Posts tagged education

Kazakhstan’s Education (Part II)

Yesterday I wrote what my Kazakhstani friend, Tatyana, had written about her views on the educational system she was a part of during the former Soviet Union and two years into the reforms with Kazakhstan as a new nation. Tatyana was not altogether positive in her perspective.   We were the first PC group and so there was much to learn about a country we all knew so little about.  Tatyana at least had lived in the U.S. for one year and could speak with authority about education when she compared both systems, western with her own.  Here is the rest of what she told the 30 Peace Corps volunteers on what to expect when they went to their respective villages once training was over:

“…Now when Kazakhstan has become an independent state [as of two years before in 1991], schools got an opportunity to experiment with the curriculum, introduce elective courses thus being more flexible.  During the reform, four new subjects were introduced to add to the 22 subjects on the curriculum of the 11-year school:

1)   Acquaintance with the Surrounding World (1st and 2nd grades)

2)   Computer Science and Computer Technology ( 10th– 11th grades)

3)   The Ethics and Psychology of Family Life (9th and 10th grades) but this subject totally failed.  There were no books, no specialists in this area to conduct decent lessons. The subject in our school I remember was taught by whomever agreed to do it.  One teacher simply used to tell the students stories about her family, setting it up as an example of good family relations. She seemed to like it. But by the end of the term, the students knew everything about her family life and stopped going to her class.

4)   Fundamentals of production choice of profession (8th-9th grades)

So in general, most of the point of the new reform could not be implemented and were a complete failure.  Others, such as the introduction of computer science and technology proved to be quite successful with the exception that a lot of schools are still not properly facilitated.

Now when Kazakhstan became an independent state, schools seem to have a broad field for experimenting.  Our government seems to understand now that the essence of a reform is not in dictating from above what, where and how should be done, but in providing favorable conditions for the school development, as Shaisultan Shayahmetov put it.

Having completed one’s secondary education, one can either start working or go on to college. (Institution of Higher Learning). There are universities and so-called “Institutes” in Kazakhstan. Universities are more academically oriented, while institutes are both academic and practice oriented.  There are no degrees here equivalent to those of bachelors (BA) or masters (MA). As a rule, students spent five years in college, institute or university.  To be admitted to an institute or university, you have to pass a series of oral and written tests.

Education in Kazakhstan has, until recently, been free on all levels and subsidized by the government.  Now, when the country is changing to a market place economy, the system of education is also undergoing profound changes.”

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Differences of education between China and America

One of our more astute students in this summer’s orientation program for 38 Chinese students spelled out the differences he saw in education:

“Every country has has its own style of education. In China students study many kinds of subjects from primary school,they study for passing the tests and graduate from school and finding a job. In China, the most important exam is the university entrance exam. It will decide which university you can enter and it will effect your job in the future. “Anybody can get into college in the USA” which was said by Malaysians. It is true and if you want to graduate from the university of USA you should get enough credits, so you must study if you want to graduate. In China,it is hard to enter the college,but it is easier to graduate than the universities of USA.

Students’ reaction in the class are also different between China and America.I have studied in the university for 1 week now and I have found American students are more active than Chinese students. Maybe Chinese students come to a strange situation may be one reason why they are silent in the class. But as being a Chinese student for 14 years, i think it is not the focal point. Because in China when teachers ask a question there will be few students who will answer the question actively. Most students will be silent, just sit there and look at the teacher. Not like the American students will stand up quickly and call out excitedly, “Pick me, pick me.” This kind of situation only appears in Chinese primary school. I think it is because Chinese education focus more on the exam than the students’ ability at ordinary time.

In the USA professors may put more emphasis on the students’ ordinary ability and I feel that American students get on with professors well,they just like friends.They can call professors’ name like we can call Dr._________ only common name of “Tony!” In China there is a estrangement between professors or teachers and students.We are asked to call teacher DR.*** or sir/madam.Maybe this is a reason why Chinese students keep silence in the class,not because of “Silence is golden.”

In China students are always studying in the classroom,there is few social practice and the subjects in senior high school there will be only 4 at last, so it is boring when you always learn these 4 subjects all the day. Students become inanimate, they only know how to pass the exam.It is the disadvantage of Chinese education.

