Category Archives: Admin

Why do teenagers commit suicide?


Kazakhstan ranks the second in the world in terms of mortality rates from juvenile suicides according to a study conducted by the UNICEF UN Children’s Fund, (Ivashenko, 2016). It is not just a fact, but sad news that puts a black spot on the reputation of the country in general. Year by year the number of facts of teen’s suicide is increasing. As of the figures of April 2016, it was counted 200 cases of teenagers committing suicide in Kazakhstan. The most susceptible age group is a 15-19 years old teenagers that accounts 60% of the whole suicides in Kazakhstan.

Despite these astonishing facts, today many citizens of Kazakhstan feel indifferent to suicide (Zhanabayev, n.d.). They tend to believe that the only cause that made them commit suicide is mental illness. However, it is not only reason that leads to suicide in fact; there exist a number of reasons that trigger healthy children to do such a horrible act.

The website and provide the top common factors that drive teenagers to commit suicide (Croft, 2016; Shaw, 2017):

Major Disappointment

The major disappointment resulted from failure in study, rejection from a boyfriend or girlfriend, family loss that teenagers are not able to cope with which can trigger suicide. As the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes, these situations alone might not be responsible for suicide, but these are factors that contribute to adolescent extreme measures.


As the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states, the common problems among teens that related to stress are worries, pressure, and confusion, which cause teen suicide. Moving to a new place, experiencing parental divorce, studying in a new school are a few unsettling cases that exacerbate uncertain feelings such as anxiety, suffering, or agitation.


Depression is one of the major causes that lead to juvenile suicide. According to Kids Health, the feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness can be caused by this mental disorder. “Depression can be particularly harmful for teens who experience violence at home or at school and feel isolated fromt their peers or lack a social network of friends” says Shaw (2017, para. 4)

Substance Abuse

Alcohol or drug abuse can lead to unexpected behavior, especially if the teenager is being harassed by other problems, such as family difficulties or a mental disorder. Substance abuse is considered to relieve teen

s from their problems, but it only exacerbated the situations.

As NAMI points out, genetic component associated to mental illness may be other suicidal tendencies in teens. Children whose family was involved in mental disorders have a high risk of suicide or suicide attempts. Being the witness of relative’s suicide, vulnerable teens may have thoughts of suicide. According to NAMI (Shaw, 2017), “Low levels of the brain chemical serotonin may be a cause of suicide. Serotonin controls impulsive actions. Low levels of the chemical may lead to impulsive behavior, including suicide.” (para. 6)

The above mentioned reasons as well as sad statistics about juvenile suicides should not be ignored any more since they may concern any of us. We as community should try to protect our children from these terrible situations and pain that they suffer from. Teenagers spend half of their time at school, so teachers and psychologists need to be vigilant and be ready to give hands to them. If teens see that there are people around who can help them, I think we are able to save one’s life.


Croft, H. (2016). Why do teens commit suicide? Causes of teens suicide. Retrieved from

Ivashenko, N. (2016). Kazakhstan zanimayet vtoroe mesto v mire po kolichestvu detskih suitsidov [Kazakhstan ranks the second in the world in the number of children’s suicides]. Retrieved from

Shaw, J. (2017). Causes of teenage suicide. Retrieved from

Zhanabayev, B. (n.d.). Kazakhstan: odno samoubistvo v chas [Kazakhstan: one suicide per hour]. Retrieved from

My thoughts about the conference …

Conference is considered to be a platform where people are expected to meet and discuss a particular topic. However, it is not limited to that only; conference meetings possess multidimensional benefits such as exchanging and learning new experiences and practices, sharing ideas, creating networking between specialists, immense potential for students and, most of all, conference serves as inspiration and motivation for many people. However, such factors as general organization, the content and the quality of sessions can impact the successful arrangement of a conference. So I will explicate such drawbacks below from the example of the conference that I have recently attended, and suggest some tips for conference goers based on my experience.

