OECD Reviews of School Resources: Kazakhstan 2015

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The effective use of school resources is a policy priority across OECD countries. The OECD Reviews of School Resources explore how resources can be governed, distributed, utilised and managed to improve the quality, equity and efficiency of school education.

The series considers four types of resources: financial resources, such as public funding of individual schools; human resources, such as teachers, school leaders, education administrators; physical resources, such as location, buildings and equipment, and other resources such as learning time.

This series will offer timely policy advice to both governments and the education community. It will include both country reports and thematic studies.

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School education in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan has a highly centralised top-down system that leaves little political, administrative and fiscal authority to lower levels of a clearly delineated hierarchy. This is reflected in the education system, which is characterised by an extensive system of planning and norms. Kazakhstan uses national strategic planning to broadly set out a vision for the country, but also to regulate every aspect of the education system at the central level. A number of strategies and planning documents, notably the State Program for Education Development in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-20 (SPED), ensure consistency and guide policymaking. The Executive Office of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan plays an important role in the definition of education strategies and in the development of key initiatives while the Ministry of Education and Science concentrates on the design of policies to implement education strategies. Regions (oblasts) and districts (rayons) are responsible for the delivery of education services in schools. Primary and secondary education is compulsory in Kazakhstan and students are entitled to attend a public school free of charge. Attendance is almost universal at these two levels, which contrasts with low attendance rates in pre-primary education. The size and location of schools are key distinctive features of the Kazakh school network. Urban schools tend to suffer from a shortage of student places and operate in multiple shifts. In contrast, low density of population and a policy that favours universal access have resulted in a large number of small-class schools (about 50% of all schools). Student learning outcomes, as measured by PISA, are considerably below the OECD average. The difference in the mean performance in mathematics suggests that Kazakh 15-year-olds are on average two years behind their peers in OECD countries. According to PISA data, the language of instruction in schools (Kazakh or Russian), school location (urban or rural), and the socio-economic background of students and schools make a difference in students’ performance. The reform agenda for the education sector is ambitious and a number of important initiatives are underway such as the expansion of the pre-primary network, the introduction of a per capita funding scheme for schools and the establishment of a twelfth grade in school education.


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