Many rich men like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs….they succeeded in their enterprise but they had not finished their academic studies in college. And it has many examples in USA, but there are few in China. In China people regard degree as more important than one’s real ability, so it is hard to appear a talent who can carve out without graduating from high degree. It will bury many talents and it is a kind of outflow of talents. In USA,there is more free space to learn, that is one reason why many people in China want to study in USA.

It is just my opinion about the difference of education between China and America.And there are many other ways to know the difference between the Chinese and American culture, not only from the education,but also the other culture like food or language.”

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Answers to Questions about Kazakhstan (Part III)

If you look at yesterday and the day before, you will see that I have gotten off the track on blogging about human trafficking.  Currently I am in the middle of answering 12 questions about Kazakhstan, from MY perspective.  I enjoyed doing this little assignment and got carried away on the very first question.  In subsequent questions, I am not as knowledgeable about Kazakhstan.  Therefore, I do make more than a “comment” on the educational system and this is the last part of my answer to the first question:

“Again, I have to reiterate I am only going on what I have heard and a couple of things that I observed outside of the two main cities of Astana and Almaty.  What I DID encounter first hand at the university level and it would be no different in the elementary and secondary level is that there is the Asian trait of acquiescing to your superiors no matter how unintelligent they are.  I witnessed first hand how those who had no knowledge in writing of English expected others who were younger and more talented to do the grunt work. They would make their edicts known but had not a clue about how ineffectual they were.  They commanded respect and only surrounded themselves with those who obeyed orders.  Some of the teachers and administrators I worked alongside could not even speak English that well and they were of course embarrassed when students challenged them on that.  There is a Kazakh term for that kind of student, “naglyi” and they are considered brazen and impudent. These smart students are not passively obedient and not subservient to the teacher-centered teacher.

Yes, the Kazakh culture seems to work against itself and favoritism goes on to give jobs to those who have Kazakh background and knowledge of the language so it seems that reverse discrimination is going on against those who are Russian ethnicity.  It seems it is “pay back” time for the people who brought the Soviet way of thinking and educating to the Kazakh nomads 50-70 years ago.

One other thing that is observed with education, those Kazakh or Kazakhstani teachers who had a good command of English in speaking or writing were snapped up right away as translators by the multinational companies.  They made more money translating than teaching.  So, what was broken to begin with back in 1991 became even more broken because the money was NOT in teaching anymore.  Not that it ever was.  Those who couldn’t do anything else remained in the teaching profession. However, some Kazakh and Kazakhstani teachers were very dedicated to what they believed would improve their country by teaching their pupils to become future leaders.

However, the “slave mentality” that I saw exist in the one “western” university I taught at in Almaty was enough for me to know that even the best of the Kazakh national universities throughout the city of Almaty had a lot of corruption and nepotism going on which has not improved on educating and preparing young Kazakh students for the 21st century and to be a part of the western world.

I could go on and on with this topic.  I tried to get this down to a capsule after my 3 ½ years of teaching and working alongside dedicated Kazakh and Kazakhstani teachers.  One last thing that is important to know.  The Kazakhs inherited the phrase Soviet motto “Initiative is punitive.” This means that if you are at all creative or think outside the box, you will be cut down.  So, you have to go lockstep with the rest of the faculty and not color outside the lines if you want to get ahead.  Therefore, the curriculum is set, do NOT transgress by doing something new or innovative.

Let’s just say that that mentality is very difficult for any westerner to observe when we as children are encouraged to be creative and to think outside of the box.  East meets West and teacher-centered meets student-centered.  It was a very interesting sociological experiment that I saw every day while I lived in Kazakhstan as an American educator.

Oh, one last thing is that plagiarism is rife and that is not a good thing for those students who are preparing to go overseas to learn at western universities.  I had one student who was taking a TOEFL preparation class and apparently her parents had money so she thought she would be able to buy off the exam.  Many of the students from rich families can buy off their Kazakh teachers and receive A grades in their own institutions but they are faced with reality when coming up against western standards of excellence and honesty.”

