All posts by Steve Rogers

Development of immersion education in Kazakhstan

Nowadays, the network of immersion education programs is becoming popular in most European countries. Historically, the first immersion education program was implemented in Canada in 1965, for Anglophone speakers who were taught French as a medium of instruction in elementary schools (Cummins, 1998). Introducing immersion education programs in most cases have benefits for people who will able to speak in a foreign language which leads to being bilingual or even multilingual become a full-fledged member in modern society, where speaking in several languages leads to building a successful career.

Over the last two decades, Kazakstani educational system has changed, when the idea of trinity of languages was presented by our president in 2007 (as cited in Irsaliyev et al., 2017), the first pilot schools began to implement trilingual education policy in three languages. As NIS schools are central schools which are translating the experience of implementing new school curriculum by teaching subjects experience into other state schools.

Introducing immersion education is not spread in all schools in Kazakhstan, because of the few studies in this area.  But, there are some pioneers in implementing immersion education in school education. There are NIS Kokshetau and Taldykorgan. Children from grade 1 not competent in Kazakh attend early immersion program in these schools, where they are taught Kazakh. The other two languages such as Russian is implemented as a second language (L2) for 2-grade children from the second term, while English is studied from 3 grade (Irsaliyev et al., 2017). In addition, 9-grade students are taught Kazakh in late immersion program which is implemented in Bilim-Innovation-Lyceums (BIL). Moreover, 46 % of the school curriculum is taught in Kazakh by “groups with The Russian language of instruction” (Irsaliyev et al., 2017, p. 135-136). The advantage of having proficiency in foreign languages, especially English might provide students an opportunity to take part in the international studies such as PISA, TIMSS and conduct academic research at international level.

However, during the implementation of immersion program, some challenges might appear. For instance, the school curriculum should be updated to correspond with the modern requirements of multilingual education.  It is still a lack of training courses for teachers and producing modern teaching materials both for teachers and students. The new methodology of teaching ought to be adopted and the curriculum should be updated to correspond with the requirements of the immersion education.

To sum up, the development of immersion education programs are new for Kazakhstan, but the first implementation of them in NIS and BIL, I hope it will have a positive attitude and help to improve proficiency in several foreign languages of students. On the other hand, in Kazakhstani context immersion education is required to do some research to find out the best way of implementing language immersion in all Kazakhstani schools in the future.

References

Cummins, J. (1998). Immersion education for the millennium: What have we learned from 30 years of research on second language immersion?  In M. R. Childs & R. M. Bostwick (Eds.) Learning through two languages: Research and practice. Second Katoh Gakuen International Symposium on Immersion and Bilingual Education. (pp. 34-47). Katoh Gakuen, Japan. Retrieved from http://carla.umn.edu/cobaltt/modules/strategies/immersion2000.html

Irsaliyev, S., Karabassova, L., Mukhametzhanova, A., Adil, A., Bekova, M., & Nurlanov, Y. (2017). Teaching in three languages: International experience and recommendations for Kazakhstan. Astana: JSC “Information-Analytic Center”.

 

 

 

Can a robot pass a university entrance exam? (deconstruction)

Noriko Arai is the program director of an “artificial intelligence” (AI) challenge.  In our case, it is Todai Robot project, an AI which can perform multiple tasks in order to pass the entrance examination of a top university by 2020. During the speech, Noriko explains why Todai robot will be able to pass the entrance examination and the main reason why it will not enter the university.

The speaker claims that some people think that AI is smart enough to learn better than most of us and others disagree with this statement. In this case, she had carried out extensive research into the performance of AI in comparison to humans, especially in education. To demonstrate AI performance, Todai robot passed two different types of exams in order to enter the university. As a result, today robot was good at a national standardized test in multiple-choice style and for the second stage written test, it wrote a better essay than most of the students; and Today robot was smarter in answering history yes-no questions and mathematics.  According to this evidence, we can say that AI has a chance to outperform us in the nearest future if we do not develop education system and find a way to motivate young kids to learn school subjects which will be given great pleasure for further studying.

Despite the current success of AI in examinations where Todai Robot is among the top 20 %, and it was capable to pass more than 60 % of the universities in Japan. There is still an area where the modern machine can’t perform well. For instance, today robot made simple mistakes in the English test. Noriko Arai says that “modern AIs do not read, do not understand. They only disguise as if they do”. I fully support the idea that AI is not good at all school, university subjects because it can only write or calculate particular tasks where it is required to use formulas, algorithm. The scientists have created AIs; logically AIs can receive and use only basic commands from people.