First and foremost, the aspects of a successful conference are the quality of sessions and the delivery of content to audience. People choose certain sessions not to spend their time for nothing, they consciously select from various topics in order to learn something valuable, so they can share with colleagues or realize it in practice. Thus, presenters should keep in mind these things when they prepare their presentations. Regarding my impression about the speakers of the session, whose presentations I attended, overall, it was quite different than I had expected. All the three speakers were aged assistant professors from two local and one from Russian universities. I chose this session, since one topic seemed relevant to my thesis topic, however, they provided the information that I already know or can read from a book, and no citation was provided. As for the overall presentations, they were full of slides with lots of listing, wording without any outline, purpose and connection.

The organization should be evaluated in accordance with the time management, namely the time shown in the program should be strictly followed. So, I noticed poor time management in the conference that I visited where quests and presenters started to feel worried, uncomfortable and nervous from the beginning. Despite the fact that the start time was announced twice, it did not start on time which in turn influenced the period allocated for coffee break, consequently, the first break out session started late and the time was not left for questions to presenters.

To sum up, despite of some positive aspects that occurred in the conference towards organization, the quality of sessions, and facilities provided, shortcomings present as well; this can be overcome next year considering the recommendations, paying special attention to the quality of the research in the selection process.  In addition, I would suggest choosing the sessions where international speakers present rather than locals; if no time left for questions to speakers, ask for their emails so you can contact them.

Podcasts, meet blogging. Blogging, this is a podcast.

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Podcasts are to radio what blogs are to newspapers. The democratization of modern media has meant that the barriers to becoming a writer or radio host have been drastically lowered. As the members of this blog know, this medium allows participants to reach a wider audience than one classroom or even one institution.

This month, I would like to try an experiment to integrate these two not-so-new-anymore formats. Below you will find a collection of podcasts on science, language, and education. Choose one, or find your own, and write a response to it as your next post. Be sure to include a link to the episode you listened to, and perhaps a related picture to make the post relevant for a wider audience.

Some potential questions you could address in your post:

  • What is the episode about? What was the gist? Can you highlight the main ideas?
  • Are the creators trying to inform, entertain, or persuade you? How do you know?
  • How does the episode incorporate arguments, reasons, and evidence to achieve its purpose(s)?
  • Did you learn anything new? Would you recommend this episode to a friend?
  • How do the ideas presented in the episode correspond with your own thoughts, experiences, or prior knowledge about the topic?

Each show name is followed by episode links and a couple words about the episode.


“Host Stephen J. Dubner has surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature — from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt.” From the website


“Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.” From the website
  • Truth Warriors The scientific method at work in the world.
  • Words Three stories about a man learning language at 27 years old, the effect of losing language completely after suffering a stroke, and the recent creation of a completely new language.
  • Fate and Fortune A story about choices and consequences, with a special section on the controversial practice of labeling certain children as “gifted” as early at 8 years old.
  • Translation An investigation of the gap between experience and language, and how people try to bridge it.

This American Life

“We sometimes think of our program as a documentary show for people who normally hate documentaries. A public radio show for people who don’t necessarily care for public radio.” From the website
  • The Problem We All Live With A story about how desegregation could be used to minimize the racial divide in American schools.
  • Harper High School, Part I (Part II here) An in-depth story about one school with 29 recent deaths from gun violence.
  • Is This Working? What are the best ways to deal with misbehaving school kids? An investigation of how punishments may further hurt kids instead of helping them in the long term.


A Whole List of Exclusively Education-Related Podcasts from NPR

3 Linguistics Podcasts Every Language Lover Should Listen To

Philosophy Now: Philosophy in Education



How to improve critical thinking in HE? Methods from various authors

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Look at the photo. Are the horizontal lines straight or crooked?

Visual illusions, logical tasks, reading a book, writing an argumentative essay, active listening, discussions and debates all contribute for improving critical thinking (CT) skill which has a significant role in successful higher education (HE). CT consists of fundamental learning skills such as remembering and understanding information; analyzing and evaluating materials; knowing how and when to apply the skills; and using it as a basis for further knowledge and creating new things. Currently teaching staff understands the importance of being able to think critically as it allows students to be flexible, quick-witted, rational and creative; as well as to enhance cognitive, language, presentation and self-reflection abilities (What is CT, n.b.). In this case, the role of professors in increasing CT is crucial, and that is why they have some methods and techniques towards developing certain skills.