(to be continued)

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Answers to Questions about Kazakhstan (Part II)

Yesterday I wrote about Kazakhstan’s education, as *I* know it. Today I will continue to answer the BIG question about education which I feel I know something about but from a westerner’s perspective.  In upcoming days I will answer more questions of the 12 that were sent to me by someone who is curious about Kazakhstan.  More than a comment on education, I wrote three pages in answering his first question. 8)

“Currently the reports I heard was that Kazakh teachers were hardly paid anything (about $100 a month in the elementary rural schools) At the western university in Almaty where I taught, some were paid $1,000 a month which was very competitive and very much the exception to the rule in the other national universities in the city.  No wonder bribery and corruption exists among teachers and administrators alike. Sadly, these teachers had very little in terms of resources to teach with as well.

As of only two-three years ago, according to Kazakh laws, it is mandatory for all children in Kazakhstan to know THREE languages (Russian, Kazakh and English) and unfortunately the teachers hired are hardly qualified to know all three languages proficiently.  Especially this is true of the Kazakhstanis (ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Germans) and even of those Kazakhs who were forced to not learn their own language if they wanted to get ahead as a Soviet.

Picture this, if you have unhappy, underpaid teachers who are forced to teach a curriculum they don’t want to teach, then you have very unhappy children who are locked into a kind of prison to master so much material. The schools are filled to capacity and the way to work around that is to have morning sessions and then afternoon sessions. One family with two children might have to escort their one child to the first session in the morning while the second child might be scheduled for the second half of the day in the same school.  Who can have a full time, demanding job with having to pick up your youngsters at varying times of day?  That’s how they work around the scarcity of school buildings.

The school children I would see with their uniforms and who attended the Orken [Kazakh word for “intellectual”] schools looked so tired and worn out. They would have big backpacks on their back and all they did was study and study or play chess in their free time.  I thought they looked like they were pressured in the intellectual schools because they had high stakes from their parents to perform and do well. Needless to say, the suicide rate in Kazakhstan among young people has surpassed that of Russia according to an international survey that was taken.

In the rural schools, which I did not have the pleasure to visit except for one visit an hour outside of Astana, the school looked clean and immaculate.  There were huge plants in every window which was common to see in any old style Soviet school. However, there was no indoor plumbing, the children had to go outside to an outhouse to go to the bathroom. In the dead of winter, that would prove a challenge when temps drop to 20 below zero F.  The library had old, yellowed books that were from vintage Moscow publishing houses.  The money that should have been funneled to the rural areas was being pumped into the fancy new schools in the big cities.  Regrettably the money went to the Orken schools and to Nazarbayev University in Astana.

My question of why more money from the centralized educational system in Astana was not going to where it was needed most was answered with one word: corruption.  The money allocated to administrators in the “sticks” would not get to the teachers or to improve the schools.  Lack of trust went against those in the far reaches of the country by those administrators in the Department of Education housed in Astana.  That’s not to say that administrators in schools in the big cities can be trusted, some were probably lining their pockets and taking bribes as well.

Also, I had heard reported that if computer centers were set up in the rural areas, there were not enough skilled people with know-how on how to run them or to fix whatever problems there might be.  Maybe in some places there was no electricity, maybe in other places no Internet connection.  The teachers suffered for lack of knowledge and as a result the students suffered.  A typical vicious circle downward in any developing nation when trying to keep pace with twenty-first century technology.  Kazakhstan is no exception.”

(To be continued)

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Answers to Questions about Kazakhstan

Today I will take a departure from my usual writing about human trafficking issues. Recently I was asked to answer some questions about Kazakhstan and I felt ill equipped to do so.  I made sure that those who were asking the questions knew that I was an outsider to this complex country and that they would only get answers from my American perspective.  That didn’t seem to dissuade them to ask 11 questions of me despite my disclaimer.  I will parse out my thoughts for my reading audience over the next week so you have something to read over Christmas break if you are fortunate to have a few days off.

