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|Kazakhstan is a constitutional republic with a strong presidency. President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has been in office since Kazakhstan became independent, won a new seven-year term in a January 1999 election that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said fell far short of international standards. The election was held nearly two years early, only three months after Parliament adopted a series of constitutional amendments in October 1998 permitting the early election and extending the Presidential and Parliamentary terms of office. The government disqualified two would-be opponents from running on the grounds that they had participated in an unsanctioned political meeting.|
Government and society
Kazakhstan’s first postindependence constitution was adopted in 1993, replacing the Soviet-era constitution that had been in force since 1978 a new constitution was approved in 1995. The 1995 constitution provided for legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government dominated by a strong executive. Amendments to this constitution in 2017 reduced executive authority and granted the legislature additional checks on executive power.
Kazakhstan is a unitary republic with a bicameral legislature consisting of a Senate and an Assembly (Mazhilis). Working jointly, the two chambers have the authority to amend the constitution, approve the budget, ratify treaties, and declare war each chamber also has exclusive powers. Legislators serve four-year terms. Two members of the Senate are elected from each oblast and major city by all legislative members of that administrative unit, with the exception of several appointed by the president. Ninety-eight members of the Assembly are elected from population-based constituencies by universal adult suffrage nine members are elected by the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, a president-appointed body intended to represent the interests of the several ethnic groups in Kazakhstan.
The president is the head of state and is directly elected for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms. The president appoints the prime minister and other ministers of the cabinet, as well as the chairperson of the National Security Committee, most of whom are then confirmed by the legislature the foreign minister, minister of defense, and minister of internal affairs are appointed without requiring legislative consent. The president serves as commander in chief of the armed forces and is responsible for the country’s foreign relations.
The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court, and there also are a number of lower courts a Constitutional Council, the members of which are appointed by the president and legislature, reviews constitutional questions. Judges serve life terms and are appointed by the president, with those of the Supreme Court also subject to confirmation by the legislature.
The constitution specifies a number of rights of the citizens of Kazakhstan, including freedom of speech, religion, and movement. Citizens have the right to work, to own property, and to form trade unions. Despite the democratic language in the constitutions of 1993 and 1995, in the early years of independence Kazakhstan became increasingly authoritarian. The country’s first parliamentary elections (1994) were declared illegal by what was then the Constitutional Court. This precipitated the drafting of the 1995 constitution, which expanded the already substantial powers granted to the president by the 1993 constitution. In 2017 a set of amendments reduced the role of the presidency and granted greater authority to the parliament.
U.S. Relations With Kazakhstan
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States, on December 25, 1991, was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence. The United States opened its Embassy in Almaty in January 1992 and then relocated in 2006 to Astana (renamed Nur-Sultan in 2019) . The United States opened a Consulate General in Almaty in 2009. In the years since Kazakhstan’s independence, the two countries have developed a strong and wide-ranging bilateral relationship and agreed on an enhanced strategic partnership at a summit in January 2018.
U.S.-Kazakhstani cooperation in security and nuclear non-proliferation is a cornerstone of the relationship, as evidenced by Kazakhstan’s participation in the Nuclear Security Summits in Washington, D.C. (2010, 2016), Seoul (2012), and The Hague (2014). Kazakhstan showed leadership when it renounced its nuclear weapons in 1993 and closed the Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS). The United States assisted Kazakhstan in the removal of nuclear warheads, weapons-grade materials, and their supporting infrastructure. In 1994 Kazakhstan transferred more than a half-ton of weapons-grade uranium to the United States. In 1995 Kazakhstan removed its last nuclear warheads and, with U.S. assistance, completed the sealing of 181 nuclear test tunnels at the STS in May 2000. In the following decade, the United States and Kazakhstan worked together to seal 40 more nuclear test tunnels at the STS. Kazakhstan signed the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (1992), the START Treaty (1992), the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1993), the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2001). In 2015, Kazakhstan’s government concluded an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to host a low-enriched uranium bank, which received its first shipments in 2019. Under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the United States has spent over $275 million to assist Kazakhstan in eliminating weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass destruction-related infrastructure. Kazakhstan’s security forces receive funds from the U.S. International Military Education and Training program, the Foreign Military Financing program, the Overseas Humanitarian Disaster and Civic Aid program, the Wales Initiative Fund, the Global Peace Operations Initiative, and the Building Partner Capacity program. Kazakhstan’s military participates in U.S.-funded military exercises like Steppe Eagle, Viking, Eager Lion, and Shanti Prayas.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Kazakhstan is the 81st largest trading partner of the United States, with a total of $2 billion in two-way trade in 2019. U.S. firms have invested tens of billions of dollars in Kazakhstan, concentrated in the oil and gas sector. Kazakhstan has made some progress in creating a favorable investment climate, although serious problems remain, including corruption and arbitrary enforcement of laws and contracts. A U.S.-Kazakhstan Bilateral Investment Treaty and a Treaty on the Avoidance of Dual Taxation have been in place since 1994 and 1996, respectively. Kazakhstan became a member of the World Trade Organization on November 30, 2015.
Sections 402 and 409 of the United States 1974 Trade Act require that the President submit a report to Congress semi-annually on continued compliance with the Act’s freedom of emigration provisions by those countries, including Kazakhstan, that fall under the Trade Act’s Jackson-Vanik Amendment. The U.S. Commercial Service provides support to U.S. businesses trying to enter the Kazakhstani market through counseling, market research, and a matchmaker program with Kazakhstani businesses.
U.S. Assistance to Kazakhstan
U.S. government assistance to Kazakhstan focuses on combating transnational threats (trafficking –in-persons, narcotics, terrorism, and proliferation of WMD materiel), supporting the development of the the judicial system and law enforcement, promoting an increased public role for civil society and mass media, improving Kazakhstan’s investment and trade environment, helping the government provide effective social services, and supporting Kazakhstan’s efforts to increase its production of low-cost clean energy.
Kazakhstan’s Membership in International Organizations
Kazakhstan and the United States also interact through many international organizations. Kazakhstan is a member of the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Kazakhstan held a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2017-2018 and the chairmanship of the OSCE in 2010. It is an active participant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Partnership for Peace program. Kazakhstan founded the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Kazakhstan is also a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Kazakhstan is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Kazakhstan maintains an embassy at 1401 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-232-5488), as well as its Permanent Representative’s Mission to the UN in New York.
More information about Kazakhstan is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Government organization in the Republic of Kazakhstan
The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the main law of the country. The first Constitution was adopted on January 28, 1993. It was of certain historical importance in the making of a young sovereign state. The new Constitution was adopted on August 30, 1995 by the all-nation referendum. In 1998 on the President’s initiative Parliament made about 20 additions and amendments to the Constitution. These amendments widened Parliament powers and democratic bases of public life.
