3. Laws, Plans, Policies and Programmes
6. Teachers and Support Personnel
The 2007 Law on Education defines inclusive education as the process that provides equal access for students with special individual abilities to relevant education training. The 2015 Conceptual Approaches to the Development of Inclusive Education in the Republic of Kazakhstan, a policy note adopted by the Ministry of Education, clarifies that inclusive education is a transformative process of the education system based on the equal right of quality education for all.
Special education needs
The 2007 Law on Education provides a definition of persons with special education needs, referring to those who experience constant or temporary difficulties in education due to health reasons.
According to the 2015 Conceptual Approaches, inclusive education can be realized through the implementation of a personalized pedagogical approach intended to include persons with special education needs, such as children with disabilities, migrants and refugees, oralmans (ethnic Kazakh returnees), national minorities and children in vulnerable social situations.
According to the 2005 Law on social protection of persons with disabilities, free primary, basic and general secondary education is provided to persons with disabilities either in special correctional institutions or at home, at the expense of the state.
Admission to special education is determined based on a psycho-medical-pedagogical examination and only with the consent of the parents or legal representatives. At present, the education system consists of general kindergartens, special kindergartens, daycare centres, general schools, inclusive schools (mixed classes and/or separate classes) and special schools. However, although they are entitled to special education or support, many children in rural areas cannot access special facilities, as the services are not always available. Schools within hospital premises are also guaranteed to children with chronic conditions in hospitals.
The State Programme for the Development of Education and Science 2016–2019 committed to implementing inclusive education by 2019 in 30% of preschools, 70% of regular schools and 40% of technical and professional schools. As of 2017, special education was provided in 42 kindergartens and 97 schools, while more than 3,200 schools were reported to have adopted an inclusive education approach. Yet, challenges persist in terms of quality of the education provision, retention and individual support.
Over the years, numerous initiatives have been carried out at local level to include learners with disabilities. For example, in 2018, the Almaty City Department of Education started a pilot programme in inclusive education through which, with the involvement of education specialists, including speech therapists and psychologists, and targeted learning materials, children with disabilities were educated in regular settings. The programme was progressively expanded to cover 135 schools.
The 1995 Constitution, as amended in 2007, does not explicitly enshrine the right to general education. However, it establishes the provision of free secondary education in public education institutions (Art. 30.1). It also contains a non-discrimination provision on the grounds of ‘origin, social, property status, occupation, sex, race, nationality, language, attitude towards religion, convictions, place of residence or any other circumstances’ (Art. 14.2). In 2015, Kazakhstan ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and, with UNDP support, it has planned measures to ensure the rights and interests of persons with disabilities. The 2015 Conceptual Approaches to the Development of Inclusive Education provides an overview of the situation in relation to inclusive education in the country and outlines strategies for the development of an inclusive education system where all learners can be educated according to their characteristics. The 2016–19 State Programme for the Development of Education and Science, complemented by an action plan for its implementation, aimed to create the conditions for inclusive education.
The 2002 Law on the rights of the child lays down the equal right to education, choice of profession and participation in creative and public activities, as well as to health care and social assistance with the support of the state. The 2002 Law on social and medical-pedagogical correctional support of disabled children regulates the support service system for children with disabilities, including for prevention, education and professional training. Distancing itself from the approach to disabilities of the Soviet time, the Law paves the way to a more inclusive approach to education for persons with disabilities.
In the education sector, the 2007 Law on Education establishes that the state fully or partially compensates educational costs for children with developmental and learning disabilities and learners with visual and hearing disabilities. In technical and vocational, post-secondary and higher education, a 1% admission quota is reserved for persons with disabilities.
The 2015 Conceptual Approaches to the Development of Inclusive Education mainly refers to integration of persons with disabilities into regular education. The 2011–20 State Programme of Education Development aims to improve the inclusive education system through the introduction of a modular programme for the integration of children with disabilities and the elaboration of specific rules for the definition of general education and distance learning opportunities.
