Among the five presidential initiatives, I would especially like to note the initiative to promote the accessibility of higher education, which is of particular importance, since, firstly, it raises the question of improving the quality of the human potential, which is the basis, the foundation for the modernization of Kazakhstan in all directions, and secondly, it is connected with the upbringing of future generations of Kazakhstanis, and accordingly, it will predetermine the competitiveness of us as a country in the future.
The importance of this initiative is clearly visible because in Kazakhstan the number of school leavers grows every year, and they have an issue to continue education and get a profession. So, in 2016 more than 121 thousand people graduated from schools, in 2017 there were more than 136 thousand people. Herewith it should be noted that these figures will only grow in the future, in view of the fact that the generation of the 2000s come in the group of 17-18 years old, when there was a process of growth in the birth rate of the population. In turn, this necessitates the provision of many educational grants. The dynamics of the number of births per 1000 people for 1999-2016 is presented below (fig. 1).
fig. 1 – The dynamics of the number of births per 1000 people for 1999-2016.
According to the Committee of Statistics of the Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan
It is also necessary to highlight the fact that the Ministry of Education and Science annually allocates more than 30 thousand state educational grants for bachelor's degree (2014/2015 academic year - more than 34 thousand grants, 2015/2016 academic year - more than 32 thousand grants, 2016/2017 academic year - more than 31 thousand grants, 2017/2018 academic year - more than 37 thousand grants). If we consider the number of graduates applying for 1 state grant, then the following picture emerges: in 2016, 2.6 candidates were applying for 1 grant, in 2017 - 2.8 people (this information is represented by the number of graduates who took part in the Unified National Testing). It should be mentioned here that in recent years there has been a tendency of reducing of the number of graduates taking part in the Unified National Testing, which was based on many factors: low academic performance, reflection at ratings of Governors and principals, toughening of the testing, as well as educational migration (fig. 2).
fig. 2 - The share of graduates who took part in the UNT in 2009-2016.
According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan
In this vein, the allocation of additional grants will increase the accessibility and attractiveness of higher education for Kazakhstan’s graduates, as well as reduce the educational migration beyond Kazakhstan.
Another innovation announced by the President in the framework of the third initiative is an increase in the cost of grants at all universities in technical and agricultural specialties to the level of grants at national universities, which will have a positive effect on the attractiveness of these specialties, and will stimulate educational institutions in improving the effectiveness of career guidance work with graduates of schools. Moreover, additional grants mean the additional financial income for higher education institutions, which will foster competition, and as it is known through competition, quality is born.
In general, giving an assessment of the initiative, it is possible to single out its consistency and reasonableness. Thus, the increase in the number of students will entail an increase in the burden on the educational infrastructure and, in this respect, the construction of student dormitories will allow it to be reduced and create favorable conditions for the education of young people.
To date, according to the Committee of Statistics of the Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan, in 2016, more than 450,000 people attended higher education institutions in Kazakhstan, of which more than 200,000 people were out-of-town students. 85 467 students needed housing, 68 113 of them were provided with places in dormitories, which was 79% of the total number of people in need of housing. Thus, today about 20% of students need student dormitories. In the regional context, students from another cities studying in Mangistau (43%) and Kostanay (44%) regions are less likely to be provided with housing (fig. 3).
fig. 3 - The proportion of out-of-town students who are well off and in need in places in dormitories in the regional context
At the same time, according to the President's speech, the decision to build student dormitories lies in the field of cooperation between universities, colleges, development companies based on the principles of public-private partnership. According to Chairman of the board of "NC "Social-entrepreneurial corporation "Almaty" JSC M. Azirbayev, the construction of student dormitories is a very stable and permanent business. This allows to attract resources, including borrowed funds. The only difference is that the profitability and payback periods will be different.
Thus, in the long term, this initiative will have a positive impact on the development of Kazakhstan's higher education system, as well as the development of youth in terms of professional growth and economic independence. However, the implementation of the initiative also reveals a number of problems in the field of higher education: the quality of the provision of higher education, the shortage of faculty, in particular, the Kazakh-speaking one, in view of the fact that currently there is a tendency of prevalence of graduates with Kazakh language of studying, provision of teaching materials and other.