Linguistic diversity is perceived to be an effective lever to solve many economic and social issues all over the world. Our country decided not to stand aside and adopted the Trilingual educational model (hereinafter TEM). In terms of this program it is expected that by 2020, all schools will provide education in Kazakh, Russian and English. Currently, trilingualism in Kazakhstan has gained both followers and opponents.
One of the most adamant supporters of TEM is the Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiev. He claims that youth that graduated from school with Kazakh medium of instruction has fewer opportunities to get good quality of education and young people from rural areas have difficulties in entering the leading universities. Mr. Sagadiev asserts that TEM will help us to eradicate the gaps between Kazakh and Russian and attain the equity between all students from all schools and regions of Kazakhstan.
TEM came under the criticism of the distinguished Kazakhstani journalist Gulnara Bazhkenova (2016) in her article “A story of Kurtakys who only speaks Kazakh”, where she throws a light on the issues of the contemporary education in Kazakhstan such as failed attempts to attract foreign teachers and 58% of functional illiteracy of Kazakhstani people. She questions the possibility of making Kazakhstani people to speak English language so soon with regards to its peculiarities: “located in the remote place of the continent, far from the English-speaking world with no well-established cultural and historical links, not having maritime power with the port city, which receives ships with multilingual sailors on board, and having one of the last places in the international education rankings” (Bazhkenova, 2016).
The policy makers are undaunted by the impressive number of the opponents of TEM. The interest of our government in trilingualism originates from the best experience of the world’s leading countries. Newspapers and magazines dazzle with descriptions of paramount educational systems of the multilingual countries of the world. However, Finland, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong-Kong and many other countries have in common not only established multilingualism but one of the best economies, high per capita financing and creative teaching approaches. Thus, it is erroneous to presume that knowledge of three languages is going to make an educational revolution and uplift Kazakhstan to the tops, isn’t it?
Bazhkenova, G. (June 27, 2016). Istoriya Kurtakyz, kotoraya govorit tolko po-kazakhski. [A story of Kurtakys who only speaks Kazakh]. Esquire Kazakhstan. Retrieved on January 16, 2017, from http://esquire.kz/4077istoriya_kurtka_kiz_kotoraya_govorit_tolko_po_kazahski?_utl_t=fb