Prison education in Kazakhstan

Currently, secondary education is free and accessible for all individuals in Kazakhstan. All children have equal rights to get high quality education which satisfies their needs. 3974 students studying in Kazakhstani prison educational institutions. However, there is no reference to prison education in Kazakhstan in state’s educational programs. The issue of prison education is not in great demand among Kazakhstani researchers. A few devote their articles and research papers on this topic. In order to demonstrate that education is accessible for all it must be related to convicts, too. In the following, the general information about prison education in Kazakhstan and the importance of qualitative education for prisoners will be highlighted.

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, all citizens are guaranteed free secondary education in state educational establishments. Secondary education is considered obligatory for all. Consequently, all people are to get equal access to education notwithstanding where they are. Nowadays, the number of educational institutions in prisons is 55. There are 5 secondary schools, 34 evening schools, 11 vocational training centers and its 5 affiliate branches. These educational institutions provide underage prisoners with primary, secondary and upper secondary education. In addition to this, convicts can learn skills to prepare them for 50 of the most in demand jobs while they are in these correctional institutions. 889 students study in prison schools with Kazakh language of instruction while 3085 convicts study in Russian medium schools. In comparison with ordinary schools, Russian medium schools are dominant in prisons. The prison schools accept convicts who do not have primary and secondary education. The convicts under 30 can apply for prison education. The exception to this rule is that convicts who are in for life are deprived of this right, but they have the right for self-education. While they are studying it is not allowed to distract the prisoners by having them work overtime. Additionally, it is forbidden to transfer convict to another prison during schooling. These rules protect convicts’ rights for studying. Moreover, it gives them opportunity to study without hindrance and to finish school. By having the chance to study in prison, convicts can become literate citizens.

Prison education plays a key role in adaptation and rehabilitation for all convicts. Most young people who become convicts are uneducated and unemployed. Illiteracy and unemployment are the main reasons for committing crimes among young people. Therefore, prison education combats illiteracy among prisoners and gets them prepared for the labor market. As it was mentioned above, convicts can get vocational education and other professions which are in demand in the labor market ( After completion of their education, convicts are able to work in the prison. The education they received and work experience in prison enable prisoners to apply for jobs in the public sector. Thus, they become more confident in themselves after their release. Education is crucial for successful rehabilitation of convicts.

According to Tursynbek Omurzakov, a Kazakhstani politician, the government expends 16000 tenge per convict’s maintenance per diem. In Kazakhstani prisons there were approximately 49 000 convicts in 2013, so the government expended 262 billion tenge on convicts’ maintenance. It is cheaper and more beneficial for the government to educate the convicts and provide them with jobs rather than provide for unproductive living in prisons. Therefore, qualitative prison education can decrease the number of convicts and the state’s expenditure on them. Educated ex-convicts can become respectable citizens of the state. They can benefit the country and its population.

All men are equal before the law. All men are equal to get education. There should not be any discrimination. Educators and policymakers should take into account prison education when they develop new educational programs. No person should be left behind. It does not matter who you are, especially, when it relates to quality of education.

1 thought on “Prison education in Kazakhstan

  1. Before your post I did not think about the importance of prison education. As I understood, you mean prison for juveniles and the basic school education for juvenile prisoners. I wonder why this topic is not discussed in the media or even in our classes; I see this topic of highly importance and we, as future education leaders, need to know about the situation with prison education and the ways that they re-educate. Another interesting topic to cover might be a pre-school and primary education of children who are staying with their mothers in the prisons. The big question concerning prison education is the quality of education: does it suit the standards and does it change their worldview after finishing?


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