President Nursultan Nazarbayev's article “The Course towards Future: Modernization of Public Conscience”
Kazakhstan has entered a new historical period.
This year in my state-of-the-nation address I proclaimed the start of the Third Modernization of Kazakhstan.
Thus, we kick-started two most important processes of modernization - the political reform and the modernization of economy.
The goal is to enter the world's 30 most developed countries.
Both modernization processes have crystal-clear goals and tasks, priorities and methods to achieve them. I am confident that everything will be done in time and very effectively. However, this is not enough.
I am sure that the large-scale reforms that we started should be complemented with advanced modernization of public conscience. It won't just complement the political and economic modernization, it will be in its core.
It is worth mentioning that over the years of independence we have adopted and implemented a number of large programs.
Starting from 2004 we have been implementing the Madeni mura program aimed at restoration of historical and cultural landmarks on the territory of Kazakhstan.
In 2013 we adopted the Khalyk tarikh tolkynynda program that enabled us to collect and study the documents dedicated to the history of our country from the world's leading archives.
Today we must embark on a bigger and more fundamental path.
That is why I decided to share my vision of how we can take a step towards the future together and change public conscience to become the nation of strong and responsible people.
I. ON NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE XXI CENTURY.
We are witnessing the beginning of a new, largely unclear, historical cycle. And it is impossible to occupy a place in an advanced group, preserving the old model of consciousness and thinking. Therefore, it is important to concentrate, go through changes, adapt to changing conditions, and take the best of what the new era offers.
What was, in my opinion, the main drawback of Western modernization models in the 20th century in relation to the realities of our time? They applied their unique experience to all peoples and civilizations without taking into account their characteristics.
Even largely modernized societies have culture codes, origins of which go back to the past.
The first condition for a new type of modernization is the preservation of culture and national code. Without this, modernization is an empty rhetoric.
However, this does not mean conservation of everything in the national consciousness - something that gives us confidence in the future and something that drags us back.
The new modernization should not, as it happened before, look at historical experience and traditions arrogantly, rather it must make the best traditions prerequisites and an important condition for its success.
Without reliance on national and cultural roots, modernization will be left hanging in the air. And I want it to stand firm. Thus, history and national traditions must be taken into account.
It is a platform which connects the horizons of the past, present, and future of the people.
I am convinced that the most important mission of spiritual modernization is to reconcile the various poles of national consciousness.
I would single out several directions for modernizing the consciousness of both the society as a whole and every Kazakhstani in particular.
Nowadays not only a single person, but a nation in general, has a chance of success only by developing its competitiveness.
First of all, it means that the nation has something valuable in terms of price and quality to offer at regional and global markets. It is not only material things, but also knowledge, services, intellectual products, and lastly, quality of human resources.
The peculiarity of the future is that the competitiveness of an individual becomes the nation's success factor, not its mineral wealth.
That is why each Kazakhstani and the nation in general should possess a set of qualities that fit the bill in the 21st century. Among those qualities are computer literacy, foreign language proficiency and cultural openness.
Hence, the Digital Kazakhstan program, the trilingualism program and the program of cultural and confessional accord is a part of preparation of the nation (all Kazakhstanis) to life in the 21st century. It is a part of our competitiveness.
Modernization is impossible without changing certain habits and stereotypes. And there are many examples of genuine pragmatism throughout our history.
For centuries our ancestors had a unique environmentally friendly way of life, preserving the habitat, natural resources, using them in a very pragmatical and economically correct way.
And only in a few years in the middle of the last century, irrational use of resources led to the disappearance of the Aral Sea and transformation of thousands of hectares of fertile land into ecological disaster zones. This is an example of an extremely non-pragmatic attitude towards the environment when the former national pragmatism turned into profligacy.
In the course of modernization, we should remember the skills of our ancestors. Pragmatism means an accurate knowledge of our national and personal resources, the cost-effectiveness of their use, and ability to plan for our future.
Pragmatism is the opposite of profligacy, arrogance, flashy lifestyle. The culture of modern society is a culture of moderation, a culture of prosperity, and not luxury, it is a culture of rationality.
The ability to live rationally with an emphasis on achieving real goals, on education, healthy lifestyle and professional success is the pragmatism in behavior.