However, Noriko tries to tell us is that nowadays most of the students collect information,  pack the knowledge without understanding the meaning of the knowledge, just memorizing, and AI can do the same thing. Unfortunately, in Kazakhstani context, most school graduates to pass UNT, they memorize all information in order to enter the university.  The memorization of school subjects cannot substitute “real” knowledge and “future” students of universities might be faced with problems they will forget most of the things they should know.  She suggests that education is needed to change while we have a time.

Noriko Arai’s speech reflects her desire to demonstrate the possibilities and the limitation of current AI by setting a concrete goal: a software system that can pass university entrance exams. She could demonstrate advantages and disadvantages of AI attempts to enter to the university and the memorization knowledge by students make them like “robot” where they cannot understand information.

 

Why are there fewer male teachers in Kazakhstani secondary schools?

No one can deny that the secondary school teachers play an important role to make a significant contribution to school education. There have been a considerable number of changes in Kazakhstani education recently.  As a result, the status of Kazakhstani’s teachers has improved. Despite the fact of improvement, we can notice the situation when a great number of female teachers work in schools than male teachers.  Nowadays, there are some reasons for a great number of male teachers are not motivated to work in schools.

To understand the situation better we can take a look at what happens in school education. The main problem of this point is low salary in secondary schools. According to statistics, the average salary per teacher is 18 times less than five successful multilingual educational countries such as Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Spain (Basque country) (Irsaliyev et al., 2017). In today’s globalized world, one cannot exclude that teachers, specifically young male teachers, do not want to work in schools because of low salaries in educational spheres. On this occasion, if they get insufficient fund, they will have a low level of motivation for teaching pupils. As a consequence, each of these male teachers will not able to make an individual contribution to school education.

As a consequence, of low salaries of teachers in Kazakhstan, the teaching profession suffers from low status and prestige. Nowadays, most parents identify “teaching in schools” as a work for women. According to State Program for Education and Development (SPED) for 2011-2020, in Kazakhstan, the gender imbalance is particularly apparent with more than eight women out of every 10 teachers in primary and secondary education on average (81%). From our daily life, there are lots of television programs where the prestige of highly-paid jobs is promoted by increasing economic ideology among people. For instance, a man who works as a teacher in secondary school is criticized by a society that he has a minimum salary who can’t afford to live in prosperity and support his family. In addition, from my daily experience and observation, I have noticed that modern young women prefer to build a stable long-standing relationship with men who have well-paid jobs instead of building a relationship with teachers who can earn small money in secondary schools.

To sum up, our country needs to consider the experience of five successful countries where the high status of teachers depends directly on high salaries as the status of the teaching profession influences on education system’s ability to attract male teachers. While Kazakhstani male teachers will not be received enough salaries in order to support themselves and their families, our students will be taught by female teachers.

 

 

 

References

Irsaliyev, S., Karabassova, L., Mukhametzhanova, A., Adil, A., Bekova, M., & Nurlanov, Y. (2017). Teaching in three languages: International experience and recommendations for Kazakhstan. Astana: JSC “Information-Analytic Center”.

MoES (Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan). (2010). State Program of Educational Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020. Astana: Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Two in one: Teacher and Principal

The school principal represents an important link in the chain of development of school education. Nowadays, most of schools prefer to achieve a dominant position in the educational system, where students are getting excellent grades for their knowledge. The school principal, it is a person who creates a positive atmosphere for teaching and learning process. Tashibaeva (n.d.) stated, “There are executives, by whom teachers strive to be hired in a school, however, there are those from whom they away.” In most cases, the highest ranks of schools directly depend on the school executives.

The modern trend requires a school principal who is competent to teach students and successfully manage his/her educational institution.  In today’s world, school leadership has not been conducted by the researchers in the area of educational management yet. According to statistics, there are 6702 principals and 520 school administrators in Kazakhstan (as cited in Tashibaeva, n.d.). Most of them who have become the school principals have only pedagogical education, but not competence to manage in the area of school management and leadership. Morever, our government is not interested in investing money in development of school principals’ competence to manage educational institutions. Unfortunately, the current pedagogical specialities cannot provide an educational management for future school executives. On the contrary, there are 24 of 34 OECD countries, where 89 % of school principals have education both in school management and leadership (as cited in Tashibaeva, n.d.)