The following are my answers off the top of my head, obviously I had MORE than a “comment” about the educational system in Kazakhstan. I have blog material which covers every day I taught in Almaty and Astana from fall of 2007 to March of 2011:

1.      Can you comment on the education system in Kazakhstan?

This question is my favorite and what I mostly blogged about the 3 ½ years I lived in Almaty and Astana. Essentially, if you could put everything I wrote into a bite-sized capsule it would be this:  Kazakhstan, after the fall of the former Soviet Union, inherited a very broken system of education.

However, I am quick to add that the standards the Soviet Union initially had in place were competitive because they did have intellectual integrity yet by the time it trickled down from the centralized system of governance from Moscow to the far reaches of Central Asia, there were different permutations of what “education” looked like. I would also add that what was very broken as of 20 years ago has become even worse under the current system of education in Kazakhstan.  I will elaborate on that later but first I will explain how I define “broken” in terms of what the Soviet Union handed to the Kazakhs.

It did not matter what former republic you looked at whether it was, for example, Estonia, Georgia or Ukraine, all the schools had the same textbooks, curriculum and style of teaching from the top down, from Moscow’s department of education. One size fits all.  How quickly each former republic of the USSR embraced the Soviet style of education depended on how closely they were aligned to a teacher-centered type of classroom and Soviet principles.

But take, for example, what the Kazakh nomads historically had to know about cattle and sheep raising and transform that kind of knowledge to a collective farm where they were supposed to change to become farmers? Well, they were doomed to failure from the beginning because herdsmen and shepherds are not the same as farmers.  In Ukraine, when collectivization happened in the 1930s, it was easier for a peasant Ukrainian farmer to think in terms of farming on a collective.  But for a Kazakh who only knew the freedom of the steppes as grazing lands for sheep, horses and cattle to change over to farming, that was a significantly different story. A very sad story indeed.  Millions of Kazakhs died of starvation when collectivization was enforced.

Therefore, you had Kazakhs who were historically nomadic and who knew where their property lines were for the different seasons to move their livestock but then the Soviet Union came along and prohibited their language and their cultural traditions. As late as the 1970s, the weaving of the dowry carpet of a young Kazakh bride which told her own story was prohibited.  It was considered too cultural and everyone was to think Soviet and not one’s own ethnic heritage.

The Kazakhs learned very quickly after being forced into a starvation period (1930s) that the only way to survive as a people, they needed to learn Russian and NOT speak Kazakh anymore. Those Kazakhs who went through the educational system in the bigger cities forsook their own culture and language but now are called “pretend” Kazakhs.  They are called shala Kazakhs, since they are only Kazakh skin deep and no further. But I get ahead of myself in answering this question since it is a large and comprehensive one to try to answer.

(to be continued)

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Leadership and Education…after a month long hiatus

I didn’t expect I would write on this blog again once home in the U.S. However, I have great quotes that Kazakh students have written saved up on my computer that I just could not ignore.  As an educator for over 30 years, I think it is absolutely important to keep writing on these issues about education that concern Kazakhstan deeply.  Education, according to Sir William Halley, British newspaper editor and broadcasting administrator should reflect this: “Education would be so much more effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school, every boy and girl should know how much they do not know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.”

While I taught in Kazakhstan in the last three and a half years, both in Almaty and Astana, I not only filled my students minds with facts but also hopefully moved their hearts.  I hope that the leaders of the westernized universities in Kazakhstan would understand the following quote attributed to an unknown author: “Outstanding leaders appeal to the hearts of their followers, not their minds.”  However, those administrators in universities throughout Kazakhstan are driven by Soviet practices which they learned in pedagogical institutes many years ago.  Sadly, they are teacher-centered in their approach as administrators and many are sorely outdated to keep up with the speed of the 21st century. I would like to remind them and my former students what Socrates knew:  “In every person there is a sun.  Just let them shine.”  Today’s Kazakh and Kazakhstani students are told over and over again they are the future of Kazakhstan but their own educators are not about letting them shine as individuals with their God-given strengths and talents.

The following is what one Kazakh student wrote, which encouraged me:  “I like reading.  One of my favorite books is “Abai” by Muhtar Auezov.  Abai was a great Kazakh poet, he lived in 1845-1904.  He exposed human vices, such as greediness, covetousness, duplicity, laziness, etc. in his works.  He did a lot for the enlightenment of Kazakh people. In his book Auezov describes Abai’s life, his experiences and difficulties he faced.” I need to find and read this book by Auezov in the U.S. if it has been translated into English, I doubt it though.

