Historical aspects of higher education in the Republic of Kazakhstan
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011
Kyzykeyeva Almagul, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
Oskolkova Anna, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan
The system of Higher Education in Kazakhstan began to develop only
in the Soviet period due to the absence of necessary amount of professorial
staff, economic decline and slow rise of school education. All these factors
detained the process of higher school organization up to the end of the 1920’s.
Before this the experts of higher education were trained basically in Moscow, Leningrad, and Tashkent.
At the beginning of the XX century Kazakhstan education and
pedagogical science began an intensive development. A new generation of
enlighteners developing materialistic views of the predecessors and brining new
ideas to the theory of education emerged in the society.
The Soviet Power brought a great number of economic and social
reforms to Kazakhstan. The literacy campaign was approved and instead of old
schools a new comprehensive school for all layers of population was introduced.
Specialized professional, vocational, and high schools were founded.
The first significant period in the system of higher education was
1928-1940. In 1926 the Kazakh Department was founded at Tashkent Pedagogical
Institute. In 1928 it was transferred to Alma-Ata and converted into Kazakh State University. Two years later it was renamed into Kazakh Pedagogical Institute.
In 1935 it was named after Abay Kunanbayev (now it is the Kazakh National
Pedagogical Institute). Since that period some new institutes and universities
were opened gradually – the Zooveterinarny Institute (Alma-Ata, 1929), the
Agricultural Institute (1930), the Technical Institute (Alma-Ata, 1934), and
the Kazakh State University after S. Kirov (now it is the Kazakh State University after Al-Farabi). In 1931 the first Medical Institute was founded. Pedagogical
institutes were opened in Uralsk, Aktyubinsk, Petropavlovsk, and Kustanay. The
system of correspondence education began to develop in 1930’s.
One more important period in the system of higher education was 1936
– 1938. The decisions regulating the order of entering high schools were
adopted in 1936. In 1938 the first postgraduate program was founded at the Kazakh State University.
But in the 1930’s high schools of Kazakhstan, despite of high rates
of their development, did not satisfy the needs of national economy for the
specialists as many of them were at the initial stage of their development.
Among the students and professorial staff the number of representatives of
native population grew slowly. In 1936 there were only 8 Kazakhs among 42
teachers of the Kazakh State University. The problems of higher education were
aggravated with Stalin reprisals that took away the lives of outstanding
scientists and teachers .
The second period is 1941-1945 – the Great Patriotic War. The
scientific potential of Kazakhstan grew much. First of all, it was connected
with the fact that the evacuated scientists and scientific institutes stayed in
the republic. During the war Candidate’s degrees and Doctor’s degree were given
to 130 teachers of high schools and seven new institutes of the Kazakhstan
Department of the USSR Academy of Sciences were organized. The Pedagogical
Institute of Foreign Languages (1943), the Shymkent Institute of Construction
Materials Technology (1943), the Conservatory (1944), and the Female
Pedagogical Institute (1944) were founded in Alma-Ata. After the war, the
Karaganda Medical Institute (1950), the Semipalatinsk Zooveterinary Institute
(1951), and the Karaganda Technical Institute (1953) appeared. The research
done by pedagogical staff was completed due to evacuated and subjected to
repression scientists and teachers. The number of students grew from 10.4
thousand in 1941 up to 15.1 thousand in 1945.
The third period we might denote is 1946-1963. The largest event
after the war was the foundation of the Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences (June 1,
1946). The members of the Academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan were the
outstanding scientists of the period. The first president was K.I. Satpaev.
However, in the first post-war years in all branches of the national economy
there was observed a sharp shortage of qualified personnel. In the 1950’s other
13 institutes were founded .
During the post-war period the most vulnerable point in the system
of higher education was a lack of educational and material resources. For a
long time there was a lack of educational rooms, dorms, textbooks, scholarship
funds, school desks, chairs, bedside-tables, and bedding. In the educational
institutions teachers and students used morally and physically out-of-date
equipment, devices, mechanisms, and means of training.
The quality of the professorial staff did not meet the requirements
of the time. In 1960 only 99 people, or 2.2 % of regular teachers of high
school had a rank of professor or a doctor's degree. Only 921 people were
senior lecturers, teachers with candidate’s degree or 20.3 % of all staff of
high schools. The situation changed slowly. By the 1990’s more than half of the
professorial personnel of high schools did not have academic statuses and degrees.
The amount of teachers with the Doctor’s degree and the Professor’s degree did
not exceed 2% of an average number of high school teachers. In six higher
educational institutions there were no teachers with Doctor’s degree at all
In 1959 the state committee was formed to centralize higher
education management. Then it was transformed into the Ministry of Higher
Education of Kazakhstan.
