Research on the development of civil awareness in high school students in Russia and Kazakhstan

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №4 - 2012

Author: Zavalko Nadezhda, East Kazakhstan State University in honor of S. Amanzholov, Kazakhstan

Under the conditions of the emerging democratic society, contemporary social and political realias, integration of the CIS countries into an international community, issues of civil awareness development as an integrative personal quality have acquired particular importance, when a person feels socially, morally, legally and politically capable. It is emphasized a lot in state documents of Russia and Kazakhstan.

In the President's Message to the People of Kazakhstan "Kazakhstan-2030. Prosperity, Security and Ever-Growing Welfare of all the Kazakhstanis" N.A. Nazarbayev has pointed out that without unity and strive for independence, civil awareness and patriotism other parts of the strategy focused on independence establishment will be very difficult to implement. The goal of the State Program "Patriotic Up-brining of Russian Citizens for 2006-2010" is to improve the system of patriotic education, to develop Russia as a free democratic state, to instill high patriotic awareness, civil consciousness, loyalty to the Motherland and readiness to fulfill constitutional duties in the Russian citizens. A priority course of development of the Program is patriotic upbringing of the younger generation – children and youth. In this respect the main focus is on the work of educational institutions as integral centers of joint educational activities of the school, family and social organizations.

In the laws "About Education" of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan up bringing of civil awareness, patriotism, respect to human rights and freedoms, love to environment, Motherland, family is emphasized among main principles of the state policy in the area of education. In current conditions it is impossible to apply them if high school students do not consider themselves citizens with certain rights and obligations, i.e. if students of secondary schools lack civil awareness. The difficulty of implementation of this principle is stipulated by the fact that due to insufficient resources and savings, the CIS countries, including Kazakhstan and Russia, became even more dependent from foreign investors, private and international financial institutions. Hardships that took place at the end of the 20th – beginning of the 21st century: decline in earnings and life standard of the most citizens, poverty, crime, unemployment, inflation caused by recession and transition from central planning to a free market have led to the growth of socially dangerous phenomena, such as neglect of universal human values, preference of material values over spiritual, demoralization, political apathy, aggression, violence, nationalistic misconceptions, attempts to solve social tensions by using power, alcoholism, drug addiction. It happened at the same time when community and recreation centers started to collect admission fees, non-profit organizations for small children and youngsters disappeared, educational institutions lost their self-government functions, when the old forms of upbringing were still in place and there was no connection between classroom and extracurricular activities on teaching civil awareness in the majority of schools.

Development of the basic personality characteristics of a high school graduate, his/her social activism and responsibility requires new positioning of the system of civil education, renewal and improvement of its forms, methods and means. In this connection professionally organized civil education of the younger generation, its solid citizenship and public stance in the framework of combined classroom and extracurricular activities are becoming the issues of current concern. They also include such issues as reopening of social organizations for young people, propaganda of legal knowledge and healthy lifestyle, preventive measures of alcoholism and drug addiction. According to the model that we developed, civil consciousness of high school graduates is considered through the perception of himself/herself as a personality, the citizen of his own family, school, Motherland, planet. These social spheres have direct influence on the development of civil awareness in high school students. As one of the components of civil consciousness and consciousness in the whole is knowledge and perception of himself/herself, we think it is appropriate to use such methods of data collection as analysis of documents and results of activities (in this case it is students' essays), a questionnaire and an interview to study the development of civil awareness. We think using these methods we can reach our goal because only a person himself can fully express his self consciousness through his own judgments, evaluations, thoughts, definitions and his own attitude. Every person is not just a son or a daughter of his parents but also of his/her Motherland. A true citizen of his Motherland is characterized by civil awareness, patriotism, when he/she is proud for his country's achievements, gets upset if it fails, respects its historical past, carefully keeps the nation's memory, national traditions, willfully works in favor of the state, is ready to protect it. We used answers of the high school students to the questionnaire and interview, conducted content-analysis of their essays to determine the degree of development of their civil awareness. 326 students of the 10-11th grades of Ust-Kamenogorsk schools (Kazakhstan) and 287 students of Novosibirsk city (Russia) participated in our research. 67.2% of respondents answered positively to the question "Do you consider yourself a citizen of Kazakhstan, a patriot of your Motherland?" It was difficult for 17% of the students to answer the question, 15.8% of the students answered negatively. The number of students who do not consider themselves as Kazakhstan citizens is quite high, however it is reassuring, that 67.2% of the participants point out that they consider Kazakhstan their Motherland and themselves as citizens and patriots of their state. Besides, 31% of the students to the question: "Which rules do you try to follow in your life?" gave the following answer: "The most important is to be useful to the people in your own country". To prove that most high school students consider themselves Kazakhstan citizens we would like to give quotes from 56 mini essays on the topic: "What do you think about patriotism in Kazakhstan". Analysis of the essays has shown that only 2 people pointed out that they did not consider themselves as Kazakhstan citizens. While 54 students think of themselves as citizens of their Republic and show solid citizenship through their attitude to their country and civil consciousness through realization of good points of their Motherland, pride for their country and their President, confidence in the fact that in the future Kazakhstan will become one of the greatest countries of the world. Analysis has shown that there are many statements as the following: "It seems to me that there are real preconditions for Kazakhstan to become a powerful empire", "I am proud of my Motherland and President", "Our country has many merits that we can be proud of", "Kazakhstani patriotism exists. Many Kazakhstani people consider themselves patriots. I also belong to them. Patriotism is love to your Motherland and duty to the country. I love my Motherland, my city. My goal in life is to make Kazakhstan better place", "Now Kazakhstan is quite young, independent and free state, and all difficulties and problems that exist are temporary. We are proud of our Motherland! Our future is in our hands!" and etc. To the question of the questionnaire: "Do you consider yourself a citizen of Russia, a patriot of your Motherland?" 86% of the respondents answered "yes", 8% had some difficulties in answering this question and 6% answered "no".

