WENR, July/August 2011: Russia & CIS


Kazakh Schools Getting A Kazakh Facelift

Many Russian-language schools in Kazakhstan are being turned into Kazakh-language schools for the new academic year beginning on September 1. It’s all part of what can be called the “Kazakh-ification” of a nation seeking to restore its national identity through the development of the Kazakh language and traditions. In recent years the number of Kazakh schools — and those willing to study in Kazakh — has slowly but steadily risen.

Officials in some towns say many Russian schools are half-empty due to a shortage of students, while classrooms in Kazakh-language schools are overflowing to the point that some lessons are being conducted in the corridors. Officials link the rising interest in Kazakh-language studies to the growing percentage of native Kazakhs in terms of the country’s overall population. According to official statistics, the number of Kazakhs has risen by 26 percent since 1999, while the number of Russians living in Kazakhstan has declined by over 15 percent. Unlike other Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan did not see a massive exodus of Russian-speakers following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Russian remains the dominant language in Kazakhstan. A 2009 census indicated that 85 percent of the population was fluent in Russian, as opposed to the 64 percent who had a good command of Kazakh. In fact, many native Kazakhs are more fluent in Russian than in their nation’s mother tongue. But that appears likely to change among future generations.

The government in Astana has an ambitious plan for nearly all citizens to be able to speak Kazakh by 2020. To implement its plan, the authorities are trying to raise the state language’s profile. The state program for the Functioning and Development of Languages for 2011-20 includes the expansion of Kazakh schools throughout the country, as well as the development of Kazakh-language media.

RFE/RL [1]
July 5, 2011


Government to Fund 10,000 Overseas Study Places

The Russian government has announced that it will fund up to 10,000 students a year to study abroad at the world’s leading universities.

The Russian Ministry of Education [2] expects most of the students to go to the United States. But others will go to universities in Australia, Europe and elsewhere. Under the terms of the initiative, participants will be required to return to Russia to work after completing their studies.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said: “Thousands of our young scientists, engineers and public officials will receive masters and doctoral degrees at the world’s leading universities during the next decade. Hopefully, studying abroad will allow them to take key positions in Russian business, government, science and education.”

Under the plan, 2,000 Russian students will be able to enroll in foreign universities from 2012, rising to up to 10,000 in 2015. During the initial years of the program, students will be able to choose their programs by themselves. But the government in future years may introduce requirements for places to be filled in particular subjects to produce specialists in demand, such as engineers, lawyers and economists.

University World News [3]
July 8, 2011


Fighting Corruption in Higher Education

According to a recent report in EurasiaNet, a nonprofit news service, corruption in Tajik higher education is commonplace, with students frequently paying for entry into universities and bribing to have test scores raised. Indeed, a national anti-corruption agency lists the ministry of education as the country’s most corrupt agency.

Graft in higher education has long been common throughout the former Soviet Union, where poor instructor salaries and a culture of corruption have made paying extra fees for the right grade, or the right entrance exam score, a preferred option for many young people. Some education experts in Tajikistan estimate that only few students obtain a university diploma without paying bribes somewhere along the way.

The former Soviet country hopes to curb some of the graft by introducing a standardized national entry exam in 2014 to be implemented by the new National Testing Center. Right now each university offers its own entry tests.

EurasiaNet [4]
July 19, 2011