Informing systemic education reform in Kazakhstan

Credit: freedarst/iStock

Research by Cambridge’s Faculty of Education has directly informed a substantial national programme of educational reform in Kazakhstan between 2013 and 2020. As a result of reform, Kazakhstan has moved up international league tables in teaching and learning outcomes.

The programme has been the result of ten years of engagement by faculty members in Kazakhstan, with over 242,896 school teachers in mainstream secondary schools nationwide participating in teacher development programmes between 2011 and 2018.

A key element of the reform has been teacher development. Numerous recommendations made by the researchers informed the State Programme of Educational Development in Kazakhstan and two examples are raising teacher status and improving the quality of teacher professional development.

The effort is also producing other sustained improvements in outcomes in the Kazakhstan education system such as curriculum and pupil outcomes as judged by independent international bodies such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

To ensure reform would be sustained, the Cambridge Faculty has also begun formal partnerships with two organisations founded to spearhead change: Nazarbayev University and a flagship network of 22 Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools.

In turn, the results of these country-wide educational reforms have generated a new body of research. Cambridge scholars are developing their knowledge of methodology, understanding how teachers ‘change’, the role of school directors, cultural practices, and the transferability of education reform practice in international settings.

“Both [David Bridges and Colleen McLaughlin] have contributed enormous amount of time and effort in supporting the reform in secondary education in Kazakhstan and contribute to the political discourse in the country.”

– Nazarbayev Fund, Kazakhstan