According to the Constitution, the Republic of Kazakhstan is a unitary state with a presidential form of government. The head of the state is the President. The President has wide powers. He forms government, appoints a Prime Minister with the Parliament’s consent and releases him from office. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic. The first President of the country, N. A. Nazarbayev was elected in 1991. The President in accordance with the Constitution is elected for a five-year term.
But this term is prolonged to seven years under the amendments to the Constitution of 1998. In 1999 extraordinary elections of the President took place and N. A. Nazarbayev won them. On June 27, 2000 at a joint session of the Parliament’s Chambers there was adopted the Constitutional law of (he Republic of Kazakhstan «On the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan», which fixed life status of the Republic’s leader.
The highest representative body performing legislative functions is Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Parliament consists of two structures: upper chamber — the Senate and lower chamber — the Majilis. The Senate is composed of deputies elected in twos from each oblast, major city and the capital of the Republic. Seven deputies of the Senate are appointed by the President.
The Majilis consists of deputies elected in constituencies having one mandate. Parliament’s term of powers is four years.
The Government is the highest body implementing the executive power. The head of the government is the Prime-Minister. He is appointed by the President with the Parliament’s consent. The Government develops the main directions of the social-economic policy of the state, its defence capability, security, guarantee of public orders. The Government in its activity is responsible before the President as well as accountable to the Parliament. It acts within the term of President’s power and resigns its powers to the newly elected President.
Judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Court and local courts. The main achievements in judicial bodies reforming are reflected in the constitutional law of the Republic of Kazakhstan «On judicial system and status of judges in the Republic of Kazakhstan». This law passed on December 25, 2000. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the highest judicial body for civil and criminal cases. The control over observation of constitutional laws is implemented by the Constitutional Council. It consists of seven members elected for six years. Besides, the ex-Presidents of the Republic are life-long members of the Constitutional Council. Local public administration is exercised by local representative and executive bodies.
Local representative bodies — maslikhats — express the will of the population of corresponding administrative — territorial units. Local executive power is exercised by oblast administration — akimats with akims of the oblasts at the head. Akims of the oblasts are appointed by the President of the country on the recommendation of the Prime-Minister.
Administrative divisions [ edit | edit source ]
Kazakhstan is divided into fourteen regions (Kazakh: облыстар, oblystar Russian: области, oblasti). The regions are subdivided into 177 districts (Kazakh: аудандар, aýdandar Russian: районы, rayony). The districts are further subdivided into rural districts at the lowest level of administration, which include all rural settlements and villages without an associated municipal government.
The cities of Almaty and Nur-Sultan have status "state importance" and do not belong to any region. The city of Baikonur has a special status because it is being leased until 2050 to Russia for the Baikonur cosmodrome. In June 2018 the city of Shymkent became a "city of republican significance".
Each region is headed by an akim (regional governor) appointed by the president. District akims [akimi?] are appointed by regional akims. Kazakhstan's government relocated its capital from Almaty, established under the Soviet Union, to Astana on 10 December 1997.
Understanding Kazakhstan’s Politics
Nazarbayev’s overwhelming victory notwithstanding, change is taking place in Kazakhstan.
On Sunday, April 26, Nursultan Nazarbayev was reelected as president of Kazakhstan with 97.7 percent of the vote and a voter turnout of 95.22 percent. At first glance, this number is astonishingly high for an elected official, especially one who has been in office for more than twenty-five years. Suspicion of the reliability and credibility of these figures is certainly justified. But a complete negation of the extent to which the results reflect the will of the Kazakhstani population is exaggerated.
No stranger to Kazakhstan, I spent almost a year in Almaty, working as a shoe trader in a bazaar alongside migrant workers from Tajikistan. I have no illusions about the quality of life for ordinary citizens. Not every person in Kazakhstan supports Nazarbayev and not everyone has benefited from the country’s development since 1991. There are always winners and losers in periods of transition.
One of 170 international journalists covering the elections, I met with members of the Central Electoral Commission, International Observers, government ministers, a leading official in the Nur Otan Party, and even got to ask Nazarbayev a question at the post-election press conference.
These experiences have given me some insights into the internal dynamics shaping the Kazakhstani electorate and influencing the country’s political development. Kazakhstan’s internal politics are evolving. Nazarbayev’s reelection was driven by voters’ desire for stability and security, with the tacit understanding that Kazakhstan is at a difficult stage of its development, and that in the course of his next term the president must implement a comprehensive reform agenda.
Conservative Political Culture
There are several factors that explain the Nazarbayev’s reelection.
First, the president is genuinely popular. For many Kazakhstanis, life in general has improved since independence: Per capita GDP rose from $1,647 in 1991 to $13,172 in 2013, qualifying Kazakhstan as a middle-income country alongside Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Kazakhstan was chairman of the OSCE in 2011 and has hosted major international sporting events, such as the Asian Winter Games. Nazarbayev constructed a new capital city, Astana, and many Kazakhstanis are proud of the burgeoning political profile of their young country. Under Nazarbayev, Kazakhstanis are certain about the future security of their country.
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Second, Kazakhstan’s national ideology and apparent obsession with global crises is a consequence of history and geography. There is one common Kazakh saying, “when a neighbor lives by the heart, everyone’s yard is larger.” As a nomadic population, Kazakhs were constantly migrating and exposed to the dangers of the opened steppe. Given that there was no system for the formal delineation of property, leaders of nomadic tribal confederations cultivated relationships with other sedentary and tribal peoples in order to secure land and resources for subsistence. In other words, nomadic populations always had a “multi-vector foreign policy.”
Kazakhstani political leaders often refer to “global crises,” fearing spillover from conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria into their neighborhood. One of the reasons why elections were held early is because a deputy in the Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan argued that the global economic crisis will worsen in 2016, when elections were initially scheduled.
Third, one consequence of the historical development of the nomadic peoples of Inner Eurasia is that Kazakhstan’s contemporary political culture is characterized by conservatism and a preference for a strongman leader whose primary responsibility is to safeguard national security. As Vladimir Socor, a senior fellow at The Jamestown Foundation and one of the three Americans on the Independent International Observer Mission to the elections in Astana said at the post-election press briefing, the results of the election reveal a desire by the Kazakhstani electorate to “maintain the institutions of the Presidency in the post-election era.” Kazakhstan is a traditional society in which “deference to authority defines political culture.”
