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What a surprise!?

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Marina Marina | 03:21 UK time, Thursday, 19 August 2010

Hi everyone!

Just to kill two birds with one stone I'm going to do my homework and answer Maria's (from Poland) questions, guys. Don't you mind Kim? :)

You see, friends, yesterday I read a rating of World's best countries that has been published by the one American magazine. It says that Kazakhstan scored 14 out of 100 in the educational area. To be honest, people in my office were quite surprised as the majority of our population really doesn't consider the education system here to be such an excellent. But I may mistake as it's been almost five years since I graduated and 20 years since Kazakhstan got its independency. Maybe we judge too strictly? In the meantime, is it enough for the whole system to recover so quickly?

OK, friends, I'll try to explain what I mean. In 1991, when the USSR collapsed, the education system in Kazakhstan wasn't good as well as the whole situation. It was very bad, actually. You see, all of the educational institutions used to be under Moscow control. Of course there was a chaos after we got independency. Schools, universities and other institutions had a very poor financing and a half of them just were closed. But the situation began to change in the 1998-99th when the private universities were growing like mushrooms. It's true fact that almost all of them didn't have any license for their activities.

So, friends, I was unhappy to be taught at that kind of university. Now lots of graduates don't even be able to confirm their diploma as that university was closed. Thus they are not competitive at all, if you see what I mean. As far as I know having a Western diploma is a must for working on some big companies in Kazakhstan and making a good carreer. Doesn't it prove that our education is far from ideal? I just won't describe every aspect of that time. But, who knows, maybe it was just inevitable scenario for us as for the former member of the USSR (?).

So, Kazakhstani people tend to get a Western education for getting a better job. But only a few can afford it because it's quite expensive. The great thing is that in 1993 our President set up the "Bolashak" scholarship which gets an opportunity about 1,000 talented students to study abroad (just for comparison: there are 142,000 graduates in 2010 in Kazakhstan). We also have a variety of International Fellowship that makes the studying abroad possible for us as well.

On the other hand, there are some optimistic points. In fact many students from India, Pakistan and some other countries come to Kazakhstan to get the Medical education. Over the past few years lots of youth organizations in the education area have been set up. Honestly, we all believe that the situation is getting better. And I hope that the next generation of the Kazakhstani students will be far more lucky than I was.

Ok friends, I hope you'll share you point of view and the situation with education in your countries. I'd really want to know what is your attitude to this topic.

PS. Kim, I haven't used the example of "would" yet.

So here it is: In 2004 I was studying at the university. I would skip my last lectures because of the social work. :)

Take care,



  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Marina,
    Thanks for your response. I'm not sure that I understand you properly. From your post I draw conclusion that in general the time when your country was under the USSR control wasn't good for its and because of that the Kazakhs are not so open-minded for the Russians. Am I right? If yes, it is a little bit strange for me that you, as a Kazakh, don't know Kazakh language but only Russian. Or may I misunderstand something?

    As you have answered for my question I must answer for yours. Before 1989 Poland was also under the USSR control. In opposite to Kazakhstan Poland wasn't the one of the USSR republic. Nevertheless at that time the Polish were able to study in Poland or in the other communist country. After the system transformation many private universities were opened. The quality of them are much lower than at the public ones. However many people decide to go at them becasue the universities like these are closer to their homes and they don't spend money for the living in diffrent city. The easier possibility to take a master degree cause that we have many educated people which are not good qualified. It also cause that lack of specialist like a locksmith or a cleaner. The people with master degrees don't want to do such things. This situation is very dangerous for our economy because on one hand we've got 'educated people' and on the other hand we don't have a specialists. It reflects in higher migration movement. On one board the Polish are escaped to the Western countries and on the second one the more people from the Eastern countries are coming to Poland. Very complicated. This situation is caused by the goverment who don't intoduce a some kind of regulation of opening the private universities. With every year this problem is much bigger but there is nobody who wants to solve it.

    Best wishes,

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Maria!

    Thanks for answering so quickly. I'm sorry guys, but I haven't mentioned the period of time when Kazakhstan was the member of the USSR, although it's very important one.

    So, the education system in the USSR was just perfect (this very statement is based on my parents stories as well as the others people of their generation). Every person was equal in getting the standart high education. And the main thing is that it was free.