In the model that we developed among the main factors of civil awareness we distinguished readiness and ability to protect and defend our Motherland. It is encouraging that in spite of existing problems and growing unpopularity of the military service only 22.1% of respondents do not want to serve in the army and will try to avoid it. At the same time others who were questioned have positive attitude to military service. ("I will go to the army with pleasure", "I will perform my duty as a citizen", "I consider military service as my duty to my Motherland", etc.), excluding 16.2% of young men who consider military service a heavy duty, however they agree to fulfill it as it is still their duty.

Among the basic characteristics of loyalty to the country and Motherland we pointed out knowledge and respect to the history, culture, traditions of his/her own country and will to study them; knowledge and respect of the country's constitution, symbols, knowledge and perception of his/her own duties and obligations of the citizen and readiness to fulfill them. Though the number of positive answers to the question on these points was quite high – 61.7%, in our opinion, the fact that 21% of the students had difficulties in answering them and 17.3% answered negatively, accentuates the need in ethno cultural education of the young people in these two countries, putting the emphasis on up bringing for the formation of a poly cultural personality.

To the question of the questionnaire: "How well do you know the constitution of your country, basic rights and obligations of the citizens?" – 34% answered "Very well", 35.7% "Well enough", "23.2%" "Not well", 7.1% - "Almost do not know".

In the essays on the topic "If I were the President of my country" civil awareness was demonstrated in realization of the country's problems, in the worry for the country's future, empathy for the surrounding people, and pride for the state's achievements.

Besides, students' civil awareness was expressed in the interest to the past and future of their country, its culture: in the need to renew traditions, restore cultural monuments; in the aspiration to do something for their country's prosperity, citizens' welfare. Having done content analysis of the essays we received the following results: 43.6% were concerned with the problems of secondary and higher education, 23% were suggesting to increase the amount of pension, salary to doctors and teachers ("Our country's future depend on them"); 57.1% were suggesting to solve poverty and unemployment problems (It is necessary to create new jobs, build new plants and enterprises"). 21% of high school students were suggesting to change government officials, deceiving the country and its people, replace them by honest people; 27.3% were offering to introduce new laws that would not violate the rights and freedoms of the citizens; 54.6% of students expressed concern over ecological problems; 36.5% were suggesting to develop culture and traditions of the country. Drug addiction, AIDS, crime problems concerned 41.4% of the respondents: 47% suggested the necessity to develop national industry ("It is necessary to develop those areas of industry which are vitally important, stop export of metals abroad), 78.8% of students in their essays wrote about promotion of peace in the Republic ("Kazakhstan (Russia) is our mutual home and we should live peacefully in it").

We used content-analysis method while studying essays on the topic: "What pleases me and what worries me" of the students of the 10-11th grades of Novosibirsk and Ust-Kamenogorsk city. According to the accepted technique of content analysis (determination of units of analysis, allocation of their indicators in the text, statistic processing), we started to analyze the texts from allocation of conceptual units. We defined the students' attitude to the country (Motherland) as a conceptual unit. As one and the same meaning can be expressed by different words we had to find all possible forms of expression of the same meaning in the texts, i.e. to find the characteristics or indicators of this unit of analysis. As indicators we used collocations, expressing certain meaning, for example, such as "concern over ecological problems", "concerned with the position of retired people", etc.

The final stage of content-analysis is statistical processing, when the frequency of usage of allocated indicators is calculated. We compared data collected from analysis of essays with the results of the questionnaire. Calculation was made according to the formula: K= C*100% /S, where K is "the weight" of the conceptual unit, C is the number of indicators of the conceptual unit, S - is the number of essays.

Having conducted content analysis of the essays we have calculated that the number of indicators of the allocated conceptual unit (attitude to Motherland) is 159. Consequently, Ê= 159*100% / 287, "the weight" of the conceptual unit is Ê= 55.4%. As we see, 55.4% of high school students demonstrated their civil awareness in their attitude to their Motherland and country in the essays which are not directly connected with such concepts as the country, Motherland. They showed their civil awareness through writing about problems existing in the country, concerns over the future of their country, empathy to the people surrounding them: "I am concerned with the crime rate in Russia, terrorism, bribery, corruption, hazing in the army, low level of medicine and education"; "My concern is an environment pollution", "I am disturbed that there are too many homeless people without a family or home"; "More and more students worry about drug addiction problem. It is impossible to get to your own apartment – syringes are everywhere on the stairs". Besides high school students are aware of the problems existing in Russia and Kazakhstan and even offer some variants of their solution.

The research has shown that cognitive and emotional components of civil awareness in high school students are developed in higher degree than practical component, the evidence of which is low participation of the students in certain tasks and to some extent can be explained by the absence of organizations for young people and weak involvement of students in student government.

Thus we can make a conclusion that it is necessary to continue research in this field, focusing on the educational methods that will optimally contribute to the development of civil awareness in high school students.

Results of our research prove that civil awareness to some degree is developed in Russian and Kazakhstani high school students. In the framework of our research we have defined three levels of civil awareness development: the first level is low, the second level is medium and the third level is high. In accordance with the developed model of civil consciousness of high school students these levels combine cognitive, emotional and practical components. This data will be published later.


1. Ilchikov, M.Z., Smirnov, B.À. (1996). [Sociology of education]. Moscow, p.111.

2. Kon, I.S. (2002). [Psychology of a high school student]. Moscow, p. 207.

3. Frankl, V. (1990). [A person in the search of meaning]. Moscow, p. 320.

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №4 - 2012

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