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Kazakhstani international scholarship program “Bolashak”, well known for its limitations and rigorious rules, still keeps being a bone of conception raising various issues in its practice. Despite the strictness of the Program’s measures of preventing drop outs and brain drain through providing pledge from the applicant, outflow of the qualified specialists among students studying abroad has been successfully prevented. An obligation to work for 5 years in relevant profession by arrival is a great opportunity to “pay back” to the country for the study in the world class university abroad. However, there are also complications in terms of the application of acquired knowledge in the home country that need to be discussed and questioned.
I strongly believe that providing 2 or 3 years of work in the country of study or anywhere else abroad would be vastly beneficial for both graduates and government. The justification of this approach lies on the fact that mostly foreign higher education programs provide knowledge and skills irrelevant to the Kazakhstani context. Moreover, the graduates are not capable of applying theoretical framework on practice as they do not have neither practical work experience abroad nor relevant workplace to employ innovative skills in Kazakhstan. Moreover, a meticulous empirical study on the Bolashak program (Perna, L., Orosz, K., & Jumakulov, Z., 2015) has shown that many employers were not satisfied by the graduates of the Program due to the lack of sufficient work experience in their fields. Therefore, a couple of years spent in foreign organization would be an appropriate complement to the CV’s of the graduates in order to meet the requirements of employers in Kazakhstan.
The challenges in the Bolashak program concerning employability and restrictions on working abroad and gaining foreign experience demands the suggestions on the alternative measures that could lead to better results in human capital development. In this case, the concept of Brain Circulation is one of the appropriate ones. The definition of this concept given by Johnson & Regets (1998) refers to the mobility of competent and experienced workers. Brain circulation is related to receiving and sending countries that obtain mutual benefits out of the exchange of human capital (Pan, 2010). Shortly speaking, Brain Circulation concept enables the educated personnel to be hired abroad for a certain period of time in order to implement acquired skills and experience by coming back to home country to soar local economy (Dawson, 2007). For instance, Chinese government made deliberate efforts to promote this concept in three directions: supporting the overseas studies, encouraging overseas students to return and abolishment of the restrictions on going and coming of students, and this reforms empowered returned graduates to establish 5000 organizations costing 30 billion dollars in total by 2003 (Pan, 2010). It is evident that this concept might enhance the quality of human resources with long-term benefits on the development in political, financial and societal aspects. Because staying abroad will form new work and business connections contributing to the establishment of corporate networks in cross-border scale.
To sum up, the Bolashak program still needs significant reformations in terms of the inner policies concerning further career progression of the graduates. Appearing absence of correlation between the knowledge gained abroad and demands of the employers in Kazakhstan depicts rather negative consequences of the current regulations within the program. Brain circulation concept, as an opposite approach towards the vision of decision-makers of the Bolashak program, may catalyze positive outcomes from grant holders.
Perna, L., Orosz, K., & Jumakulov, Z. (2015). Understanding the human capital benefits of a government-funded international scholarship program: An exploration of Kazakhstan’s Bolashak program. International Journal Of Educational Development, 85-97. doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2014.12.003
Johnson, J. M., & Regets, M. C. (1998). International mobility of scientists and engineers to the United States–Brain Drain or Brain Circulation?. SRS Issue Brief.
Pan, S. Y. (2010). Changes and challenges in the flow of international human capital China’s experience. Journal of Studies in International Education, 14(3), 259-288.
Dawson, L. R. (2007). Brain drain, brain circulation, remittances and development: Prospects for the Caribbean. The Caribbean Papers. Retrieved from: http://www.cigionline.org