Experts from Kazakhstan, UNICEF and UNESCO discussed the transformation of the national education system

14 June 2022
UNICEF Kazakhstan Darkhan Zhagiparov
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2020/Darkhan Zhagiparov

NUR-SULTAN, June 14, 2022 - The national consultations held today in Nur-Sultan are devoted to the topic of transforming the education system. Such consultations are being held in every country around the world in the run-up to the UN Global Education Summit, which will be held in September this year in New York.

National consultations in Kazakhstan are organized by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan in close cooperation with the UN Resident Coordinator Office in the Republic of Kazakhstan and with the technical support of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Kazakhstan and UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Experts from the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan, UNICEF, UNESCO, I. Altynsarin National Academy of Education, Institute for Professional Development "Orleu", JSC "Financial Center", parliamentarians, representatives of civil and academic society, teachers and youth gathered to work out a common vision for the transformation of education in Kazakhstan.

“Kazakhstan has made significant progress in the field of education over the years of independence. However, as elsewhere in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact, created risks for the education system and limited access to education for the most vulnerable groups of children. In Kazakhstan, UN agencies are already supporting various initiatives to overcome the effects of the pandemic and expand access to education. We hope that our joint efforts with the Government of Kazakhstan will ultimately improve the quality and relevance of education”, - said Michaela Friberg-Storey, UN Resident Coordinator for Kazakhstan.

Five thematic areas determined the course of the public discussion. These directions build on the priority actions identified in the 2020 UNESCO Global Meeting on Education Declaration, which national political leaders and the global community have committed to accelerate as part of SDG 4, both in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. In addition, they build on the vision, principles and proposals contained in the UN Secretary-General's report "Our Common Agenda" and the UNESCO “Futures of Education” Report. The five areas are universally relevant to any country and highlight areas that require urgent and coordinated action by governments and the global community.

The first track on inclusive and safe schools sparked a heated discussion among the National Consultation Thematic Group participants. As a result of the discussion, the participants developed a common position on the necessary changes so that all children, regardless of their abilities, have equal access to education.

“The pandemic has become a real test for the Kazakhstan education system. Remote learning has shown the need for digital skills for teachers and children. School closures have had a negative impact on children's mental health. Children were unable to directly interact with their teachers and peers. When children are unable to interact with their teachers and peers at all, learning losses can become irreversible. Now we cannot afford to simply return to the old “normal”. We need a new understanding of it. A qualitative revision of approaches to education, a reimagining of the existing system is important. The priority of any transformation must be given to the protection of the right of every child, regardless of their abilities, to a quality and affordable education”, - said Arthur van Diesen, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan.

A changing world, rapid changes in the labor market and the demand for new professions have identified the second priority topic of the national consultations. Skills for life, work and sustainable development, as well as quality programs for teaching these skills, should be available to all children and youth. Educational programs should meet the challenges of the time and prepare young people to become active members of Kazakhstani society. The quality of education is a critical guarantee that children and young people are actually acquiring the skills and knowledge that will help them continue their education and find employment.

“Sustainability is incompatible with young generations failing to acquire the knowledge, values and skills to grow up in a world facing such complex challenges, from climate change to the digital revolution. If we are to avoid a generational disaster, education must be a priority during the recovery period and beyond as a national policy imperative and a global public good”, - said Maki Katsuno-Hayashikawa, Director, Division for Education 2030, UNESCO Education Sector.

Teachers play a key role here. They are the basis of any educational system and the direct conductors of educational policy. All participants in the discussion of the third thematic group came to the conclusion that the transformation of education is possible only if teachers are highly professional and qualified and provided with the necessary support - in all institutions and at all levels of the system: from school to vocational, adult education and higher education.

Teacher qualifications in the 21st century should include digital learning skills. The COVID-19 pandemic and distance learning have made it clear how critical knowledge of digital tools is for organizing quality online education. UNICEF and UNESCO experts emphasized during the discussion that concrete actions should be taken, guided by three principles: focusing on the most marginalized groups, increasing investment in free and high-quality digital educational content, and digitizing education through pedagogical innovation and change.

The increase in investment in education was discussed by the participants of the last thematic group moderated by JSC “Financial Center”.

The result of the national consultations will be the preparation of the National Statement of Commitment of the country to transform the education system in the period up to 2030, which will be announced at the Transforming Education Summit

2022 this September in New York as part of the high-level Global Debate of the United Nations General Assembly.

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UNESCO is the United Nations’ specialized agency for education, providing global and regional leadership to drive progress, strengthening the resilience and capacity of national systems to serve all learners. UNESCO also leads efforts to respond to contemporary global challenges through transformative learning, with special focus on gender equality and development across all actions. 

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Nurbek Teleshaliyev

Education Specialist 

UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan Tel: +7 727 2582643 (509)