Influence of democratic reforms оn the educational system of the Republic of Kazakhstan


Democracy (Greek δημοκρατία — «people’s authority» from δñμος — «the people» and κράτος — «authority, power») – is a political system where the people are only legitimate source of authority.

In accordance with Article 3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan «The people shall be the only source of state power. The people shall exercise power directly through an all-nation referendum and free elections as well as delegate the execution of their power to state institutions»[1]. It means thatKazakhstanhas a democratic regime and stable constitutional basis.

Since the independence theRepublicofKazakhstanbecame an independent subject of international relations. Independence enabled the country to order their own destiny and the main dream of every nation and people had come true for the people of Kazakhstan. However, sovereignty and independence had also negative aspects. We know that the economic system and infrastructure of theSoviet Unionwas based on the principle that all the republics in the economic relations depend on each other. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the post-Soviet region, there was the economical crisis and the time of lawlessness, the country conversed from a planned economy to market relations, a mass privatization of state property was held. Democracy proclaimed the equal rights of private and public property. Using legislation gaps in the sphere of state property privatization officials tried to appropriate a state property and it happened all over the country and around the former Soviet space. In those times of crisis the state had to transfer to foreign investors strategically important manufacturing and industrial facilities.

The reforms of transition period (90-s years) affected education system too. Democratic regime, corruption, weak legal framework enabled the mass opening of private universities and colleges. Educational institutions became a source of income, a lot of state universities were privatized and transferred to private ownership. And by the way, those universities were profitable and became strategically important in training for the state.

It was the first negative sign of the democratic regime in education. However, in those period the people did not realize consequences of these phenomena. People were pleased that higher education became accessible, and private owners gained huge profits by producing graduates.

The second feature of state property privatization had a negative impact in the field of early childhood education. In those crisis times the most manufacturing and industrial facilities did have to close. The country was swept with mass unemployment, early childhood education institutions (preschools) weren’t received state subsidies. As a result, many preschools were closed and their buildings were transferred to other state departments or conversed into private ownership.

Today, private property in education becomes systemic problem. It generates actual issues contradicted to fundamental principles of democracy, like equality of citizens’s rights to education and equal opportunities for respective social status in society, etc. These problems are expressed as follows.

Firstly, now private property in pre-school education provides the needs and demands of well-being section of the population, which directly leads to the hard stratification of society. Preschool year children depending on the financial position of their parents are have to suffer inequalities in early childhood education, thereafter secondary and higher education, which ultimately leads to unequal opportunities to achieve a respective social status in society. It contradicts to the fundamental basis of democratic society that proclaims the equality of citizens. And also according to the Article 14 of the Constitution of Kazakhstan: «No one shall be subject to any discrimination for reasons of origin, social, property status, occupation, sex, race, nationality, language, attitude towards religion, convictions, place of residence or any other circumstances». Discrimination (Latin “Discriminatio” — distinction) is the restriction of human rights and responsibilities by certain criteria. Here, I find it is rational to apply this term because there is discrimination for reasons of wealth and social status.

Secondly, private property in higher education strongly contradicts to and becomes a barrier to reform the education system. It is proved by the following facts. Since joining the European educational space in the educational system there have been carrying out considerable changes which need support from the university in achieving the desired results. The state shall conduct purposeful work to improve the international ranking of universities, raising the quality of education, training the necessary personnel in priority sectors of the economy. Private colleges are managed by the laws of market relations, the principle of self-financing and self-preservation. For them, first and foremost importance are their business objectives, as without profit their work has no reason. And in this case, the aims of state education policy to improve the quality of education and training on priority majors becomes the background, second aim for private schools. This is the main reason of conflicts between interests of the state and private universities.

At the present time in Kazakhstan there are 144 universities, 55 public and 89 private ones. If we consider that majority of universities are private and that this business is profitable, it is not difficult to guess that the owners of private institutions can significantly influence the policy of the education system. And, of course, the owners of private universities firstly will defend their commercial interests, rather than state ones. We also need to mention that every private university has their “background” high-ranking officials or state authorities. And this factor is considered as very crucial in determining the further development of the national education system.

Third, in most cases, private schools do not have their regular staff personnel with science degrees or such staff members work on dual jobholder. Dual jobholder as the problem of higher education system has been already raised at the level of UNESCO. At private universities student number in the correspondence (evening) department exceeds the number of students enrolled in full-time students. It is a clear indicator of mass certification, without providing the respective level of education.

