All posts by ladyfromkz

Harmonization – one more “-tion” in education

“Localization”, “globalization”, “regionalization”, “adaption”… within the last six months we got acquainted with so many “-tions” related to education in a varying ways. Recently we learned one more – “harmonization”. Previously I have associated this word with relations, mind condition, and mood. But education?! How education can be harmonized? Let’s try to comprehend this term in a new perspective.

According to Yavaprabhas (2014), harmonization of higher education “means having ‘a point of reference’ for the comparison of the qualities and capabilities of students from different universities in different countries ” (p. 87). The goal of harmonization is to develop and enhance higher education system making it compatible, but at the same time to keep local diversity and identity. Sometimes harmonization is mistakenly considered as the synonym of regionalization. Despite the fact that both of these terms are broad and their definitions vary from author to author, there is a slight difference between them. Regionalization implies the “sense of homogeneity and uniformity” (p. 86), although some authors use this term emphasizing the reverse. While harmonization is free of such implications.

Why harmonization is important? Let’s consider it on the example of Southeast Asia. Taking into account the increasing global competition, it is clear that countries should unite and cooperate to strengthen their economies rather than acting alone. But to make a cohesive and strong community, it is essential to “bring higher education among the nations in the region closer” (p. 87) as education is a foundation of economic, political, and sociocultural aspects.  Thus, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)are striving to harmonize their education systems to make their region more competitive on a global arena. To achieve this goal, they are working on four educational factors: degree system, quality assurance system, credit system, and academic calendar system (p. 94). Harmonizing all four systems will let ASEAN educational systems become closer.

In conclusion, it can be said that harmonization is a new vision of bringing together different education systems and making them conjunct. In the current era of globalization, it is an effective way for strengthening countries and it seems like it will become even more popular as time goes by.

What do you think about harmonization?


Yavabrabhas, S. (2014). The harmonization of higher education in Southeast Asia. In Emerging International Dimensions in East Asian Higher Education (81-102). Netherlands: Springer.

Singapore – an Asian tiger in action

We all have heard about the Asian tigers – four countries that acquired an incredible economic raise in a short time. It is obvious that achieving such results implies strong education system, as education is considered as a foundation of economic, political, and sociocultural aspects of the state development (Yavaprabhas, 2014, p. 87). I believe it will be useful for us, future policy makers, to go through the milestones of education development in Singapore, one of the strongest countries in Southeast Asia region.

It is essential to understand that Singapore is a state in the city – it has a very small territory and no natural resources. Thus, the state has focused on the development of manpower, a universal and globally accepted resource. To start with, Singapore raised the quality of its higher education thoroughly studying the best education systems in the world and carefully implementing the most appropriate practices. Starting from 2000s when there was a shift to the knowledge-based economy, Singapore started its journey towards the status of the regional education hub. To achieve this goal, the two flagship universities, NUS (National University of Singapore) and NTU (Nanyang Technological University), supposed to acquire a status of a world-class university. To enhance and expand the research sphere, the Singapore government attracted foreign scientists by increasing research funding, adjusted existing policies to make the research more comprehensible, and opened a number of research centers with the high-tech facilities and equipment. The government has also started to implement the “entrepreneurship university” model sending their brightest students abroad to pass internship in start-up companies to acquire the entrepreneurial skills and apply them further. With the same goal, the local universities added entrepreneurial courses into their curriculum. Talking about the global dimension, it is worth noting that Singapore is highly selective in giving the permission for opening branch campuses – the government chooses the best of the best, so only top universities are allowed to offer their programs. Overall, it can be said that Singapore education system can serve as a role model of rapid success in education development. Singaporeans achieved high results and did not lose their identity. For sure, there are some issues, but generally speaking I think that Kazakhstan could adopt Singaporean experience. What do you think? What system could serve as the perfect role for the Kazakhstani education system development?


Yavabrabhas, S. (2014). The harmonization of higher education in Southeast Asia. In Emerging International Dimensions in East Asian Higher Education (81-102). Netherlands: Springer.

If your research contains interviews, then this post will help you…

Dear Master’s students,

some of us will have interviews during the research study. I will have 10. As a proponent of all types of optimization, I decided to check if the time we have to spend on transcription can be reduced and.. I found it. Please check this website and it will help to transcribe audio files directly into text! It definitely works for transcribing audio files being recorded in real time through this web site – I have checked it. According to this video it is also possible to transcribe any audio file that you have! However, my first attempts were unsuccessful. If you find a way to realize the latter option, please share with us =)

Hope, this information will be helpful for you and you will save hours or even days of your priceless time. Keep trying and enjoy your thesis preparation!

P.S.: although the format of this post doesn’t match the academic blog style, let’s share useful tips with each other to simplify our master’s journey.


“And she told each one of us that we matter”

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“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”
“My principal, Ms.Lopez.”
“How has she influenced you?”
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”

I believe some of you are following “The Humans of New York” blog  or their page on Facebook, where this post appeared on January 19th, 2015. If not, then it will be interesting for you to know what followed this short dialogue between a boy Vidal from Brooklyn and the photographer.

January 22nd, 2015. The post with Vidal resonated so much, that the photographer Brandon Stanton decided to meet with the mystery Ms. Lopez. She turned out to be a principal in Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a middle school in the under-served neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn. This neighborhood has the highest crime rate in NY. To give you a picture what this amazing woman is like, check what she says about her school and students: “This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don’t call the children ‘students,’ we call them ‘scholars.’ Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff. Because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.” The result of that meeting was a decision to create a fund that “will provide each incoming 6th grade class at Mott Hall Bridges Academy a chance to get out of their neighborhood and visit a new place. And that place is Harvard University.” The initial target of this fund is to raise 100 000$. Leaping ahead, it will be then named after the boy, from whom everything has started: “Let’s send kids to Harvard: Vidal scholarship fund”.