Today, Kazakhstan shares borders with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Its geographical position in the heart of Eurasia makes it vulnerable to importing foreign ideas from ISIS and other extremist groups. Kazakhstan is one country in the former Soviet Union that has not experienced internal war since 1991. Kazakhstan regards the situation in Ukraine not as an example of renewed Russian imperialism, but rather as an example of inter-ethnic and inter-linguistic confrontation between peoples in the former-Soviet space. As a Tajik migrant worker in the bazaar explained to me, “In Ukraine, there are just two nationalities – Ukrainians and Russians – and look at them fight. In Kazakhstan, we have over 120 nationalities – Kazakh, Russians, Dungans, Koreans, Uighurs – imagine if a conflict were to break out here!” Nazarbayev is largely credited with ensuring Kazakhstan’s national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders.
At his post-election press briefing, I asked Nazarbayev how Kazakhstan’s foreign policy would change in the new term. The president reiterated the country’s multi-vector foreign policy, and reaffirmed the need to strengthen ties with Kazakhstan’s neighbors and major trading partners, China, Russia and the European Union. The president also emphasized that Kazakhstan would continue to work with its strategic partners, the United States and South Korea. In a separate meeting, Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov emphasized that Kazakhstan’s policy priorities have been, and in the new presidential term will continue to be, stability and security and the peaceful resolution of global crises. Kazakhstan has taken an unofficial role as a mediator in the Russia-Ukraine dispute, and the country has hosted the P5+1 talks on several occasions.
While the strong presidency has enabled Nazarbayev to present a strong image domestically and overseas, the expansive institutional powers of the Executive, in conjunction with a conservative political culture, have subsequently stunted the development of political parties.
According to the OSCE/ODIHR International Observation Mission (IOM), the elections “were efficiently administered, however…the predominant position of the incumbent and the lack of genuine opposition limited voter choice.” This is true. Abdelgin Kusainov (67), the self-nominated candidate, and Turgun Syzdykov (67) of the Communist Party, represent the Soviet-era generation that lacks new ideas for the country’s future. Neither of them were strong candidates and both lacked the financing and outreach structures necessary to compete with Nur Otan.
During the Soviet era, the Communist Party was the state, and the state was the Communist Party. Today, there are nine registered political parties in Kazakhstan, the largest of which is Nur Otan. Nur Otan holds 83 out of the 98 directly elected seats in the lower house of Parliament. The Nur Otan Party counts 850,000 dues-paying members and maintains offices in all 16 of Kazakhstan’s administrative divisions, as well as 241 local offices. By law, Nazarbayev is the Chairman of Nur Otan. Many Nur Otan offices are located in government buildings, and the Nur Otan platform constitutes the agenda for future reforms. Nur Otan’s dominant position in Kazakhstani politics reinforces the notion of the indivisibility between the party and the state. In this respect, to many Kazakhstanis, Nur Otan can be viewed as a contemporary iteration of the Communist Party.
I interviewed Sayasat Nurbek, the Director of the Institute of Public Policy for Nur Otan. Nurbek is a unique figure in Kazakhstani politics. A fluent English-speaker who studied in Iowa on a Bolashak scholarship, as well as at Duke University, Nurbek worked as a personal assistant for Congressman Mark Smith during his election campaign in 2000. Nurbek confessed that, like many post-Soviet states, Kazakhstan continues to grapple with the institutional legacy of Soviet rule, during which the Communist Party dominated politics and criticism of the state was prohibited. Today, according to Nurbek, Kazakhstanis neither criticize the party nor the state, partly out of fear and partly because they disapprove of the confrontational nature of party politics.
A system with weak political parties is not a phenomenon unique to Kazakhstan they exist throughout the former Soviet Union. Parties do not aggregate voters into groups and articulate a specific policy agenda based on constituent demands. Rather, parties are tools for elites to mobilize support for an individual charismatic leader. In Russia, for example, the “United Russia party” exists to sustain support for President Vladimir Putin, despite the fact that the Russian president is not formally a member.
Yet, in Kazakhstan, there are distinct groups with concentrated political interests. Ak Zhol is known as the “business party.” The Communist Party advocates for more socialist reforms and appeals to older members of the population. The Birlik, or “unity” party, advocates for social reforms. The Auyl Party is a social-democratic party that represents the rural, agrarian population and has its stronghold in the Southeastern regions. These parties suffer from insufficient financing and institutional disorganization. That said, there is little disagreement between the parties in areas of major policy considerations.
Slowly, political parties are forming, and becoming more dynamic. When I spoke with Kusainov’s campaign team, they presented themselves as a green party that sought to implement ecological education programs in school curriculums and introduce incentives for businesses and individuals to adapt an environmentally conscious way of life. They acknowledged that Kusainov would likely lose, but asserted that the elections were an opportunity to present their ideas. They hoped that “if people vote for us, and our ideas, then in the new term, we can implement these reforms.”
While still conservative, Kazakhstan’s political culture and party politics structure are maturing, thanks in large part to the demographic of the new governing elite. Previously head of the Bolashak Association – the government program that finances graduate studies overseas, Nurbek observed that Kazakhstani graduates of Western institutions bring back not only knowledge, but more importantly, values. These values include a preference for meritocracy and a rejection of nepotism, Western corporate culture, respect for intellectual property, and social capital. Kazakhstanis who are not able to study overseas can acquire a Western-style education at KIMEP in Almaty, or at Nazarbayev University in Astana. While these young, Western-educated Kazakhstanis are employed, they have not yet formed the “critical mass” in government and business that is substantial enough to generate comprehensive, institutional reform.
But this is a matter of time change is happening. According to the results of the “World Values Survey,” which Nurbek personally helped to carry out in Kazakhstan, 75 percent of respondents indicated health as their number one priority, followed by family, security, welfare, and relationships. This change is a reflection of Kazakhstanis’ global engagement.
Reforming a political system and culture is a laborious endeavor that must confront the inertia of path-dependent social norms, behavioral pathologies, and interest groups. There is a generational divide between aging Soviet-era bureaucrats and their young, Western-educated counterparts. There are also regional divisions, as one-third of Kazakhstan’s workforce is employed in agriculture. Rural populations are among the most conservative in their ideology and their remote location is an obstacle to engagement. Because many Bolashak alumni work in Almaty or Astana, ensuring an inclusive growth model that includes rural populations is among the major challenges confronting Kazakhstan.
It was no surprise that Nazarbayev was reelected, but his reappointment is not a prescription for political paralysis in a post-Nazarbayev era. As seen in Turkmenistan, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, a peaceful transfer of power is possible in resource-rich regimes that have a less-than-perfect record of political pluralism and democratic processes.
The maturing Kazakhstani governing elite is preparing for transition through institutional development. The Nur Otan platform calls for institutional reform in five sectors: civil service, economic diversification, transparency in government, rule of law, and national ideology. In his next term, Nazarbayev will be expected to honor his commitment to institutional reforms and implement the Nur Otan’s reform program that he endorsed in the post-election press briefing.