This is the only successful model in the modern world. And when a nation or an individual are not oriented toward concrete practical achievements, unrealizable populist ideologies which lead to catastrophe appear.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples in the history when whole nations, led by unrealizable ideologies, were defeated. We witnessed the collapse of the three main ideologies of the last century - communism, fascism, and liberalism.
The age of radical ideologies has passed. We need clear, understandable and forward-looking ideas. The idea both of a person and the nation as a whole can be aiming at achieving a specific goal while understanding our capabilities and limits. Realism and pragmatism are the slogans of the next few decades.
3. Preserving national identity
The concept of spiritual modernization implies changes in national conscience. There are two aspects.
First of all, changes in national conscience.
Secondly, preserving the inner core of national identity while only some of its characteristics change.
What are the risks of modernization models existing today? They see modernization as a transition from the national model of development to a single, universal one. But life constantly proves that it is a mistake! In reality, different countries and regions develop their own models.
Our national traditions and customs, language, music and literature, in one word, our national spirit should remain with us forever. Abay's wisdom, Auezov's pen, Dzhambul's touching verses, Kurmangazy's magical sounds, ancestors' eternal call is only a part of our spiritual culture.
But modernization also means that a number of archaic habits should be left behind in the past.
Dividing a single nation by regions should become the thing of the past. It is a useful thing to know and take pride in the history of your region. But one should not forget that he or she belongs to a great nation.
We build a meritocratic society in which every individual should be estimated based on his/her personal contribution as well as personal and professional qualities. Nepotism has nothing to do with such system. This is the way to carve your career only in a retarded society.
We must understand two unalterable rules.
First. Modernization is impossible without preserving national culture.
Second. To move forward, a nation must leave behind the elements of the past that hinder its development.
4. Cult of knowledge
Our nation has always been known for its thirst for knowledge.
A lot has been done through the years of independence. We have trained tens of thousands young specialists at the world's best universities. As you know, we laid the foundation with the Bolashak Scholarship Program in early 1990s. We have created a number of top-class universities, a network of intellectual schools and more.
However, the cult of education should be universal. And there is a crystal-clear reason for that. Half of existing professions will cease to exist in the upcoming decades as a result of the technological revolution.
Only highly educated person capable of switching professions thanks to a high level of education will be able to live successfully in such conditions.
That is why nowadays Kazakhstan is among those developed countries that invest heavily into education.
Every citizen of Kazakhstan must realize that education will be the most fundamental success factor in the future. Education should be the number one priority for our youngsters.
If education becomes the key value, success will come to the nation.
5. Evolutionary, not revolutionary development of Kazakhstan
This year marks 100 years since the radical changes on the vast part of Eurasia took place in October 1917. And the entire twentieth century was marked by revolutionary upheavals.
Every nation draws its lessons from history. It is its right, and one cannot impose their point of view on others. But also no one has the right to impose their subjective vision of history on us.
And the lessons of the twentieth century are for the most part tragic for our people.
First, the natural path of the nation's development was broken and foreign forms of social organization were imposed.
Secondly, a terrible damage has been made to the demography. And its consequences affected the nation throughout the century.
Thirdly, Kazakh language and culture were almost lost.
Fourthly, the territory of Kazakhstan in many regions has been turned into an ecological disaster zone.
Of course, history is not only black and white. The 20th century brought a lot of positive things to Kazakhstan.
Such as industrialization, the creation of a social and industrial infrastructure, the formation of a new intelligentsia.
A certain modernization took place. But it was rather a modernization of the territory and not the nation.
We must clearly understand the lessons of history. The time of revolutions is not over. And while they have changed greatly in their form and content, our whole recent history says directly and unambiguously: only evolutionary development gives nations a chance for prosperity. Otherwise, we will once again find ourselves in the trap of history.
Evolutionary development as a principle of ideology should be one of the benchmarks on a personal, individual level for every Kazakhstani.
Of course, evolutionary development of society as a principle does not mean eternal conservation, it is, however, important to understand not only the lessons of history but also examples of the present and signals of the future.
The nature of revolutions has changed. Today they have distinct national, religious, cultural or separatist characteristics. But in the vast majority of cases, they lead to violence and economic collapse.