The first method suggested by King & Kitchener (1994) is going out from the “comfort zone”. When an environment is familiar and a situation is analogous, a person thinks in one way atrophying CT. While building new and unusual conditions, students will think out of a box activating imagination, evaluation, and analyzing abilities. It seems to me an excellent chance to discover some qualities in your personality. For example, imagine, you never consider yourself as a leader. However, one day you will have an unusual situation where you start analyzing, evaluating it, and may be previous knowledge from readings will come up to your mind and you will find out how to apply it in the current situation that will make others follow you. Isn’t it great to have well-developed CT that makes you better?

Meyers (1986) has a similar approach of using paradox performances to deliberate imbalanced facts to change students’ old way of thinking. In another words, creating a risky atmosphere: academia intimidates students when their responses are not correct any more and students should answer to a question quickly and off the beaten track. This way of fostering CT may be a challenge for traditional students; however, making up an extraordinary situation facilitates the brain to find various solutions. Actually, I assume that students must feel that university is a place where they can generate new ideas, analyze, comment on set norms, and suggest logical solutions without any fears.

Moreover, there are some fundamental and significant techniques to foster CT such us listening and writing. The ability to listen to each other is a very important factor as it helps to avoid absolutist thinking; in contrary, analyze and give own constructive answer (Moon, 2005). As I noticed, nowadays not many people are able to listen and hear others. This skill is underestimated; however, the world is giving us answers each day. We just need to learn to listen. What about writing, Moore and Morton (2005) discovered that it is the best way to evaluate CT ability, as it requires comparing advantages and disadvantages, assessing information, finding interrelations, and making a conclusion with concrete arguments. Also, it will delineate ideas and understand deeper what he/she is writing about.

In summary, obviously, there are many methods to improve CT in HE. In my article, I considered some of the techniques such as going out of “comfort zone”, establishing risky situation to facilitate the brain, and pointed out the importance of listening and writing skills. Every teacher can take into account these methods modifying them, and use actively as they have been practicing widely and have had positive results on students.


P.S. By the way, the correct answer is the horizontal lines are straight, even though they do not seem straight.  In this illusion, the vertical zigzag patterns disrupt our horizontal perception. (Retrieved from



King, P. M., & Kitchener, K. S. (1994). Developing Reflective Judgment: Understanding and Promoting Intellectual Growth and Critical Thinking in Adolescents and Adults. Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series and Jossey-Bass Social and Behavioral Science Series. Jossey-Bass, 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104-1310.

Meyers, C. (1986). Teaching Students to Think Critically. A Guide for Faculty in All Disciplines. Jossey-Bass Higher Education Series. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 433 California Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94104-2091.

Moon, J. (2005). Progression in higher education: a study of learning as represented in level descriptors. Enhancing Teaching in Higher Education: New Approaches for Improving Student Learning, 111-120.

Moore, T., & Morton, J. (2005). Dimensions of difference: a comparison of university writing and IELTS writing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes,4(1), 43-66. Retrieved from

What is Critical Thinking? (n.d.). Critical thinking web. Retrieved from


The secret of being the most successful and richest teacher in the world

Many dedicated teachers have chosen their career because of having a passion for this job. The feeling of being important and useful encourages educators from around the world to work harder and impart as much knowledge as possible. In Kazakhstan majority of school-leavers do not choose teaching profession because of low prestige and salary (Tendenciya, n.d.). However, we have very passionate teachers who try to do their best even though there are no appropriate conditions for that. Unfortunately, in the society their work is only criticized, and teachers lose their motivation. Consequently, we should boost the status of our instructors and show that they can even make a fortune teaching. It depends on a person. Here I am going to talk about the most successful, famous and richest teacher in the modern world.

