- Laura, say a few words about the activity of the Bolashak Association?
- Since 2001, the Bolashak Association has united the efforts and knowledge of about 2 thousand scholars of the Bolashak International Program and has successfully implemented more than 90 projects in the line of support and development of entrepreneurship, knowledge transfer, charity and promotion of healthy lifestyle.
The Association is not just an alumni association. We’ve received the trust of the state. And that is why for the past 18 years, we have been striving to make the knowledge and experience of the Bolashakers available to other Kazakhstanis. After all, knowledge, if it does not become the property of many, doomed to disappear. Therefore, our graduates teach at universities, give lectures to students, and participate in various forums. In addition, citizens who are not the Bolashakers, but still share our ideology, can join the Association.
In 2019, a number of the following projects and events are planned: implementation of the Association's Development Strategy for 2019-2021, organization of the Bolashaq Business Forum in the regions, organization of the Zhastar Otanga festival of innovative ideas in Almaty, organization of English language courses in 14 regions of the country together with Zhas Otan Youth Branch in the framework of the English for Jastar project, and others. Supporting the transition of the Kazakh alphabet to the Latin script, in 2018 the Association started re-branding and a procedure for registering a new trademark “Bolashaq” was started.
- How many Bolashak students are studying abroad now? Is their number growing? Which specialties are the most popular among the students?
- Currently, about 1,300 scholarship holders get education. Of the total number of graduates, 53.8% completed training in humanitarian specialties, 37.2% - engineering and technical, 7.2% - medical and 1.8% - creative specialties.
- What problems do the Bolashakers face in obtaining the scholarship?
- Conditions for admission to the Bolashak program are simple and do not have any particular difficulties. If you really want to get education at the best world universities, you will succeed. Mainly, the applicants drop out at the stage of confirming the level of English language, so it is better to pass the exam by yourself, having received an IELTS or TOEFL certificate. In 2019, this is 5.0 for technical specialists, 5.5 - for the category of civil servants, journalists, 6.5 - for those who want to apply for a general competition. Next year it will be higher, the overall competition may be 7.0.
- We know that our state allocates considerable funds for education of the Bolashak students. But there are some cases when students cannot find a job after gaining a diploma or do not return to Kazakhstan at all. Why it happens?
- As for employment, since 2014 the Association has been implementing the Career Center project. The project aims to assist young professionals, including graduates of the Bolashak program, in career development and growth. There is a base of specialists, and an online platform operates on the website hr.bolashak.kz, with a high-quality selection of vacancies. Almost all employers want the Bolashakers to work for them, this is especially true in the field of education: universities, colleges and so on.
For 25 years of the Bolashak program implementation, less than one percent of those studying abroad have not fulfilled their obligations. Today, about six thousand graduates regularly has fulfilled their obligations. More than four thousand are on the monitoring of labor repayment.
- As it’s known, a Year of Youth Roadmap in Kazakhstan has defined 11 directions. Do you think if there are any other initiatives that need to be added? And did you take part in the creation of the Year of Youth Roadmap? What initiatives were proposed by your organization?
- Indeed, the Roadmap is aimed at the development of 11 main directions and it is a supporting document in the implementation of the Year of Youth. All leading youth organizations of the country, including us, have participated in the creation of the Roadmap. The document takes into account absolutely all the vectors of the youth society’s development of Kazakhstan, after the completion of which we will achieve the goals set for the Year of Youth. In particular, the Association actively participated in the opening of the Year of Youth as one of the most important “breakthrough projects” aimed at creating a competitive nation.
- What kind of work will the Bolashak Association perform in the implementation of the Roadmap for the Year of Youth?
- To date, as part of the implementation of the Roadmap for the Year of Youth, we have submitted 4 application forms, one of which has already received a positive response. In the autumn of this year, the Association will hold a festival-exhibition of innovative ideas, the task of which is to promote the development of business activity and employment of the population, the business thinking of young people, as well as the creation of conditions for the self-realization of young people. Answers on other applications will be known in May.
- Tell us more about the English for Jastar project, as well as about other projects within the Association?
- English for Jastar is a joint project of the Bolashak Association with Zhas Otan Youth Branch for free training of English language for students of rural schools with the involvement of foreign and domestic specialists. In 2018, more than 5,500 schoolchildren were trained in 14 regions. The project involved 146 Kazakhstani and 9 foreign volunteers at 100 schools throughout Kazakhstan.
Academic support for the project was provided by the InterPress Language Center. Also the project’s partners were AIESEC International Organization, Educational Leadership Center LLP (branch organization of Nazarbayev University), Qazaq Air airline, Meloman HOME VIDEO LLP.
The most famous projects of the Association are: the first Kazakhstan collection of business cases “Bolashak Business Cases”, the start-up projects competition “Startup Bolashak”, the “Career Center” project on youth employment, the first in Kazakhstan network of public bookcases “Bolashaq books”, “Youth Personnel reserve”, holding meetings and lectures on “Our knowledge is our country”, business development forums “Bolashaq business forum”, as well as seminars and trainings on the development of personal growth skills, entrepreneurial skills, expert potential and others.
- Thank you for the interview!