On the other hand, most of Kazakhstani school principals are 50 years old. Most of them haven’t got a strong desire for acquiring knowledge in school management as  they have traditional view of teaching and school managing. They usually behave like true dictators who might demonstrate their executive power over people by shouting, firing teaching staff without any reasons . The mayor of Aktobe, Saparbayev (2018) stated: “school principals are feeling themselves as “khans”. According to research, the principals in OECD countries are spending 41% of the time for solving the administrative issues, the rest of the time – for issues of learning and teaching, while 60-70% of Kazakhstani school principal’s working time is spent for solving the administrative issues (as cited in Tashibaeva, n.d.).

To sum up, the teaching and managing in schools are difficult for Kazakhstani principals. The government has to decrease principles’ loads for solving the administrative issues, but increase their teaching and learning hours in schools. If school principals teach students, they will know the real picture of modern education.  In this case, it will be useful for  principals for solving the teaching and learning problems instead of solving the administrative issues.

References:

Tashibaeva, D. (n.d.). WHAT IS NECESSARY TO DO SO THAT THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL BECOMES A STRONG LINK IN THE EDUCATION OF KAZAKHSTAN. Retrieved from http://iac.kz/en/publishing/what-necessary-do-so-school-principal-becomes-strong-link-education-kazakhstan-0

Saparbayev, B. (2018). “Selskie akimi i direktora shkol chuvstvyuyt sebya “khahami” [Mayors of rural areas and school principals are feeling themselves as “khans”] Retrieved from https://tengrinews.kz/kazakhstan_news/selskie-akimyi-direktora-shkol-chuvstvuyut-hanami-berdibek-336973/

 

Are we on the right track of improving higher education?

Over the last decade, due to the globalization, demand for qualified specialists has risen sharply. In the Soviet Union, students were well-prepared because of high quality from technical, medical, and pedagogical institutions. The material-technical basis of universities and high salaries of teaching staff directly influenced by the quality of higher education. As a result, experienced and well-educated professionals could help to boost the economy in all sectors of their countries. At that time, for instance, Kazakhstan was positioned ideally in the economy and higher education. When the wall of the Soviet Union fell down, there were a big proportion of universities were closed because of the lack of money in the whole economy. Consequently, some parts of professionals especially, ethical German, Jewish and Russian’ teaching staff migrated to their historical motherland. Other parts of teachers left their job, in order to find lucrative works for themselves. Step by step the situation in the educational system has begun to improve. Nowadays, Kazakhstani students are given the chance to study abroad owing to Bolashak program or in local universities for free of charge. Over the 26 years of the independence,the educational system in our country has reached significant results in the global arena. For instance, our students participate in an international Olympiads and educational research studies such as PISA, TIMMS and reach a higher place. In addition to our university students are working in all spheres by making a valuable contribution to the economy of Kazakhstan. However, despite the success of higher education and their competitiveness in the local and in some cases in global areas, we could not say the same thing in comparison with developed countries.

To understand the situation better we can take a look at what happens in higher education. The main problem of these measures is low expenditure on education. According to statistics, the average expenditure per student is less than developed countries used. One cannot exclude that teachers, specifically young teachers do not want to work in universities because of low salaries in educational spheres. On this occasion, if they get insufficient fund, they will have a low level of motivation for teaching students. As a consequence, students will have limited knowledge in their specialties. In addition, the majority of teaching staff gained their knowledge in the Soviet Union. All these things which I mentioned lead to the quality of higher education which influences on students’ academic performance. For example, there are great proportions of the young generation who are not competitive in the labor market, because of their knowledge is outdated.

Secondly, a lack of well-educated stakeholders in the educational system.  Unfortunately,  the educational reforms are changing very often in our country.  Some of the them who are occupying an administrative position, they have never worked in educational institutions before. As a result, universities do not have a stable program for development of their academic disciplines for students.

To sum up, I would like to conclude that in order to improve higher education, our state needs to analyze world experience with national contexts, huge investment in education, thorough planning realistic expectations. In addition, we should not forget that the most successful developed countries have started to develop their higher education programs for many decades ago.