The makeup of Kazakhstani society – particularly governing elites – is changing. While Nazarbayev still occupies the Ak Orda, when the time comes to transfer power, there are competent individuals serving in the corridors of power that have the requisite professional experience and understanding of liberal democratic ideals.
Kazakhstan does not have an American-style liberal democracy, and will not likely develop one in the near future. But with time, and a serious effort on reforms in the areas of education, transparency, rule of law, anti-corruption, and free speech, Kazakhstan will develop a more democratic political system.
Dena Sholk spent 2014 on a Fulbright Scholarship in Kazakhstan researching the informal economy. Her work has been published in The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Central Asian Newswire, and Delovoi Kazakhstan.
Agriculture is one of the mainstays of Kazakhstan’s economy. Farming occupies some one-fifth of the labor force. Northern Kazakhstan is a major producer of grain, mostly wheat and barley. In the south cotton is grown on irrigated land. Fruits and vegetables are also produced. Sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs are the main livestock raised. Nuclear contamination of soils near the northeastern city of Semey—the result of Soviet weapons testing—has hindered agricultural development in that part of the country.
Kazakhstan has rich areas of mineral deposits. Coal, petroleum, and some natural gas are exploited. Iron ore, copper, manganese, chromite, lead, zinc, bauxite, gold, and other minerals are also mined. An iron and steel industry and the smelting of metallic ores are important activities. Electric power is supplied by hydroelectric plants on the Irtysh, as well as by coal-burning plants.
Industry constitutes a prominent sector of the Kazakh economy. It accounts for roughly one-third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs one-fifth of the labor force. Manufacturing industries produce cast iron, steel, cement, and consumer goods. The chemical fertilizer industry is also important. The country is a major lead and copper producer. Agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, and construction materials are also produced. Fruit and vegetable canning, grain milling, brewing, and wine making are among the light industries.
The wide-ranging service sector now contributes the largest portion of Kazakhstan’s GDP and employs the majority of its workers. Trade is one of the most important service activities. Kazakhstan’s main export commodities include oil and natural gas, various metals, and chemicals. Its primary export destinations are Italy, China, the Netherlands, and Russia. Imports include machinery, metal and chemical products, and foodstuffs. Russia and China are its main sources of imports.
For such a large territory the transportation network is sparse. A line runs from the Trans-Siberian Railroad south to Karaganda and Almaty. Another line from Almaty joins Central Asia with the industrial area of western Siberia. A line links the port of Gur’yev on the Caspian Sea with the Ural region. The densest railroad network is in northern Kazakhstan and is used to transport grain. The highway system is not well developed, and most freight moves by rail. The Irtysh, Ili, and Ural rivers are navigable, and there is some shipping on the Aral Sea. The major port on the Caspian Sea is Gur’yev. Air transport carries the bulk of passenger traffic, both domestic and regional. There are international airports at Almaty and Nur-Sultan. The republic has an extensive network of oil pipelines between Atyrau and Orsk and Shymkent and Tashkent, as well as the Uzen-Zhetibay-Aqtau pipeline from the west.
The president determines the main directions of the domestic and foreign policy of the state and represents the country in international relations. The prime minister supervises and organizes the basic government.
The president is elected by plurality vote. The prime minister is appointed by the president with the approval of parliament.
President: 5 years Prime Minister: at discretion of president
The supreme court serves as the highest of three levels of courts (regional appeal, city, and district courts). The constitutional court judges upon the constitutionality of laws.
The supreme judicial council recommends nominee judges to the president. The president then submits nominees to the Senate for a vote of confirmation.
Information not available
Parliament is divided into the Mazhilis and the Senate. Together they adopt laws, discuss the budget, ratify and denounce international treaties of the republic, issue acts of amnesty to citizens, and establish the procedure for resolving issues of the administrative-territorial division of the country.
The Senate has 15 members who are appointed by the president and another 32 members who are indirectly elected by regional legislatures. The Mazhilis has 98 members who are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system and another 9 members who are selected for minorities.
Electronic government of the Republic of Kazakhstan: the history of formation and development
The article considers the history of formation and development of e-government in Kazakhstan. Integrated Information System Citizen Service Center is described more accurately, as one of the varieties of direction in functioning of e-government. Conclusion is given in the end that the implementation of e-government is an important element of administrative reform aimed at increasing the efficiency of the state administration. Prospect of Kazakhstan development is the task of Kazakhstan at the present stage &mdash the concentration of efforts for transition to informational society through informational technology.
The modern development of human civilization is characterized as a next stage in scientific and technical revolution &mdash implementation in every sphere of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) which change the way of people&rsquos living and construct the foundation and material base for transition to informational society, the society with high social and economic, political and cultural development.
Informational technologies of XXI are designed to solve the global complex problems in state politics sphere, social sphere, improve the organization of industrial processes and business structures.
A world-class cybernetic Glushkov Victor Mikhailovich set the question and developed the technology of electronic document management firstly in the USSR. The prototype of «electronic government» within the USSR was a project and ideology of Glushkov V.M.He was an initiator and a main ideologist in development and creation of Nationwide automated accounting system and information processing (NASI), designed for automated managing of the national economy of the USSR on the whole. He designed the theory of systems of distributed databases management (SDDM) for it.
«Electronic government» is a system of state management based on automation of the whole complex of management processes across the country and serving the purpose of significant increase of efficiency in state government and costs of social communications decrease for every member of the society.
«Electronic government» creation involves nationwide distributed system of public administration building implementing the full range of tasks decision connected with documents management and their processing.
The tasks of «e-government» are:
- optimization of providing government services to the public and business
- support and empowerment of citizens self-service
- growth of technological knowledge and skills of the citizens
- increasing the level of participation of all voters in governance and country management
- reducing the impact of geographical location «Electronic government» is not an addition or analogue of the traditional government, but it defines a new way of interaction on the basis of information and communication technologies (ICT) for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of providing public services.
Types of interactions «e-government»:
- between government and citizens (G2C, Government-to-Citizen)
- between government and business (G2B, Government-to-Business)
- between different branches of government (G2G, Government-to-Government)
- between government and employees (G2E, Government-to-Employees).
The automation of public authorities&rsquo activity is carried out within the «e-government» creation. Creating the information systems of state bodies is the main thing here which allows providing a citizen with electronic service which is necessary and rather actual for his/her everyday life and work. And the main idea of «e-government» in Kazakhstan is «providing the citizens with quick and qualitative access to electronic services of state bodies». Creation of «electronic government» should provide not only more effective and less expensive administration but total change in interactions between the society and the government. Finally, it will lead to improving the democracy and increasing the responsibility of the authority to people.
