We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.

Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2017 Kazakhstan: Evaluation of ECE/ECD Systems in Kazakhstan

Author: Tamar Gotsadze, MD., PhD, Shoplan Karzhaubayeva, MD., PhD

Executive summary

 With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 3’.


Kazakhstan is a nation in Central Asia with dispersed and diverse population. Although fertility rates have stabilized at 2.7 births/woman during her lifetime (2014), past fluctuations, from drastic reductions in the 1990s to a peak in 2014, has led to challenges for pre-school rolls. The northern areas are experiencing a population decline while in the south there is a baby boom.  In recent years, a challenging external environment has caused a broad-based economic slowdown, along with an adjustment in income and domestic prices. To mitigate the impact of falling real incomes on the vulnerable, the authorities reacted by adjusting social transfers and expanding employment support programs. An increasing number of policies now facilitate equity in the provision of all services. Kazakhstan has set an ambitious agenda for economic diversification, which includes a focus on human capital development underpinned by commitments to invest in ECD, education and health. The Development Strategy Kazakhstan 2050 provides a long-term vision while several strategies co-exist for the mid-term. The ECD covered by the Healthy Kazakhstan Program for 2011-2015 aimed at strengthened intersectoral cooperation in health, the sanitary and epidemiological wellbeing promotion as well as at the reduction of infant mortality rate. The new health program for 2016-2019 built on results and achievements of the previous program. The ECD and ECE component also envisaged in the State Education Development Program for 2011-2020 that aims to the full coverage of children by quality ECD and education, equal access of children to different ECD/ECE programs for their school readiness. The new State program for education for 2016-2019 targets the full coverage of children aged 3-6 by 2019. Within the frames of mentioned national reform programs various ECD/ECE services available for the children under age 7 in the spheres of health, nutrition, education and social protection.


Despite consideration of the ECD/ECE areas as the priorities in Kazakhstan, no comprehensive system evaluation had been conducted in the past. Therefore, the main purpose of the evaluation was to assess the extent to which system-level changes have contributed to young children’s increased access to ECD/ECE
programs and whether they have been successful in reduction of equity gaps and improvement of quality. The evaluation covers the period 2010-2016 and is targeted at Astana city, South, East Kazakhstan, Almaty region, Aktobe, Mangystau and Kyzylorda regions as these regions represent different country context and some had tested new ECD/ECE approaches with the support from UNICEF in the past.


The evaluation examined five OECD DAC criteria of relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability, coordination and coherence. The evaluation was carried out in three phases by international and national consultants between January – May 2017 and applied a mixed-method approach to maximize validity and reliability. Fourteen days’ field mission to Kazakhstan was conducted in April with visits to South Kazakhstan and Almaty oblasts and Astana city. The data collection methodology included site visits and
observations, face-to-face in-depth interviews, desk-based research and review of existing reports, documents and available secondary data. Main sources of information were: people –key informants and beneficiaries and documents. Overall 53 Key Informants (KI) have been interviewed representing government, parliament, service providers, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and 121 documents reviewed. Nine Focus Group Discussions were carried out with service providers and parents at health and preschool facilities. Internal and external quality assurance methods were used at all phases of the evaluation, findings were validated and at the end of the assignment evaluation findings and recommendations were presented to the wider stakeholder groups.

Findings and Conclusions:

•  ECD/ECE is clearly a policy priority in the Republic of Kazakhstan (RK) and will remain on policy agenda
for several years ahead.
•  Government efforts to boost ECD/ECE services and programs paid off in improved child health, nutrition,
development and early learning outcomes.
•  Key policy reforms implemented also resulted in significant system level changes in all relevant sectors 
(the health,  education sector).
•  The Government pays growing attention to equity issues at the policy level.
•  Kazakhstan lacks integrated vision of ECD/ECE services.
•  Weak governance and management capacity underscores results.
•  ECD/ECE services and programs require adequate funding.
•  Geographical, socio-economic and special needs inequity regarding access to services and participation
in ECD/ECE programs has resulted in unequal early development opportunities for certain groups of
•  Reaching the right balance between the level and quantity of a qualified and skilled workforce is a
challenge in the Republic of Kazakhstan and affect the quality of ECD/ECE services.
•  The quest for quality is yet to be meaningfully addressed.


- Develop and implement coordinated and integrated ECD/ECE policy
- Establish integrated administrative responsibilities
- Enhance managerial capacity, especially at subnational level on evidence-based planning, budgeting
and monitoring
- Enhance the knowledge on effective ECD/ECE policies
- Adopt ECD/ECE service packages with at least five essential packages of services and interventions
such as: i) family support package; ii) pregnancy package; iii) Birth package; iv) child health and
development package; and v) preschool package.
- Cost ECD/ECE services/programs and redefine funding modalities
- Ensure reliability and sustainability of funding streams, by improvement of allocative efficiency and
refinement of funding modalities
- Increase opportunities for all children to access quality ECD/ECE services
- Enhance mechanisms for early identification of most disadvantaged children through nationwide
introduction of universal progressive model of home visiting-
- Institutionalize effective screening programs to ensure early detection of developmental delays and
- Avail predefined places in preschool organizations for risk groups
- Develop differentiated ECE parent co-payment schemes
- Continue to advance inclusive education policy and practices
- Direct public ECE investments predominantly to rural areas
- Foster human resource development policy and planning
- Strengthen the existing education and training systems while making the health and early childhood
education sector a more attractive employer
- Develop staff motivation systems and mechanisms
- Develop staff supervision and support systems in both, health and education sectors.
- Define/refine ECD/ECE national quality standards
- Develop national ECD/ECE monitoring framework and system
- Earmark funding for ECD/ECE research

Lessons Learned:

Advancement of public private partnership in preschool education in Kazakhstan, expanded access to services and allowed the government to more focus on core functions
- Introduction of PPP in ECE rapidly increased child preschool enrollment rates in Kazakhstan.
- More robust analysis of all PPP models and their impact on learning outcomes must be considered to  
inform corrective measures that ensure value for money.
- The policy should consider alternative mechanisms for private sector involvement in preschool education
service delivery particularly in rural areas.

Full report in PDF

PDF files require Acrobat Reader.



Report information




Early Childhood Development

Curatio International Foundation


Sequence #:

New enhanced search