Among private universities there are universities that are considered above average ones in quality, so-called «elite universities», i.e expensive education for a well-being section of the population. Typically, graduates of these schools master foreign language, have success before employers and have not any employment problems. However, these institutions also depend on their commercial interests and they have students of different intellectual level. If we proceed from the principle of the democratic regime of equal rights, it violates the equal opportunities for citizens to get education. According to a leading scientist in elitology education G.K.Ashin[1], “elite education is education for a narrow range of persons, aimed for people from the most noble and wealthy families”. And the term «elite education» is used to refer to this type of quality education, which is open, i.e it covers children with high intellectual abilities, people from all social stratas and groups, where the selection criteria is not nobility, wealth or connections, but  intellectual and other qualities of personality, its talents.

Kazakh universities should be elite, which give equal rights and opportunities to obtain quality education, providing basic principle of equality of citizens of a democratic society.

Fourthly, the presence of paid services doesn’t define the education as economically significant sector. Educational market is profitable for those countries that deal with export of educational services, such as the USA, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, etc. Thus, training of foreigners brings theU.S.economy about $ 13 billion per year (the 5-th place among export sectors of the economy of theUSA). And Kazakhstan is a consumer in the international education market. It shows the statistics of the RK, which says that Kazakh universities have about 10,5 thousand foreign students whilst 25 thousand Kazakhs study abroad[1].

World educational practice widely engaged funds from the private sector for financial support of the education system. But it does not mean a mass opening of private institutions or privatization of existing public schools. There is no secret that in developed countries there are private universities with world standards and that brings huge profits to the State budget. However, in our case we should not expect such tendency, as the domestic university system in comparison with the global system of higher education has enough infant level. In our case, we can raise funds from the private sector on mutually beneficial terms, based on co-operation and partnership principles. Universities train economic specialists or professionals conducting research work, and they providing financial support.

Integration in education sphere is the most important crucial factor for Kazakhstan to equal-based entry into the global community, creating an intellectual framework for the establishing of fruitful relations between countries in various fields. Simultaneously, international cooperation can be regarded as a priority of reforming the education system, because it contributes to the achievement of the ultimate goals and objectives of the reform by taking into account world trends in education and common education standards. Kazakhstan’s education system becomes part of one of the world educational space, which can efficiently operates only when the reliance on the creation use and further enrich the experience accumulated by mankind achievements of education and science, while cultivating their own traditions and achievements in order to preserve their individuality.

Regarding the impact of globalization and integration on national systems of education there are different views. Someone believes that the impact of globalization on higher education offers exciting new opportunities as education and research more are not confined by national boundaries. Another trend appears to infringe on national culture and independence. Obviously, in the world where at least 2.5 million students, many scientists, university degrees move free around the globe, international cooperation and agreements are necessary. Nevertheless, to reach an agreement, for example, on international criteria and standards for the proper evaluation of unfamiliar foreign qualifications, is very difficult goal[1].

Due to globalization, integration and the global financial crisis in the global educational environment there are the following changes:

- In the past decade, we note increasing number of programs and institutions of higher education which work at international level. Many countries support internationalization as an issue of national policy, inviting prestigious foreign universities to open their local campuses, in order to increase access to local students and create » junctions » of higher education for these regions;

- Internationalization opens up many new and interesting possibilities for cooperation within the academic sphere and can be a powerful tool for improving quality and innovation in different directions;

- The last few decades inequality between national systems of higher education has increased, as well as within countries. Academic world is characterized by the functioning of centers and peripheries. Most top universities, had their reputation for outstanding research and high quality education, earn to be educational centers. Universities in developing countries remain outside the integration process;

- In most countries the total cost of education are growing and streams of public revenue couldn’t cover them;

- Among the developed countries there is a struggle for the market of educational services. Exporting educational services makes education economically significant industry;

- Higher education is gradually becoming one of the national economy’s priorities. Universities begin functioning as a kind of market institutions; as a result their academic function becomes facultative, giving way to the first position of market functions.