The idea of «e-government» creating in Kazakhstan was announced at the annual Message of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan March 19, 2004 «Towards the competitive Kazakhstan, competitive economy, and competitive nation» . «The state program of forming «e-government» in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2005&ndash2007» was accepted on the 10th of November 2004» . This was one of the first serious steps towards the development of high technological country.
Creation of «electronic government» in Kazakhstan is long-termed and its realization can be implemented only in several stages. The experience of the countries was studied where significant progress in development the technology of e-government was achieved: Korea, Singapore, Estonia and others. Taking into account the world experience, the implementation of «electronic government» in the Republic of Kazakhstan is carried out in four steps:
- Informational step (2005&ndash2006) &mdash the publication and spreading the At this stage, a single point of access to all informational resources of state bodies and focus on the needs of the citizens and organizations, basing on the concept of life and business events. Within this stage, the informational services of all state bodies were placed at the portal up to the end of 2006
- Interactive step (2006&ndash2008) &mdash the service delivery by means of direct and inverse interaction between the government and the citizen. Within this step the mechanism of identification and authorization of the users with the purpose of providing the citizens with interactive services with the help of state bodies, the service of the citizens&rsquo appellations reception is implemented and the mobile version of the portal was put into operation
- Transactional step (2008&ndash2010) &mdash interaction by the way of performing the financial and juridical operations at the governmental portal. At this stage, mechanisms of citizens&rsquo applications through the portal to paid state services to perform financial transactions, through integration with payment gateway and banking information system were implemented
- Transformational stage (2010 to present days) &mdash the creation of complex electronic services. Maximum efficiency in the providing the socially significant
But it is not enough to develop a program for its implementation for the realization of «e-government». It is also necessary to train people who are computer literate and have the access to ICT will be able to interact with the «electronic government» in any geographical point of the country.
The first stage in forming the informational society is a reduction of the informational inequality. To achieve this objective, the Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan for informatization and communications developed a «Program for information inequality decrease for 2007&ndash2009» . The program is aimed to the deal with challenges on reducing the information inequality, characterized by different levels of computer literacy and unequal opportunities of access to modern communication technologies.
On the way to reducing informational inequality three important steps are needed to do. The first is training the population. The second is lowering tariffs on the Internet. The third is ensuring citizens' access to Internet resources.
State Program on forming «electronic government» is mainly focused on the formation of the basic infrastructure of e-government. The implementation of the concept of «electronic government» requires, at least, the following initial conditions:
- the appropriate level of computerization of state bodies
- a certain level of market development of information and communication technologies in the country
- the existence or the presence of IT professionals like customers represented by public authorities and suppliers of goods and services capable to realize assigned tasks
- suitable legal and regulatory framework
- a sufficient level of funding
- the political will should be possessed not only by the head of state, but by all the participants in this process.
The portal of «electronic government» of the Republic of Kazakhstan is a reference and interactive web portal providing state services and services in electronic form and providing a single point of access to obtain the most relevant information on state services.
The portal of «electronic government» is developed for the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Kazakhstan by the national operator in the field of Information Technology of the Republic of Kazakhstan JSC «National Informational Technologies», a subsidiary of JSC «National ICT Holding «Zerde».
The launch of the web portal of «electronic government» on the Internet &mdash www.egov.kz took place on the 12th of April 2006. At the initial stage, it contained the materials about public services with information and reference character.
The web portal of «electronic government» is a practical mechanism for implementing the concept of providing public service by the principle of «one window». Currently, the informational services, covering the activities of the Ministry of Education and Science, Lab our and Social Protection of Population, industry and trade, justice, finance, healthcare, energy and mineral resources, the Agency for Civil Service Affairs and the National Bank, are implemented at the portal. The services are provided as by public authorities, the General Prosecutor's Office, the Constitutional Council, the Tax Committee of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the National Security Committee and others, and by private enterprises «Kazpost» JSC, «NC «KazMunaiGas» JSC, «Kar-Tel» (Beeline), LLP «GSM Kazakhstan», «Kazakhtelecom» JSC (Kcell), and others.
The projects of «electronic government» include dozens of different information systems (IS), registers, state databases (SDB), hundreds of applications and services. This is IS «E-akimat» IP «E-Notary» IP «Electronic government procurement», SDB «Individuals», SDB «Legal Entities», SDB «Real Estate Registry», Unified system of electronic documentation of public authorities, Integrated IS «PSC», IP SDB «E-licensing», internet-portal of public authorities, gateway and payment gateway of e-government, and many others.
Let&rsquos examine the informational system PSC in more details.
The public service centers (PSC), providing public services to individuals and legal entities on the principle of «one window» were created in the regions, in the cities of Almaty and Astana to implement the President's Message to the people of Kazakhstan dated February 18, 2005 «Kazakhstan is on the way of accelerated economic, social and political modernization»  on the basis of Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated 05.01.2007 № 1 «On creation of public institutions &mdash public service centers of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan» .
The government service is an activity of state bodies, aimed at meeting the needs of individuals and legal entities, which has particular character and carried on the addressing of individuals and entities.
In Kazakhstan the company «I-Teco» performs a large-scale project on automation the Public service centers. «I-Teco» is one of the leading IT companies in Russia in terms of turnover, growth rate, number of performed projects, specialists&rsquo skill.
The basis of all public service centers work is an integrated informational system (IIS) developed by the company «I-Teco» software-based Amdocs CRM 7.5. The system provides complex IT support for the process of providing public services to citizens. The main purpose of the implementation of IIS PSC is improving the quality and efficiency of public services provision. The services will be included in IIS PSC within the approving the way of its delivery at the state level, said the Head of the analysis and design of business processes «I-Teco».
Initially, only the services of the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan were provided at the PSC, and now other ministries and departments of the country joined the project. The PSC began provide the services of almost all ministries: transport, land relations, education, finance, environment, agriculture, economy and budget planning, etc. Such way provides a significant reduction in the costs of a system creation and its support solves the problem with the unification of services, allows using a single network PSC to provide all services. And finally, thanks to the citizens are not needed to think which agency or public authority issues a particular reference, but in any case he/she should be referred immediately to the PSC.
As a result of monitoring, the analysts came to the conclusion that the load of PSC is uneven a lack of resources is the main problem for compliance with quality standards. According to recommendations, the experts primarily indicate a need to translate the most popular services in electronic format, as it is, in their opinion will help to reduce the load of PSC.
In order to reduce costs the existing IT infrastructure of PSC is used at maximum. The use of so-called «smart client» will reduce the costs for work places support. In general, within the project solves the problem of unification of business processes in the national system of PSC, which will reduce the transaction costs in the future.