I guess, everybody heard about Stephen Hawking, a British cosmologist, theoretical physicist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (Stephen, 2016). Second “Einstein” showed outstanding results at Oxford and Cambridge Universities where he continued working as a professor. Stephen has made a significant discovery about gravitational singular theorems with Roger Penrose, and prediction about black holes radiation (Stephen, 2016). In spite of being unable to move, he still supervises PhD students and inspires young physicists around the world. Moreover, Hawking has published numerous science papers, books, children’s fictions, and has received many awards and honors. For instance, his renowned book “A Brief History of Time” was a best-seller on the list of London Sunday Times for more than four years where Stephen explained complex physical concepts acceptable to the public. Due to his books and publications, his worst is about $20 million (Capanna, 2014). Isn’t it impressive?

Stephen is an ordinary person who works hard and with heart, dedicating himself to the specific field and showing impressive results. There are so many followers of Hawking who make films, write books about him, and scrutinize his work. Stephen Hawking is a bright, successful and rich professor who could change the world! Why not to take him as an example? Why do people always blame and rely on the government without making any endeavors? So, DO NOT wait for someone to do something for you. Remember Nike’s moto “JUST DO IT!” Love your job, do it in best way, and you will not need any secrets to be successful and rich.




stephen-hawking-qote-1Tendenciya padeniya prestizha pedagogicheskoi professii sredi molodezhi. [The trend of falling the prestige of teaching profession among young people]. (n.d.). KGKP “Karasuskii selskohozyaistvennyi college” upravleniya obrazovaniya akimata Kostanaiskoi oblasty. Retrieved from

Stephen Hawking. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Capanna, S. (2014). 5 Richest professors in the world. The richest. Retrieved from


Spring 2016: What’s new?

Dear students and readers,

The NU Writers Guild is ready to start another semester. We are welcoming two new cohorts, the MA 1st year group, and the MSc Inclusive Ed and School Leadership groups. With all the changes going on in the Kazakhstani education system, both in policy and practice, this is an exciting time to be working in research.

If you are new to the site, be sure to read the pages about how to participate and some blogging guidelines.

Here are a few updates to the site:

New categories

Authors should add a category label to each post, based on their cohort or topic of their writing. This allows the reader to find posts based on that category, as you can see in the site’s main menu. All participants are welcome to post in any category, and comment across the cohort groups. The new categories are Multilingual Education, Inclusive Education, School Leadership, and Thesis Writing.

NUGSE Research in Education

This semester we will be launching the first student-run academic journal at Nazarbayev University, NUGSE Research in Education. You can find the blog for the journal here, but you will also see news and updates on NUWG.  This journal is a great opportunity for students to become authors, peer reviewers and editors in the publication process. More details will be announced soon.

Alumni and Current Students

This is also the first year we have enrolled users that include alumni and current students. Hopefully, some of our alumni can keep in touch and stay involved by joining the discussions that our current students are having. Their experience in completing the NUGSE program, and then moving to the professional world (or on to a PhD or some other academic program), will be invaluable for our community. Don’t be a stranger!

Happy New Year, and here’s to the beginning of a bright and exciting new semester!

Welcome students!

Here is a sample post to get us started this week. Check your emails for a picture tutorial about creating posts and tagging your post with appropriate Categories. If you are working with davidphilip, please choose Section 1 as your category. If you are working with anninastana, please select Section 2. This will help us organize and assess your writing. You will see these categories as tags on the main page if you just want to read writing by your cohort classmates.

Feel free to add pictures or links to videos. Be sure to add credits and citations for all external sources you use. This week, your goal is log in and make your first post. Remember to check the blogging guidelines and the syllabus for requirements.

Happy blogging!

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Code Switching

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You are at class, discussing the new educational reforms and talking to the professor in a professional manner; you almost look like a politician. 1:00 PM. The class is over and curtains fall; habitually, you start talking to your friends in a completely different manner. Relaxed and easygoing, you turn on your loud and offstage voice – hitherto undetected by the professors. And here is your professor, who has not left the room yet, taken aback by your transformation. And that transformation is a code switching. Code switching is the alternation of languages (Poplack, 1980) as well as behaviours (Zeller, 2004). But the question here is why we switch codes? Different researchers have identified different reasons and the most common are:

  • To match the situation

The way we talk or behave in front of the employer differs dramatically from the one when with parents. Behavioural code switching is a matter of etiquette here; there is a behaviour that is appropriate at home but inappropriate in public (Zeller, 2004).