January 28th, 2015 Over 700 000$ are raised. Ms.Lopez presents the idea of this fund to students and at the end announces: “As a result of this fundraiser, the entire school will be going to visit Harvard. We’re all going to Harvard!”

February 3rd, 2015 – Vidal, Ms. Lopez and Brandon are invited to to The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

February 5th, 2015 – what else they could dream about? Nothing, unless it is an audience with…the President Obama in his Oval office. Yes, he invited three of them and Vidal had a unique opportunity to get an advice from the President and ask about his tough times and the person he has most inspired by.

Within 5 days the fund raised over 1 mln dollars and it is still raising. At the moment of writing this post there are 41191 donators, 1 240 194 $, while the initial target was 100 000$… One accident dialogue on the street of Brooklyn led to the movement which inspires millions of people through all over the world.

My post was inspired by the latter discussions in this blog, where we argued about the possibility of changing our Kazakhstani education system and the relations between students and teachers. I believe that such people as Ms.Lopez should be an example for all of us – honest, kind and dedicated to her work. So let’s become our local Ms.Lopez to inspire our children and reform the education system. What do you think?


It exists! Investigation of one impossible, but real education system.

Tough teacher, a fear to be asked at the blackboard, infinite classes of abhorrent physics, a school diary that have to be shown to parents… Sounds similar? Unfortunately, for the most of our citizens this is a portrait of their schools. I also considered these “attributes” as inevitable for all school systems until the recent week when I got acquainted with the Finnish system. The more you read about it, the more it sounds impossible. Check it out and you will understand what I am talking about:

First, no grades. Yes, that sounds impossible, but it is a reality for the Finnish kids: till the 3rd grade there are no grades at all. Then, till the 7th grade children will be assessed by the verbal rating scale.

Second, no homework. Here I experienced something we call “razryv shablona” on russian slang or cultural shock, if you wish. The amount of homework is reduced as much as possible; children should have time for rest – after all, they are kids and their childhood should be full of game hours, not hours of staying late studying. Here I would like to mention that by my own observations for the last 10 years the workload of Kazakhstani pupils have raised dramatically – schools compete in number of extracurricular courses and homework, parents burden their children with additional lessons of music, karate, and English classes. My nieces come home at 7 pm, have a supper and then study till 12 am.

Third, individuality. Do you remember struggling with physics/mathematics/literature(change to any course you want)? I am more than sure that you also had courses that you really liked. Now imagine that your individual curriculum is built based on your preferences and extend this practice towards ALL pupils. Congratulations, you got the Finnish individual approach of building curriculum for their children.

Fourth, diversity. Maybe it is not the most impressive one, but I was really envy reading that. Starting from the 4th grade, there is a variety of elective courses that students can choose based on their own preferences and almost always it includes lessons of playing on musical instruments. Till the end of the school life, students will try all possible instruments from piano till double-bass.

Fifth, equality. All schools have the same conditions, equipment, funding and quality. All students are treated equal – no differentiation by academic standing or physical disabilities. All parents are equal because teachers never know their social status or profession.

Impressive? Oh yeah, more than that. It is worth to mention that this is just a small part. I believe that you have experienced the same mix of admiration, unbelief, and curiosity as I had. But besides these feelings did you notice a small sense of envy? What could happen if we were taught in the system like that? May be you would have been a dancer or artist now? We will never get an answer. But this sense is a signal for us, as future policy makers, to think. And yes, as soon as I have an opportunity, I will go to Finland to check myself their incredible education system. Will you join me?

To pay or not to pay: that is the question


My first blog will be dedicated to the question that concerns me for a quite a long time. It all started when NU students were charged a fee for laundry. This fee was announced as mandatory rule and breaking this rule would lead to expulsion from the dormitory. It had a bomb effect. Students suddenly recalled their rights, they started to cite Student code of conduct, they provided examples of “really free-choice” American universities, they created so many memes like “at least USM will be billionaires in this country” or “seems like somebody from administration wants new jeep or house” and so on.

We all know that our NU is tuition-free. Actually, not only tuition – almost everything is free. I would say unprecedented free. Students don’t pay for study, for dormitories, for meal plan (during foundation year), books (as they are fully provided by library), applicants don’t pay for admission tests, senior students are provided with free IELTS, junior students are regularly sent to partner universities. Is there any university in Kazakhstan with the same conditions? Are there a lot of universities with such conditions at all? The answer is no. So for me establishing fee for laundry is absolutely reasonable. First, if the university provides free dormitory space, it does not mean that it has to pay ALL services. Secondly, some students (pardon me) do not change their bed-clothes for several months. Sure, charging a fee doesn’t resolve this issue fully, but might do it partially because of the “not to pay for nothing” approach. Moreover, I would say that it will be logical to charge students not only for laundry, but for parking, sport facilities, and dormitories as well.

Comparing with KBTU where I got my bachelor degree, I would say that we never had complaints about fees. We were grateful to pay for place in the dormitory, because it was much cheaper than renting an apartment (and our dormitory was half-city away from the university). We never had cheap meal plans. We didn’t have wi-fi. Our library was small and books were not always available.

So here is a question: why NU students having the best conditions in Kazakhstan are the most complaining ones? What if providing free services spoils students? I do not have an answer for this question, but hope that one day those complaining students will realize how privileged they were and that their complaints were unreasonable.