Data security is of special importance within the project. Serious steps in this direction were taken: data about citizens and organizations will not be discharged in IIS PSC. It tests the mechanism helping to obtain the data about the citizen (or organization) only when he/she addresses to PSC.
Experience on introduction IIS PSC in Kazakhstan is a valuable example of realization the function of control over the process of citizen servicing. The system allows tracking all actions of civil servants in each addressing of applicants. If the documents of the citizen are unreasonably delayed at any stage of the preparation, it is easy to identify who exactly stops it, and then figure out why it happened. IIS PSC has become a convenient and effective tool to fight the corruption, bureaucracy and red tape thanks to this transparency of the whole working process. Thus, at the initial stage the shortcomings of the work of PSC revealed and 250 employees received disciplinary action.
The main positive qualities of PSC became ensuring the equal access for all, the creation the opportunity to receive services of producing the documents of various organs at one place, the exclusion of the direct contact between documents performers and citizens.
The practice of operating system IIS PSC demonstrates how effective this mechanism of interaction with the public.
The Decree № 11 «On the transfer of public institutions &mdash public service centers Registration Service Committee and legal assistance of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan management to local executive bodies»  was adopted on January 15, 2010 after two years of activity under the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan in accordance with the request of the President, the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The transfer of authority was due to the fact that the local authorities work closely with the population and know the needs and requirements of residents better. Thus, the government body of PSC and the body carrying out towards him function of the subject of state ownership became akimats of regions, cities of Almaty and Astana. But the results of the monitoring showed that the quality of work of PSC during this time decreased significantly.
According to the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated 11.03.2011 № 249, the PSC were given for operating to Monitoring Committee of automation of public services and coordination of service centers of the Ministry of Communications and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan .
Ministry of Communication and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan the conversion of PSC to republican state-owned enterprises was planned to the end of 2011.
Republican state enterprise on the right of business «Citizen Service Center» of the Monitoring Committee of automation public services and coordination of service centers of the Ministry of Communications and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan was created based on the Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated November 11, 2011 № 1325 «On some measures on optimization of the activities of public service centers» in order to improve the efficiency of public service centers.
According to this decision 25 republican state institutions of regions, cities of Astana and Almaty were reorganized by attaching them to the Republican state enterprise on the right of business «Public Service Center» of the Monitoring Committee of automation of public services and coordination of service centers of the Ministry of Communications and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The Ministry of Communications and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan transformed into the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Kazakhstan according to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan «On further improvement of the system of government of the Republic of Kazakhstan» № 226 from 20.01.2012 .
The Ministry of Transport and Communications to improve the quality of public service delivery and further development of PSC implemented measures for their modernization, optimization of business processes of public service delivery and automation.
So, 28 PSC located in major cities, regional and district centers upgraded in 2011 and 224 PSC upgraded in 2012.
Modernization of PSC is characterized by the introduction of new information and communication technologies, business process optimization, reducing the number of required documents, the introduction of a barrier-free service.
14 PSC working in the mobile mode with departure to remote rural districts were launched in a pilot mode within the framework of execution of the task set by the Head of State to ensure the availability of public services to the general population, including people in remote settlements in all areas. There are over 10 thousand of such visits. 120,000 applications from people in remote areas accepted. They did not have to go to regional centers or cities to obtain the services.
In 2012, work of additional 56 similar PSC was organized. In 2013, 70 mobile PSC functioned, the chairman of the Monitoring Committee of automation services and coordination of PSC Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Kazakhstan marked.
In all regional PSC there is a trained employee who can help on e-government, to conduct a brief excursion into the e-government portal. When you receive a digital signature it is explained how to use it and what services you can get at home.
An informational Call-center of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan with a single free number has started to operate in the country. Call-center operators will consult on the list of required documents, time and cost of providing services will answer any question about government services. The citizens can also report the complaints about unlawful actions of inspectors of PSC calling the free number.
Transition to new formats of work of Public service centers helped to improve the quality of public service delivery to the population and create tools for monitoring and quality assessment.
Improving the quality of public services is a strategic task set by the Head of State. The quality of delivery of public services should be steadily improved and perfected. An important component here is professionalism of civil servants. Their professionalism in this case is a timely and qualitative delivery of public services. In addition, public servants should have proper culture of communication with the consumers of these services. Therefore today it is not enough for us to determine only the standard of public services. It is necessary to provide qualitative functioning of the whole process of assist. In other words, a system of assessment is necessary. The assessment criteria are the availability, quality of public service delivery, timeliness, courtesy, the appeals process and providing public services in electronic form. Social surveys of consumers and statistics will be used for the evaluation. Independent experts and non-governmental organizations will be enlisted for the survey. Furthermore, the mentality change of civil servants is one of the conditions for improving public service. They are called to provide public services to citizens by the state. The level of public confidence in the civil service as a whole depends mainly on the competent execution of this task. The trust is not only civil servants&rsquo work evaluation criteria but indicator of their image in society. The assessment of branch employees of the enterprise has been made in order to determine the level of professional and qualification preparation and knowledge of current legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
5552 employees of the following positions were certificated: inspectors and consultants, heads of departments and their deputies, heads of operating rooms, supervisors and mentors, workers of monitoring and control of the quality of public services, chief specialists of the storage sector, branch directors and their deputies, employees of office services.
4 411 (79 %) workers passed successfully and confirmed their qualification and 1 141 (21 %) workers didn&rsquot pass the test.
Special attention is paid to improving quality and service delivery of public services, new institutions of mentoring and supervising, introduced in PSC from 2012 perform a significant role. Staff training and development is provided by the Institute of mentoring (tutorship), and the main task of supervisors is timely and effective supervision and monitoring of technological processes of public services.
The independent monitoring of PSC activity and the quality of public services delivery is held annually as part of implementing of the Memorandum of Association of Legal Entities (ALE) «Civil Alliance of Kazakhstan». The results of the surveys showed the level of population trust increases. So, it counted 65 % in 2010, 76 % in 2011 and 81 % in 2012.
A large-scale work on launching the projects of specialized PSC on registration of vehicles and driver's licenses issuance was carried out to execute the paragraph 7 of the National Action Plan for implementation of the Message of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan «Socio-economic modernization is main direction of development of Kazakhstan» dated January 27, 2012 in conjunction with the local executive bodies of Almaty, Astana and Karaganda, Mangistau regions.
This project was implemented successfully on the 7th of December, 2012 on the basis of branch № 3 «PSC» in Karaganda region.
Minister of Transport and Communications, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan and akim of Karaganda region participated at the opening of the first specialized PSC where services for the issuance of driver's license and vehicle registration are provided.
The time of service delivery is reduced significantly because of business process automation, integration of databases and information systems of state bodies and unification within the same complex of all the steps necessary to obtain these types of services.
