). In this reason, the started process of reformation of educators’ status (MES, 2010) has appeared up to date. In this article I will display my understanding of this reform by drawing out its main objectives and reviewing the most significant changes that have already been implemented, revealing and solving possible concerns, and defining its practical importance for the future development of Kazakhstani education system.

In the frame of the reform, pre- and in-service preparation of teaching staff is provided by redressing curricula for pedagogical institutions and organizing professional development centers supervised by foreign trainers and NIS instructors. In order to motivate educators and school directors, there is a competitive principle of selecting trainees and a different approach to calculating salary based on the results of students’ academic performance (MES, 2010).

Bridges and Sagintayeva (2014) state that “the school is experiencing a transition to a new paradigm of learner-centered approaches” (p.xxviii). This means that a teacher is a supervisor to direct students in the process of acquiring and applying knowledge, but not an announcer of instructions on what to learn. In their action plan research, McLaughlin, McLellan, Fordham, Chandler-Grevatt, and Daubney (2014) stress that Kazakhstani teachers urgently need to be more open to learning themselves and work collaboratively. The issue to consider is that teachers tend to see their colleagues as rivals to compete, rather than peers to share the experiences. Another aspect of teachers’ unwillingness to collaborate is illustrated in the situation that experienced faculty are reluctant to changes, while novices are suffering from the lack of practice and are usually suppressed by the authority of the superior ones.

To sum up, the image of a teacher from the societal perspective will remain underestimated until one realizes own vital role in community life and starts self-development process. On the other hand, policy makers ought to provide mainstream school teachers with necessary conditions for adjusting and evolving their educating techniques. This can be realized by providing a set of qualitative studies within listening to and analyzing educators’ stories (Shamatov, 2013) to see real causes of teachers’ unawareness of modern teaching techniques. When the most problematic spheres are determined, the effective in-service program aimed at professional preparation of academic staff that meets the requirements of the State Program can be designed.

In the process of reforming Kazakhstan education, it is a school teacher who is an active implementer of changes in the schooling process. Consequently, it is fair to admit that any educational reform will be applied to reality only by a teacher whose mission is to educate competitive labor force for the prosperity of the country.

References

Bridges, D. & Sagintayeva, A. Introduction. In D. Bridges (Ed.), Education Reform and Internationalisation: The case of Kazakhstan (pp.xxii-xxxii). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McLaughlin, C., McLellan, R., Fordham, M., Chandler-Grevatt, A., & Daubney, A. (2014). The role of the teacher in educational reform in Kazakhstan: Teacher enquiry as a vehicle for change. In D. Bridges (Ed.), Education Reform and Internationalisation: The case of Kazakhstan (pp.239-262). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ministry of Education and Science. (2010). State program of education development of Kazakhstan for 2010-2020. Retrieved from http://www.akorda.kz/.

Ministry of Education and Science. (2011). The Strategic Plan of the Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science for 2011-2015. Retrieved from http://www.primeminister.kz/

Shamatov, D. (2013). Everyday realities of a young teacher in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan: The case of a History teacher from a rural school. In P. Akcali & C.E. Demir (Eds.), Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan: Political and social challenges (pp. 1-23). London, UK: Routledge.

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2 thoughts on “A word on reforming teacher status

  1. Thank you for bringing up this topic! Since I am very concerned about the issues regarding the teacher profession, I could not just skip your post without any comments. Sadly, but teachers today indeed are not allowed to actively participate in the policy making process. However, the only people who know exactly what is going on at schools are the teachers and that is why we have to listen their solutions. It is like they are “puppets” in hands of the government even though they are educated and competent professionals. I think that involving teachers into the process of changing the reforms, curriculum and other things will solve so many problems in our education today. Most importantly, this will upgrade the status of the teachers in our society because many young people are not willing to pursue a teaching profession due to its low status. I know a lot of people who like using a phrase: “Oh, he/she is JUST a teacher”! But they have no idea what it means to be a teacher. We have lost the meaning of this word, it does not sound noble anymore. And it is just really sad…

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  2. Thank you for raising this important issue, Darina. One should say that there is no more responsible and demandable profession like teaching. Having worked as a teacher of university, I notice that it is really so. The responsibility of the teachers is very huge. It starts from teaching and ends with mentoring and upbringing. Accordingly, everything depends on a teacher. If something goes wrong in educational process, it means something is wrong with a teacher’s strategy, more significantly with the teaching strategy. Therefore, as you mentioned much concentration should be paid on academic staff development and their professionalism which aim at changing pedagogical approach, and more importantly changing of a mindset.
    Universities also play a considerable role in educational system. Being the institutions of higher learning, they are supposed to guide the nation and the role of teachers thus is of great importance in making the future generation able to serve the nation. These educational institutions should, first of all, prepare their academic staff in order to provide quality education. In one of the course readings, I have found that according to OECD, Finnish universities are considered as one of the top universities in the world. It raised my interest why Finnish students show high results and what makes Finland’s education system so special than other countries. I looked for the official websites of Finnish universities, some scholarly articles about Finnish education and was surprised with the findings. There is no special curricula, special technologies in teaching. The only thing they concentrate on is a teacher preparation and development. The selection and admission criteria for teachers are very strong. Hence, teachers become high-status professionals and quality of education is high.

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