Finally, a British parliamentarian, Benjamin Disraeli is quoted as saying the following:  “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”  I think the following piece written by an informed Kazakh student about leadership is on the same, right track when she wrote about Olzhas Suleimenov.  If only there would be some champions to push to the public awareness about human trafficking.  That is today’s “nuclear sites” in rural Kazakhstan and other poorer countries in Central Asia:

“I would like to refer to one of the bright examples of leadership from Kazakh history, Olzhas Suleimenov.  He is known in Kazakhstan and other countries for his political activity, poetic works and anti-nuclear activity.  His name became known worldwide in 1989, when he led the movement called Nevada-Semipalatinsk.  It was aimed on closing nuclear sites in the Semipalatinsk area of Kazakhstan. He showed outstanding leadership skills during this movement.  It is really difficult and dangerous to rise against governmental machine of power and defend rights of people, who became victims because of nuclear testings in the region.  People were talking about closing nuclear test sites, but only to each other. 

And only Olzhas Suleimenov called people to fight for their rights.  Olzhas Suleimenov is a person who ideally suits the word “effective leader.”  First of all, he knew what he was going for.  He knew the risks, aims and he know that people would follow him.  At the same time, he worried for the future of his nation, he believed that people should fight for their rights.  He showed responsibility towards people and was brave enough to fight for their rights.  These qualities deserve admiring of this person and striving to follow suit.”

 

 

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More Kazakh Teachers’ Writings

I’ve been privileged to read through many Kazakh and Kazakhstani teachers’ essays. They were “tested” and wrote these essays in the time allotment of half hour with an option of writing an answer to one or the other of my two questions.  This essay below answers how they can make a difference for the future of their country of Kazakhstan.  If I have more teachers to test, I will try for a different question because this is on the minds of every person in education in Kazakhstan.  Obviously, they have ready answers and this one from Semey is a very good one:

“I’ve been working as a teacher for more than 30 years and I am convinced that teachers are a special category of citizens who make their own contribution into their country’s future.  We should always stay young otherwise our students won’t follow our ideas.  Our country develops rather quickly, a lot of information gets from TV and Internet practically daily and a teacher should be able to cope with all this.  I see my aim as a teacher to help children grow up with a great load of knowledge on my subject, that is English, so they must be able to speak English fluently and understand grammar.  I remember the time when English was the only purpose of my students, they simply wanted to know the language and dreamt of being a translator.

Nowadays, students want to become specialists in fields other than English but proficiency and fluency in English are regarded highly.  So, the best way is to teach everybody as if for being an interpreter and let him or her chooe their life career themselves.  I think I can make a difference for the future of Kazakhstan by giving my students that level of knowing English that will help them become really useful and necessary for their country.  Society is a rather complicated machine and it works properly only when all the details are in their places.  So, I clearly understand my place among the variety of different details, I am not the main one, but not the least.  I am part of the chain and my responsibility is to provide future generations with the knowledge of English.  This will lead to mutual understanding between people and as a result, to a bigger progress of our country.

In a hundred years from now, nobody will remember me, but I shall live in my students’ ideas, I will be important as I was important in the life of a child.”

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“Competence of a Nation” (Part III)

I think the writing of these English teachers from Kazakhstan are helpful to know that they are VERY aware what needs to change in the educational systems they have inherited from the former Soviet Union.  The younger people with ideas and energy can make a difference. This young 20 something, Kazakh woman admitted the following:

“Kazakhstan is one of the developing countries.  It is just entering the world educational field.  It has been changing its paradigms of education.  It is very difficult to accept and inculcate the new technologies of developed countries to our system of education, because of long established old ways of teaching.  As a result, most classes are conducted in traditional ways that were taking place during Soviet Union.”

Another woman in her early 20s from southwestern Kazakhstan had a more positive spin despite her disability:

“At the age of 22, I consider myself to be one of the happiest individuals in the world because I have health, family and education.  I am fortunate to hold the position of a teacher at the university, and of having the opportunity to teach smart students who have what it takes to realize their dreams and live life to the fullest. Every single day students impress me with their congeniality, desire to know everything and worldwide outlook.  I am committed to my work because I believe it is important.