It will be possible to register vehicles in specialized PSC within 1 hour, and it will take for about 2 hours to obtain a driving license in case of passing the theoretical and practical exams successfully.
Passing exams on knowledge of traffic rules takes place in a specialized PSC. A class for testing is equipped and automated circuit is built, which is equipped with special sensors and video cameras. Electronic system for monitoring and evaluation driving skills records all stages of the examination, excluding the human factor when deciding on the results of the practical examination.
It should be noted that PSC operators and the traffic police are involved in the course of providing services, but their responsibilities are clearly defined: center operators receive the necessary documents, and traffic police certificate the units, manufacturing driver's licenses and registration certificate. Thus it eliminates the direct contact citizens with performers, responsible for the production of documents.
January 10, 2013 a grand opening of a similar PSC in Almaty with the participation of Head of State N.A.Nazarbayev was held.
May 31, 2013 the opening of a specialized PSC in Aktau took place, and in September 2013 a dedicated PSC in Astana opened.
The idea of creating PSC was progressive, convenient for citizens and for the state, which demonstrated its value in practice. Every citizen who applies for public services, receives all the necessary information and documents in a «single window» and does not think in what authorities he/she needs to address, what documents collect and the most important how much time will be spent to get each of the required documents.
The introduction of «electronic government» is an important element of administrative reform aimed at improving the efficiency of public administration. Firstly, it provides transparency in government procedures, reduces the level of corruption. Secondly, it reduces the state costs of the government apparatus and simultaneously increases the social level of civil servants. Thirdly, the professionalism and the coefficient of efficiency (CE) of employees&rsquo activity are improved. Fourthly, it allows not spending much time on procedures such as payment of taxes, registration and preparation of various documents. Created web-portal offers over a thousand information services of state bodies. These services increase every year. Electronic document management is implemented at the Presidential Office, Government, Parliament, some ministries and departments. Now it is possible to send tax returns declaration via the Internet, to apply for government purchases electronically, virtual receptions function.
During its existence, e-government of the Republic of Kazakhstan overcame four stages of formation and development, it was accepted positively and appreciated highly by the international community a high position at international and national ratings, nominations at contests prove it. The degree of development of Kazakhstan's e-government is assessed as «developing» (emerging leaders) and is considered one of the most successful.
Kazakhstan task at modern stage is to concentrate the efforts for transition to informational society through informational technologies.
In our country, only one of the components of informational society was accentuated it is the formation and development of e-government, which has been successfully implemented. However, the problem of informational society is broader than just the development of e-government and the telecommunications industry.
Education in Kazakhstan
The education system in Kazakhstan, which includes a number of distinct levels, has been very instrumental in helping this former member of the now defunct Soviet Union achieve economic and political success. In the following article we will discuss the country&rsquos system of education in great detail, describing the basics associated with each of the aforementioned levels.
The Education System in Kazakhstan
The education system in Kazakhstan is overseen by the Ministry of Education and administered at the local level. Schooling is mandatory for all students between the ages of 6 and 15, although there are several pre-university educational options for students between the ages of 16-18 as well. Below you will find the various levels that make up Kazakhstan&rsquos system of education, beginning with Kindergarten and culminating with the various higher education opportunities available in the country for students seeking advanced degrees and diplomas.
Kindergarten Education in Kazakhstan
Nazarbayev University, Source As per the country&rsquos Constitution, all children in Kazakhstan have access to kindergarten education, which is offered at no cost to the family. Kindergarten typically serves students between the ages of 4 and 5, and while students are not mandated to attend this one-year level of education it is estimated that nearly 80 percent of children do begin their formal education at this stage. Kazakhstan is home to over 100 kindergartens, over 80 percent of which are public institutions, serving approximately 150,000 children each year.
Kindergarten classes are held five days a week in Kazakhstan for approximately 3-4 hours a day. The curriculum during this stage of education includes pre-writing, reading and arithmetic, art, music and play. All kindergartens are currently expected to teach both Kazakh and Russian, and most emphasize one language over the other.
Kindergartens in Kazakhstan play an important role in helping prepare students for their first year of state-mandated primary education. Children learn to socialize and work cooperatively with other students and their teacher through group work and games and come to know what is expected of them both academically and behaviorally in a school setting.
Primary Education in Kazakhstan
Primary education in Kazakhstan typically begins at age 6 and spans four academic years&mdashGrade 1 through Grade Four. Classes generally run in two sessions, from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM and from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM with students either going to class in the morning or in the afternoon.
All primary schools in Kazakhstan are state-owned and constitutionally protected. The curriculum for these schools is developed and established by the Ministry of Education and individual schools are mandated to teach the ascribed curriculum to a &ldquoT&rdquo, thus giving students the best chance of success, with each year building on the one before. Textbooks are provided by the government to each of the country&rsquos primary schools, which in turn lend them to the students for their use in that particular year.
The curriculum in Kazakhstan&rsquos primary schools includes courses in reading, basic mathematics, writing, Kazakh and Russian language arts, science, social science, art, music and physical education.
Primary school education is provided free to all citizens and residents of Kazakhstan and parents typically pay only for extra-curricular activities such as sports programs, music programs, and sometimes lab equipment or other special equipment.
Lower Secondary School Education in Kazakhstan
The period known as lower secondary or basic school in Kazakhstan is similar to middle or junior high school education in other countries like the United States. This level of education typically begins at age 10 or 11 and spans a total of five years in duration&mdashGrades 5 through Grade 9.
Some lower secondary school classes share same the same campus with the primary school (or higher secondary school) in the immediate area, while others may form a separate campus altogether.
The curriculum students can expect to encounter while participating in lower secondary school depends on their specific age and grade level. At the lower levels, the curriculum is very similar to that of the primary school, albeit more advanced, with subjects such as mathematics, general science, social science, Russian or Kazakh language arts (depending on the primary language of the individual school) and physical education. Older lower secondary education students, such as those in the 8 and 9 grades, can study more advanced subjects such as foreign language, Kazakh, Russian and World Literature, history, algebra (and other higher mathematics courses), physics, biology, chemistry and many others.
Higher Secondary School Education in Kazakhstan
Once students successfully complete their lower secondary school education they are permitted to follow one of three available tracks at the higher secondary school level. Students may choose only one track, meaning they are not permitted to enroll in two or more tracks simultaneously.
The first track that is available to students is known as the General Education track, which spans two years and comprises grades 10 and 11. This track is purely academic in nature and is designed for students who plan to pursue university studies after finishing secondary school. The curriculum for general higher secondary education is similar to that of its lower secondary counterpart, although the subject matter students will encounter is much more difficult. All instruction is geared towards preparing students for university admission following graduation.
