The future of our state, the approval status of Kazakhstan in the international community as a competitive state that depends on its cultural, scientific and technological development, the foundations of which are concentrated in the higher education institutions, the task of building a high level of education of the younger generation must be addressed not only to universities, but society as a whole, future requires a continued and significant contribution to education. Younger generation universities in RK should ensure that quality education and training that will enable us to take their rightful place in the world community.
The key role in modern economy belongs to innovations. A strategic goal for innovation activities and economic development in our country, is to make the national production and territories worldwide competitive in the nearest future. The main resource to achieve this goal is higher education, which is aimed at “…entering the ratings of the leading world universities”, – as stated in the presidential Address “New decade – new economic growth – new possibilities for Kazakhstan”. In this respect, better professional training, international relations of the Kazakh universities, as well as their effective integration into the world educational space is of a very important. Obviously, it depends on the potential of teaching and scientific personnel.
There are two critical growing trends that could be outlined in the field of higher education in Kazakhstan. These trends are attractiveness and growing number of students. 633 000 of students are being taught (educated) in 144 universities (82, 8 thousands of population for one university), which accounts for 5.17 per cent of total population. For example, one university in the United States accounts for 75 thousand people which equals to (which makes) 5.4 % of the population. [Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan on statistic – http://www.stat.kz.].
Considering the University as a center of culture and learning opened to all, we are not constrained to specifying its main purpose – to provide conditions for lifelong learning. The need for recognition of the special mission of the university and fulfillment of its duties for building a conceptual image of the future society has to be highlighted (underlined).
Human civilization, while entering the phase of postindustrial, informational development, has faced globalization process, which affected almost all areas of modern society, and of course, that involved education. Time has come to understand what we should preserve from the accumulated wealth, and we should alter in education, so that we would not be left on the edges of civilization.
This circumstance requires adequate in terms of time and content specific changes in education to preserve the best practices of “Soviet” and “Kazakh” schools, especially in the areas of fundamentality and universality education received.
The relevance of this issue becomes evident in connection with the forthcoming entering of Kazakhstan to the WTO, which stipulates the need to bring into conformity with international standards all kinds of categories, grades, degrees, title of training, of working skills, from mere workers to highly qualified experts.
The process of integration of Kazakhstan into a European educational system is on the one hand, gives a sense of euphoria about the inclusion of Kazakhstan to the European civilization, and on the other hand there are many questions to be answered before we dive into the vortex of turbulent globalization process. In the speech at the Eurasian National University named after L.N. Gumilyov, N.A. Nazarbayev noted that “… globalization brought in the modern world the vulnerability and fragility, growing instability of socio-economic development. Instead of general ‘place of prosperity’ in a number of regions there is a ‘place of poverty’ and social degradation, which becomes a nourishing environment for these types of international security as international terrorism and organized crime, illegal drug trafficking”. [N.A. Nazarbayev, official site of President of Republic of Kazakhstan – www.akorda.kz]. Thus, the most important global trend today is facilitation of international competition. Countries with highly developed economies are crowding out the less developed competitors. We must acknowledge that, along with some negative aspects of globalization carries with it bears a lot of opportunities. But to use them well, we need to improve the competitiveness of the country. Globalization portrays high requirements for competitiveness between national economies. N.A. Nazarbayev pointed out some factors and criteria of competitiveness among which he put special emphasis on level of education in the country. The point is that the nations compete not only in goods and services – they compete in system of social values and educational systems.
The aim of the Bologna Declaration is to establish European area of Higher Education, as well as the activation of the European system of higher education worldwide. This declaration states that: “We must draw special attention to growth of competitiveness of European higher education system in the world. The viability and efficiency of any civilization is measured by attractiveness, which corresponds to the importance of our great cultural and scientific traditions”.
The signing of the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region by Kazakhstan (Lisbon, 1997.), ratification of Decree of the President by Parliament of the Republic, makes our country a member number of international projects, programs and agreements, such as: “The European Convention on the Equivalence of Diplomas leading to access to universities (1953),” The European Convention on the Academic Recognition of University Qualifications (1959), “The European Convention on the General Equivalence of Periods of University Education (1990g.), etc.
The European countries have begun to take action towards the implementation of the Lisbon Convention, for this reason they adopted Bologna Declaration in 1999 which is being amended each year, because for the EU unification of concepts and parameters of the entire field of education still remains a significant issue. Policy document “The reform and development of higher education” (UNESCO, Paris, 1995) explicitly emphasizes that: “more and more people and institutions come to understanding that adoption of foreign concepts and values in all regions, and ignorance of regional and national cultures and philosophies entail certain repercussions for education. This finding should be taken into account by those States which are engaged in the reformation of higher education.”
The geopolitical position of Kazakhstan, located at a crossroads of three world cultures – Russian, Chinese, culture of the Muslim world, which calls to follow special path of evolution, including a reasonable transformation of the language of culture on the basis of utilization of 3 major languages in the education system from early childhood.
The past years were marked by taking significant steps towards modernizing the Country’s educational system. Broad discussion of the concept led to ratification of the State Program of Development of Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan. To implement this important document for the future of the country we need to set up a useful theoretical framework of modernization and development of the education system as a “doctrine of education modernization of Kazakhstan.” The doctrine should contain strategic objectives, the ideology of the whole educational system, carrying out the social order of society and of the state, taking into account the geopolitical and economic status of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the international community and the process of globalization in all spheres of life.
Citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan shall have the right to apply or move to universities in other countries. There is a need to provide them with academic mobility. This is a mandatory condition for Lisbon Convention and the Bologna Agreement in Europe.
All concerned about the 12-year education: timing mechanism, the content and structure of future schools. The main prerequisite for the introduction of 12-th class is not spreading of education throughout the world, as often mentioned, as a mandatory condition for admission to higher education.
The process of studying in the specialized high school must be tied to the technology applied by University based on the credit system of studying. This is stipulated by the fact that the high school serves as a preparatory training before applying to university and the knowledge acquired in the school profile should also be ‘measured.’
During the implementation of state program the concept of qualifications and academic degree should be clearly separated. Bachelors, Master’s Degree are academic, rather than qualifications. The main function of university education is give knowledge appropriate for academic degree. Qualification abroad, usually assigned by professional associations or universities receive a license from them and the right to assign qualifications to graduate.
In general, it is necessary to determine what specialties are needed for society from 4 and 5 years of education. Where and how will engineer be working with a 4 year of education and bachelor degree? Would not it better to sustain the traditional 5-year education for assigning master degree, because the volume of knowledge, when translated into credit hours, and subject to reimbursement of 12th class, graduates with 5 years of studying will have the right to do so?
In addition, further development requires a conceptual feature of the pedagogical issues, medical, legal, economic and other types of higher education.
And for professional doctoral degrees, there are features in the above mentioned areas of studying. The country can and must preserve a two-tier system of postgraduate level, PhD candidates – the equivalent of the traditional PhD and PhD researcher or a full habilitate doctor.
Today Kazakhstan is the leader on dynamics of economic and political transformation in Central Asia, which increases its role as a stabilizing ‘center’ of region. Emerging trends and special geopolitical, ‘median’ of the country imposes new duties, and represent a historically unique chance for the people and for the state to express its high mission in the modern civilization.