But sometimes I felt that they deserved a more experienced teacher who could give them more than I am able.  These thoughts captured my mind especially when I realized that I was not able to teach because of a speech impairment that resulted from an operation.  There were moments when I wanted to give up with everything, feeling like an invalid because of an inaccurate diagnosis of our ‘qualified’ medical officers…My life to date has prepared me for dealing with many obstacles and also shown me the strength, determination and optimism that I consider to be a part of my character.”

One more thought about education in Kazakshtan:

“…Education is something modern society cannot progress without.  The quality of education in a country determines its further development.  My strong belief is that any investments in education eventually pay off.

My country is currently changing its educational standards from those that existed during the Soviet Union times to those that exist nowadays in the western society.  But as those standards have not been designed for our society and mentality and the whole system is rather new for us, we are experiencing some difficulties.  It is clear that we cannot simply take the new system and apply it to our reality, and our government has developed some guidelines to facilitate the process of adapting to the innovations.  However, we do not have any institutions that would teach higher education administration and management techniques, that would give us knowledge we would be able to rely on in reality.”

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“Change Management” (CM) Assessment Tool Results

 I adapted an assessment tool and gave an inventory concerning “Change Management” this past week to all of my Kazakh students.  Some opted not to do it, others “believe that our university’s Language Center does not need to change and are satisfied with the management approach.”  However, it seemed my older, graduate students had different views than did my first year students.  

 Of the first fourteen questions, this is what was most telling especially with simply giving Yes or No answers to each question:

“A change in management will significantly alter the way teachers and administrators in the Language Center do their existing work.”

Listening students: 16 yes 16 no 50% half agree that it will be a significant change

Writing students:  22 Yes  7 No  76% agree

Masters students: 16 yes 3 No 84% agree

 Of the remaining who agreed in Part #1, these students were asked to answer questions from Part II of the questionnaire: “How complex/challenging is the people side of this Change Management at the Language Center?”

 Q 3 We are aware that the needs of the different teachers and administrators are complex and conflicting and that many people have strong opinions about this change.

Writing students: 20 yes           1 No

Listening students 14 yes          4 No

Masters students  14 yes          4 No

 

Q9 We need to get this implementation right. Errors will be costly with painful consequences.

Writing students: 18 yes           3 No

Listening students 13 yes          5 No

Masters students: 13 yes          5 No

 

Q 11 We need to establish/follow a systematic and consistent approach to implementation of Change Management.

Writing students: 18 yes           3 No

Listening students: 15 yes         3 No

Masters students: 15 yes          3 No

 

Part #3 of this Change Management Assessment Tool dealt with seven areas

1)      Sponsorship

2)      Clear Direction

3)      Communications

4)      Engagement

5)      Shaping/reinforcement and Competency development

6)      Measurement

7)      Planning and Modifications

 I’ll deal with the outcomes of the three parts in tomorrow’s post.  I’m digesting what the patterns are saying to me.  Very interest results.  One last comment made by a writing student that I think tells of his frustration:  “Basically I don’t have any problems with studying at our university and the system of education that is practiced here.  I agree with almost all changes.  The only change that I really don’t like is constantly increasing payment for education.”

(to be continued)

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Kazakhstan Class Size and Academic Achievement

I finally signed my teaching contract for fall semester, even though I have been teaching over 100 students with five different classes and three preps for almost three weeks.  Unfortunately, there is NO wiggle room to negotiate.  Before I showed up on Almaty soil, while back in the U.S., I could see that registration showed my teaching FIVE classes!!! However, I didn’t know the enrollment numbers for my classes would exceed the max of 20 in each classroom.  In some classes I have on my roster 22 or 23 students.

The following answers to a quiz I gave to my writing students sums up what the reality is in Kazakhstan.  The fact that we are a “westernized university” seems to have little bearing on the fact that though I’m “student-centered” in my teaching methods, I am being paid as if I am “teacher-centered” in my approach.  Obviously, I will not be able to give as much time and attention to my students this semester because I have so many of them. 