In addition to the general education track of higher secondary education there are also two types of vocational tracks:
Initial Vocational Education in Kazakhstan is provided by the country&rsquos (initial) training schools and lycees, while Secondary Vocational Education is provided by colleges.
Below we will take a look at the various institutions that provide basic and advanced vocational education and the type of programs they institute.
Training Schools (Initial Vocational Education Track)
Training schools in Kazakhstan are designed to train students in a trade or skilled profession of some type. These programs, which are entirely vocational in nature, can span anywhere from one to three years, depending on the type of trade or profession in which the student is focusing his/her study.
Graduates of training schools can go on to further their studies at either a vocational college or university, or enter the world of employment in the same or related trade. Training school education is provided for students free of cost, although students may be required to purchase special equipment, textbooks and other materials.
Lycees (Initial Vocational Education Track)
A tipical school in Kazahstan, Source The lycees in Kazakhstan are also set up to offer students an initial or basic program of vocational education and to prepare them for a variety of skilled professions. However, lycees differ from training schools in that they also offer basic academic education along with specific vocational program instruction. All of the programs in the country&rsquos lycees span three academic years, often referred to as grades 10-12.
Colleges (Secondary Vocational Education Track)
Secondary or Advanced Vocational Education is provided by Kazakhstan&rsquos colleges, with programs that also include general academic education. Depending on the field of study, the program length at the country&rsquos colleges can span anywhere from three to four years&mdashGrades 10-12 or Grades 10-13. Accelerated programs exist for students who have already completed both general secondary education and initial vocational training in the same field. Graduates may go on to the university to continue their education or they can opt to begin working in their chosen field of study.
After the 1999 Budget Law was passed, colleges became state-owned and self-financed. This was done in part to ensure more of the country&rsquos students continued their education past the compulsory age of 15.
The curriculum for both initial and secondary vocational education is established by the Ministry of Education, with little choice left up to the individual schools. Textbooks are sold in bookstores throughout the country and are purchased by the students themselves.
Tertiary Education in Kazakhstan
Tertiary or higher education in Kazakhstan is provided mainly by the country&rsquos universities. Following the Russian system of tertiary education, universities in the country focus entirely on teaching and do not engage in research (as universities do in other parts of the world).
Students who wish to apply for university admittance must, at minimum, possess a leaving certificate or its recognized equivalent from one of the country&rsquos higher secondary education institutions. Since 2004, all secondary school graduates have also had to pass a new exam, the Edinoe Nacional'noe Testirovanie (Unified National Testing Exam) and receive the corresponding diploma, the Certificat o Rezul'tatah EHT (replacing the Complex Testing Exam) to enter a university. Some schools may also require a separate entrance examination, as may specific departments within a given university.
Students who are accepted to a university at any level must apply under a specific major, and the curriculum is set by the university (according to State legislation) for each major. For example, economics majors will all study in the same courses in the same order, separate from English majors who have a different curriculum. Some courses are required for a variety of majors and there is a possibility of switching majors, but typically classes do not transfer to the new major and the student is expected to reenter in the new major as a first year student.
As with most modern universities, the higher education institutions in Kazakhstan offer a number of degree options in hundreds of possible majors. Currently there are four levels of tertiary education in Kazakhstan:
·Bachelor Degree. The Bachelor degree in Kazakhstan typically spans four years or eight full semesters for full-time students. These basic higher education degrees provide students with the required fundamentals specific to their chosen field of study.
·Specialist Degree. The Specialist degree or diploma, which generally spans five years in duration, includes specialized education that is a bit more intensive than the normal Bachelor degree.
·Masters Degree. Scientific-pedagogical education in Kazakhstan can lead to a Master&rsquos degree, which typically spans an additional two years in duration after the Bachelor or Specialist degree.
·Doctoral Degree. Doctoral degrees, leading to the Doctor of Science or PhD degree, can span anywhere from two too five years after the Master&rsquos degree.
Full-time postgraduate studies (known in Kazakhstan as Aspirantura) that lead to the qualification of Candidate of Sciences (Kandidat Nauk) normally last for three years, and the submission of a thesis is required. Under the new system of higher education, a PhD is conferred after two to three years' further study beyond the Master's Degree, while the Doctor of Sciences (Doktor Nauk) is awarded after the Kandidat Nauk and after completion of a thesis based on original research.
Universities in Kazakhstan are typically headed up by a rector, appointed by the President of the nation, who wields considerable authority over the institution, approving all decisions including those regarding curriculum, personnel, and admission. This chain of command makes the universities in Kazakhstan much more centralized than their Western counterparts.
As of this writing, the top two universities in Kazakhstan are al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty and L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University located in Astana. Karaganda State University is also well-regarded.
Private universities also make up part of the tertiary educational landscape of Kazakhstan. These schools, usually non-profit institutions, are subject to the same regulations regarding curriculum but are free to set tuition and salaries as they see fit. Public universities are subject to the same regulations as other government-owned organs, regarding not only fees and salaries, but also administrative structure, contracting and subcontracting, and ownership of property.
State owned universities receive funding if their enrollment reaches 86,000 students or 34%. A small number of universities are financed through a budget line in the Republic budget, such as art academies or international universities.
The Bolashak Scholarship and Scholars
Finally, no discussion of education in Kazakhstan would be complete without mentioning the Bolashak Scholarship and Scholars, but first a bit of background.
History has shown time and again that reforming the educational system of a nation by training highly qualified professionals is always one of the keys to making a society more progressive and democratic. Some historical examples of this success include Post World War II Japan, Turkey and Hong Kong, just to name a few. These nations have built economically and politically viable states through pursuing an active policy of learning from the most advanced educational systems in the world.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan was faced with a myriad of difficulties inherited by the former, including:
- Economic turmoil
- Social inefficiency
- A legacy of environmental disasters
- A huge stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Much of Kazakhstan&rsquos success can be traced back to 1993, when the country became the first Asian nation to launch a presidential scholarship program: Bolashak, meaning "The Future" in the Kazakh language. This program highlights the importance of educating and training Kazakhstan&rsquos most talented youth at the world&rsquos best universities. On November 9, 1993, President Nazarbayev decreed, "In Kazakhstan's transition toward a market economy and the expansion of international contacts, there is an acute need for cadres with advanced western education, and so, it is now necessary to send the most qualified youth to study in leading educational institutions in foreign countries."
As a result of this decree, Bolashak scholars are today trained in a number of fields, including:
The Bolashak program is fully funded by the Government of Kazakhstan and overseen by the Ministry of Education and Science. Since 1994, hundreds of Bolashak scholars have graduated from top universities around the world, including the following giants of American education: