Kazakhstan has a fairly well-educated population and the illiterate are few. The children start compulsory schooling at the age of seven and the compulsory schooling is valid for nine years. The vast majority of children complete schooling, but the standard of teaching is often low.
Great efforts have been made to improve the quality, but especially in the countryside there is still a shortage of school materials and educated teachers. The school system was hit hard by the economic crisis that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The proportion of highly educated was large among those who emigrated during the 1990s, which eroded the knowledge base in the country.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Kazakhstan, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
Schooling is free of charge, but families often pay for schoolbooks and other materials. Children usually go in shifts, with a group in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The preschool has been expanded and now most children go to preschool for at least a year before starting primary school.
Kazakh is the most common language of instruction, but there are also many schools that teach Russian. All students read both languages. In regions with large minority groups, there are also schools where teaching takes place in languages such as Uzbek, Uyghur or Tajik.
The government encourages the creation of private educational institutions, but the vast majority of schools and colleges are run by the state.
The number of students at the country’s universities and colleges has risen sharply since independence in 1991. About a quarter of the workforce has university or college education.
- Topmbadirectory: Offers information about politics, geography, and known people in Kazakhstan.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
86.2 percent (2017)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
99.8 percent (2010)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
13.9 percent (2016)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
13.9 percent (2016)
New laws restrict media freedom
President Nazarbayev signs a series of amendments to the country’s media laws, which, according to critics, further limit the already strictly controlled Kazakh media. Among other things, news sites on the Internet will identify users who post in the comment fields under articles and keep the information for three months. Journalists must also request permission from interviewees before publishing information pertaining to their person, family, health, finances and “other legally protected secrets”. The Kazakh media freedom group Adil Soz calls the new additions “a law to protect corrupt civil servants”. The legislative proposals have previously been adopted in both chambers of Parliament.
Order to change to Latin alphabet
President Nazarbayev orders that the Kazakh language be written in Latin rather than Cyrillic. The change of alphabet will be gradual and fully completed by 2025. The shift is justified by the fact that it is an adaptation to the fact that seven out of ten countries in the world use Latin letters. Many observers also see it as a mark against Moscow, as relations between the two allies have been strained since the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Kazakh belongs to the Turkish language family and is written with a modified version of the Cyrillic alphabet with 42 letters. After the shift, the Kazakhs will use 32 Latin letters.
Nuclear fuel bank is inaugurated
After two years of work, the world’s first international nuclear fuel bank is inaugurated in Öskemen in eastern Kazakhstan. It has cost about SEK 1.2 billion to build the facility, which will be managed by the UN agency IAEA. It is planned to contain up to 90 tonnes of low-enriched uranium, which can be delivered to nuclear power plants worldwide. The idea is that handling should reduce the risk of illegal uranium dissipation.
Tighter requirements for becoming presidential candidate
President Nazarbayev signs a law that states that a presidential candidate must have at least five years’ experience of official government-level missions. In the past, the Constitution states that a presidential candidate must be at least 40 years, born in Kazakhstan, have lived in the country for at least 15 years and speak the Kazakh language fluently.
Disputed citizenship law comes into force
President Nazarbayev signs a law that gives authorities the right to take away their citizenship from people convicted of certain crimes. This mainly concerns crimes related to terrorism and threats to state security. Critics fear that the law could be used against opposition politicians, since the wording about “Kazakhstan’s vital interests” is considered vague. Many prominent opposition people are already living abroad.
Long prison sentence for exile politicians
A court sentenced the fugitive banker and opposition politician Muchtar Abljazov (see Current Policy) to 20 years in prison. He is convicted of membership in a criminal group, abuse of power, embezzlement and financial misconduct. Abljazov has been living in exile in Europe since 2009. According to prosecutors, he has embezzled the equivalent of about $ 5 billion from the bank BTA in Kazakhstan. Abljazov says the verdict is politically motivated.
Government and parliament are given increased power
Parliament adopts a series of constitutional amendments aimed at transferring some of the President’s powers to Parliament and the Government. The changes come into force when President Nazarbayev signs them a few days later.
The president regrets the draft
President Nazarbayev proposes that the Government and Parliament ignore his proposal to amend the Constitution’s wording on private ownership. He had recommended that “the right of all Kazakh citizens” be changed to “the right of everyone in Kazakhstan” to own real estate and land. The proposal had spread concern that foreign companies could buy up large agricultural areas.