Thus, a serious rethinking of what is happening in the world is part of a huge attitudinal and ideological work that has to be carried out by society as a whole, and political parties and movements, as well as the educational system in particular.
6. Open conscience
Many problems occur because the big global world is changing rapidly, however, public conscience stays in the "home boundaries".
It would seem unnecessary to prove the need to study the English language when over one billion people around the world learn it for professional communication.
Do you really think that 400 million citizens of the European Union do not respect their native German, French, Spanish, Italian or other languages? Do you really think that millions of Chinese, Indonesian and Malayan people learn English for the sake of learning?
It is not someone's psychological longing, it is a job requirement in the global world.
Open conscience means at least three peculiarities of conscience.
First of all, understanding what's going on in the world, around your country and in the part of the planet where you live.
Secondly, open conscience means being ready for changes that the technological revolution brings. In ten years it will change many things in our lives - work, way of life, leisure, our houses and ways of communication. We must be ready for it.
Thirdly, the ability to adopt others' experience and learn from others. Two great Asian nations Japan and China are the brightest examples in that respect.
Being open to the best practices is the key to success and one of characteristics of open conscience.
Why open conscience will be important in the future?
If Kazakhstanis pass judgement on the world from the windows of their houses, they will not be able to see that storms are coming in the world or in neighboring countries. They will not see the woods for the trees or the factors that sometimes force us to change approaches dramatically.
II. THE AGENDA FOR THE NEAREST YEARS.
The public consciousness requires not only the development of the principles of modernization but also concrete projects that could enable us to meet the challenges of the time without losing the great power of tradition.
I see several concrete projects that can be developed in the coming years.
Firstly, it is necessary to begin working for a phased transition of the Kazakh language to the Latin alphabet. We very carefully and tactfully approached this question. This requires a quiet staged. And we prepared for this with caution throughout the years of Independence.
The history of the graphics of the Kazakh language has deep roots.
In the VI-VII centuries, in the early Middle Ages, the ancient Turkic runic writing, known in science as the Orkhono-Yenisei letter, originated and functioned on the territory of Eurasia.
In the VI-VII centuries, the ancient Turkic writing appeared - one of the oldest types of the letter of the mankind.
From the V to the XV century the Turkic language was the language of the interethnic communication in most of Eurasia.
For example, in the Golden Horde the official documents and international correspondence were conducted mainly in the Turkic language.
From X to XX century, almost 900 years, the Arabic graphics was used on the territory of Kazakhstan.
Breakaway from the runic writing, the spread of the Arabic language and Arabic graphics began after the adoption of Islam.
On August 7, 1929, the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR and the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR adopted a resolution on the introduction of the new Latinized alphabet "The Unified Turkic Alphabet".
The Latinized alphabet was officially used from 1929 to 1940, after which it was replaced by the Cyrillic.
The Law "On the translation of the Kazakh script from Latinized into a new alphabet on the basis of Russian graphics" was adopted on November 13, 1940.
Thus, the history of changing of the alphabet of the Kazakh language was determined mainly by specific political reasons.
In December 2012, in my annual Address to the People of Kazakhstan "Kazakhstan-2050" I said: "We need to start transition of our alphabet into the Latin alphabet from 2025".
This means that from now on we must start the transition to the Latin alphabet in all spheres.
In other words, by 2025 we begin to publish office work, periodicals, textbooks and everything else in the Latin script.
And now we will start preparing the beginning of the transition to the Latin alphabet.
The transition to the Latin alphabet also has its own deep historical logic. These are the features of the modern technological environment, and the features of communications in the modern world, and the features of the scientific and educational process in the XXI century.
Therefore, 2025 is not far off, and the Government needs to have a clear timetable for the transition of the Kazakh language to the Latin alphabet.
At our schools all children learn English. This is the Latin script. That is, there will be no problems for the youth.
I think that by the end of 2017 it is necessary to adopt a single standard version of the Kazakh alphabet in the new schedule with the help of academicians and the general public. Starting 2018, the stuff training for teaching of the new alphabet and preparing textbooks for secondary schools will start.
In the next 2 years it’s necessary to carry out the appropriate organizational and methodological work.
Of course, during the adaptation period the Cyrillic alphabet will work for a certain time.
Secondly, this is the project "New Humanitarian Knowledge. 100 new textbooks in the Kazakh language" on social and human sciences.
Its essence is as follows:
1. We must create conditions for a full-fledged education of students in history, political science, sociology, philosophy, psychology, cultural studies and philology. Our humanitarian intelligentsia should be supported by the state through restoring of humanitarian departments at country's universities. We need not just engineers and doctors but also people who understand the modernity and the future well.
2. In the coming years we need to translate 100 best world textbooks from different languages in all areas of humanitarian knowledge into the Kazakh language and enable our youth to learn from the best world standards. Already in the 2018/2019 school year we must begin to train our students using these textbooks.
3. For these purposes, on the basis of already existing translation structures, it is necessary to create a non-state National Translation Bureau, which by the order of the Government would begin this work in the summer of 2017.
What will we achieve with this program?
First and foremost, this is a qualitatively different level of training for hundreds of thousands of our students.
Further, it is the training of personnel adapted to the global competition in the sphere of knowledge.
Finally, these are the people who will become the main vehicles of the modernization of consciousness - openness, pragmatism, and competitiveness. The future is created in classrooms.
For many years our social and humanitarian knowledge was conserved within the framework of one exercise and within the framework of one glance at the world. The publication of 100 best textbooks of the world in the Kazakh language will give effect in 5-6 years. It is necessary to take all the most modern and have translations into the state Kazakh language. And this is a task of the state.
The Government needs to work through this issue and solve it with regard to translators, copyrights, educational programs, faculty, and so on.
Thirdly, patriotism begins with love for one's land, for one's village, city, region, with love for a small homeland. Therefore, I propose "Tugan Zher" program, which will easily pass into a wider policy - "Tugan El".
"Where does the homeland begin?" There is a lot of sense in this work.
Why is a small homeland? A man is a being is not only rational but emotional. A small homeland is a place where you were born and raised, and at times where you lived your whole life.
There are mountains, rivers, stories and myths about their origin, the names of people left in the memory of the people. We can continue the transfer. All this is important.
A special attitude to the native land, its culture, customs and traditions is the most important feature of patriotism. This is a basis of the cultural and genetic code that any nation makes a nation but not a collection of individuals.
Over the centuries our ancestors protected specific places and regions, saving for us millions of square kilometers of fertile land. They saved the future.
What does it mean in practice to love a small homeland? What does Tugan Zher program mean?
First. It is necessary to organize serious study of local lore in the sphere of education, ecology and improvement, study of regional history, restoration of cultural and historical monuments and cultural objects of the local scale.
For example, the best form of patriotism is the study of the history of the native land at secondary schools.
Second. It is assistance to businessmen, officials, intellectuals and youth who, having moved to other regions of the country, would like to support their small homeland. This is a normal and patriotic desire, and it must be supported, not prohibited.
Third. The local authorities need to approach systematically and in an organized way to "Tugan Zher" program.
We cannot let this work on its own because it requires a balance and correctness in understanding.
We need to find different forms of support and social respect that will help a small country, including a sponsorship mechanism. There is a huge field for work here.
We can quickly green our cities, greatly help to computerize schools, support regional universities, art funds of local museums and galleries, etc.
To put it briefly, "Tugan Zher" program will become one of the real grounds for our nationwide patriotism.
The love for a great homeland begins with a small homeland - your native country (Kazakhstan).
Fourth. Along with "Tugan Zher" project, which is aimed at local facilities and settlements, we need to strengthen in the minds of the people the other thing - nationwide shrines.
We need "Spiritual relics of Kazakhstan" project, or, as the scientists say, "Sacred Geography of Kazakhstan".
Every nation, each civilization has holy places, which are of national character, which are known to every representative of this people.
This is one of the foundations of the spiritual tradition. This is especially important for Kazakhstan. We are a huge country with a rich spiritual history. Sometimes our sizes played a different role in the history. But never the communication in this spiritual geographic belt break off.
However, in the course of history, we have not created a single field, a single chain of these important sacred places from the point of view of culture and spiritual heritage.
The issue is not even in the restoration of monuments, buildings, structures.
