Research report on the effectiveness of the education system
The research project was conducted in cooperation with EFCA (Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia) in June 2012 in the Kuryk Village and in Aktau City. It aimed to:
- assess the efficiency of the educational system in Kuryk Village in the Karakiyanskiy Region of the Mangystau Oblast;
- determine the presence and availability of services provided by the five comprehensive schools in Kuryk village;
- develop opportunities for youth to participate in extracurricular activities including leadership clubs, as well as classes and seminars to provide vocational guidance and preparation for college and university admission;
- evaluate the educational process in preschools and create opportunities for the introduction of new educational methods in the five kindergartens in Kuryk village;
- identify and assess the quality of vocational education and training in the region and pinpoint opportunities for its further development.
Summarising the research results, EFCA recommended the introduction of innovative methods in educating and fostering children in both pre-school and secondary school. To ensure continuous improvement of youth cultural and educational levels, EFCA also recommended that a vocational education sector be developed in the village.
Development of Pre-School Education
Ersai, in cooperation with EFCA, started the ‘Growing Together’ Preschool Education Initiative, a three-year programme launched in 2013 which aims to improve the quality of early childhood education in Kuryk through a three-phased intervention that prioritises teacher qualifications, parent partnerships and community engagement.
The first year of the programme saw extensive work with two kindergartens focused on improving teacher qualifications and improving dialogue between administrators, caretakers and parents. Activities were designed to motivate caretakers into pursuing professional development, facilitate more efficient administrative processes and communications, encourage innovative teaching and alternative behaviour management in the classroom, increase parent involvement and, ultimately, improve educational and psychological preparedness of kindergarten children for the transition to school.
Based on training needs and interests identified during the staff survey and on expectations described by parents, the project team developed training plans for kindergarten caretakers and administrators.
The courses designed for caretakers were:
- The ‘Step by Step’ methodology.
- Child Development: ‘Children’s Communication Techniques’, ‘Specifics of Physical and Mental Child Development’, ‘Socialisation for Young Children’ and ‘Critical Thinking’.
- Teaching: ‘Portfolio Technology’, ‘Working with an Interactive Board’, ‘Self-Knowledge Teaching Techniques’.
The duration of each course was 5 days and 94 caretakers took part in total.
Nine administrators participated in a two-day course on Financial and Organisational Management and Coordinating Methodologies in the Classroom.
Following training, 8 kindergarten teachers and administrators were selected to attend a study tour of Astana in order to visit model early-childhood programmes.
After returning to Kuryk, 2 of 4 kindergartens developed operational plans to implement the ‘Step by Step’ teaching methodology in the education process. EFCA awarded two mini grants to Bolashak and Kulynshak kindergartens in order to equip two classrooms with methodology resources.
Both kindergartens organised ‘Open Houses’ to present results and lessons learned, as well as to demonstrate new ‘Step by Step’ inspired teaching methods to colleagues and community members. Caretakers and their groups demonstrated technologies applied in the classroom, and described changes observed in children’s behaviour and educational progress as a result of the project.
The programme will continue in 2014 by providing resources and support for local parents of young children through professional development for teachers, the expansion of the ‘Step by Step’ method to two additional kindergartens, additional training courses and resources for parents, the establishment of a Parent Resource Centre, and community events to promote project results round-table. Activities are designed not only to improve parent partnership with kindergartens, but also to encourage a habit of involvement in the learning process that will continue as children enter school.
School Education Development Programme
The School Education Development project focuses on improving teacher qualifications, encouraging dialogue between school management, teachers and parents, and developing a Community Active School (CAS) programme in Kuryk. The project consists of training components for school management and teachers and on CAS programme development. The aim is to motivate teachers to:
- pursue professional development activities;
- facilitate more efficient administrative processes and communications;
- encourage greater application of innovative teaching methodologies in the classroom;
- increase parent involvement and support for classroom innovations;
- improve educational preparedness of school students.
In March 2013, EFCA and local coordinators conducted a staff survey among school management and teachers.
The results obtained facilitated the collection of information on what training is needed in order to help teachers and management effectively accomplish their goals and tasks throughout the year. Training agendas and materials were finalised based on the results of these surveys. All topics were included in school staff training. Teacher training included the following topics:
- Basics of Psychological Work with Children - Trainers were from the Psychoanalytical Association of Kazakhstan;
- Interactive Teaching Methods - Trainers were from the Public Organisation ‘Peer to Peer’;
- Working with Interactive Whiteboards - Trainers were from the Association of Information Specialists of Kazakhstan;
- A Comprehensive Consecutive Analysis.
The duration of each course was 3.5 days and in total 133 teachers were involved.
Principles of Public School Management was the main topic of training for school administrative personnel.
Five teachers who participated in all project training sessions and actively applied new methodologies in the classrooms were invited to take part in the ‘Best Teacher’ competition held in December 2013.
In order to pilot and develop a CAS programme in Kuryk, EFCA, along with the local Department of Education, selected one school for CAS project participation. Based on the results of the interviews and recommendations from the Regional Education Department, School No. 6 was selected. EFCA invited a partnering organisation from Omsk, Russia, to conduct a three-day training course on the Development of the Community Active School Programme throughout the academic year. The participants were students and teachers of School No. 6 in Kuryk.
In September 2013, 6 representatives from School No. 6 went on a study tour to Omsk, Russia, where they met with the Community Active Schools (CAS) of the region. During this tour, Kuryk school teachers learnt more about CAS concepts such as ‘democratisation of the educational process, volunteering, social partnership, leadership development of students through student government and project activities’. School No. 6 is currently working on its Implementation Plan for the adaptation of the CAS model to Kuryk.
In winter 2013, the results of the initial CAS groundwork were presented to the community. In general, 2013 activities contributed to improvements in the qualifications of teachers and school administrators.
They also boosted teachers’ perceptions and understandings of student and family needs and prepared the Community Active School model for implementation in Kuryk. In 2014, the previour year’s results will be consolidated by focusing on strengthening teacherparent communications and relationships and increasing student-parent involvement in school and community activities. Ersai will work with schools to organise a series of year-long educational, cultural and recreational activities for children and parents, including joint training for parents and teachers, professional orientation classes for older pupils, and partnership building with business and community organisations. In addition, the project team will develop the ‘Community Active School Kit’, which will provide comprehensive how-to information about CAS development and implementation for other schools across Kazakhstan.