  • To show solidarity

Janet Holmes (2013) mentions in her book that, ‘a speaker may switch to another language as a signal of group membership. People from different or the same ethnic groups can use code switching to express intercommunity. For example:

Bauyrzhan: Салем (kaz. Hi), Стас! Погоняем мяч (rus. Let’s play football)!

Stas: Жооок (kaz. Nooo)! Я устал (rus. I am tired)!

Bauyrzhan: Ну, давай (rus. Come on)! Қызық будет (kaz. rus. It will be fun)!

In the example, it can be clearly found that the Bauyrzhan uses the Russian to cut through the barrier; to establish solidarity.

  • To express affection

Some feelings and attitudes are not that easy to be expressed. Speakers may switch codes to express amazement, frustration, sadness, happiness and many other feelings.

Janet Holmes (2013) says, “A language switch . . . is often used to express disapproval. So a person may code switch because they are angry.” Let me give you a good example about code-switching to express affection.

A mother calls her son “Балам, мында кел” {Son, come here!} When he does not respond quickly enough she switches to Russian: ‘Балам, ты идешь или нет!’ [Are you coming or not!] ”

In the above example, the mother used the Russian language to express her anger of the child’s behaviour.

  • To convey a thought

A perfect bon mot (a witty remark) is needed to convey the certain concepts and to come across effectively. Many people switch languages to express particular ideas, as in the case of Jennifer Monahan:

According to her story, she works in a bilingual school and code switches whenever there is a lexical gap in one of the    languages. E.g when they talk in French and mention about a smart board, she say “le smart board”. The notion of having a designated container to bring your lunch from home is foreign for the French. So they all refer to “le lunchbox”.

Learning the basis of code switching is important in terms of self control. The lessons of acceptable conduct are defined by the family and society in which one was brought up (Zeller, 2004). The decision to code switch in behaviours or languages is up to our judgement. Becoming critical thinkers, behaving according to the context and continuously growing linguistically, regardless of the language in which we prefer to do it, are the most important things here. But if Kazrunglish is a part of who you are and as long as it is appropriate, don’t worry, code-switch away!

Holmes, J. (2013). An introduction to sociolinguistics. Routledge.

Poplack, S. (1980). Sometimes i’ll start a sentence in spanish y termino en espanol: toward a typology of code-switching1. Linguistics, 18(7-8), 581-618.

Zeller, D. L. (2004). Professional Documentaion Journal. Unpublished manuscript.

Words HURT…

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Image credit: Mark McGinnis

“Teacher, I forgot to do my homework”

“Why haven’t you forgotten your head instead?”

Most of the teachers at my elementary school felt themselves responsible for making us pay for our errors by punishing, humiliating in front of the class or even calling our parents. I always felt sorry for one boy, Utegenov, who usually had to stand in front of the class while listening to the teacher’s sermons. His head down, he would then follow her finger which pointed to the corner of the classroom. Did it change anything? No. Every day was Groundhog Day for him. Lessons associated with humiliation and fear of failure are never going to inspire children to study. The students learn best in a mistake-friendly environment and when they are told that making mistakes is normal.

Just out of curiosity, I tried typing “дети учатся лучше когда …” (students learn best when) on the search engine and the findings were not surprising at all. “When parents believe in them” and “when they do mistakes” are the most popular ones. One of the reasons of fearing failure is high expectations (Steifer, 2001). It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that parents believe in their child’s abilities. The notion that the failure equals intellectual inferiority is fundamentally wrong. Students who are afraid to fail are most likely to abate their efforts next time (Cole, 2014). There is even a word for the fear of failure – atychiphobia. To change the attitude towards the mistakes, children should be taught that failures are inevitable and they should be viewed as valuable lessons.

By creating a psychologically safe place for children, it is likely that we diminish the chance that students will become reluctant to learn. According to the most eminent proponent of human development theory, Albert Bandura (1989), it is crucial that one has a belief in one’s own efficacy:

Persons who have a strong sense of efficacy deploy their attention and effort to the demands of the situation and are spurred by obstacles to greater effort (p. 394).

