Ibrahim Altynsarin’s effort on development of secondary education in Kazakhstan

Development of the system of education has been differing century-by-century but keeping its validity and power. Especially, schools are determined as initial engines to drive educational movement in a country. Consequently, there are people who act better changes on the system of schooling and sacrifice their life for the sake of their nation’s bright future. One of such representative and educator from Kazakh society of the late of 19th century was Ibrahim (Ybyrai) Altynsarin. He was born in 1841 in the Araqaraghai region of Torghai oblast (now Kostanay Province) and died only at the age of 48 in 1889 (Ibrahim Altynsarin, 2015). Ibrahim truly knew that there were very wise, talented, ingenious, capable and enthusiastic children among Kazakh and was so passionate to teach and make effort on educational development in Kazakh auls (villages).

In his letter to Ilminskiy (at that time Ilminskiy was the head of Boundary Commission) he wrote:

You were right, that the Kazakh people are wise, intelligent, capable, but uneducated. Moreover, the government officials do not try to give education to the people. Instead of erecting the schools in fortresses, it seems better for them to paint the roof or whitewash a white wall“(Today marks the 150th anniversary, 2015), blaming that the authorities do not even try to educate people appropriately. Finally, in 1860 the regional board gave a permission to him to open a primary school for the Kazakh children in Turgay and appointed him as a teacher of that school. It was no easy to open a school in an outlandish town: there was no money and no support from the local authorities. However, the difficulties did not stop Altynsarin.

Inspired by educational ideas, he traveled to the villages and explained the importance of secular public education. He gathered the means from the Kazakh people and then began to build a school, which was built on January 8, 1964 (Today marks the 150th anniversary, 2015). After several months on March 16, he stated the following: «I feel myself as if I am a hungry “wolf” who wants to educate Kazakh youth; and the most interesting and satisfied situation is that these children have already learned reading and writing skills only in about three months. I hope, in 4years they will be very educated portion of the society and aligned with this I am trying to teach them uprightness and moral so that they will not turn as the corrupt people” (Today marks the 150th anniversary, 2015). In 1888 there was established another first boarding school for girls in Turgai. Girls had a chance to get general education and some types of hand making like sewing, took place as well in that school. Further, such boarding schools were opened in other cities Kostanay and Aktobe.

In addition to all above, Altynsarin was first Kazakh who worked out the first Kazakh grammar book, translated of a large number of textbooks and reference works and was first initiator of Kazakh-Russian newspaper. The Imperial Russian government honored him with numerous awards, including the title “statski sovetnik” (State Councilor) (Ibrahim Altynsarin, 2015).

A number of Kazakh educational institutions such as Kazakh Academy of Education, Arkalyk State Pedagogical Institute and streets, schools in almost all cities in Kazakhstan and academic awards are named after Altynsarin. Also there is an Altynsarin museum in Kostanay. These all result reveal Ibrakhim Altynsarin’s deep and irreplaceable effort on educational movement in the country. This person was the initiator who sacrificed his entire life for the sake of educating his nation and did better changes for that.


Ibrahim Altynsarin (2015). E-history. Retrieved 22.02.2015 from <http://e-history.kz/en/biography/view/19>

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the opening of the first Kazakh school (2014). E-history. Retrieved 22.02.2015 from <http://e-history.kz/en/publications/view/431>

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s