    The graduates used to know in advanced where their future work place would be. And, of course, as Maria mentioned, people had an opportunity to choose one of the Soviet countries for their studying.


  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Marina,Interesting your information about education. Here in Argentina, the educational system (schools and universities) has a very good level though it was better years ago. There are excellent public universities in all the country (totally free) and some private ones the same ranking both. Very few people went to study abroad (especially for post-graduated courses), but there are students coming from the rest of Latin America and young Koreans. There is an important Korean Community in our country. Both degrees from public or private institutions qualify you to get a good job. Looking forward to your news. Thanks. Beatriz.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Maria,

    An interesting topic but difficult to decide which level of education to discuss. In my view education is getting better in most countries and more people try to get educated. In return, competition in education is increasing and it is becoming difficult for universities to select candidates for appropriate courses. This also put pressure on the education system to introduce new assessment tests. For example, here in the UK a new aptitude test has been recently introduced for students who want to study medicine or dentistery. Similary, grade A* is also intruduced at A level this year. This A* grade has been introduced because more students are getting A grades and it is becoming harder for universities to select candidates for appropriate course.

    Take care


  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Negee,

    You have written: 'competition in education is increasing'
    And this is the biggest problem in Poland. After every step of education in Poland we have an exams which check students' skills. The education department specially makes these exams easier with every year. Why? The answer is very easy. If scores on exams were to low, it would mean that the education reform which was done in nineties is bad and they should it change. Moreover they think that the number of the graduateds shows the level of the country's development. Of course in this statement is a little bit truth, but not only the number but also the level of knowledge is very important. So it is easier to understate the level of education than push it higher. To show you the scope of the problem I can give an example. The things which my parents were learnt at high school like integrals, I will be learn at university (now I'm learning at high school). And the process like that is normal practice in Poland. Other example that the goverment wants rather to reduce the level of education than increase it - in Poland was an experimental school for talented children. After few years should have been made the statue which will regulate the position of that kind of school in Poland (becasue there was a plan to open more schools like this one). Nevertheless the goverment was not very interested in that case so that school should have been changed to a normal one, because the law forbids existence of such schools in Poland.


  • Comment number 6.

    Hi ,I want to tell your my country's education ,in China there were plenty of students studied in western country in 1990s ,because Chinese university is not very good ,many students want to get more knowledge ,after 2002 there are some changes ,a lot of universities built new classroom building and employed many famous scholars ,so there is not only way to get goos knowledge,somebody choose to go to domestic school,but now you want to get bachelor in China is harder than some western country's ,so somebody go to study abroad only for degree,you have degree you have good job!

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Marina, i want to talk to you something about my country's eduacation, VietNam. I have some friends who lived in many foreign countries, "there's a big differences between in Viet Nam and other countries. They learned in VN, and then they studied aboard, they realised that VN students has to learn a lot, a hard programs than in other countries. In those countries, students feel more comfortable in learning, they rarely suffer much pressure like VN students. So, maybe this is the reason why so quite students want to study abroad to obtain a different education suitable for them.
    I'm VN students, i hope i have a chance to study abroad to get a better chance for my job in the future. Maybe i'll do that when i finish my learning at my university. My parents promised that they will give me a chance to study, i'll try my best to improve my English skills. Quang.
    Thanks for reading.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi to everyone,

    I'll try to tell you my humble opinion about the educational system in my country, Italy. I think people here are more interested to know something relevant to the university system, so I am going to talk about that only.
    When I attended the university (i.e. more than ten years ago) the system had its strengths and its weak points.

    Among strengths I would consider the following features:
    _ universities were well distributed in the country, I mean every important town had one or more universities;
    _ most universities were funded by the government, so registration and school fees were reasonable;
    _ students of technical courses were given a deep preparation, at least in terms of theory;
    _ a graduate could easily find a permanent, full time job without waiting years or having to go abroad.

    Among weak points I would consider the following:
    _ there weren't admission exams for most of the universities. This meant overcrowned courses and high number of demotivated students who gave up after few months or years;
    _ there were, especially for technical faculties, a huge number of exams to sit. This meant that a tiny minority of students were able to graduate within the normal course length (five years). The average student needed to work hard seven year before getting graduate;
    _ there was little connection between universities and enterprises. Most students, once graduated, had no idea about the job they could apply for.