“Teacher-centered” teachers or administrators don’t seem to understand the quandry I’m in because there is the financial crisis to attend to!!!  However, the students’ tuition continues to increase and they are not getting the quality of teachers that they should if we really ARE a western-styled university,  where “Education to Change Society” might come into fruition. 

Read on to see what my first year students had to write after reading the assignment on “Academic Achievement.”

 Sasha – Academic Achievement plays a great role in a society.  There are different ways to improve this such as reduction of class size.  We have a lot of problems with this and we need to reform our system of education.  Among the factors that affect academic achievement in our country are the low salaries for teachers, not sufficient books, corruption, etc.  And finally it is national test that was introduced several years ago.  All students must write this test to graduate from the school.  According to some experts such tests are not efficient.

Daniyar – In KZ, I had about 30 students in class but nevertheless, it didn’t make my achievements smaller (I guess).  More pupils – more competition.  I didn’t find how this article [about class size] connected to Kazakhstan, we didn’t consider this problem.

Aina – I read about how class sizes influence on students’ achievement.  If the class is small, students discipline will be good, they can take more knowledge and for the teacher it will be easy.

Karlygash – in my opinion, it is better to have small classes.  This text shows us different points about this topic.  In our Republic, classes are very big, nearly 30 people.  It is not good for children to get good knowledge.  So, I absolutely agree with this statement, that good knowledge is only in small classes.

Azamat – This text about academic achievement, the main idea is that it is better to have small class in order to have great academic achievement.  Because, teacher has more time and more chance to work with students.  Moreover, more time spent with each student in order to help him.  However, there are some problems with this.  It means that more classes, more teachers and more money needs.  I think in our country we have so many classes in schools which are full of students.  As a result, there is no individual work with students.

Jeon – Improving education is an important matter to every nation.  However, sometimes it is sad that education is evaluated by efficiency.  Making a person as a good member of society is crucial and takes hard work.  To make them like that we need many directors to care for them individually.  It is a reasonable opinion.  However, in Korea, there are many students in one class.  Even though the students cannot be cared for much, it is beneficial to them because they can meet a variety of friends who have different backgrounds.

****************************

Nariman – I have learnt that increase in quality of education takes a lot of resources, but it will give huge dividends in the future.  Healthy and well educated people contribute much more in a country they live in than that of less educated people.

Yerkezhan – In our country, sizes of classes also are big and it absolutely has bad influence on education.  Maybe the government should pay attention to this problem.

Xeniya – In our country, in villages, children study in very large classes.  I think that there are too small amount of teachers.  Children can’t gain good education.  Only in private school, children may study in smaller classes (10-15 pupils).  Because they have money.  I trust that these problems will be solved in the future, and all our pupils will gain perfect education.

Askhat – In this text I found a lot of information about foreign countries, how they teach their students.  Some methods, which our country needs, for example, small-size classes.  It is better than sitting in the big classes with 20-30 pupils.  There was some research which found in small classes easy to gain knowledge and there will be more attention from teacher to every pupils.

Saniya – I have learned that reducing class size having problems with money, class equipment and with professors.  Even if this program has problems, it’s really helpful for students.  I think we need this program in Kazakhstan. I know that in some private schools, there are classes with 5-10 people only.  But in the government schools, classes are full with sometimes forty children in one class.  It is a difficult situation for a teacher.

Jisun – I agree with the opinion that making the class smaller is more effective.  It could include problems such as cost and employing more teachers but it could help the students to study harder.  In fact, at the elementary, middle and high school in Korea, there are almost 40 students in one class, so it is hard for the teacher to make all of the students concentrate in the lecture and also the students don’t have many chances to participate.  If the class is smaller, I think the students will achieve more than studying in a large class.

Aigul – I have learned that class size is important thing because the smaller class (not class as in a room but less students or pupils) the more they understand the subject they learn.  But this causes some other problems, such as lack of teachers or lack of classrooms.  But some studies show that class size doesn’t play an important role.  In Kazakhstan, class sizes are normally 25 pupils for each class, I think its okay.  I have been studying 11 years at school in classes with 25 and even 30 people…

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