The question is to link together in the national consciousness a complex of monuments around Ulytau and the mausoleum of Ahmet Yassaui, the ancient monuments of Taraz and the burial of Beket-Ata, the ancient complexes of eastern Kazakhstan and the sacred places of the Seven Rivers, and many other places. All of them form the skeleton of our national identity.
When people talk about the impact of alien ideological influences, we must not forget that behind them there are certain values, certain cultural symbols of other peoples. And they can only be opposed by their own national symbols.
The cultural and geographical belt of the relics of Kazakhstan is the symbolic protection and source of pride that invisibly carries us through the ages.
This is one of the elements of the framework of the national identity, therefore, for the first time in the thousand-year history, we must develop and implement such a project.
During the year, the Government, in dialogue with the public, needs to develop this project and link it in three elements:
1. Educational training of every Kazakhstani in the role and place of this "Cultural and geographical belt" is necessary.
2. Our mass media should seriously and systematically deal with the national information projects in this regard.
3. Internal and external cultural tourism should be based on this symbolic heritage of the people. By their cultural significance, Turkestan or Altai have not just national or continental significance, they are global values.
Fifth, the competitiveness in the modern world and the competitiveness of cultures. A huge part of the US success in the Cold War era is the success of Hollywood. If we want to be a nation with our unique place on the global map of the XXI century, then we must realize one more project - "Modern Kazakhstan’s culture in the global world".
The point is that the world should know us not only about oil resources and major foreign policy initiatives but also about our cultural achievements.
What should be discussed in this project?
Firstly, we need a targeted approach, so that our culture can be heard in six UN languages: English, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, and French.
Secondly, it should be exactly modern culture, one that is created by our contemporaries.
Thirdly, it should be absolutely modern technique in the form of submission of material. For example, it's not just books but the whole set of multimedia support.
Fourthly, there must be serious state support. In particular, the systemic work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Ministry of Information and Communication.
Fifthly, it’s a huge role for all of our creative intelligentsia, including the Writers' Union and the Academy of Sciences, universities and public organizations.
What of our modern culture should be promoted in the world?
This is a very serious and time-consuming work, which includes not only the selection of the best works of national culture but also their presentation abroad.
This is a huge translation work and special methods of promoting our cultural achievements - books, plays, sculptures, paintings, music, scientific discoveries, etc.
All this is a constructive and noble task. I believe that 2017 should be decisive: we must clearly determine what we want to show the world in the field of culture. And we can implement this unique program in 5-7 years.
For the first time in the thousand-year history, our culture will sound in all continents and in all major languages of the world.
Sixthly, I propose to pay the attention of the society to the present, to the history of our contemporaries. This can be implemented in "100 New Persons of Kazakhstan" project.
The history of our Independence is only a quarter of a century. But what! The historical scale of the accomplishments is beyond doubt. However, often for a number of figures and facts, there are no visible human destinies. Different, bright, dramatic and happy.
The project "100 new persons of Kazakhstan" is a story of 100 specific people from different regions, different ages and nationalities who have succeeded in these fast-moving years.
It should be specific stories about specific people. This is the face of modern Kazakhstan. Next to us there are so many outstanding contemporaries, born of the era of Independence. Their stories about lives are more convincing than any statistics. We must make them the heroes of our television documentary. We must make them a role model, for a sober and objective view of life.
The modern media culture is built not on "talking heads" but on creating authentic life stories. Here is the creation of such true stories should become the subject of professional work of our mass media.
This project needs to focus on three tasks:
To show the society the real faces of those who create modern Kazakhstan with their minds, hands and talent.
To create a new multimedia platform for the informational support and popularization of our outstanding contemporaries.
To create not only national but also regional projects "100 new persons". We must know those who make up the gold fund of the nation.
The state and the nation are not a static structure but a living, developing organism. To live, we need to have the capacity for intelligent adaptation.
A new global reality came without a knock and permission to everyone, that is why the tasks of modernization are almost in front of all countries.
The time does not stop, and therefore modernization, like history itself, is an ongoing process.
At the new era of breakthrough Kazakhstan has the unique historical chance to build its own better future through renewal and new ideas.
I am sure that Kazakhstanis, especially the younger generation, understand the importance of offering our modernization.
In the new reality, the inner desire for renewal is a key principle of our development. To survive we need to change. Anyone who doesn’t do this will be carried by the heavy sand of the history.