    Recently things have changed, not always for the better. Now the university courses have been split into two parts: after three years you get a first diploma, if you wish you can continue for other two years and finally you get the second diploma. Exams are easier now and most students are able to complete the course without delay. Unfortunately they are not as prepared as they used to be in the past.
    Admission exams are still the exception rather than the rule.
    Huge cuts in state funding are seriously undermining the possibility of the system to survive as it is. The number of first class, expensive private school is increasing (it's worth noticing that these schools are funded by the government as well !).
    Its's getting more and more difficult to find a permanent, full time job, it seems that the student's know how is of little interest to the enterprises.

    Take care

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Marina,

    Thanks for your useful article! In my country, in India, the education sector is growing rapidly. The door is now open to all and inter national giant educational groups are entering one by one.

    This is a very populated country where national GDP is growing.
    in our childhood we used to go to the government primary schools where English was just subject as an optional choice. But now almost every school has become English medium and even other subjects like History or Biology etc are also in English mode. Recently I have joined as a customary care officer in a company www puntercalls com where I see more than 90 percent people talk in English only. Let me say about just 5 years back hardly a 50 percent was in this que.
    The importance of good English I have understood and hence I am willing to learn so that I can make myself more polished to the service industry.

    Take Care

  • Comment number 10.

    "...All of the educational institutions used to be under Moscow control..." - it's a very good phrase. Russia always helped its neghbours and they (neighbours) always wanted something more...

  • Comment number 11.

    "Russia always helped its neghbours and they (neighbours) always wanted something more..." Do I understand this frase correctly? Where do you come from, Roman? I am from Czech Republic and, for example, few days ago we have "celebrated" the anniversary of Soviet occupation in 1968 - and I really do not consider this as a "help". Or, does your sentence have a different meaning?
    The situation in our country is very similar as in Poland, both in communist and post-communist era. Earlier "uniformed" schools, now a lot of private schools at a very low degree...

  • Comment number 12.

    Dear Tereza, I'm sure you understand my comment correctly. ...And of course I'm from Russia! But Czech Republic isn't our neighbour... In the middle of 20-th century your country was just a place for fight between Soviet Union and USA in their cold war. SU set Czech Republic free from fascism, if it wouldn't so there wouldn't be Czech Republic at all...
    One more thing: Russia is not Soviet Union and we've just celebrated the 19-th anniversary of that event.
    If talk about uniform I don't think it's too bad as you may think. For example some parents can't afford to buy smart clothes for their child and others can... Uniform helps children think only about knowledges but not about whose parents cooler.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi there,

    Don't you people tired of discussing the Sovet period and how bad it was and that "poor" former sovet republics have been suffered for many many years from totalitarianism of USSR government? I am one hundred percent positive that people who say that Sovet Union was the gratest evil don't realize what role the Sovet Union government played in the development of those coutries.


  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Dear Marina!
    I'm so sorry about my a such rare and sluggish keep up for you in your great month in BBC Learning English blog's. I promise you,-wait - I'm going in evening today to write my comment about all of your previous blogs, what I missed because of my so very busy no-good-for-anything life activity.
    Best wishes,

  • Comment number 15.

    I agree fully with BBC-fan.
    Nowadays citizens of former sovet republics come to Russia for working, making money and sending this money to their relatives. Isn't it strange that for twenty years of free from "totalitarianism of USSR government" the situation in their own countries didn't become better?! I emphasize: twenty years have passed.

  • Comment number 16.

    'I am one hundred percent positive that people who say that Sovet Union was the gratest evil don't realize what role the Sovet Union government played in the development of those coutries.'

    Could you show me what good things the Soviet Union have given to my country, Poland?

    I agree with Roman that the country as Poland or Czech Republic are not allowed to blame for our current situation the Soviet Union. Now is our business how it looks like there. But also the Russian are not allowed to say that the cold war was good for our countries. The historical truth is that during this time we were not free because we were under the Soviet control. Except for lack of civil liberties and many political crimes that were done here, there were nothing on shops' shelves, there was a curfew and things like these. We have never forgotten about these things. And I have also never agreed that the Soviet Union protected us from fascism. It is a propaganda statement. If you don't think so, let's start to learn history. Let's look what was done on 17th September 1939 and during Warsaw's uprising.

