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Constitutional & Legal Foundations

In 1995, the Parliament of Kazakhstan adopted a constitution that was approved during the nationally held referendum. It spelled out the following political, and ideological principles of education: democracy, equal rights, construction of the national identity, and rediscovery of ethnic and religious identities. The constitution guarantees citizens the right to determine their language identity. As Article 19 stipulated, "everyone shall have the right to use his native language and culture, to freely choose the language of communication, education, instruction and creative activities."

The country remains dedicated to providing its citizens free public education compulsory through the eleventh grade. The constitution states, "The citizens shall be guaranteed free secondary education in state educational establishments. Secondary education shall be obligatory" (Article 30).

The constitution preserves the traditional competitive nature of higher education it inherited from the Soviet Union under which applicants to state-owned universities are required to take entry exams. In such a system, only a small part, less than the top 25 percent of those who apply, can be admitted.

For the first time in the history of the country, the constitution guaranteed that "the citizens shall have the right to pay for and receive an education in private educational establishments on the basis and terms established by law" (Article 30). The existing laws allow individuals and organizations to sponsor private educational institutions, a practice abolished in 1917.

As the control of the educational system by the Communist Party loosened during the last years of the Soviet Union, the local bodies and educational institutions lowered the requirements in education. To prevent a decrease in the quality of education, the constitution stipulated "the state shall set uniform compulsory standards in education. The activity of any educational establishment must comply with these standards." This provision also created background for a high degree of centralized state planning and administering of the educational system in the country.

The constitution created the necessary legal foundations for the use of various languages in state institutions. According to Article 7, the Kazakh language became the state language of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Since the Russian and Russian-speaking population are high in the country, Russian acquired the status of an official language. As the constitution maintains, "in state institutions and local self-administrative bodies the Russian language shall be officially used on equal grounds along with the Kazakh language." It becomes a law that "the state shall promote conditions for the study and development of the languages of the people of Kazakhstan."

The reform of education in the Soviet Kazakhstan began in mid-1984 with the adoption by the USSR Supreme Soviet "The Basic Trends of the Reform of Secondary General and Vocational School." The law, passed during M. Gorbachev's politics of restructuring and openness, paved the way for innovative educators and new progressive movements in education. This law gave rise to new ideas in instructional methods, organization, teacher-student relations, democratization, and humanization of educational curriculum. These ideas received a new impulse in 1992 when laws "On Education" and "On Higher Education" were passed by the Kazakh Parliament. They served as guidelines for conducting state policy in this area based on new national and cultural identities, and limited administrative interference. Overall, they extended greater autonomy to educational institutions. A national program of state-granted support of educational establishments was developed. The government approved several documents outlining several conceptual frameworks for education, such as the Conception of State Policy in the Field of Education, and the Conception of Arts Education, among others.

Many concepts and ideas were determined as priorities in the field of education for the country during the twenty-first century. Some of them include: transition to alternative education, humanization of education; introduction of a student-centered curriculum instead of society-centered one; democratization of education; compiling Kazakhstani textbooks in all the subjects of general-education school; integration of the educational system in the world educational processes; and the computerization of Kazakhstani schools.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceKazakhstan - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education