The 2009 Law on State Guarantees of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities of Women and Men establishes gender equality in public service, including education. It presents gender-based discrimination as a violation of the principle of equal rights and opportunities. To complement its provisions, a working group is engaged in the formulation of a new act for the amendments and further expansion of legislation regarding issues of family and gender policy.
While the 2006–16 Gender Equality Strategy lacked a systemic approach to gender in education and did not introduce a gender perspective for textbooks, the 2016–30 Concept of Gender and Family Policy creates an implementation framework for equal rights and opportunities. One of its objectives is the mainstreaming of gender in national legislation and programmes. In relation to education, it aims to eradicate gender stereotyping in the system and to introduce gender education at all levels to achieve gender equality in the public and private spheres.
Ethnic and linguistic groups
As established in the 1995 Constitution, Kazakh is the official language of the state (Art. 7.1); on an equal footing, Russian is used in public institutions and local self-administrative bodies (Art. 7.2). The Constitution further mandates the state to promote the study and development of the languages of the people of Kazakhstan (Art. 7.3), in line with the right to use the native language and culture and to freely choose the language of education and instruction (Art. 19.2). In accordance with the constitutional provisions, the 2007 Law on Education establishes that all students acquire knowledge of Kazakh and learn Russian (Art. 9.2). While the right to obtain education in a native language is recognized, learning in the state language is considered a priority (Art. 9.3).
In compliance with the right of ethnic groups to study in their native language, the education system also provides instruction in Uzbek, Uighur and Tajik.
Gifted and talented children
As pointed out in the 2011–20 State Programme of Education Development, Kazakhstan intends to identify and support gifted students through grants, employers’ scholarship programmes and competitions organized and funded by employers. Special education for gifted students is offered in three languages.
Refugees and other foreigners
The 2010 Refugee Act regulates the status of asylum seekers and refugees in the country and, in line with the Education Act, guarantees general free education. In accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the children of foreigners and stateless persons can access education in their native language, but with a resident permit.
Coordination across government levels
The education system is centralized and under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Science. There are four administrative levels involved in education provision: the oblast (regional) Departments of Education; the Municipal Departments of Education; the rayon (district) Departments of Education; and the schools.
Coordination across sectors
The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for inclusive education and shares the governance with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection for education policy and practices for students with disabilities and special needs.
In the case of children with disabilities, the Ministry of Health establishes the type, cause and degree of disability. Despite the intention to adopt an integrated approach, coordination has been reported to be limited and fails to detect social assistance offered to children with disabilities who remain at home.
The 2011–20 State Programme of Education Development intended to improve the inclusive education system by 2020 through the establishment of barrier-free zones for children with disabilities at schools and by installing lifts and ramps, special equipment in toilets, handrails and special desks.
The 2011–20 State Programme of Education Development set out to solve the lack of state-funded transportation service to school. Standards for the provision of free school bus transportation from home to school and back were expected to be developed and approved.
As part of the 2016–19 State Programme for the Development of Education and Science, funds were allocated for the production of Braille textbooks and enlarged-font learning materials.
Practitioners working in special education are trained in higher education institutions across the country in accordance with the 2004 State Standards of Education. Teachers of special education have access to in-service training, as stated by the 2007 Law on Education and by the regulations on professional development and personnel, which are provided by the National Applied Research Centre of Correctional Pedagogy or by corresponding institutes of professional development at the oblast (regional) level.
In line with the Strategy contained in the Conceptual Approaches to the Development of Inclusive Education and the country’s intention to address the shortages in the psychological and pedagogical support of children with disabilities, the mandatory academic discipline of inclusive education was introduced for the 2015/16 academic year in all pedagogical faculties at the university level. Up to 250 grants were allocated as incentive for this course. Furthermore, teacher assistants have been included as support services in state education institutions.
Indicators for monitoring the effectiveness of inclusive education have been developed in the strategic direction of the inclusive education conceptual approaches.
Data collection is managed at both national and local levels. However, data about children with disabilities provided by the regions and the Ministry of Health are inconsistent and incompatible due to the different indicators and approaches.