  • Comment number 17.

    "Let's look what was done on 17th September 1939 and during Warsaw's uprising."

    Maria, I know history and the event you wrote about too. I also know that government of Poland had negotiated with fascists before SU. Poland wanted to get some territories which belonged to SU and it needed help of Germany. But Germany just wasn't interested in "cooperation" with Poland. Then was 1st September 1939 and only after the 17th September 1939. We also shouldn't forget 9th May 1945 in it's true understanding.

    Maria, taking this way we can remember the beginning of 17th century. Russia didn't touch Poland at that time but...

    It seems like some kind of sport: who can remember or even imagine more "sufferings" which caused by US "totalitarianism". Everybody forgot good things and remember only bad ones because it's "fashionably". This statement is true both for East Europe countries and for former soviet republics. The first ones were never Russia's friends. The second ones experienced shock when they got independence twenty years ago and within it lost vast sums of money which Moscow was sending them for whole soviet period.
    I can say one more time: please, stop blaming SU or Russia in your sufferings nowadays. Everybody live in free countries and do what they want for twenty years at least...

  • Comment number 18.

    To Maria:
    Hi, I am not going to argue with you, I was talking in general about USSR past and you know, Poland is not the only former Sovet Union republic.
    It seems to me that you guys in Poland are full of hate to Russians.
    Brrrr! Scary!!!


  • Comment number 19.

    Hello again Dear Marina,
    did you already read my classy comment in your "My native town's" blog? And I'm going to write in your this blog too, but a bit later, or... if I change my mind, I will write to your last blog about Almaty, it's very interesting also, especially as I've some questions are connected with Almaty. See you later.

  • Comment number 20.

    While we are about history, you should know that during interwar period Poland as an independence country was leading a policy of being between Russia and Germany. It's true that Hitler proposed Poland the pact against Russia, but we didn't agree for it, as contrasted with Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. And for me, as Polish, is a scandal when others, especially Russians, try to shove that on 17th September Russia 'helped' Poland down my throat. What about 9th May 1945 I can agree that is a great day for all world because the second world war ended, but from this day many countries was not independent in all aspects and from this day started an other war - a cold war.

    "I can say one more time: please, stop blaming SU or Russia in your sufferings nowadays. Everybody live in free countries and do what they want for twenty years at least..."
    I said that before that we are not allowed to blame Russia for current situation in our countries, but we have to remember about the past.

    'It seems to me that you guys in Poland are full of hate to Russians.
    Brrrr! Scary!!!'
    I will not describe it as a hate, but it is true that we treat Russians with a pinch of salt. But only when we are talking about history and policy. In normal situation it doesn't matter with whom I am talking. And with this positive accent I propose to end that discussion.


  • Comment number 21.

    Maria, thanks for your comments. I just want to add that SU didn't start that cold war, the national economy was wrecked and needed rehabilitation. It didn't explode nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as demonstration of self power.

    "I said that before..."
    Sorry for reiteration.

    Taking into account your positive accent I can't refuse your offer. I'm a bit sorry because this discussion was interesting for me. I know it's not my blog so Marina sorry me. :)

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi guys!

    Well, this discussion is really impressive. I was waiting for the end of it and thinking: Why can't we just live in peace and quiet? Why should we depend on some politician's descision or political regime, whatever? It is always beyond me.

    Who cares about us? Only ourselves.

    Take care,


  • Comment number 23.

    Hello Marina,

    'Why can't we just live in peace and quiet?' This is very easy to say, but history teaches us that when we try at all costs to hold down peace it can be calamitous. Let's look on the midwar time. The existence of the League of Nations was a parody. The men who were leading it attempted to have peace by all means. Their peace policy caused that in German and Italy nazi's goverments were grown in power, there was the Anschluss and things like that. Peace and freedom are wonderful but we shouldn't usher them forcefully.


  • Comment number 24.

    Dear Marina,

    Good topic again! Here in Brazil the education isn't very good. Ok, I have to be honest: we have excellent universities and schools too, but the most of them are in the south and the sout-east of the country. Even the primary school don't arrive to everyone, mainly the children of the north and north-east. The government is doing some programmes to include the poors in the universties, but there's a lot of things which still must be made here.

    Best wishes,



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