Khrushchev’s ideas of approximation of intellectual and physical
work and the strengthening of connection between school and industry led to a
radical reform of education at the end of the 50’s and the beginning of the
60’s. In 1958 the law that was duplicated in 1959 with the republican Law
“About Strengthening of Connection of School and Life” was passed. According to
the Law the compulsory eight-year education was brought in instead of the
seven-year and ten-year education. After that the graduates were obliged to
work at factories or in agriculture for three years, combining work and study
or to study at polytechnic schools. Entering high schools then was caused by the
industrial experience, instead of theoretical preparation of applicants . In
Kazakhstan the transition to the new system was completed in 1962-1963.
The reform caused ambiguous consequences. The turnover of staff in
industry increased. The prestige of higher education fell; scientists and
intelligence worked on physical, unproductive works to the detriment of their
In 1964-1990 some positions of the reform were reconsidered, and the
compulsory ten-year education was introduced, new curricula and plans started
to be developed, and in 1970 the charter of an average comprehensive school was
affirmed. Three steps of education - initial (up to 3 classes), eight-year and
comprehensive ones (10 years) were brought in. The graduates of the eight-year
schools could continue education in the ten-year school or technical training
colleges and comprehensive special educational institutions, and then had the
right to get into high school.
The following years the system of higher education developed
gradually. In 1975 the Alma-Ata Energetic Institute began training the
specialists to meet the demands of the republican industry and municipal
economy. In 1976 first students entered the Alma-Ata Institute of Railway
Engineering. In the following years several other institutions were founded.
Main changes were basically observed in the number of students. In
the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s 27 institutions of higher education were opened, i.e.
almost as many as for the previous period. The number of specialties also
increased. In 1986, 550 thousand students of more than 200 specialties were
trained in 55 high schools and 246 technical schools.
The scales of changes were well visible on the comparative
background: in total for two years (1978-1979) the number of graduates from
high schools and technical schools was equal to the number of students
graduated within the 50’s.
The forth period is 1991-1994. The acceptance of the Law on
languages and corresponding articles of the Constitution marked the revival of
national education. Schools and university departments with the state language
of instruction appeared. After 1991 the private education establishments -
schools and higher education institutions appeared. The leading higher
educational institutions - the Kazakh National University after Al-Farabi, the
Almaty State University after Abay, the Kazakh Polytechnical Institute and
others - opened new departments necessary for the professional training of
experts, capable to undertake a responsible task in carrying out independent
domestic and foreign policies of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The International Kazakh-Turkish University after H.A. Jassavi in Turkistan, the Institute of Culture in Uralsk, and other establishments of higher education enrolled their
The international connections of the system of national education
extended those years. In 1991 over 1000 Kazakhstani pupils, students and
post-graduate students continued their education abroad. The structure and
subjects of scientific researches of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan was harmonized with new requirements. New scientific research
institutes were organized. The network of Branch Academies of Sciences got
extended. Engineering and Agricultural Academies of the Republic of Kazakhstan began to work. For award of scientific degrees and assignment of academic statuses,
quality assurance of dissertational works the Supreme Certifying Commission of
the Republic of Kazakhstan was founded.
At the same time the negative moments were also observed: the
financing of science and education was cut down, and owing to economic
difficulties social vulnerability of teachers amplified.
The legislative and normative legal base of higher education of the
independent Republic of Kazakhstan developed at that time. The primary goals of
that period were the creation of a network of higher education institutions and
the updating of specialties of higher education to maintain the sufficient
independence of the republic in professional training, the satisfactions of
needs of market economy, areas and regions. The accepted measures found the
legislative fastening in the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “About Higher Education”
(1993). In 1994 the State Standard of Higher Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan was authorized. For the first time it defined the introduction of multilevel
structure of higher education in the country, academic degrees of bachelors and
The fifth period is 1995 – 1998. The Kazakhstan system of higher education
was modernized. The given stage was characterized by:
- The conceptual definition of the development of the system of
higher education that found its reflection in the Concept of the State Policy
in the field of education, authorized by the National Council on State policy
at the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan on August, 4, 1995,
- The acceptance of new normative legal statuses regulating the
activities of higher educational institutions.
- The first educational standards on 310 specialties of higher
education were accepted (1995-1997).
- The private sector of education was actively developing.
The sixth period is 1999-2000. The principles of entering higher
educational institutions changed dramatically. The transition to experts’ preparation
with higher education was carried out on the basis of the state educational
order. Since 1999 a new model of a student's contingent formation was
introduced by giving the applicants state educational grants and state
educational credits on a competitive basis.
The basic tendency of the development of higher education was the
refusal of the state monopoly for education, the cancellations of the rigid
centralized management in the field of education and the strict regulation of
the activity of higher education institutions. As a result the private sector
of higher education started to develop under the law of a competition on equal
terms. The state higher educational institutions received the right to carry
out the enrollment and training of students on a paid basis.
The most important point was the work on the recognition of the Kazakhstan documents abroad and similar foreign documents in the Republic of Kazakhstan. That was
promoted by the signing on April 11, 1997 the ratification and the statement by
the Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan № 202-13 RК of December 13, 1997 the Lisbon Convention on the recognition of
the qualifications regarding higher education.
