As I am studying at the Master’s degree program of Educational Leadership I try to make connections between knowledge we gain during classes and the real life of education. For instance, some thoughts were emerged when I was reading the suggested materials regarding the issues in early childhood education in Kazakhstan. These thoughts were about the some recommendations to overcome inequity in access, that UNESCO (2006) stated in its report concerning enhancement of the early childhood education system in Kazakhstan, which raised disagreement from my side.
To the question about what is most critical issue in this field in Kazakhstan, I would respond that it is the inequity in access. This inequity is remarkably high between low-income and high-income families, rural and urban regions. The demographic “jump” in last decade had even deepened the problem, which become a very big issue for many families. It was confirmed that poor, disadvantaged, and rural children are benefiting much more then richer ones. For them it is very crucial to get access to pre-school education because they do not have appropriate family conditions to develop.
I picked up some recommendations made by experts in the UNESCO report “Early childhood care and education in Kazakhstan”, which supposed to overcome inequity. Although the most of them are applicable, I strongly disagree with the proposal to make the alternative special facilities for poor children. This means the intention to save the money for widening the system and construct more kindergartens with just basic services (without extra-curricular activity, having limited facilities) which allows poorer kids benefit from pre-school education. But I would question these benefits. It will not solve the problem but will even increase the gap between qualities of education in these kindergartens. Another ways to provide the equity access, as proposed by UNESCO (2006), are the means-tastes fees system (when more wealth parents will pay bigger fee), system of vouchers (similar to grants in higher education) and minimizing the service package of all state kindergartens. I personally, do not much believe in the first one, because sometimes it is very hard to determine the families’ income and this measure can create a ground for even more corruption. The system of vouchers can work until the places in kindergarten will be fully distributed and then inequity will appear again.
So to sum up, I would say that still the proper way to overcome the inequity in access is not found yet. This is the ground for future educational leaders to think about and act.
UNESCO. (2006). Policy brief on early childhood. 33 / July – August 2006.