Photo credits: http://xn--80ab2boc1d.kz/home
Educational problems are too exceptional and important to solve them in the usual way; they require innovations and new approaches. The problem: not all children in Kazakhstan can get the preschool education due to various reasons. The solution: in order to cover 100% of children with it by 2020 (MoES, 2016), starting from January 2017, the platform отбасы.kz is organized for parents, whose 1-6-year-old children cannot get a preschool education (Turkestanova, 2016). Отбасы.kz is a web-portal with the most useful information for parents in a format of the online course.
I have done my own analysis of this web-portal as if I were a parent who needed support in raising my child and want to share the results.
The first to be explored by a linguist are the language options of the platform. Even though on the main page there are symbols of three languages available, some articles are posted only in Kazakh, some only in Russian. As for English, only the titles of sections can be found in this language. One surprising thing that I have noticed while looking through the “experts – tests” section is a small test to evaluate children’s attentiveness where they should find grammar and semantic mistakes. Instructions are in Russian and the text for reading is in Russian as well. However, if you choose the Kazakh version of the site you will see the instructions in Kazakh with THE SAME text in Russian. I am not sure parents will be able to assess the attentiveness of their Kazakh speaking children with this test… (although English speaking children are even less fortunate; they have to read instructions in Russian).
- Structure of the course
“REMOTE COURSES PARENTS” is proudly written on the web page. However, there is no clear structure of topics and articles. There is a division on three age groups of children but the range of materials is too narrow to be called “a course” (mostly random articles from the internet) and none of them is available for downloading and printing. As a result, even if I have found the article of my interest there, I can only read it in the small window of the site and have to search for it every time I switch on my computer.
- Professional advice
I was impressed by the “experts-professional advice” section as I expected the contact information of different specialists and organizations where I could get necessary information and support in parenting. However, it turned out to be the second part of the “library” with some articles and PowerPoint presentations of these specialists. The materials were probably written for professional journals because their titles were so filled with terminology that I did not even dare to open one.
The content itself is either too difficult for a non-professional educator or presented in plain text, with no pictures, keywords or subtitles. I was constantly struggling with myself to close the window and find more engaging, comprehensible and just better-looking source somewhere else on the Internet.
- Legal support
The section “Regulatory and legal base” contained some normative documents and educational standards which could be very useful for parents who have some legal issues regarding documentation and children’s registration. However, there is no “search” option. So it is quite complicated to find the necessary file and I personally prefer to use browser search then.
- Feedback and interaction
Finally, I decided to try to register and create my own profile, because it was claimed that I could get weekly newsletters from the best specialists in the educational field and contribute with my own comments and suggestions. However, after clicking “sign in” nothing has happened… I did not even receive a notification letter with warm congratulations on my registration and first professional advice. The most obscure thing is that there is no contact information (e-mail address, telephone number or anything) that I could use to address my questions and suggestions. I suppose there are only two alternatives left: to write to the Ministry of Education directly (which I do not plan to do at this stage) or just to leave my opinion to myself.
In conclusion, I would say that the initiative to provide parents with an informative resource for parents of preschool children is a foresight gesture of the Ministry of Education. However, such factors as an unsightly interface, lack of particular structure of the reading material, major gaps in languages distribution, the total absence of contact information make these “courses” not effective and not engaging for users. Surely, a substantial amount of budget was spent on the creation of this platform but the final product is of low quality and unlikely to attract many readers or help any parent in solving educational dilemmas. Of course, all the shortcomings can and should be improved in order to attract the audience and inspire people to interact. The more people know and share their ideas the more creative and effective this page and courses can become.
MoES (Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan). (2016, March 1). State program of education and science development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2016-2019. Retrieved from http://online.zakon.kz/Document/?doc_id=32372771#pos=0;0
Turkestanova, L. (2016, March 29). Um razvivat’ chem ran’she, tem luchshe [The sooner mind to be developed the better]. Retrieved February 6, 2017 from http://bilimdinews.kz/index.php/kursy-treningi/item/1634-um-razvivat-chem-ranshe-tem-luchshe