Concerning the European educational space the rector ofMoscowStateLawAcademy, doctor of law, professor O. E.Kutafin said: «With regard to the Bologna Declaration, in my opinion, we should actively cooperate with the West, sharing with experiences, to enter into various international organizations and etc. But by signing this declaration, with one hand, we are preparing staff for the state, and with other hand we create conditions when they can work abroad and take away them to distant lands to seek a better life. And this problem, which we have already suffered by a brain drain. But how this process should be developed? It should develop in the way that specialist has equal conditions inMoscow, andParis. In order to russian engineer, lawyer, physician earned as much as its foreign counterparts. And then he will at least make a decision — to drive him to the West or not, not from salaries but from some other considerations»[1].

We must take into account the fact that the modernization of Kazakhstan’s system of higher education should not be limited to basic formal provisions of the Bologna Declaration, including the harmonization of education levels, but must involve the important rules governing the activities of universities.

The important fact is that in many European countries the major transformation of higher education started in the 70′s and 80′s, and now they are almost completed. TheBolognaprocess was initiated only for more careful coordinating of existing higher education systems to the needs of the European labor market, to facilitate employment opportunities and prospects for further education of young people in any European country. However, inEuropethe issue of mutual recognition of academic qualifications and diplomas is planned to achieve during long period. In a number of young countries, includingKazakhstan, where educational reforms are not completed, there is still transformation of education systems in the process, the preference here, of course, is given to the West European standards. It should be noted that inEuropethere is quite a variety of national education systems. If the educational system in Europe have already been formed and we are talking about the comparability of qualifications from different countries, we are conceptually don’t decide what kind of education system we need, if education to consider not only the service sector, but the method of nation, its economic and moral health forming. That’s why for us theBolognaprocess is not a goal, but obstacles to rapprochement of the education systems.

From the above we can conclude that theBolognaprocess is intended to rapprochement between the existing educational systems of European countries.Kazakhstancan and should be part of theBolognaprocess, without disrupting its education and developing, reserving its own identity, bringing his vision to create a common educational space.

Reasonable reform must begin with the selection of the optimal model of higher education that preserves the best elements of the post-Soviet model, and at the same time easily comparable to the European model. Kazakhstan is more suitable «binary model» of university higher education, which was built on the best traditions of European and Kazakh educational systems. One branch of binary model could be aimed at training high-class specialist with a wide vision of knowledge, and the other branch — the purpose of forming a highly educated organizer system with universal knowledge, ability to generate ideas and inspire employees to action[1].

Issues of quality education and the Bologna process are closely linked with globalization in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Our country is in the process of globalization and it may act differently on the quality of education and the educational system as a whole.

The process of globalization now involved the entire planet and is characterized by increased awareness of the holistic unity of world-historical process. Value systems of different cultures are always seeking to enrich through interaction with each other. However, enrichment does not mean substitution of values in society a culture of values of other cultures. Values, artificially drawn from any culture can always turn into an ideologically imposed implanted by violent means. As a result of these values, as well as methods for their plantations, which have humanistic meaning in one culture could be distorted to dehumanizing in the other one.

Under the influence of the growth of economic liberalism the global nature of markets has place and the struggle for them requires an increasing level of skills and professionalism in order to reduce costs while improving quality. More and more people and countries are involved in this process because their cooperation depends largely on level of successfully use the by economy the contemporary advances in knowledge, research, and, therefore, in the field of education. Consequently, it can be argued that global and international processes depend on the quality of education, and the degree of international openness of the education system.

Currently, the state insistently looking for a way out of the crisis in the education system. There is a great work in this field: revision of legal framework, creation various bodies to assess the quality and evaluation of education, provide financial support and develop international relations and partnership with leading universities. But these measures are the solution of minor problems, which unfortunately does not lead to the way out the problem situation. Our suggestions conclude:

1. We must define education as strategically important sphere for the state and at the constitutional level to enforce state property in this area as similar to the Article 6 of the Constitution of theRepublicofKazakhstan: «The land and underground resources, waters, flora and fauna, other natural resources shall be owned by the state».

2. It is offered at the government level to oblige public authorities, enterprises, institutions and organizations to conclude partnership agreements and contracts with local universities In order to support the financial condition of universities.

3. Taking into account the crisis situation in the country in ensuring of pre-schools it’s encouraged to return the buildings of the former pre-school organizations in state property through nationalization and requisition.


Бақтыбаева М.Ә.

Мемлекет және құқық теориясы мен  тарихы, конституциялық құқық    

кафедрасының аға оқытушысы 



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