The Agreement on the Mutual Recognition and the Equivalence of documents
on education, scientific degrees and ranks was signed on November 24, 1998
between the Governments of Belarus, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, and the Republic of Kazakhstan. The given agreement was deposited in the Ministry
for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan and came into force on
October 1, 1998.
According to the Report signed by the Ministry of Education and
Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Moscow State University after M. Lomonosov, the Kazakhstan Department of the Moscow State University was founded in Kazakhstan. The Russian-Kazakh Modern Humanitarian University (nowadays the Kazakh-Russian University) was founded in Karaganda.
The international connections of the system of higher education
extended. Many students began to participate in study abroad programs:
- international educational exchanges;
- receiving grants of the Governments of foreign states and the
- receiving an international grant "Bolashak";
The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan
began to take part in carrying out the programs of international organizations
such as UNESCO, ACTR/ACCELS, Peace Corps, Information Service of USA (USIS),
SOROS Foundation, the American Council on the International Researches (IREX),
the British Council in Kazakhstan, the German Service of Academic Exchanges (DААD), the National Center of School and University Programs of France
(CNOUS), and the Bureau on Linguistic and Pedagogical Cooperation of the
Embassy of France in Kazakhstan.
Carrying out all these tasks was possible through a strong normative
legal basis; and with this purpose the new Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “About Education” was accepted in June, 1999. Education was proclaimed the priority
area of the state policy which was fixed by the guarantees including legal and
economic obligations of the state. The Law in the corresponding articles
differentiated the competence and the responsibility of central, local
representatives in the area of education within the framework of the established
competence. Special attention was given to the question of perfection of higher
education to improve the quality of experts’ preparation,.
The recent seventh period starts in 2001. So, in 2001 according to
the International Qualifier of Education Systems a new Qualifier of Preparation
Directions and Specialities of Higher Education was developed and passed.
According to the new Qualifier the work on the development of the state
standards of education was started. The main difference of the new state
standards was in the fact that 70% of total amount of an academic load made the
state component, and 30% academic hours were conducted by high schools. It
raised the academic freedom and mobility of high schools and allowed taking
into account the features of the demand of labor market of a certain region in
the corresponding experts. The state standards of higher education are now
obligatory for all higher education institutions regardless of patterns of
ownership, their types and kinds.
The unified state standard on blocks of social humanitarian and
natural science disciplines in the structure of educational professional
programs was developed and issued. It was passed with the purpose of carrying
out the uniform ideology and humanization of the system of higher education.
Such unification allowed providing the academic mobility of students and
adaptability to manufacture of the educational process.
The decrease in quality of experts’ preparation, especially in
private high schools, the State Accreditation of high schools was introduced -
the recognition (the confirmation by the state for the next term) by the status
of the organization of education) .
In the following years the bases for transition of the system of
professional training on the world standard “bachelor - master model” were
incorporated. A complete three-stage model of a professional training (Bachelor
– Master – Doctor), based on the credit system of training was created. High
schools were given a significant academic freedom. The scientific research used
in training became more active. In addition to that, academic mobility
A new model of a student's contingent formation by means of
carrying out complex or uniform national testing and giving state educational
grants and state educational credits on a competitive basis to the most
prepared youth was adopted.
Instead of traditional system of educational process organization
the credit system of training which stimulated the active independent work of
students was adopted. It provided with electing an individual educational
trajectory, mobility, the big degree of academic freedom of students and
post-graduates; promoted the recognition of documents on education in the world
The system of the independent external estimation of educational
achievements took root: the unified national testing (UNT) and the intermediate
state control (ISC).
The creation of conditions for accreditation preparation of
professional educational programs of high schools according to the requirements
of the leading foreign accreditation agencies was carried out.
The amount of higher educational institutions, the contingent of
students, and the state educational order increased.
The main positive moment in Kazakhstan for the years of its
development is the preservation of society unity, as the objective result of
constructive cooperation of people included in different kinds of the
The higher education of Kazakhstan at the present stage is
- the continuous structure of education supposing the realization of
the opportunity of life-long learning,
- the modernization on the basis of national traditions and world
tendencies in the sphere of education,
- the equality of access to all steps,
- the unity of its elements and requirements,
- the continuity of all steps of education.
In area of the higher school the priority directions now are:
- the improvement of the quality of higher education,
- the development of scientific researches,
- the perfection of the educational technologies,
- the formation of the system of additional higher education.
1. History of Kazakhstan from the ancient
times: Essay. - Almaty, 1993
2. Kahn G.V. The history of Kazakhstan (University textbook). – Almaty: Almatykitap, 2005
3. Kuzembaiuly A., Abil Е.,
History of the Republic of Kazakhtan. – Almaty, 1998
4. Piskunov А.I. History of
education and pedagogics. - Moscow, 2001
5. National report on education development of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Board of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
6. State program for education development
in the Republic of Kazakhstan during 2005-2010.
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №3 - 2011