Hence, one particular solution comes to my mind. Imagine those children so excited to write their first letters at class, pinching the pen between those little thumb and point finger. They do their best to write correctly and neatly, but mostly they fail to do it the first times and unmerciful red “F” is written in their workbooks. Imagine another situation where children are given pencils instead of pens. They would be able to erase their mistakes and have a chance to correct them – this would be a good lesson to start with. Helping children to perceive their mistakes positively is priceless. Even when we have to discipline children, teachers and adults should uphold the dignity of the children because as in the case of Utegenov, humiliation never worked and never will.


Bandura, A. (1989). Regulation of cognitive processes through perceived self-efficacy. Developmental psychology, 25(5), 394.

Cole, S. “Fail again. Fail better.” Failure in the Creative Process. Steifer, S. J. (2001, 10). Don’t let fear of failure hold you back! Current Health 1, 25, 14-16. Retrieved from

Steifer, S. J. (2001,10). Don’t let fear of failure hold you back! Current Health 1, 25, 14-16. Retrieved from http://

A Girl with Dombra

Over the last hour, approximately 21 girls have been born in Kazakhstan (Committee on Statistics, 2014) and they will soon be looking for a role model to follow. As history is mostly silent about women, it is our duty to teach our young girls the examples and legacies our grandmothers left. Having a real, strong and positive female role model in the history is important if we are to transmit the moral and spiritual values of the Kazakh to our young ladies of the new generation. One such story, told by her granddaughter, is about a strong woman who saw all the cruelties of colonization and wars, but never ever gave up the hope of a bright future for her children.

During Stalin’s forced famine of 1932- 1933, the Kazakh had their food taken away and were left to die from starvation. At the same time a witch hunt on thousands of Kazakh leaders, writers and intellectuals began and they were falsely accused of plotting an armed revolt. The population of the Kazakh dropped from 7 million to less than 2 million (Khan, 2014) and those who left were mostly women. Dead silence… but far in the depths you would hear the dombra. It was her, Dina, disciple of the Great Kurmangazy himself.

She was a tall, strong and indefatigable woman. Very straightforward, she would never fall in line. When her husband Nurpeyis died, she was pregnant with her third child and called him Jurinbay (from Kazakh word жұрын – what is left) – remainder. According to the old Kazakh tradition, she married her husband’s brother, Nurali, after his death. They had many children but some of them died in infancy.

In 1916, in the time of World War I, when the tsarist government decided to mobilize men of the minority ethnicities to the front, the oppressed people of Middle Asia rose in rebellion against the colonial policies. Dina’s kuy (folk instrumental piece played on the dombra) “1916”, unlike other composers’ works, was optimistic, even though her son Jurinbay was taken away too. There was no crying, nor complaint, nor gloom. All you could hear was the tramp of horses and the joy of people who had heard the great news about the white tsar being overthrown.

As difficult times began again in 1921 and partly because she was the second wife, Dina and Nurali decided to divorce. As the famine started she and her ten children migrated to Astrakhan, Russian SFSR. In order to save her children from starvation she gathered millet in the mountains, grinded it into flour and other cereal products and made porridge.

She managed to save all her children through these hard times. But in 1941 the World War II had began and all her four sons were called to the front. She never complained. Dina wrote another moving kuy “Order of Mother”. Even when only two of her sons returned, she celebrated the victory of her people and composed the kuy of the same name.

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Dina Nurpeisova was one of the amazing women by virtue of whom the Kazakh nation could regenerate later. The lives of those women can teach our children how strong Kazakh women can be. The story of the greatest woman dombra player should be written in golden letters in the pages of history, because history is “herstory” too.


Erkebay, A. (2012, January 1). Interview with Balzhan Nurpeisova, the granddaughter of Dina Nurpeisova. Retrieved         February 18, 2015, from

Hamit, A. (2014, November 14). Asemkonyr – Mother’s Benediction/ Retrieved February 18, 2015, from

Khan, S. (2014, February 3). The losses of the Kazakh after the famine of 1932-1933. Retrieved February 18, 2015, from

Ministry of National Economy of the Republic Kazakhstan. Committee on Statistics (2014). “Birth rate in Republic of Kazakhstan in 2013”. 21 May 2014